Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shaykh Abdul Hafeez's Arabic Website

Assalaamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullah,

I know I haven't posted for a long time. Will do so more in the future. Anyway, I'm just making a surprise visit to provide readers with a link to an Arabic website about our beloved Shaykh Abdul Hafeez Makki (may Allah preserve him). The website is being run by one of Shaykh's murids in Makkah and is a fascinating place to learn about the Shaykh and his mode of Tasawwuf. Please forward to all your contacts.

Ismaeel Nakhuda

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hadhrat Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafeez al-Makki – A Sufi Scholar of the 21st Century

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

By Mawlana As’ad Mahmud Makki
Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

Jami Shari’at wa Tariqat Hadhrat Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafeez al-Makki is one of the foremost khalifahs (deputies) and leading students of the great Mujaddid of Islam, Qutub al-Aqtab Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi al-Muhajir al-Madani. Hadhrat was born in pre-partition India in 1946CE, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab. His family, originally from Kashmir, had settled in the region approximately fifty years earlier.

Hadhrat’s lineage reaches a certain Raja ‘Abd al-Salam Malik, who had accepted Islam at the hands of Amir Kabir Sayyid ‘Ali al-Hamdani — a famous fourteenth century Sufi scholar, who had arrived in Kashmir to propagate Islam. Raja ‘Abd al-Salam was the ruler of the sub-district of Kuligam, an area surrounding the town of Islamabad in Kashmir.

At partition, Hadhrat’s family joined the mass exodus of Muslims migrating to Pakistan and came to live in Faisalabad (Lailpur). It was there that Hadhrat began his education and learned to recite the Qur’an under the tutelage of his paternal grandmother, who would teach local children. Troubled by the turmoil of partition and the consequent pitiful situation of those affected, Hadhrat’s father left Pakistan in 1373AH/1953CE and migrated (hijrah) to the holy city of Makkah al-Mukarramah, where he became a permanent resident obtaining Saudi nationality in 1380AH/1960CE.

In Makkah al-Mukarramah, under the tutelage of Qari ‘Abd al-Rauf, who was a teacher at Makkah’s famous Islamic seat of learning Al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah, Hadhrat studied the Qur’an once more, this time with tajwid. In 1374AH/1954CE, Hadhrat enrolled at Makkah’s Al-Madrasah al-S’adiyyah, where he gained both a religious and secular education. He also subsequently studied at other educational institutes in the holy city.

Having completed his secondary education in 1384AH/1964CE, Hadhrat was instructed by his father Haji Malik ‘Abd al-Haq — a famous Makkan factory owner and one of the responsible individuals of Tablighi Jama’at in the Hijaz, who was also subsequently appointed a khalifah of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith — to spend a year in Jama’at in the special company of the then Amir of Tabligh Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi, author of Hayat al-Sahabah, a biographical record of the lives of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). During this one year in Tabligh, Hadhrat was also blessed with the close company of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana In’am al-Hasan, who remained Amir of Tabligh for thirty-years after the demise of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi.

In 1385AH/1965CE, with the permission of his respected father and at the direction of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana In’am al-Hasan, Hadhrat became a murid of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi. On returning to Makkah al-Mukarramah, Hadhrat remained involved in the work of Tabligh within Saudi Arabia and studied various books of the Dars-e-Nizami — a study curriculum used in madrasahs across the world.

A couple of years later in 1387AH/1967CE, Hadhrat travelled to the famous north Indian seat of learning Mazahir al-Ulum, Saharanpur, and under the tutelage of famous erudite ‘ulama there studied the MawqufAlayh — those parts of the Dars-e-Nizami that students need to cover in order to gain admission into the final year of hadith known as the Dawrah Hadith, which consists of an intense study of the major works of hadith.

After studying there some time, Hadhrat returned to Makkah al-Mukarramah where he continued his studies in Islam. The following year in 1388AH/1968CE, Hadhrat returned to Saharanpur once more and completed the Dawrah Hadith. This was also the final year that Hadhrat Shaykh al- Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya lectured on Imam Bukhari’s Sahih. Hadhrat was also blessed with the opportunity of coming first in the highly competitive final year exams at Mazahir al-‘Ulum.

At the tender age of twenty on 27 Ramadan 1386AH/1966CE, Hadhrat was granted khilafat by Hadhrat Shaykh during ‘eitikaf at Mazahir al-‘Ulum’s Dar-e-Jadid Mosque. On the occasion, Hadhrat Shaykh took off his turban and placed it on Hadhrat’s head granting him permission in the four Chishti, Naqshbandi, Suharwardi and Qadri tariqahs.

