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Ramadan, Rumi, and Love

By Zeshan Zafar

Sunset. Ramadan 2015.  Iphotography.

Sunset. Ramadan 2015.
Iphotography.

It is part of life to have a difference of opinion with various individuals or groups of people. Terry Tempest Williams, in one of her books, states, “Most of all, difference of opinions are opportunities of learning.”

However, generally speaking, on many occasions, when this occurs, if one doesn’t manage it well or lacks comportment, the result can turn into a feeling of animosity. Furthermore, when uncontrolled, it can turn into hatred, a spiritual disease that sits at the core of one’s heart, dictating and defining one’s behaviour unbeknown to oneself.

When such hatred sets into our way of life, individuals choose to deal with it in a variety of ways. Some try to mask the emotion or seek validation for that hatred; others seek revenge or violent harm with devastating consequences to those they may have loved unconditionally at one time. We also see the modern phenomenon of social media being used to spread this hatred, unfairly sowing the seeds of doubts that stick and label many unfortunate individuals with “justified” gossip becoming an accepted discussion on each of our tables.

Such behaviour has unfortunately broken down many marriages, families, friendships, communities, business partners, etc. as this trait continues to become rampant to the point that we no longer discern the goodness and sacrifices that many still work towards in our respective communities, regardless of our opinions. Instead, we tend to sideline them and bad mouth them, thinking we are safe to share statements against people in the confines of our close circles, yet at the same time we do not realise the terrible human beings we are all becoming through the mismanagement of this emotion.

One of my teachers once said in one of his lectures, “Do not have a crablike mentality whereby when crabs are put in a bucket together, each one tries to escape by pulling the other one down, just to escape themselves, leading to collective demise.” This is exactly what hatred is doing to the development and growth of our communities in times when our real challenges are elsewhere and which we should all really be focusing our energies on. Unfortunately, we cry out emotional slogans such as “Muslim Unity” without realising that little can be changed without changing oneself.

One of the most notable scholars and thinkers of Islam, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, recently shared a profound insight from the Qur’an that states, “Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” He stated that our community is besot by changing the world whilst forgetting the simple hard rule of changing oneself, and that the role of changing the condition of people as a collective is the role of God. So if we all focused on changing ourselves first, ridding ourselves of our hatred for one another and purifying our own hearts, God will take care of the rest.

The question arises, how can we move beyond this hatred and begin to remove this infection so that goodness can be achieved in the short time we tread on this earth, with the invaluable gift we have been given of life?

Many have their own mechanisms of dealing with this. Recently, whilst on a journey to the States, a dear friend of mine gave me valuable and practical advice on a way to manage such tendencies, by making a conscientious and sincere effort to reach out to individuals you feel you have wronged, or who you feel wronged you, or who seem distant to you. He suggested making a prayer for them to rid your heart of antagonistic presumptions by reaching out to them on a weekly basis, until all that is contained or constricts your heart disappears until you only have mahabba (love) for that person.

The Muslim community as a whole is known to be a giving community, especially when it comes to charity and hospitality, and they continue to hold tight to the noble virtues that are fast disappearing in a globalised world. Yet charity as described by our Prophet (peace be upon him) is also through actions and good deeds: hence being altruistic through your generosity, kindness, compassion, and time are equally important. Letting go of the self is important to move away at an individual level, especially in a world where the “self” has become a dictator over our natural inclination of moderation. Many argue over the ownership of ideas and whether certain ideas are relevant and can work. The best advice I was given was to let people learn from their mistakes but to not cause further rift that our communities are regularly torn by. Instead, you must choose the incision point that you feel can best help and support individuals that you perhaps disagree with, as our commonalities are far greater than our differences.

For those who feel they do not need help from someone sincerely trying to offer their support or help, remember even if such advice is not appropriate or compatible with your aims, never ignore it. You will always find a time when such advice can be found to be valuable at a different stage of your life or applicable to a different situation.

This is what distinguishes people of wisdom, such as Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who represents someone that keeps love at the centre of how he lives (may Allah grant him good health and a long life), through his acts of consistency. He epitomises renewal in his scholarship, but, more importantly, through his self-discipline and observance, he embodies renewal in his character. He is someone who knows not of hatred. He is someone who cannot but love and be objective to those who may be fierce critics or who oppose him or his approach. What struck me in my observances of the Shaykh is that despite any animosity shown to him, he always takes the time to listen and offer his help as he would to those who are amongst his family. This is evident in the Shaykh’s writings and rulings that speak with kindness, graciousness, and nobility of the other. I am sure everyone can relate to an individual out there who embodies such prophetic characteristics, and if you can, do not be ashamed to acknowledge your shortfalls before making that effort of change required by those who inspire you.

As Ramadan makes its yearly entrance into our homes, lives, and hearts, this is what I will be aiming to strive for, being mindful and realistic that things do not happen over night. I hope others can have mercy with me and forgive me for any wrongdoing. Imam Shafi’i famously said, “Be hard on yourself and easy on others,” noting that our God is a God that is all-merciful and all-forgiving; these are utterances that we grow up on and repeat daily.

So if your heart has flipped once, let it flip repeatedly until you have nothing but love for those who are around you. This can be achieved only by empathising. Ramadan Kareem. I will leave you with the words of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Zeshan Zafar is the Director of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and is currently based in Abu Dhabi. 

“All things are in God’s hands. To God, no miracle is impossible. God can do anything, God will do anything, for anyone who believes and trusts in Him. The believer is the one who knows that behind all things there is Someone who knows exactly everything he is, thinks, and does, and who sees him completely even though He cannot be seen. The unbeliever is the one who thinks this is all rubbish, a fairytale told to fools by fools. The day will come when God will shake and admonish him; then he will be sad and moan, “I spoke evil and wandered in darkness. Everything was Him, and I denied Him”

Passage from the book: Light upon Light. Inspirations from Rumi by Andrew Harvey

Sunflower. Taken on the Iphone. No filters. Instagram: sidra_mushtaq

Sunflower. Taken on the Iphone. No filters. Instagram: sidra_mushtaq

It’s that time of year again where Pilgrims from all around the world are setting off for the journey of a lifetime: the Hajj. All year round, the heart has this desire of wanting to visit and return back to the Holy Lands; but for some reason, during the Hajj season, that yearning becomes much stronger to visit and in particular to be around the Ka’aba. Well, that most certainly is the case for me as this is a feeling I have noticed within myself over the past few years. If there is one thing we can feel selfish about wanting in abundance is being able to visit the Holy Lands frequently! Then again, that’s just my personal opinion.  Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad sums up this feeling of nostalgia beautifully which I have been reflecting on and wanted to share:

 

“The yearning for the Ka‘ba which sincere Muslims feel whenever they think of it is therefore not, in fact, a yearning for the building. In itself it is no less part of the created order than anything else in creation. The yearning is, instead, a fragment, a breath of the nostalgia for our point of origin, for that glorious time out of time when we were in our Maker’s presence” 

..when we were in our Maker’s presence…

..when we were in our Maker’s presence…

I just get goosebumps reading that part…. the mind cannot comprehend what it must have been like, yet the soul knows what it felt like being in the presence of our Maker in that world…..

