The Final Words of Advice from Sayyiduna Ja’far as-Sadiq [d. 148 AH]

It has been narrated that Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ great-great-great grandson, Ja`far al-Sadiq ibn Muhammad al-Baqir ibn Zayn al-`Abidin ibn Husayn ibn Fatimah bint Muhammad ﷺ, was on his deathbed and some people from Kufa (a city in `Iraq) entered upon him. They pleaded him to tell them of someone they could go to after he passed away for learning about the Dīn. He then said,

“Stick to the opinions of the people of Medina for this city forces out its bad folk (and only good people remain) as the bellows expel the impurities from iron. And follow the path of those early Muslims who have already passed. Right now, I am the most knowledgeable of you and I follow (the way of the Prophet ﷺ) and do not engage in blameworthy innovations. After me, follow the opinions of the people of Hijaz. Follow the fortunate blessed helper of Islam, the one who clings to the path of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I tested him and found him to be an excellent scholar of jurisprudence. He is not subject to his whims and desires… If you follow him, you will obtain your due portion of Islam. If you go against him, you will become misguided and ruined… He studied [under me for a period of time] and took from me what he needed… I have pointed you to a man who is trustworthy.”

The people said,
“(We are still not sure whom you mean.) Please clarify.”

Ja`far al-Sadiq answered,
“He is Malik ibn Anas. Follow the opinions of Malik (after me).”

[Ibn Rushd, Muqaddimah Vol 1, page 10]

Is Islam a violent religion?

After every terrorist attack, a question is always on the mind of millions of people, Is Islam a violent religion?

If we look at the military expeditions (ghazawat) in which the Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings be upon him—took part in during the last two decades of his blessed life (27 being the largest number that has been narrated and fighting occurred in only 9 of them) then we will see that only 1,018 people were killed: 759 of them were non-Muslims and 259 were Muslims.

Before dispatching the military forces, Caliph Abu Bakr had the following commands for his army:

  • Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path.
  • You must not mutilate dead bodies.
  • Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man.
  • Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful.
  • Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food.
  • You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.

So, is Islam a violent religion? Well, let’s drop the apologetic tone and be clear about what Islam does say: Islam does not prohibit war, but it has regulated war. It has set down clear guidelines as to when war is right:

  • To defend and protect.
  • Collective defence-to defend the Muslim lands when attacked by other nations.
  • To seek armed peace, where the two armies would meet before every battle and have peace talks.

How many people were killed in WWI? How many people were killed in WWII? How many people have been killed in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Levant, north Africa and several other places? Did Islam cause all of that? If Islam caused all of that, then were the Islamic regulations followed? Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed during the WW fighting for the British Empire. And 4-million have been killed so far in the US-NATO wars, wars with no regulations and clearly no accountability.

In Islamic polity, it is upon the Muslims to protect Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, from all external threats. The ruler and those in authority are bound to look after the interests of all subjects using all the resources at their command. The famous Maliki scholar, Imam al-Qarafi, quotes the statement of Ibn Hazm from his book Maratib al-Ijma’:

If enemies at war come to our lands aiming at a certain dhimmi (non-Muslim who lives under Islamic governance and enjoys the rights enshrined in the contract he makes under the Shariah), it is essential for us that we—Muslims—come out to fight the enemies with all our might and weapons since the dhimmi is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger. If we did anything less than this, it means we have failed in our agreement for protection.

The main emphasis of Shariah is the sanctity of the concept of due process to guarantee the life, liberty, property and honour of every human being. Therefore, Shariah has justly regulated the conduct of the believers in this world. It has sanctioned the private as well as the society’s public conduct.

Allah says in the Qur’an

“There is no coercion into the religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct form error.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:255]

Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi comments on the above verse:

“There is no coercion into the religion” means that the religion of Islam is at the furthest limit of clarity with the most obvious proofs of its authenticity, such that there is no need to coerce anyone to enter into it, but on the contrary every person possessing a sound intellect will enter into it voluntarily without coercion, and this is shown by His saying, “Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error,” i.e. it has become clear that Islam is right guidance and disbelief is error so that after this clarity there is no need for coercion.
[At-Tashil li’Ulum at-Tanzil, passage translated by Abdassamad Clarke]

In the Honourable Remembrance of Imam al-Haddad

In the Honourable Remembrance of

Imam al-Haddad

(al-Habib ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi bin Muhammad al Haddad)


“Allah make plentiful its water, and make it prosperous till the Day of Judgment, and may the pious people blossom in its lands as plants blossom from water.”