Right until the death of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi in 1402AH/1982CE, Hadhrat remained devoted to his shaykh’s service (khidmah) and would not allow any sort of family, business and educational preoccupations prevent him from remaining in his company (suhbat). This was especially the case during the blessed months of Ramadan.

While Hadhrat Shaykh was alive, all of Hadhrat’s activities — from lecturing hadith at Al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah to travelling on Tabligh to the US, Japan, India, Pakistan, Africa and various Middle Eastern countries — were done with the blessings and instruction of Hadhrat Shaykh.

Under the guidance and wish of his shaykh and with the aim of widely circulating his academic works, Hadhrat established Al-Maktabah al-Imdadiyyah in Makkah al-Mukarramah and Al-Rashid Printing Press in Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.

On numerous occasions Hadhrat spent a considerable amount of time in Egypt, supervising the publication of Hadhrat Shaykh’s Awjaz al-Masalik, a brilliant multi-voluminous commentary on Imam Malik’s Muwatta, considered one of the best; and Hadhrat Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri’s Badhl al-Majhud, also a multi-voluminous commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud considered an authority on the subject.

Hadhrat’s meticulous efforts in the publication of these works won Hadhrat Shaykh’s admiration, love and heartfelt supplications. This is something that Hadhrat Shaykh has mentioned time and again on numerous occasions in his autobiography, Aap Biti, and something that has also been mentioned by Mufakkir-e-Islam Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi in his biography of Hadhrat Shaykh.

Since Hadhrat Shaykh’s demise, Hadhrat has continued to keep alive his shaykh’s academic and spiritual legacy by publishing various Arabic and Urdu books, including a twenty-four volume commentary of Imam al-Bukhari’s Sahih (currently under publication) entitled Al-Kanz al-Mutawari, which contains the commentary of Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi and other Akabir Deobandi ‘Ulama.

Living in the Hijaz, Hadhrat has constantly been involved in enlightening the Arab world about the academic efforts of the Akabir of Deoband and their mode of tasawwuf, which has the distinguishing feature of being in complete agreement to the Qur’an and hadith. Beyond the Hijaz, Hadhrat travels the world regularly — especially to the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa, Europe, North America and the Far East — calling people to tasawwuf.

Hadhrat has also passionately been involved in raising the banner of Islam (e’lah kalimat Allah) by tirelessly establishing organisations and providing them with spiritual and moral support. Apart from preparing individuals to serve at madrasahs, mosques and khanqahs, Hadhrat has also prepared countless individuals to serve Islam in various other fields including in dawah and Tabligh.

Hadhrat’s murids and those that have obtained permission to narrate hadith (ijazah) from him — from the Middle East and beyond — number in thousands. Hadhrat’s khalifahs reside in Pakistan, South Africa, UK, India, Hijaz, Bangladesh, Nepal and the West Indies. Hadhrat regularly visits Pakistan, Africa and other parts of the world to show people the path of tasawwuf with thousands of people flocking to benefit from his landmark visits, spiritual gatherings and lectures.

Published by Maktabah al-Nur, Markaz al-Shaykh International,

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

‘Books Not Bombs’

Ismaeel Nakhuda, Arab News

JEDDAH, 26 March 2008 — A Jeddah-based publisher is to put into practice a novel method to counter a growing climate of Islamaphobia while fostering positive dialogue between Christians and Muslims: Books not Bombs.

The proposed screening of an anti-Qur’an film by a right-wing Dutch MP has led Esam Mudeer of Al-Bayenah Bookstore to team up with a dawah organization set up by the late Ahmed Deedat to distribute in Holland 50,000 copies of “Jezus in de Islam en de Koran” — a Dutch translation of Deedat’s book “Christ in Islam and in the Qur’an.”

“We’re sending books not bombs to the Netherlands… This is an opportunity for dialogue, an opportunity for the Netherlands to come to know the Qur’an and its message,” said Mudeer, adding that the books will be distributed tomorrow.

The call for dialogue follows the proposed screening of a 10-minute provocative anti-Qur’an film entitled “Fitna” (Arabic for strife) by Dutch MP Geert Wilders. Dutch television channels have declined to show the film, which also drew protests from ordinary Dutch people in the streets of Amsterdam last week.

Mudeer, who is a Saudi writer and a member of several charities and dawah organizations, was a student of Deedat for 18 years. He told Arab News that the book is a “thank you” message to ordinary Dutch people who have protested against Wilders.

“We came to learn that we have so many Dutch friends. One thousand people demonstrated in the streets of the Netherlands… even the Jewish mayor of Amsterdam participated,” he said.