May we be invited again and again to the Holy Lands!

(Read the full article here)

 

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In Ramadan, I had the opportunity of attending a couple of classes with our teacher Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’  in London, Alhumdulilah.  Below are some points I was able to write down and thought I would share them here for others to benefit from inshaAllah ta’Ala.

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad, mercy to the worlds. 

  • We get disappointed only because it’s job (being disappointed) is to show us who Allah is.
  • Some people will be used for good, some for bad, but we all are used for whatever Allah wants.
  • What is it that Allah wants? He wants to be known!
  • You cannot praise what you do not know so how can you praise Allah if you do not know Him? Allah is the most Praiseworthy and we can only praise Him if we know Him.
  • Everything in creation has limitations except Allah who is Unlimited. We only come to understand the limits by knowing the Unlimited.
  • Every limitation is a door to Allah.
  • What gives us endurance? It’s seeing Allah in all things.
  • We believe everything is from Allah. dsc022185
  • Since we never know the full story (or see the full picture), we fall short of whatever happens to us, that is why we cannot make sense of things.
  • The difficulty we face squeezes sincerity out of us.
  • Believe in Him now, and experience Him later.
  • When we ask Allah, we don’t ask Him like He is God! When we make Du’a, we don’t ask Him like He is God. We get frustrated and tired or limit what we are asking for. Ask Him because He is Allah. Allah is Allah!
  • Mercy is Allah’s definitive nature.
  • Allah changes us step by step (i.e when we grow up). If Allah can change our body, imagine how He can change our souls?
  • We don’t fully understand the relationship between the Creator and creation; therefore we judge the situation with our limited understanding.
  • We don’t understand things because we can never comprehend Allah.
  • A flaw is an imperfection. Imperfection is in need of perfection. Allah is Perfect so Flawless.
  • We don’t exist to be perfect.
  • If you want to know your status, look at the state of mercy in your heart.
  • When we make Du’a, it’s to get everything out of our system. Talk to Allah, He is your friend, He is there to support you.
  • When we do sujood, we are putting our ideas, our limited understanding and ideas on the ground and submitting to Allah. He knows!

 Please be aware that these are my notes where I have paraphrased the Imam thus they are not verbatim statements.  Any mistakes, errors or misinterpretations of words are from me alone, so please do forgive and overlook my shortcomings. I pray these notes are of some benefit to the readers, insha-Allah ta’Ala.

Jaza ‘Llahu anna Sayyidina Muhammadan sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam ma huwa ahluhu
Jaza ‘Llahu anna Sayyidina Muhammadan sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam ma huwa ahluhu
Jaza ‘Llahu anna Sayyidina Muhammadan sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam ma huwa ahluhu

Subhana Rabbika Rabbi l’izzati amma yasifun, wa salamun ala l’mursalin, wal-humdulillahi Rabbi l’alamin.

“You know that nagging void.

Those moments of emptiness or absolute loneliness.

They are not sad.

They are moments when our Creator calls on us.

To come closer.

They are moments we understand that we have none other than HIM to be with us.” 

 

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As we draw the Luminaries series to an end, we would like to thank everyone that has contributed.
Uniting bloggers from around the globe and delivering this series has been an enriching experience. Furthermore, we really appreciate all the support we received from our teachers and friends who helped promote the series. Allah reward you all abundantly!

The great Shāfi’ī scholar, historian and biographer Imām al-Sakhawi said,
 “Whoever records a biography of a believer, it is as though he has brought him or her back to life.”

That was our intention in this series, to bring a little of their light into your lives. The entire series has been an honour, a privilege, and a blessing.

If anyone has any queries with regards to the references, or indeed incidents that have been mentioned, please contact us.

Luminaries I– Imām Abū Qāsim al-Junayd
Luminaries II–Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība
Luminaries III–Shaykh Abū Bakr bin Sālim
Luminaries IV– Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacké
Luminaries V– Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs
Luminaries VI–Imām al-Ḥārithal-Muḥāsibī 
Luminaries VII–Sayyīda Nafīsa 

“Verily, God and His angels bless the Prophet: [hence,] O you who have attained to faith, bless him and give yourselves up [to his guidance] in utter self-surrender!” -— Qurʾān [33:56]

May we receive all the divine treasures we seek.
May our hearts be healed by divine presence within them.
May we become God-Conscious Muslims.
May our emigrations and pilgrimages to Him be sincere
May we be scientists in the art of being Muslims.
May we become a speck of what the Sahaaba and ahlul bayt were.
May we all be illuminated by Sayyidina Mohamed to reunite under the shade of the ghilans  (acacia trees) of paradise.
May this Light that we have attempted to bring into your lives, find a dwelling in our hearts and homes. May it resonate in our daily actions and interactions with all.
Amīn!

“O Allāh, shower blessings, peace and mercy on our master and chief – Muḥammad, the best of creation, and his family, with every glance and every breath, as many times as the number of all things encompassed within the knowledge of Allāh.”

Al-Fātihah

Peace and prayers,

Bloggers: Healing Hearts and The Conscious Muslim 

Healing Hearts  Conscious Muslim

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Sayyida Nafisa: The Lady of Purity

By Sidra Mushtaq

It would be impossible for me to recount each and every woman that has inspired and touched my life in some way. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that some are luminary figures that have shed their light far and wide. It’s been in such blessed company, in the warmth of a friend’s home that I first heard of a lofty figure who has been inspirational through the ages: Sayyīda Nafīsa. As a community, we tend to be aware of the elevated rank of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) or hear of the oft-quoted Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya. Yet other towering women are barely whispered about, except perhaps in the closest of circles. It’s with this in mind that I wanted to share what I’ve learnt about the saintly Sayyīda Nafīsa.