Dua for Yemen – Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq

“Sit with the spiritual masters, drink in their blessings, for their mere presence radiates such light that whoever is with them is penetrated by it through and through.”

Imam al-Haddad


He is al-Imam al-Habib ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin ‘Alawi bin Ahmad bin Abu Bakr bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Alawi ‘Amm al-Faqih (uncle of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam), bin Muhammad Sahib Mirbat, bin ‘Ali Khali’ Qasam, bin ‘Alawi, bin Muhammad Sahib al-Sawma’ah, bin ‘Alawi, bin ‘Ubaydullah, bin al-Imam al-Muhajir il-Allah Ahmad, bin ‘Isa, bin Muhammad al-Naqib, bin ‘Ali al-‘Uraydi, bin Ja’far al-Sadiq, bin Muhammad al-Baqir, bin ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, bin Husayn al-Sibt, bin ‘Ali bin Abu Talib and Fatimah al-Zahra’, the daughter of our Master Muhammad ﷺ, the Seal of the Prophets.

In the 4th century AH (after hijra), Imam Ahmad ibn Isa al-Husayni emigrated from the troubled Basra, Iraq due to receiving enlightenment of the calamities and tribulations to fall and the greatness of the sacred trust he carried in his loins.

It was said that the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was from Mecca to Medina, and the emigration of his offspring was from Basra to Hadramawt. One of the Gnostics saw the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and asked him: “Are you pleased with the emigration of al-Muhajir Ahmad ibn Isa to Hadramawt?” The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replied “I am pleased with everything Ahmad ibn Isa is pleased with.”

His descendants became known as the children of Alawi, Banu Alawi or Ba-Alawi in hadrami province; Alawi was Imam Ahmad’s grandson. Their base was mainly in Tarim and surrounding cities in Hadramawt (Badawi, 2005). The Ba’Alawi followed Shafi’i school in jurisprudence and the Ash’ari school in creed therefore within the fold of Ahlsl Sunnah Wal Jammah.

The name “al-Haddad” goes back to one of the ancestors of Habib ‘Abdullah, Sayyid Ahmad bin Abu Bakr, who used to spend time with a blacksmith (haddad in Arabic) in his shop in Tarim and thus became known by that name to distinguish him from another Sayyid (descendent of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ), whose name was also Ahmad.

Later the title haddad al-quloob (blacksmith of the hearts) was given to Imam al-Haddad meaning the one who purifies the hearts to glow and shine with the life of belief, just as a blacksmith smelts iron to remove rust and makes it glow in the furnace.

Birth & Childhood

Abdulllah bin Alawi al-Haddad is best known as ‘Imam al-Haddad’ or ‘Qutb al-Irshad’ (The Pillar of Guidance). He was born in a Subair on the northern outskirts of Tarim in Hadramawt on the night of Sunday 5th Safar, 1044H. The night that he was born, one of the women of the village, a neighbour who attended his birth, took some of his father’s garments and wrapped Imam al-Haddad. His mother Sayyida Salma said that after his birth she could not sleep, because he was crying all night. Sayyida Salma then asked the woman to check up on Imam al-Haddad to see what was wrong with him. Surprisingly the woman found a large scorpion within the garment he was wrapped in, and he was stung several times (some narrations say up to 20 times). Imam al-Haddad narrated this account from his mother to his students later in his life, and a student asked him if this was an indication of the trials that Imam al-Haddad will face in this world just as the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ endured when squeezed 3 times by Angel Jibreel, Imam al-Haddad responded in his interpretation that this is among the tribulations that Allah sends to those whom he loves and those whose ranks he elevates.

Despite losing sight at the age of 3 or 4, due to smallpox, the imam had incredibly sharp memory, comprehension and recall of knowledge that he had learned inward and outwardly. He memorised the Qur’an and several other texts as a child. He had no interest in playing with other children. After his morning lessons he was known for praying 200 units of supererogatory prayer moving form masjid to masjid in Tarim.