The response to the film is in stark contrast to the negative publicity of protests against Danish cartoons caricaturing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) last year. “We’ve tried boycotting, we’ve tried anger, we’ve tried protesting, and we’ve tried going to court…this is an opportunity for ordinary Muslims to talk to ordinary Dutch and Danish people,” said Mudeer, who takes his inspiration from the way Deedat dealt with controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses.”

“He was the only person I knew who had read Rusdhie’s book from cover to cover and it wasn’t an easy job for him,” he said, adding that Deedat spoke of how “The Satanic Verses” was not only offensive to Muslims but also to Queen Elizabeth of Britain, white women and black people.

“Ahmed Deedat didn’t issue a fatwa against Salman Rushdie. He didn’t want to kill him…he told the Muslim world that if Rushdie has hurt your feelings then don’t show those who hate you that you’re hurt as that would give them more pleasure and make them return,” he said.

“We need to relax and this is an opportunity for dawah, we’re not forcing anyone to become Muslim… Let’s be in the business of making friends, not enemies,” he added.

Commenting on the way Dutch Muslims have reacted to Wilders’ film, Mudeer said, “Dutch Muslims gathered together and — unlike the time with the Danish cartoons — they didn’t get angry or frustrated. They responded wisely, not in a violent way.”

Mudeer said Wilders wants to show Islam as a violent religion and that he continues delaying the screening of his film to raise emotions. “He is waiting for a bomb to go off somewhere, or for someone to do something dramatic and that’s why he keeps delaying it,” he said.

He added that Wilders is concerned at the spread of Islam in the Netherlands and Europe. “Even the Pope himself declared his concern in July 2007 of what he called the Islamization of Europe. Maybe they have genuine fears; we need to talk to them. What is it that you’re scared of about?” he said, adding that all publicity is good and that the controversy has probably caused an increase in sales of copies of the Qur’an.

Speaking about the position of Jesus and Mary in Islam, Mudeer said Islam is the only non-Christian faith, which makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus Christ and his mother. He added that Mary is mentioned 34 times in the Qur’an and that a chapter — Surah Maryam — is also named after her in her honor.

“Wilders said he wants to burn the Qur’an. If you call yourself a Christian, then is this a book you want to burn — the only book outside Christianity that honors Jesus and his mother? You’re going to burn a book that mentions his name 25 times?” he said.

Mudeer also asked Muslims to do some introspection. “Muslims didn’t thank Denmark for its support for Palestine. When Ariel Sharon invaded Jenin in 2002 Denmark was the only country in the world… that sent 20 ambulances for the Palestinians, why didn’t we thank them why didn’t we march on the streets and thank them,” he added.

Speaking about how Muslims should react, Mudeer said, “Muslims need to ask themselves, do you read the Qur’an for 10 minutes after Fajar everyday? Can we do that? That’s the best defense? Muslims of today must stop begging for respect. They must be worthy of respect and they must learn how to command respect like Muhammad (peace be upon him) did. When that happens Islam will be respected without us asking for it,” he said, adding, “The guy is after fitna, he called the movie fitna, he wants fitna.”

For more information: Islamic Propagation Center International Netherlands (IPCIN):

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Review: The Path to Perfection – By Shaykh Masihullah Khan

An Edited Anthology of the Spiritual Teachings of Hakim Al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi

(Originally translated in South Africa – Edited and published by Mufti Abd Al-Rahman ibn Yusuf/White Thread Press

Reviewed by Ismaeel Nakhuda

In spite of its intrinsic attachment to Islam, Sufism – otherwise known as tasawwuf or tazkiya – remains one of the most misunderstood aspects of the din. It is a sad reality that in this day and age there are two extremes – to some, the Sufis are a heretical sect while to others they are individuals above Shariah law.

However, orthodox Sufism sits in the middle of this paradigm and is totally in tune with the requirements of the Shariah. It is this Sufism, which is the subject matter of “The Path to Perfection”.

“The Path to Perfection” was initially translated from Urdu in the early 1980s in South Africa under a different title, “Shariah and Tariqah”. White Thread Press has re-edited the original translation and beautifully published it giving it a new name and also included a biography of Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (1863-1943) – the Sufi mentor of the author, Shaykh Masihullah Khan of Jalalabad, India (1911-1992).

In a clear, coherent and easy to understand language the book brings together some of the more profound and important Sufi teachings all of which, incidentally, have a strong grounding in the Qur’an and Hadith. It was in the mid-90s that I first came across the original translation, which was immensely popular among English-speaking Muslims connected to the Chishti-Sabri-Imdadi tariqah of the Indian sub-continent. It should, however, be noted that the book contains insightful discourse relevant to all who are treading or are wishing to tread the path of Islamic spirituality regardless of which tariqah.

