Visiting Madinah-17 Dhul Hijjah

Figure 1A: The first view that I saw of the Rawdah when I turned the corner in Al-Masjid un-Nabawi.
Figure 1A: The first view that I saw of the Rawdah when I turned the corner in Al-Masjid un-Nabawi.

After the fajr prayer, I was again awake and waiting. When the Slaves of Allah decided to take a three hour nap, I made my move. I had washed and cleaned myself. I was now up and shuffling around, the mahogany door whacking me on the behind as I tried to stop it from slamming on the way out.

Down the steps, out of the hotel and onto the walkway, I was well on my way. The left turn in took less time to reach the Rawdah but I decided to take the long way around to build my resolve so I turned right instead.

Ah, yes. I was now on the tile floors, wearing my boots with socks rolled over, coloured jalabiyyah, black `imamah over black tarboosh with dark brown rida’ over my person. What a curious picture I must have cut for some onlookers. Now at the door of the gate, I removed my jack boots and put them in a bag and moved on with them.

Once inside, I started the same walk I had begun not much more than an eye blink before and lost the nerve. Every step I took, my breathe became shallow and I looked around for others also heading that way. This was reminiscent of the holy air that I felt in Makkah. This was another Masjid that Allah had set aside but it was greater in rank than all but Al-Masjid ul-Haram.

This location was greater than Al-Masjid ul-Aqsa and Qubbat us-Sakhrah, Quba’ and others. Five minutes later, I arrived in the line winding its’ way around the pillars and on the way. I had brought the seven line du`aa with me that Imam Mansur ibn Yunus al-Buhuti, may Allah be pleased with him, had quoted with chain of transmission from the Bedouin.

Here I was, a Bedouin, immigrant, homeless three times, a drop out from high school that had to get his G.E.D. and only then go to university, a reformed criminal, a thief, someone guilty of grand larceny and so many other negative adjectives that it was strange that the wearer of all these titles still insisted that he was a Muslim at the time.

I stood in line and felt happy that it moved slowly around the corner, snaking its’ way around the pillars. I saw another opposite to this holy atmosphere. The red and white checkered keffiyyeh, which had disgusted me for two decades, was now on display.

I remember when I first ran across this cult in the early 1990s when two brothers that I knew, Mustafa (who later took the sobriquet as-Salafi) and brother Khaled (who we had told not to rush off to Yemen but wait while we found a good place…but in his haste he ran of to Dammaj), had dived head long into it.

Being referred to as deviants and people of bid`ah and having salam withheld by brothers that we had originally held in high regard and vice versa was one of the most painful points in my life. The filth of Salafiyyah was spread from the old armoury gone masjid, Masjid Ahl us-Sunnah, in East Orange, New Jersey. These were heady times.

Names such as Abu Muslimah, Dawud Adeeb, Abu Usaamah, Usaamah al-Qoosi, Abul Hasan al-Halabi, Saleem al-Hilaalee as-Salafi and others were new names but we were equally despicable in our eyes. Masjid ur-Rahmah in New Jersey would later be used as a further launch pad for Salafiyyah.

On the West Coast, we saw the intrusion of the cult as spiritual paedophilia, targeting the young and vulnerable and then forcing them into positions. Indeed with each new convert, they would take pictures and then post them where other culprits (and even victims) could view the vile outpourings on “embracing the way of the salaf.”

In the beginning of my research into the cult, I merely thought that the problem was the Saudi State, Bin Baz, Uthaimin, Al-Albani, Hamoud at-Tuwaijiree, King Fahd and the monarchy and so forth. The information that I had found in Arabic books in the beginning had put across the assertion that Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab had been a reformer and his teachings were twisted.

Indeed some people of Orthodoxy at that time and today even said these words. I kept reading and stumbled across the writings and discussions of Muhammad `Abduh, Muhammad Rashid Rida’ and Sayyid Qutb and scholars denouncing it. Salafiyyah was an enemy to us and we fought it, both verbally and sometimes hand to hand when they came to our masjids.

We knew it when it appeared. Salafiyyah members appeared, women would be married, utilised and upon pregnancy receive a divorce. Those that did not would be used. The wicked of these diseases was what happened in 1997, when a lecture came fresh from East Orange, New Jersey, claiming as evidence a ruling from Ibn Hazm that if a man pronounced a divorce on his wife and then subsequently had sexual intercourse with her, this did not count as reconciliation.

Salafi members eager to implement this went to work straight away and cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Stockton and Portland felt their sexual prowess and wrath along with a string of broken women, homes and broken hearted children who had to be told that their father would never return.

When I came to the United Kingdom, the same dirt was in London and gaining momentum in Leicester. Brixton, Bakersfield and other locations were inundated with the “Salafi da`awah.”