Sayyīda Nafīsa was a remarkable scholar and saint. She was famously known as Nafīsat al-‘ilmī wal-ma’rifat, (the Rare Lady of Knowledge and Gnosis), and held many other titles including: Nafīsat al- Ṭāhira, (the Rare Lady of Purity), Nafīsat al-‘Ā’bida (the Rare Worshipful Lady), and ṣaḥibat al-Karamat, (the Lady of Miracles). She was a woman renowned for her devotion, piety, asceticism, and to whom miracles were attributed. She constantly recited the Qurʾān, prayed through the night and fasted perpetually. As narrated by her niece Zaynab b Yaḥyā: “I served my aunt, Sayyīda Nafīsa for forty years. I never saw her sleeping at night and I never saw her eating during the day, except the days forbidden to fast – the two ‘Eids and the Days of Tashriq (11th – 13th of Dhū l-Hijjah).”

Her childhood

Sayyīda Nafīsa was a direct descendant of the Prophet (ﷺ). She was the daughter of al-Ḥasan al-Anwar, son of Zayd al-Ablaj, son of Imām al- Ḥasan, son of Sayyīda Fāṭimah al-Zahra (r). She was born in Makkah on the 11th of Rabī’a al-Awwal but grew up in Madīnah since her father was the governor of the blessed city at the time.

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Signs of her lofty station were apparent from a very early age; she memorized the Qurʾān and studied Islamic jurisprudence comprehensively. Her great intellectual ability enabled her to become adept in explaining the Qurʾān despite her young age.  Furthermore, she used to pray the five prayers regularly behind her father in the mosque of the Prophet (ﷺ). It has been reported that her father used to take Sayyīda Nafīsa to the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) and would address the Prophet (ﷺ) directly by saying: “Ya Rasūllullāh!, O Beloved Prophet of Allāh! I am pleased with my daughter Nafīsa!.”  He repeatedly continued this until one day the Prophet (ﷺ) appeared to him in a dream saying to him, “Ya Ḥasan, I am pleased with your daughter Nafiīsa, because you are pleased with her, and Allāh is pleased with her because I am pleased with her.” Again, this particular event signified Sayyīda Nafīsa’s great status at a very young age.

At the age of sixteen, Sayyīda Nafīsa married her cousin Ish’aq al-Mu’taman, a direct descendant of Imām al- Ḥusayn, and they were blessed with a son named al-Qa’ssim and a daughter named ʾUmm Kulṯūm.

Sayyīda Nafīsa and Prophet Ibrahim (AS)

It is reported that when Sayyīda Nafīsa used to recite the Holy Qurʾān, she would pray:  “O Allāh make it easy for me to visit the grave of Sayyidīna ʾIbrāhīm, al-Khalīl”. Many years later, Allāh answered her prayer and enabled her to journey to the Holy Land, Jerusalem (Palestine) to visit the grave of the Prophet ʾIbrāhīm (as). It’s narrated that when she arrived at the grave, she wept and recited the following verse from the Holy Qurʾān: “And whenʾIbrāhīm said: My Lord! make this city secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols:” [14: 35]

As Sayyīda Nafīsa sat in front of the grave of the Prophet  ʾIbrāhīm (as), reciting the Qurʾān, she felt an intense presence, and saw the image of Sayyidīna ʾIbrāhīm (as) in front of her. Of that moment she said, “My heart began to beat harder and my eyes to blink.” She called upon him saying “O my grandfather! – Ya Jiddī! I came to you in body and spirit…. as my soul has come to you before many times, I now come to you in body as well. I seek your good pleasure with me and I seek your guidance and instruction in order that I may worship Allāh until my dying breath.”. At that moment she heard a voice emerging from the image of Sayyidīna ʾIbrāhīm which was before her saying, “Good tidings my granddaughter! You are chosen to be one of the sanctified, worshipful maidservants of your Lord. My advice to you is to recite Sūrah al-Muzammil, wherein Allāh says, “O thou folded in garments! Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night…” [73:1] until its end and seek to meditate on what you recite. By reciting this chapter you will be guided to the forms of worship and devotion that contain no hardship, as Allāh said, ‘Allāh does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.’ O my granddaughter! The intensity of your worship has made your body weak – try to keep everything in balance.”

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Relocation to Egypt

At the age of forty-four, Sayyīda Nafīsa moved to Cairo.

From every distant corner of Egypt, people came flooding to her house in order to take blessings from her, especially women who came simply to touch her and request her du’a. And it’s in Egypt where Sayyīda Nafīsa spent the remaining part of her life.

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Sayyīda Nafīsa and Imam al-Shafi

Sayyīda Nafīsa taught most of the scholars of her time but most notably the great Imām al- Shāfi‘ī studied hadith from her. It is reported that despite Imām al- Shāfi‘ī’s incredible scholarship, he would visit Sayyīda Nafīsa to seek her blessing, and ask for her prayers. At times when Imām al- Shāfi‘ī was ill, he would send a messenger to the blessed saint to seek her prayers. Sayyīda Nafīsa would immediately make du’a, and by the time the messenger returned to Imām al- Shāfi‘ī, he would find him already cured. That’s how powerful her prayers were.

On one occasion, Imām al- Shāfi‘ī fell sick and as usual sent his messenger asking Sayyīda Nafīsa for her du’a. On this occasion, She sent him the message: “Tell him that may Allāh make his meeting with Him the Best of meetings and may Allāh lift him to His proximity.” Upon hearing this, the great Imaām understood that his death was imminent. He wrote his will and stated that Sayyīda Nafīsa should pray the funeral prayers over him.

When the great Imām passed onto his Lord, Sayyīda Nafīsa executed his will. Incapacitated due to her constant worship, Imām al- Shāfi‘ī’s body was brought to the house of Sayyīda Nafīsa. There she prayed the funeral prayer over him from the women’s section, following Imam al-Buwaiṭī, who led the prayer.

Her return to her Lord

The pious and saints are given the gift of being able to recognise the signs of when death is approaching them, and that’s exactly what happened to Sayyīda Nafīsa. When she began to feel her death was approaching, she dug up her grave with her own hands inside her home. It is reported that she would enter the grave and worship in it daily. She completed the Holy Qurʾān whilst sitting in her grave six thousand times, and granted the rewards of the recitation to all deceased Muslims.

Sayyīda Nafīsa became extremely ill at the beginning of Ramadan in 208 H, and despite being advised by her companions to stop fasting, she refused, saying, “I have been asking Allāh to die fasting for thirty years; now you want me to break the fast?”