Like many contemporary Deobandi scholars, Khan and his mentor were scions of the Chishti tariqah, which is common among Muslims of the sub-continent and subsequently among the worldwide Indo-Pak diaspora. In fact it would be correct to say the Deobandis combine the Chishti, Naqashbandi, Qadri and Suharwardi tariqahs. The first Chishti Shaykh to arrive in India was Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti (1141-1236), who is regarded to have set the foundation of Chishti Sufism in India – a tradition that continues till this day. Born in Chisht (east of Herat in Afghanistan) he lies buried in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India.

Like other tariqahs, the Chishtis have a spiritual lineage going back from one shaykh to another until the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). Among illustrious and prominent dervishes whose name appear in the Chishti tariqah are individuals such as Hasan Basri, Abdul Wahid bin Zaid, Ibrahim bin Adham, Fudhail bin Ayadh, Fariduddeen Shakar Ganj, Khawaja Alauddeen Ali Ahmed Saabir Kalyari and Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (the latter two are those after whom the sub-branches Sabri and Imdadi are named).

Dervishes of the Chishti Sabri Imdadi order are renowned for their strict adherence to the Shariah and Sunnah. But what is probably most iconic is their method of zikr, particular the barah-tasbih, which consists of the chanting of a certain wird in loud voices in synchrony with a particular set of head motions.

So, it does come as a surprise when contemporary writers assume that the Deobandis have some sort of anathema towards orthodox Sufism. In an article published in the UK-based Prospect Magazine in 2005, Ehsan Masood ironically described the Deobandi Sufis as an “Indian anti-Sufi movement”, likewise the respected British historian and travel-writer William Dalrymple has penned similar views in several of his articles and books.

Although “The Path to Perfection” has not been written for the purpose of dispelling such outlandish claims, nevertheless its contents do fulfil such a role. As Ali Altaf Mian mentions in his biography of Mawlana Thanawi (located towards the end of the book), the Deobandis “practiced a tasawwuf that earlier Muslims, such as Hasan al-Basri, Junayd al-Baghdadi, and Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani would advocate if they were living in the twentieth century”.

Mian continues that the Deoband seminary not only trained individuals to become “rational scholars” but also “sound practitioners of tasawwuf”. Reflecting on the interconnection of tasawwuf and Shariah, Mian adds, “Through the Deoband movement, Islamic history once more witnessed the combination of the jurist and the mystic into a well rounded Islamic scholar.” It is this very understanding of the Deobandi scholars/Sufis that Barbara Metcalf mentions in her treatise “Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900”.

“The Path to Perfection” follows a logical and coherent fashion and has been written in a way that is appealing to both the ulema and lay-people. Some of the classic books on Sufism have a tendency of dealing with complex issues in a sophisticated way. The author, however, endeavours to simplify these issues ensuring readers are able to fully understand the subject matter.

With the author being a contemporary Sufi it is interesting that a lot of the discourse is given a modern-day edge making it relevant to people of today. Writing about the four fundamentals of spiritual struggle, Shaykh Masihullah mentions how the saalik should eat and sleep less and then advises that a sense of moderation should be adopted when doing so, since “experience shows that nowadays health, in most cases, suffers as a result of reduction in food” etc. This epitomizes the moderate Sufism practised by Khan and the people of his tariqah.

This book is a delight to read and is a spiritual manual in the true essence, one that creates a sense of warmth in the reader’s heart and thus developing in one an urgent desire to seek rectification and spiritual uplifting.

Available from:
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US -
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For further details about Mufti Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Yusuf see:

Other interesting reviews:
Review: Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni – A Biographical Study by D.R. Goyal

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Anglican Archbishop Attacks Veil

Somayya Jabarti & Ismaeel Nakhuda, Arab News

JEDDAH, 14 November 2006 — The Archbishop of York, the second-highest figure in the Church of England, waded into the row over Muslim veils yesterday saying they did not conform to “norms of decency.”

In an interview published in the British Daily Mail newspaper, John Sentamu questioned whether British Muslim women should expect public acceptance for wearing the veil. “Muslim scholars would say three things. First, does it conform to norms of decency? Secondly, does it render you more secure? And thirdly, what kind of Islam are you projecting by wearing it?” he said, adding, “On the first question I don’t think it does conform.”

The Ugandan-born 57-year-old archbishop said he removed his cross when visiting a mosque or a synagogue and covered his head in Sikh temples “because I am going into someone else’s home.”