As I continued my studies that had begun years ago (and included ancillary study of the other cults, Ahmadiyyah, Shi`ah and Bahai alongside Salafiyyah), I was now finding a situation more disturbing. Originally, I had adopted the position that the problem with Salafiyyah was today and the people that twisted it.

All of these people today had gone away from the teachings and knew nothing of the true message of the man. All that needed to happen was to have a larger book to draw the points together.

However two things changed this thinking of mine altogether and permanently. `Abdur-Razzaq ash-Shayiji’s book, Al-Khutut ul-`Aridah Li Ad`iya’ is-Salafiyyat il-Jadidah and also reaching the literature of Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab and the response texts.

I knew three brothers that had a large amount of literature and allowed me to gain access to the most important works on belief by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab, his sons and grandsons. There was also a shaikh I knew that had ad-Durar as-Sanniyyah by Imam Ahmad Zayni ad-Dahlan, the large multi volume Salafi response under the same title and numerous underlying texts.

The shaikh said to me that the Saudis were liars and criminals but that Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab had been a fool to allow himself to be tricked by them and put himself under their authority as almost autocratic emperors. It took me twenty weeks to wade through some 22 books written by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab.

After this, I read Fath ul-Majeed (commentary on Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab’s Kitab ut-Tawhid), by `Abdur-Rahman ibn Hasan and Sulaiman ibn `Abdullah, both grandsons of the founder of the current incarnation of the Khawarij. This is when I began to see the picture emerge.

I felt lightheaded and sat quietly for a number of hours between `Asr and Maghrib in a London masjid where my brother, Ashraf al-Hindi, died on the same day I went through this literature and then reflected. The people in Brixton and other places, Bin Baz, `Uthaimin, Al-Albani, King Fahd and the others were not at all twisting the beliefs of Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab.

They were faithfully living by these teachings and acting them out to the letter and were completely devout in presenting these views. So then I was wrong about there being some disconnect. His books were all extant and the people who were his devotees had changed nothing of them. Unvarnished and pure in their original presentation of Muwahhidun thought, these books were really nothing more than kufr.

Suddenly, all of what I had witnessed of the group made sense and the pieces fell in place carefully. This cult had put such a hold over these people’s lives they felt that the only way to live faithfully was to gather together all those faithful to the teachings (jama`ah) denounce their detractors (takfir) and then flee to their own gatherings (hijrah).

I told the shaikh about it and he said to me, “Listen. Just wait. If you do this…when you do this, they are going to come for you. You better be ready.” He gave me a careful nod in the masjid office and I understood. I was placing my life in danger but also putting myself in public where they would try to destroy my individual person. They had learned this well from their master, Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab.

When I married, I still continued in the mission against all these groups but a brother pulled me to the side in 2000. “Akhi, I think you need to be careful. You’r e in a lot of trouble.” He stared at me and shook his head.

“What?” I was incredulous. I thought if maybe I owed him money or perhaps I had not given him salam one day. The brother was very particular about these matters and it had me thinking. “I had a dream about you.”

“If you start mentioning steamy scenes brother…I told you, get married, brother.” I tried to break the ice but he stared at me with an icy look. “I’m serious,” he raised his voice. We both sat and he narrated a dream to me.

He was inside of a tavern (read pub for the United Kingdom), but there were Muslims present there also. Large beards, some with jalabiyyah, some dressed like unbelievers but you could tell by the big beards that these people were Muslims. I walked in and the tavern transformed into a masjid and I began killing everyone in sight that came forward except the brother.

“I could just see heads getting cut, bodies stacking up on the floor. You just would not stop and they were having the heads cut clean off. Your clothes were only a little dirty. Besides that, you just continued. That’s what I remember.” He narrated a few other details. I was terrified and so was the brother.

We narrated the story to shaikh who listened and then he looked at me. “You are going to go to war with the people of bid`ah, a large war. Most of it will be Salafis but it will be all people of bid`ah. You be careful…be very careful.” I stood motionless,  not knowing fully what to say. “How?”

“Listen. Just do what you are going to do; but do not hesitate and always ask Allah for His help. The following years are going to be hard for you.” I only nodded and continued on my way. I was going to have to wait for this to all unfold.

In the blink of an eye, by 2004 the website was up and running, I had completed 41 lectures by 2005, taught in masjids, completed seminary work, by 2007, A Word of Advice was released and then hot on its’ heels was Divine Texts. The death threats that came to my PO Box, mail box at my house and e-mails and guest book on the website gave me pause for thought.

A loud but jovial argument with the webmaster by telephone led to the close of the guest book. “Brother Abu Ja`far, I don’t care what you say! What they said in that guest book was horrible. I’m taking it down. Sikhs threatening to rape you?  Salafis saying that you show your…you know what to your congregation every Friday before dhikr?!What is this?” I sought to console the brother.