When Sayyīda Nafīsa returned to her Lord, her husband wanted to take her body back to the blessed city of Madīnah where she was to be buried. However, the people of Egypt solicited and asked him to bury her in the grave she had dug up with her own hands in Egypt. They even went to the extent of collecting a large sum of money and offered it to him. The following day, they asked for his decision, and his reply was: “I have decided to bury her here. I saw the Prophet ( ) in a dream last night, and he told me, ‘Give them back their money and bury your wife in Egypt.'”

Her miracles (karamat)

Sayyīda Nafīsa was notorious for her countless miracles, both during and after her life. Here are a few of those miracles that have been narrated.

1. Curing a paralyzed girl

When Sayyīda Nafīsa first arrived in Egypt and settled in her new home, there was a non-Muslim family living in her neighbourhood whose daughter was paralyzed from the waist down. One day the girl’s mother brought her to Sayyīda Nafīsa to watch while she went shopping. She left her daughter in one corner of Sayyīda Nafīsa’s house. Sayyīda Nafīsa began making ablution and water from her ablution flowed towards the girl. As the water touched the body of the girl, she experienced something strange. She began to take the water from Sayyīda Nafīsa’s ablution and rub it on her paralyzed feet and legs. Suddenly by Allāh’s mercy, the paralysis disappeared completely and she was able to stand. Meanwhile Sayyīda Nafīsa was busy in prayer. The girl stood up and seeing her mother just returning from the market, ran to meet her to tell her what had happened. Her mother cried with joy declaring: “That woman is truly holy and her religion is the truth.” She came in, hugged Sayyīda Nafīsa, thanked her for healing her daughter and asked her to pray that she be guided from darkness to light. Sayyīda Nafīsa then taught her to recite the shahādah.

When the father of the girl returned home that evening, whose name was Ayyūb Abū Surraya, and saw his daughter cured, he was overjoyed. He asked his wife about what happened and she told him the whole story. He raised his head heavenwards saying, “O Allāh! You guide whom You like and I now know that Islam is the true religion, completing what we believe in.” He went to the home of Sayyīda Nafīsa, and speaking to her from behind a veil he said, “I believe in your religion, and I accept it.  I testify that there is none to worship except Allāh and that your grandfather Muḥammad is the Prophet of Allāh.” That miracle was the cause for the entire tribe of Sayyīda Nafīsa’s neighbours to enter Islam.

2. Rive Nile failing to flood

In the year 201 H. (816 CE) the river Nile failed to flood, as is its normal annual custom. People went to Sayyīda Nafīsa asking her to pray that Allāh cause the Nile to flood since without the usual flood, no crops would grow. Sayyīda Nafīsa gave them her face veil telling them, “throw that in the Nile and by Allāh’s grace it will flood.” They took her veil and threw it in the Nile. Immediately the river began to rise and overflow its banks.

3. Stolen wool

There was an old lady who had four daughters. She used to spin wool into yarn, then take the yarn and sell it. One day the old lady set out for the market with the spun wool wrapped in a red package. Without any warning, an eagle dove out of the sky, grabbed the package in its claws and flew off. The old lady, overcome with fear and worry, fainted. When she awoke she began crying. People around her advised her to go to Sayyīda Nafīsa and narrate what had happened. Sayyīda Nafīsa said, “O Allāh! Exalted in Power and Owner of this creation: put right what the affairs of Your servant this lady fulana. She is Your servant and her children are Your servants and You are powerful over all things.” She told the old lady to return to her home and wait.

The old lady went home crying with worry for the sake of her young children. Night found her still crying. Suddenly a commotion was heard outside. It was a group of people seeking Sayyīda Nafīsa. They told her, “Something very strange just happened to us. We came to you because we have been ordered to do so.”

She said, “What happened?” They related, “We were on a ship traveling at sea. As we began approaching land, one of the planks suddenly sprung loose and the boat began to flood. Some of us did not know how to swim and we were in deep water still five hours from shore. The boat began to fill up and sink. All of a sudden an eagle appeared holding a red package in its claws. It threw that package, which was full of spun wool, into that crack filling it. The water stopped flooding and we managed to reach shore safely. We heard a voice saying,  ‘Go to Sayyīda Nafīsa.’

The boat crew presented Sayyīda Nafīsa a gift of 500 dinars. Sayyīda Nafīsa began to cry, “O Allāh you are so merciful to Your servants.” She asked the old lady, “How much did you usually get for your wool each week?” The lady replied, “I used to get 20 dinars.” Sayyīda Nafīsa gave her the 500 dinars and she went home overjoyed. She told her neighbours what happened and they came in droves to see Sayyīda Nafīsa. Many ended up giving themselves over to her service.

Sayyīda Nafīsa’s miracles continued on after her departure from this world. There was an occasion where some thieves entered her mosque and stole sixteen silver lamps. However, as the thieves tried escaping with the lamps, they discovered there was no longer a door and a way out of the mosque. They were trapped until the caretaker came the following morning and found them.

The miracles mentioned above illustrate the great spiritual power and strength Allāh Almighty provided Sayyīda Nafīsa with; to the extent that even to this day, people from all around the world flock to her blessed grave in Cairo to seek blessings, and to pray to Allāh for the difficulties within their lives to be removed.

Sayyīda Nafīsa was truly a great luminary. She was a great teacher, and lived a balanced life full of devotion to her Lord, and being in service of others. We can use her life story to draw inspiration and strength from, especially more so in the modern age we are living in. Sayyīda Nafīsa’s story also demonstrates to us the pivotal role of female scholarship, and how it was used in the cultivation of the religious sciences and Prophetic tradition.

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Source: Excerpted from the Light of Ahl al-Bayt: My Spiritual Experiences Unveiled by Imam Metawalli ash-Sha`rawi

http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/nafisa_at_tahira.htm

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Imām al-Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī

By Tariq Yusufzai

It was during Iʿtikāf last Ramaḍān where I was sitting in our masjids library and I gazed upon a book my friend was reading, “al- Muḥāsibī’s Risāla al-Mustarshidīn” (Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance), by Imām al-Muḥāsibī. As he left, I picked up the book and started reading it.

Imām Abū ‘Abdullāh al-Ḥārith b Asad al-Muḥāsibī (may Allāh be pleased with him) was born in the great city of Baṣra, Iraq in the year 165 A.H./781 C.E – 243 A.H./857 C.E. The city which would plant the deep roots of the beginning of all Islamic Sciences to be. It is in the center of debates regarding new translated knowledge of the Greeks, Romans, and Syrian Christians etc that Imām al-Muḥāsibī would intellectually take part of, exploring the proper viewpoint of alienated knowledge and philosophies in the Islamic worldview.