“And I can’t simply say: ‘Take me as I am, whether you like it or not.’ I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can’t expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life,” he continued.

Sentamu’s comments are seen to be in stark contrast to the view of the head of the Church of England, Archbishop Rowan Williams, who has publicly defended the right to wear veils.

Women in Saudi Arabia and the UK — those who wear and don’t wear the niqab and hijab — criticized Sentamu’s comments. “What is this fixation with what we wear or don’t wear,” said Wafa Ahmad, a Jeddah-based teacher, who does not wear the niqab or hijab outside the Kingdom.

“Why doesn’t the world take off the veil inside their head and stop this obsession with what is worn over the head... why does the West feel so threatened by women covering or not covering their faces or heads? I don’t get it.”

A professor at the King Saud University’s Women’s Section, said: “What norm of decency is the archbishop talking about? Modesty or head covering was there in Christianity and is there in Judaism. Why all the focus on Muslim covering?”

A faculty member at the Imam Mohammad ibn Saud University in Riyadh said, “I say to the Western society, isn’t it they who preach to us, on and on about personal freedom? About open-mindedness and acceptance of differences?”

However, a local Saudi businessman said that when in Rome do as the Romans do. “One of my daughters practices hijab but I believe that the whole purpose of it is to not attract attention. So she dresses to blend in, occasionally using a bandana or hat... People know she’s Muslim because her head is always covered,” he said.

In the UK, Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said it was terribly sad that a Christian leader would seek to stoke the fires of Islamophobia. “To say a veil is not ‘decent’ is nonsensical. Why should everyone conform to the same dress code? Nobody prevents Dr. Sentamu from dressing in a frock as a cleric. He should mind his own business.”

London-based journalist Isla Rosser-Owen, wondered whether Archbishop Sentamu would apply the same logic to Catholic nuns. “In the more traditional orders, many of their headdresses cover not just their hair but also quite a lot of the face. Would he ask them the same questions?”

Niqab-clad British university student Ayesha Mohammed described some of Sentamu’s comments as political correctness gone mad.

“He would take his cross off to go to a mosque. Fair enough, but he isn’t expected to and no Muslim would be offended if he didn’t. That’s political correctness gone mad.”

She added, “Muslims are not asking to change the country. Maybe a small minority wants Shariah law, but the vast majority just wants to be able to lead their lives as Muslims.”

Describing the debate on the veil as a “witch-hunt,” Michael Lavalette, lecturer at a university in Liverpool and member of the Respect party, said: “Hardly a day goes by without another series of attacks on Britain’s Muslim community... the debate is not really about the veil, it’s about the media, politicians and establishment spokespeople lashing out against a vulnerable minority.”

Political activist Sufia Makkan said: “In a society where short mini skirts and skimpy tops are accepted as the ‘norm,’ it is unfathomable that someone in the position of Archbishop of York should make comments about a piece of material across the face as not conforming to ‘norms of decency.”

Vinay J., a Manchester-based journalist for the Asian Leader said: “The veil issue has been done to death. So much has been written, discussed and argued about it that I’ve lost interest in a healthy debate all together.”

Sunny Hundal, the editor of the online magazine Asians in Media, felt that the bishop was contradicting himself. “We have freedom of expression in Britain and the veil is part of that expression — people may not agree with it but they should be allowed to wear what they want, except when it directly interferes with their work or at school where open identification is needed,” he said.

Ismail Patel, chair of the Leicester-based Friends of Al-Aqsa lobby group, applauded Sentamu for taking the initiative in understanding Islamic reflections on issues such as the niqab but said he was misjudged. “The veil is not about obscurity of the individual wearing it; but rather it is about an individual’s own conviction in God and their belief that it is a religious requirement,” he said.

He added: “I do not believe that Muslim women who wear the niqab are saying ‘take me as I am whether you like it or not’. They are saying ‘respect me for my personal choices’, and most people in Britain would.”

Last month, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw began a debate on Muslim veils when he revealed that he asked women visiting his clinic to remove their veils.

Many political commentators see the British Labour Party’s fixation with the face veil as a way of attracting votes in the run-up to elections next year.

Meanwhile, advice was issued by immigration tribunals chief, Lord Chief Justice Hodge, that legal advisers and solicitors may wear the veil in court unless it interferes with the “interests of justice.”

The advice comes after a judge recently stopped a hearing after ordering legal adviser, Shabnam Mughal, who has been wearing the veil for two years, to remove her veil during an immigration tribunal in Stoke-on-Trent. The case resumed again yesterday with Mughal being taken off the case by her firm and a different judge appointed to preside over it.