He had a great attachment to Chapter Ya Sin, which he read constantly and in which he was given a special opening. His childhood friend Sayyid Abdallah Ba’l-Faqih said “Allah had endowed him with spiritual openings from a very young age. During the recital of Surah Ya Sin, we would see the effect upon him and he would weep persistently.” Another of his companion describes “We would gather for dhikr and an ecstatic state would overcome Sayyidina Abdallah to the extent that he would faint.” From the rest of his life he had this attachment to Sura Ya Sin and pushed others to recite it also.

As a child Imam al-Haddad frequently came under the sway of spiritual states during gatherings of remembrance and the only way to awaken him was by laying him in front of the tomb of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam.


He was known for his Prophetic character, he was gently, kind, compassionate and extremely generous. He would accept any excuses that were made to him, and his eyes would gaze upon the pious and the sinful with complete compassion and mercy.

He was extremely kind to the servants, the poor, the widow, and the orphan. Whenever his servant caused annoyance to him, the imam would give him a present to abate his anger. Then the servant would say “If only he could be annoyed with me at all times.”


His gatherings consisted of learning and recitation of sound books of knowledge which included jurisprudence, creed, Prophetic biography and spirituality. He loved the seekers of knowledge and those aspiring for the hereafter. As an ascetic he disliked any form of worldly discussions in his gatherings and would say “No one has sat with me and been diverted from the remembrance of Allah.” As a caller to Allah on all levels he had a small number of close disciples who he trained in the spiritual path. He called the scholars to act according to their knowledge and to become callers themselves. He called the rulers and the common people alike. He established a mawlid in the month of Rajab and would feed all those who attended, saying “If they do not benefit from our speech then we will place our blessings in the food.”


Imam al-Haddad received openings of knowledge and spiritual transmissions in two ways that is outwardly with the physical guidance of the scholars of his time and spiritually by transmissions from the great masters of the barzakh (intermediate realm).

He physically studied with approximately 140 scholars, amongst them, one the most significant of them was Habib ‘Umar bin Abdul Rahman al-Attas.

In regards to his spiritual transmission Imam al-Haddad said “I have been favoured by 4 people through the barzakh, al-Faqih al-Muqaddam, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf, Shaykh ‘Umar al-Mihdar, and Shaykh Abdallah ibn Abi Bakr al-Aydarus. Now I receive directly through the messenger of Allah ﷺ.”

He has also added “We have taken from Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani both intermediaries and without. We are also connected to him by way of the ties of kinship between the people of the house as well as otherwise.”

The Imam also indicated that he had inherited the inward function of Shaykh Abdul Qadir by saying “Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani sat on a carpet that was folded up after him and never unfolded again until the time of Shaykh Abdallah ibn Abu Bakr al-Aydarus. It was then folded up until our time when it was unfolded for us. It shall again be folded when we disappear from this world and none shall sit on it again.”


On the eve of the 7th Dhul-Qa’da of the year 1132, at the age of 88 lunar years the Imam passed away and his son Sayyid al-Hassan saw a flash of light shooting out from the body.

On that morning, in Mecca, one of those employed to sweep the sanctuary informed the people that the Imam had died. He was evidently a man of God, and when asked how he knew this, he answered that he usually saw Imam al-Haddad every day and night circumambulate the Ka’ba, but that night before he had not seen him and had thus deduced that he had passed to the next life. The water from the ritual washing was collected by the local people in all sorts of vessels for blessings. Not a drop was allowed to reach the ground when the body was washed.

Legacy & Teachings

His works revolve around the attainment of yaqin (certainty) the degree of unshakeable faith in God and His Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. His works are very well suited, if not purposely designed, for mass readership. His writings are brief because he judged that coming generations would not have time to read large volumes. ‘Yaqin‘ is attained by proper practice of the ‘Sunna‘ in fulfilling obligatory worships and avoiding prohibitions along with sincerity and truthfulness to God. There should be no barriers between the outward forms, the inward essence, and practical applicability of the Islamic teachings. Thus, whoever has knowledge, according to Imam al-Haddad, must teach it to those who need it.

Imam al-Haddad has a number of litanies & poetry, which are read as acts of devotion and reminders of the basic principles of monotheism. The most famous of his litanies are the famous Ratib (al-ratib al-shahir) and the Wird al-Latif. There are many many Qasaid(poetry) composed by the imam that are still recited regularly to this day including Qad Kafani and Ya Alima Sirri Minna.