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Both a scholar and narrator of Ḥadīth, he held a high level of legal thought. He was a major speculative theologian (Mutakallim), who authored over 200 books and treatises. He was the teacher of great Luminaries such as: Imām al-Junayd, Sarī al-Saqaṭī, Aḥmad and Muḥammad b. Abi al-Ward, Aḥmad bin Muḥammad ibn Masrūq, and Muhammad b Ya’qūb al-Farajī. He influenced many theologians who came after him, including Imām al-Ghazālī and his Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-Dīn. He had a somewhat fractious relationship with Imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal for his propensity to respond to the Rationalists using their own methods of reasoning, over the years this has led to some people overlooking his works.

He was called Muḥāsibī due to his constant reckoning of his own self, taken from the word muḥāsib, which means he who takes account of something. Therefore Imām al- Muḥāsibī ‘s major intellectual contribution was in the area of character reformation and human development, used essentially as a means in coming close to God. His work entirely focused on God-consciousness, that act which is necessary if we are to truly know and serve God. On the other hand, he emphasized on Divine Grace; it is Allāh who allows one to be on the path of truth; it is Allah who elevates the maqām of His servants; it is Allāh who allows one to be able to conquer and discipline his soul. Though he did not believe it to be completely passive, that it is through reflection, devotion, humility, and having a good opinion of Allāh that the hearts can become illuminated by the Light of Divine Grace.

His greatest work is considered to be ar-Ri ʿāyah li-ḥūqūq Allāh (Book of observance of the rights of Allāh); most of the themes in that book are dealt in al- Muḥāsibī’s Risāla al-Mustarshidīn (Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance) the book I laid my eyes upon.

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The greatest of miracles, I believe, of Imām al-Muḥāsibī is his discourse on speculative theology and rectifying the self and that in and of itself has brought in much miracles and inspiration to later luminaries and nations to come by. You and I are both transformed by his works, one way or another. I definitely was since Ramaḍān benefited me well.

Selected saying sof Imām al-Muḥāsibī:
“One who rectifies his inner self with an awareness of God’s surveillance and sincerity; God adorns his outer self with devotional acts and adherence to the prophetic way (Sunnah).”

“Knowledge bequeaths fear, divestment from the world bequeaths comfort, and gnosis bequeaths self criticism.”

“Good character is bearing abuse, rarely becoming angry, a pleasant face, and sweet speech.”

“One who does not thank God for a blessing has called for its eradication.”

“The best person is one who does not allow his Hereafter to preoccupy him from his worldly affair nor does he allow his worldly affair to preoccupy him from his Hereafter.”

“The tribulation of the seeker of the world is the idling of his heart from remembrance of the Hereafter.”

“For indeed, the pleasure of the wise scholars is in their intellects, and the pleasure of the ignoramuses and beasts is in their desires.”

Source: Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance, al-Muhasibi’s Risala al-Mustarshidin translation, commentary, and notes by Imām Zaid Shakir

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Shaykh ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs’s

By “The Conscious Muslim”

Bismiʾllahi ʾr-Raḥmāni ʾr-Raḥīm wa ʾṣ-ṣalātu wa salām ʿalā Rasūlihi ʾl-Karīm

When we decided to create this series titled Luminaries, I was undecided as to whom I would write about. So I thought, what does Luminary actually mean? For me, a luminary is someone that has reached the status of sainthood and then gone that one step further. The word luminary is derived from one of two Latin words; lumen meaning “light”, or lucere meaning “to shine”. Interestingly, lumen is also a unit of measurement of; yes you guessed correctly, light (more specifically visible light). My teacher Dr ‘Umar Fārūq ‘Abd-Allāh says that a person’s heart is a receptacle of light, every time you do good, your heart fills with light. Hence, a luminary’s heart is full of light, to be specific: epiphanic light. This light is so strong that it radiates and illuminates all those that come into contact with it.

No one typifies this more for me than Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs al- al-Arā’ishī al-Alāmī al-Idrīsī al-Ḥasanī.

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One of Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs’s students Imām Muḥammad ʻUthmān al-Mīrghanī wrote, “One time, toward the end of his stay in Mecca, I looked at him while he was sitting next to one of the doors of the Masjid al-Ḥaram. I look at the greatness of his spiritual state and the lights that surrounded him. I saw that such light was coming out of his noble beard, that if the light from a single hair of his beard traveled across the world it would turn all of its inhabitants into ʾawliyāʾ.”

Ibn Idrīs was born into a pious family in the suburb of Maysūr in the district of al-Arā’ish near Fez in Morocco in 1750. He was a direct descendant of Sayyidīna Ḥasan b. ʿAlī, the grandson of the Prophet (ﷺ). He is often referred to as the “enigmatic saint” as very little is known about him, and he did not leave behind a compendium of written work. It said he was also bestowed with another name, this time by the Prophet (ﷺ) himself, the name was al-Shifā’ meaning the healing. Most of the information available on ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs is through works compiled by his students.

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Even before he had reached adulthood, Ibn Idrīs would seclude himself and devote most of his time to worship and contemplation. He memorized the Qurʾān and several other important Islamic texts before moving to Fez and attending al-Qarawiyyīn at the age of twenty. He excelled at Fez, and went on to become a teacher at al-Qarawiyyīn within 10 years. He became very close to a Mauritanian scholar called Muḥammad Limjaydrī B. Ḥabībullāh, he would go on to play an important role in the spiritual development of Ibn Idrīs. Shaykh Limjaydrī was impressed with Ibn Idrīs that he introduced him to his own teacher, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhāb al-Tazī. Shaykh al-Tazī was struck by the eloquence of Ibn Idrīs and the tremendous power he had in his voice. Ibn Idrīs took three paths from al-Tazī the ancient Ṣūfī paths, the Shādhiliyya and Nasqshabandiyya as well as a new spiritual path called the Khaḍiriyya, which was initiated by the great Shaykh ‘Abd al-Azīz Dabbāgh. Both al-Dabbāgh and al-Tazī were saints in there own right, and had seen the Prophet (ﷺ) in many dreams, they themselves had taken knowledge, and paths directly from the Prophet (ﷺ); al-Tazī now wished to bring Ibn Idrīs to this level.

Ibn Idrīs recounts seeing the Prophet (ﷺ) in a vision and received his own litanies, three to be exact: a formula for remembrance, one for ṣalawāt, and the other to seek forgiveness from God.  The Prophet (ﷺ) then said to him, “O ‎ʾAḥmad, I have given you the keys of the heavens and the Earth; saying them once is equal to the greatness of everything that is in this world and the next, many times over.”

At the age of forty nine, Ibn Idrīs moved to Mecca, stopping on his way in Algeria, Tunisia and also Libya, he lectured whenever he could, the talks often centred on ‘ilm (knowledge) and Ṣūfīsm. His intention was to spend the rest of his life in the two holy mosques; he taught extensively in Mecca, but also in Madīnah and Ṭā’if. A common criticism of some Ṣūfī orders is that people believe they leave behind the Qur’ān and the Sunnah or deviate away from it altogether, however Ibn Idrīs was a staunch advocate of the Qurʾān and Sunnah. One time his student Muḥammad b.ʿAlī al-Sanūsī said to him, “Dictate to me your lineage so that I may record it.” He replied, “My lineage is the Book and the Sunnah. Look, and if you find me upon the Book and the Sunna, then say: ‘‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs is upon the Book and the Sunna.’ That is my lineage.”

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He lamented the deterioration of Islam and Muslims in general; he wanted to revive forgotten practises and teachings of the Prophet (ﷺ) no matter how small. He would often send his best students as missionaries to Muslim lands to revive them and their societies; they were in essence healers, this would be his lasting legacy. Later in his life he moved to Yemen. He was ageing and felt obliged to pass on as much knowledge as possible. Some scholars have said that the revival of Ṣūfī thinking in Yemen was brought about by the arrival of Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs.

Ibn Idrīs was an independent Mujtahid, this is a term that we rarely come across now, but basically his understanding of the Qurʾān and ḥadīth was so succinct that he could extract his own opinions. His aptitude in ḥadīth was tested several times by Meccan scholars, much like Imām al-Bukhārī, they attempted to throw him by mixing the chains of narrators and Prophetic statements, but he answered each and every one of them with the correct chains all the way back to the Prophet (ﷺ). He had proved himself to be a master in the Islamic sciences.

Ibn Idrīs wanted people to receive everything directly from the Prophet (ﷺ), this is why he called his path al-Ṭarīqa al- Muḥammadiyya – in this path the Prophet (ﷺ) himself is the Shaykh. It is important to note that for all the orders, the leader is always inevitably the Prophet (ﷺ), but this path was ground breaking in the sense that Ibn Idrīs did away with intermediaries.

Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs’s originality lay in his humility, in his conscious effort in wanting to follow the Prophet (ﷺ) in every action with the utmost sincerity. He was a luminary that was intent on giving and reviving the Prophet (ﷺ) in people’s lives and homes. He wanted God and the Messenger (ﷺ) to be the centre of everyone’s life. I can’t help but feel this is precisely what we are lacking now: the presence of God and His Messenger (ﷺ) in our daily lives.

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“…Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget…” [2:286]

Ibn Idrīs left behind four core principles that although seem simple at a glance are notoriously difficult. They encapsulate his teachings and most importantly, his way, clearly.

  • To remember, before every word or action, that God will question one concerning that action
  • To perform every word and action for God alone
  • To make one’s heart a home for mercy towards all Muslims, great or small, and to give them honour and respect, which is their right
  • Good character, to treat one’s family and household and all of creation kindly and gently.

Maxims

“The greatest portion of our aim is in following the Prophet (ﷺ) footstep after footstep.”

“Ṣūfīsm is to empty the heart of anything but God.”   “Leave aside rest and sleep, and stand up for God, may He be praised and glorified, on the foot of sincerity.”

“May your tongue habituate itself to the remembrance of God Most High, so that it overwhelms your heart…” “Indeed there is nothing more harmful to a true faqīr than his hope in people, for hope in people is a sword which cuts man off from God.”

“We are slaves of God, journeying towards God, fearing nothing save God, hoping in nothing save God, clinging to nothing save God, and placing trust in nothing save God.”

Legacy

Ibn Idrīs is a true luminary and the light he had can still be seen penetrating the hearts and minds of many to this day. This transcendent light today is carried through his students who went on to form their own paths, such as Muḥammad b.ʿAlī al-Sanūsī (d. 1859), ʾIbrāhīm al-Rashīd (d. 1874), Muḥammad ʻUthmān al-Mīrghanī (d. 1852), ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Maḥmūd (d. 1874), and among later figures, Ṣāliḥ al-Ja‎ʾfarī (d. 1979).

One Harvard study said,

“The Idrīsī tradition gave birth to leaders of holy wars, men who established religious states, and a number of important centralised ṭarīqahs…. Its success was such that observers at the end of the nineteenth century felt that it was the source of much of the Islamic dynamism of the time.” In my opinion, the greatest gift that Ibn Idrīs left was given to him in a vision by the Prophet (ﷺ)

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“There is no other God but God and Muḥammad (ﷺ) is his Messenger, with every glance and every breath, as many times as all that is contained in the knowledge of God.”

In one of his letters to his student Muḥammad al-Madjūb, Ibn Idrīs said, “…May God let you reach His Light, where there is no more darkness.” May this light penetrate our hearts and allow us to follow the way of Shaykh ‎ʾAḥmad Ibn Idrīs, the Muḥammadan way. (ﷺ)

Sources:

Enigmatic Saint – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enigmatic-Saint-Idrisi-Tradition-Society/dp/0810109107

Letters of Ahmad Ibn Idris – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Letters-Hmad-Ibn-Idr-Northwestern/dp/0810110709/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394755485&sr=1-5&keywords=Ahmad+Ibn+Idris

Sufi Brotherhoods in Sudan – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sufi-Brotherhoods-Sudan-Salih-Karrar/dp/1850651116/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394755511&sr=1-1&keywords=Sudan+Sufi

Reassurance for the Seeker – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reassurance-Seeker-Translation-Al-Jafaris-Commentary/dp/1887752986/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394755545&sr=1-1&keywords=reassurance+for+the+seeker

Manifestations of Sainthood in Islam – http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?tn=Manifestations+sainthood+Islam

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Freedom-Fighter Saint of Senegal:
Cheikh Aḥmadou Bamba Mbacke
By Kamran Haikal

West Africa:  Africa-map-of-Senegal-in-relation-to-other-countries

When it comes to West Africa, or even Africa for that matter, few know where (or what) Senegal is. Below Morocco, a country that needs no introduction to the countless mystics and luminaries it has produced, and below the now famous Mauritania of Murābiṭ al-Ḥajj and Imām Muḥammad Mawlūd, lies Senegal: a country known by historians more for the Atlantic Slave Trade than the beacon of traditional Islamic scholarship that it became. The whole of Africa was a colonial chessboard less than a century ago, and the French moved pawns and rooks in Senegal. There would be a man, by the name of Aḥmadou Bamba Mbacke who would come to revive the love of Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ) , and his (ﷺ) example in the hearts of the Senegalese.