Some of his books that are translated in to English include:

  • The Book of Assistance
  • Lives of Man
  • Gift for the Seeker
  • The Sublime Treasures
  • Taqwa and Knowledge

He produced many great students. Among the most famous were his son al-Imam Hasan bin Abdullah al-Haddad and al-Habib Ahmed bin Zayn al-Habashi and the two brothers Umar and Muhammad bin Zayn bin ‘Alawi bin Sumeit, Umar bin Abdul Rahman al-Bar and Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Balfaqih. From the great scholars who came from his lineage was the late Habib Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad who has converted approximately 200,000 people to Islam.

His contribution to the spread of Islam through his words and actions and his students and writings was immense. His works continue to inspire and he remains the ‘Pillar of Guidance’ he had been during his lifetime.

The Imam has said “Were all the people of this age, old and young, male and female, to come to us, they would all benefit, both in their religious and worldly affairs, their outwards and their inwards, in the immediate and remote future. There are people whose bodies are in the maghrib and whose spirits are here with us, and there are others whose conditions is the opposite in this.”


Alfātiḥata ilā rūḥi ṣāḥibir rātibi quṭbil irshādi wa ghawthil ‛ibādi wal bilād, alḥabībi ‛Abdillāhibni ‛Alawiyyibni Muḥammadil Ḥaddādi, wa usūlihī wa furū‛ihim, annallāha yu‛lī darajātihim fil jannati wa yukthiru min mathūbātihim wa yuḍā‛ifu ḥasanātihim, wa yaḥfaẓunā bijāhihim, yanfa‛unā bihim, wa yu‛īdu ‛alaynā min barakātihim wa asrārihim wa anwārihim wa ‛ulūmihim wa nafaḥātihim fiddīni waddunyā wal’ākhirati. [al-Fātiḥah].

Al-Fātiḥah on the soul of our master and compiler of the Rātib, the Axis of Guidance and the spiritual succour for the worshippers and nations, the beloved ‛Abd Allāh bin ‛Alawī bin Muḥammad al-Ḥaddād and his genealogical roots (ancestors) and their branches (descendants), that Allāh may elevate their ranks in Paradise and increase their benefit, and protects us with their status; and that He shower upon us of their blessings, (spiritual) mysteries, knowledge, and gifts in (our) religion in this world and in the Hereafter. [al-Fātiḥah].

What is Manhood (Rujūlah)?

Image Courtesy of Time4Thinkers

The definition of manhood (Rujūlah) has been endlessly discussed and dissected in scholarly tomes. For many ancient cultures, manhood was rooted in being a warrior. But it was a battlefield-specific manhood ill-prepared for life during peacetime. In early American history, manhood was connected with being a yeoman farmer or independent artisan. But when the Industrial Revolution moved men from farm to factory, men wondered if true manliness was possible in the absence of the economic independence they once enjoyed. In the 20th century, manhood meant being the familial breadwinner. But during times of Depression and Recession, and when women joined the workforce in great numbers, men felt deeply emasculated.

When manhood is connected to such cultural, and ultimately ephemeral guideposts, and times change, a crisis of manhood results. Some men then cling stubbornly to a past that cannot be recreated while others seek to redefine manliness in ways that while well-intentioned, end up stripping manhood of its unique vitality. Thus, the definition of manhood clearly needs to be rooted in a firm and immovable foundation. One that works across time, place, and culture and is attainable for any man, in any situation.

So how do we define manhood (Rujūlah)?

For Aristotle and many of the ancient Greeks, manhood meant living a life filled with eudaimonia. What’s eudaimonia? It is living a life of “human flourishing,” or excellence. Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to take actions guided by rational thought that would lead to excellence in every aspect of his life. Thus, manhood meant being the best man you can be.

For the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue. In fact, the English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word virtus, which meant manliness or masculine strength. The Romans believed that to be manly, a man had to cultivate virtues like courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness. Thus for the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue.