A Saint from Birth:

AhmaduBambaCheikh Aḥmadou Bamba Mbacke, or ‘Amadou Bamba’ was born in 1270 AH (1853) into a family of Qa’dirī scholars from the line of Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Qādir al-Jīlānī. He was the child of a Sayyid father and a Sayyid mother. Senegal, at the time, was under French colonial rule governing smaller kingdoms throughout the country. His father was the most well respected Qā’dī in his kingdom, erecting several Islamic schools and his mother was known for her effortless service to the community as well. As a child, he preferred imitating his father in his devotional acts while having no desire to play with other children. He spent the entirety of his youth in worship, studying the various Islamic sciences and teaching others. With his father’s passing in 1882 and the end of the armed resistance against the French, Amadou Bamba founded the Mourīdiyya brotherhood/order focusing on the Qurʾān, Sunnah, and tenets of Ṣūfīsm; a calling of society back to traditional Islam. This movement would slowly become the most effective weapon in battling the devastating social effects of imperialism.

The Might of The Mourīdiyya:

Touba-Still-2-Photo-by-Scott-DuncanShaykh Amadou Bamba’s newly-founded group calling to traditional and prophetic Islamic ideals, The Mourīdiyya, united the Senegalese under a common banner of faith with emphasis on spiritual rectification and love of Allāh and The Messenger (ﷺ). He also stressed the importance of earning permissible incomes in the lives of Muslims, to counter the beliefs of some of the Muslims of the time who deemed working for an income unnecessary. The Senegalese began to flee in larger and larger numbers every year to take from Amadou Bamba. Being a luminary and spiritual visionary, Shaykh Amadou Bamba noticed the failure of the majority of military resistance against the encroaching European powers seeking control of Africa. Like all the major Ṣūfī luminaries of the past, he found the oppression of the Senegalese as a symptom of the spiritual diseases that were present among the Muslims. As the Shaykh’s Mourīdiyya brotherhood continued to attract large numbers, it emerged as a formidable resistance to French imperialism. The Mourīdiyya were no longer just a religious revivalist movement, but a social revolution.

The Senagalese Madīnah Munawwara: Touba

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In 1887 Shaykh Amadou Bamba founded Touba (Arabic for Felicity and the name of a tree in Paradise) in a state of transcendence while sitting under a lone tree in the desert. He envisioned a pilgrimage of his followers to this city that would mimic the hijrah of the prophet’s ﷺ followers to Madīnah so that Islam could flourish. Here, the return to traditional Islamic life from colonial alienation and centralization of the Mourīdiyya movement would occur. With the principles he established, Touba soon became a flourishing spiritual and financially-bustling city, exporting crops and the now-famous Cafe Touba coffee. It would be from this West African Madīnah that the Shaykh’s teachings would spread to the rest of Senegal.

The Muslim Gandhi of Senegal:

Amadou_Bamba_wallpaintingShaykh Amadou Bamba Mbacke is most well remembered by his “Ṣūfī Resistance,” against the French. While some of the Tijānī leaders of Senegal were calling to arms against the intruding French, Shaykh Amadou Bamba maintained an ‘unfazed’ approach where he continued inviting the people to Allāh, rather than struggling for ‘independence.’ The Mourīdiyya were to focus on their worship, reading of sacred texts, and Amadou Bamba strongly emphasized grudge-less and prophetic interactions (ihsan) with the colonizers.  Finding Amadou Bamba’s followers growing at an alarming rate, the French considered Amadou Bamba a threat to their rule over Senegal. They feared a rebellion.

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In 1895, The French took Shaykh Amadou Bamba to trial on accounts of raising an army against the state. Although adamantly against violence, Amadou Bamba made his desire for a Muslim Senegal clear. As a result, he was exiled to Gabon in Central Africa in hopes of quelling the growth of the Mourīdiyya. The French believed that doing so would help the Senegalese forget the impeccable service of Amadou Bamba. However, his exiles only fueled legends of miraculous survival stories of escaping torture, deprivation, and attempted executions at the hands of the French. He returned in 1902 only to soon be exiled again for another four years to the deserts of Mauritania where he was honored by the ascetics and scholars. During his exiles, he continued composing poems in praise of God and the Messenger (ﷺ)  and writing books on fiqh, ‘aqīdah, tafsīr, and the like. The French, realizing their attempts to destroy Shaykh Amadou Bamba had backfired, brought the Shaykh back to Senegal in 1907. To their dismay, his popularity, influence and amount of followers were greater than ever. Still considering him a threat, the French kept him under house arrest for the remainder of his life, away from his family and the city he created. In 1919, he was accepted by the French administration and given award of “Knight of The Legion of Honor.” He refused to wear the medal on account of materialism.

The Legacy of Serigne Touba (Holy Man of Touba)

5D-235-1FB-117-warc-a0a2d4-a_16401Shaykh Amadou Bamba passed away in 1927 without having seen the French leave his country. He was successful, however, in his pacifist revival of the Senegalese Islamic identity. He was buried in Touba where the Great Mosque of Touba was built.

Today, the city of Touba is home to nearly a million inhabitants. All avenues of sins are prohibited in the city. The city attracts millions more during the Grand Magal, a celebration of the beginning of the Exile of Shaykh Amadou Bamba, that helped the Senegalese Islamic revival to boom. During this several-day celebration, lectures are given, Qurʾān is read, and group recitations of his poems are performed, similar to Mawlid celebrations.

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A large portion of Senegal follows the Mourīdiyya order and Mourīdiyya communities exist all around the world today.

In a poem dedicated to Touba, Shaykh Amadou Bamba wrote: “My lord has blessed me with a place that rid me with all obstacles the minute I entered it.”

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Senegalese Ṣūfī (The Miracles)  

It is a part of traditional Sunni ‘aqīdah to believe in the miracles of the awliyā’. While some are provable, others are not. Here are a few of the numerous miracles of Shaykh Amadou Bamba that his murīds accept. Nevertheless, such stories are worthy lessons in themselves, whether true or not.

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1. In what is reported to be his greatest physical miracle, Shaykh Amadou Bamba was in chains in transit on a boat to Gabon. When requesting to pray, he was denied. He broke through his  chains, and jumped off the boat to find a prayer mat floating on the water. He began praying on it and returned to ship when he finished. French accounts of this event even exist, similar to the account of Jesus walking on water. He was said to survive being thrown in a furnace by the French, and drank tea with the soul of the prophet (ﷺ) in it, similar to the story of Abraham, and when thrown into a den of hungry lions, was able to make the lions fall asleep, similar to the powers of Solomon.

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2.  His light was considered so radiant, that he often covered his face as to not overwhelm others.

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3.  As he said himself, his miracles, were to be found in his poems praising Allāh and the messenger (ﷺ). His poems weighed in total about seven tons. He ascribed virtues to certain poems. Some poems are said to have powerful habit-altering effect when recited frequently.

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4. Touba has become flourishing city of remembrance of God which also is the most financially stable city in Senegal. The city’s administration has even been asked for financial assistance  from the country’s government.

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5. Within a hundred years, his tarīqah (spiritual path) has become one of the largest in West Africa with several more communities throughout Europe and America.

6. His mother reported no pain during pregnancy, and would find him sitting in his dad’s prayer area as a child. His parents said he would cry when hearing impermissible musical instruments.

7. He was well known among the traditional scholars of the Ummah at the time including Imām Yusūf al-Nabahani in Lebanon and the scholars of the Hijāz who asked him to make du’ā when the House of Sa’ud took power in the Arabian Peninsula.

8. Imām Yusūf al-Nabahani dreamt he was told that Shaykh Amadou Bamba was the greatest of poets alive. The Imām composed a poem in praise of Shaykh Amadou Bamba: The following is a line: “Whosoever has missed [the chance, opportunity to meet] Ahmad al-Mukhtar ﷺ and also the khādim of the mukhtāri (“Amadou Bamba”) is someone who has lost.”

من فاته أحمدالمختار من مضر وفاته خادم المختار مغبون

9. While he previously took ijāzah and allegiance (bay’ah) with scholars of the other spiritual paths, those same teachers ultimately gave him allegiance; a classic case of the student surpassing the teacher.

What did others say about him?

Muḥammad Ibn Mualla, an eminent Moorish mystical poet, said about him: “There is but kindness in his sayings, but peace and nobility in his dwellings (Touba).”

Shaykh Sidia Baba, one of the premier scholars of Mauritania, said after his death: “This man is an ocean. God has given him as much science and knowledge as He gave foam to the sea. His kindness resounds deeply in the world. He has no shortcoming, if it is not to always do good. When he appears, wisdom can be seen.”

Antoine J.M.A Lasselves who initially wanted to destroy Shaykh Amadou Bamba, said in 1919: “Sheikh Bamba certainly holds an inner power whose source cannot be grasped by reason and whose capacity to arouse sympathy cannot be explained…

It would appear that he possesses a prophetic light and a divine secret, similar to what we read in the history of Prophets and their people.

This one however, distinguishes himself by purity of heart, by kindness, by magnanimity of heart and soul and by love of good for both friend and foe;

These are qualities for which his predecessors could have envied him, irrespective of their great virtue, piety and prestige.”

Luminous Enlightenments of Le Cheikh

“My religion is the love of God.”

“Allāh led me to Muḥammad ﷺ so Muḥammad ﷺ can lead me back to Allāh.”

“When they put the chains on me, Allāh opened the doors of mystery for me.”

“The only weapons I will use to fight my enemies are the pen and the ink that I use to write my poems in the glory of the Chosen One ﷺ.”

“ The fact that I was granted the privileged rank of servant of the Prophet and the book is a true bounty from Allāh (the bestower) and not my will.”

“If you call me anything else except Abdullahi or Khadim al Rasul ﷺ  you have insulted me.”

“If you really aspire to attain lofty spiritual degrees, follow closely these recommendations of mine: I advise you to strive hard for knowledge, show gratitude towards Allāh, be sincere in worship and generosity. I recommend you to practice silence, patience and abstinence. Do avoid wordiness and excessive sleeping, stay aside from aught that entails immorality and corruption.”

“The motive of my departure to exile is the will of God to elevate my rank and to make of me the mediator between my people and the prophet ﷺ.”

“I have spoken to you, you have heard my words. I have left written scripts to your attention, I have acted under your eyes; My life is my message.”

Why is Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba so important?

Shaykh Amadou Bamba was able to single-handedly set up a self-sufficient city to emulate the city of Madīnah at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. He turned his colonizers into friends. He was a mujtahid and was given the title of the mujaddid of Western Africa. He was a mystic and a brilliant poet who founded an influential and powerful Ṣūfī order that continues to grow today. Not many are capable of emulating every aspect of the sunnah as Shaykh Amadou Bamba did. He wanted the best for not only the Muslims, but for all humanity.

He authored countless books, and thousands of poems in praise of Allāh and the Messenger, with each poem having specific spiritual virtues. He preferred obscurity yet was soon referred to with privilege as ‘Khadim al Rasul” (the servant of the Prophet ﷺ) by scholar and layman alike. He emphasized a daily life surrounded around one’s prayer, awrād (litanies), recitation of the Qurʾān, seeking knowledge, prayers upon the Prophet, being in the humble service of others, giving charity, receiving halal income, embodying all acts of worship in the sunnah, and inculcating prophetic character in one’s self, and in one’s interactions with one’s enemies. His impeccable character, brilliance, and piety made him the most prominent scholar of West Africa in his time. Such defined his spiritual station, which cultivated in his exile that ultimately lead to a spiritual victory over imperialism.

In his poem, “The Quest for Healing”, he writes:

“O you the Just, the Good by excellence, the Preserver! O You who heal and who hold man’s destiny in Your hands! Let Your blessings descend where harm exists And let there be good where evil prevails. And let there be generosity where avarice prevails. Let wealth be showered in poor places and let there be gratitude where ingratitude prevails…”

The above summarizes the message of Shaykh Amadou Bamba.

May Allāh be pleased with Cheikh Amadou Bamba Mbacke, allow us to benefit by him in both worlds, and may we all be servants of the messenger ﷺ.

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More resources:

Abdul Hakim Murad on Shaykh Amadou Bamba: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bg6286Y5Y

Sheikh Amadu Bàmba’s Murīd Resistance to French Colonial Oppression: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/sheikh-amadu-b-mba-s-mur-d-resistance-french-colonial-oppression

Here is a link to one of the rigorous wird the Mouridiyya recite morning and evening that was compiled by Amadou Bamba, and given to him by the prophet ﷺ. http://www.daaraykamil.com/Wird-Mouride-tr.pdf

Here is one of his most widely recited poems in the traditional Mouridiyya style of recitation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUcnp-x2zwc

Du’ass requested for my beloved brother: Abdoul-Ahad Thiam who introduced me to Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba and the Mouridiyya. He is a khadim of the khadim al-rassoul.

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