For us, Muslims, the Prophet ﷺ is al-Insān al-Kāmil (The Perfect Man); manhood can therefore be defined as the imitation of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in ethical, spiritual and moral behaviour. A man should try his best to be what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, and those perfect characteristics and exalted qualities and magnificent ethics are innumerous:

  • His ﷺ Vigilance
  • His ﷺ Wisdom
  • His ﷺ Knowledge
  • His ﷺ Eloquence
  • His ﷺ Courage
  • His ﷺ Physical Strength
  • His ﷺ Generosity
  • His ﷺ Shyness
  • His ﷺ Loyalty
  • His ﷺ Patience
  • His ﷺ Perfect Resilience
  • His ﷺ Asceticism; Reliance upon God
  • His ﷺ Responsibility
  • His ﷺ Forgiveness
  • His ﷺ Military Leadership
  • His ﷺ Justice
    His ﷺ Integrity
  • His ﷺ Perfect Care for Cleanliness
  • His ﷺ Humility
  • His ﷺ General Manners and Etiquette
  • His ﷺ Kindness to His Family and Relatives
  • His ﷺ Kind way of Covering with Others
  • His ﷺ Excellent Way of Rebuking and Censuring
  • His ﷺ Perfect Way of Teaching and Guiding
  • His ﷺ Perfect Method of Directing People to Higher Aspirations
  • His ﷺ Mercy with Animals
  • His ﷺ Amiability in Social Settings

Both genders are capable of and should strive for virtuous, human excellence. When a woman lives these virtues, that is womanliness; when a man lives the virtues, that is manliness. Which is to say that women and men strive for the same virtues, but often attain them and express them in different ways. The virtues will be lived and manifested differently in the lives of sisters, mothers, and wives than in brothers, husbands, and fathers.


– Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawī al-Mālikī (2013). Muhammad ﷺ the Perfect Man. UK: Visions of Reality Books. Contents.
– Brett & Kate McKay. (2010). What is Manliness. Available: Last accessed 12th Aug 2014.
– Harvey C. Mansfield (2007). Manliness: Yale University Press. 304.
– Image courtesy of Time4Thinkers.

The Pious “Drunkard” and “Fornicator”

Sultan Murad IV [d. 1640 CE]

Sultan Murad IV, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623-1640, would often anonymously go into the midst of the people and see their state. One evening, he felt an uneasiness in himself and the urge to go out. He called for his head of security and out they went. They came to a busy vicinity, and found a man lying on the ground. The Sultan prodded him but he was dead and the people were going about their own business. Nobody seemed to care about the dead man lying on the ground.

The Sultan called upon the people. They didn’t recognise him and asked him what he wanted. He said,

“Why is this man lying dead on the ground and why does no one seem to care? Where is his family?”

They replied,

“He is so and so, the drunkard and fornicator!”

The Sultan said,

“Is he not from the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ? Now help me carry him to his house”

The people carried the dead man with the Sultan to his house and once they reached, they all left. The Sultan and his assistant remained. When the man’s wife saw his dead body, she began weeping. She said to his dead body,

“May Allah have mercy on you! O friend of Allah! I bear witness that you are from the pious ones.”

The Sultan was bewildered. He said,

“How is he from the pious ones when the people say such and such about him? So much so that no one even cared he was dead!”

She replied,

I was expecting that. My husband would go to the tavern every night and buy as much wine as he could. He would then bring it home and pour it all down the drain. He would then say, “I saved the Muslims a little today.” He would then go to a prostitute, give her some money and tell her to close her door till the morning. He would then return home for a second time and say, “Today, I saved a young woman and the youth of the believers from vice.”

Winter Rags by Richard Lithgow

The people would see him buying wine and they would see him going to the prostitutes and they would consequently talk about him. One day I said to him,

“When you die, there will be no one to bathe you, there will be no one to pray over you and there will be no one to bury you!”

He laughed and replied,

“Don’t fear, the Sultan of the believers, along with the pious ones shall pray over my body.”

The Sultan began to cry. He said,

“By Allah! He has said the truth, for I am Sultan Murad. Tomorrow we shall bathe him, pray over him and bury him.”

And it so happened that the Sultan, the scholars, the pious people and the masses prayed over him.

We judge people by what we see and what we hear from others. Only if we were to see what was concealed in their hearts, a secret between them and their Lord. If Allah knows, why does it matter who knows and who doesn’t know?!

“O you who believe, abstain from many of the suspicions. Some suspicions are sins. And do not be curious (to find out faults of others), and do not backbite one another. Does one of you like that he eats the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful.” (49:12)