“People need to see what these people do when they are questioned and the type of religion people really follow. These cults and false religions should be allowed to have their words put in front of the…”

“I can’t hear you right now. All I can hear is the guestbook going away…” the webmaster laughed. After 378 answered questions, the forum was closed down. All this happened before the books.

The books were the natural outgrowth of the fire that had started and what we were saying to the people. Stay Sunnis! Don’t join Salafiyyah! They are calling you away from where you are! Repent from your sin but don’t join their cult!

I came around the corner and stood almost face to face now with the cult that had the government and sections of the military with it. I still had the home court advantage, even under Saudi Salafi domination. I had the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him as my guide.

Walking briskly past him, I took to a spot over near where the pillars to a musalla were located. I was right in front of the Rawdah and I gave my salam to the greatest human being that ever lived. I conveyed salam and well wishes from all the slaves I knew in Nottingham, London, Leicester, the domiciles of the West Coast in the United States and anyone else who had asked me to convey salam.

Salam was conveyed by myself to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, `Umar al-Faruq, may Allah be pleased with them and was able to read the seven line du`aa with the chain of transmission from Imam Mansur ibn Yunus al-Buhuti, may Allah be pleased with him.

I could hear the satanic rustlings of the Salafi religious police in Arabic, English and Urdu, castigating the people there. One of the guards blatantly lied when he said, “There’s people that even come here and prostrate towards the grave.”

Firstly, there isn’t even enough room to prostrate towards the graves and the crowding would have crushed such a person. Secondly, where is the photographic evidence?

“People even sometimes make tawaf…” another one whispered into the air. How? There is no way to make a complete circle. What is more, how would you know if they are or not?

In spite of this, the moment could not be spoiled. I stood among so many people more worthy than me but I was glad to be in their company. A brief look over the grills into the darkness to satisfy curiosity made me turn back quickly. Would I want someone doing this to me while I was in my intimate moments with my Lord?  Just give the greeting and don’t make it a carnival.

Some Slaves of Allah were taking photos, posing and also filming using their phones as camcorders. I felt such happiness with what Allah had done with me. I again repeated me greeting and said the greetings from the others, not long after saying that I was trying to remain faithful to the people he left in charge of the Ummah and resist the people who truly hated him.

I felt like just explaining everything but I knew that soon I would be moved. I lastly just asked that he make du`aa for me and give me the courage, strength and health to continue and that he bless the Sunni people in Nottingham and give them help against falsehood.

My feet found their way out of the masjid and I was now outside looking in from the tile at the door. This was no time for male machismo. I was generally overwhelmed by it all and was glad Allah gave me the wherewithal to make it. Now it was time to head for the hotel and prepare for Jumu`ah.

Visiting Madinah-16 Dhul Hijjah

Figure 1A: Herein beyond the outside gates lies in state the greatest human being that ever lived.
Figure 1A: Herein beyond the outside gates lies in state the greatest human being that ever lived.

I felt exultant after Fajr prayer the next morning. Everyone headed back to the hotel but I was still restless. After I was sure everyone was well asleep and they would not be disturbed by my leaving the room and shutting the hard mahogany door, I made my way and left the hotel.

I walked all the way up to Al-Masjid un-Nabawi and looked for the Badr Gate and quickly slipped inside. It was 8am and I was seated in the masjid with the nearest human being some 100 yards from me. I sat at peace and tranquillity and felt calm and then I remembered. I still needed to complete the 200 raka`ah that I had made as an oath to Allah for going to Hajj.

I stood up and over the course of a number of hours was able to complete some 78 raka`ah, leaving me with another 100 left to complete. I had done the first one hundred in Makkah and al-Masjid ul-Haram and hoped that I would have received the 100,000 reward for each prayer.

After I completed these 78 raka`ah, I decided to rest and stay in the Masjid and wait all day up until `Asr but a steady stream of people going in the same direction piqued my interest. I followed them and within ten minutes was at the Rawdah and could see the golden gates bearing the bodies of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and `Umar al-Faruq, the two Shaikhs of Islam, may Allah be pleased with both of them.

Heaven and Earth stood still and I could hear the same dull rumble as that which I had witnessed at Al-Masjid ul-Haram in Makkah. However this was more of a hum, as if the inhabitants inside were making a low dhikr that was almost imperceptible to those gathered around.

I thought of how far I had come in my life in 20 years, everything I had done and not done. Names of dead friends, believers and unbelievers, ran through my head and I doubted myself. Why was I the one to be allowed all of this honour? Khalid `Abdur-Rahman, a Sudanese friend of mine, was by far more intelligent, had been through more and deserved more to be at this place.

What of Guy Washington, Raymond, Hiram, Caspar, Jose Flores and his wife, Gloria? Why should I be honoured by Allah and these people died as unbelievers or are alive and still not believers or are Muslims and have not been called yet?

And with all of this said and thought, I realised I had to turn back. I was not ready to be in the presence of these people. I would have to come back when I was ready. I did not know when, but not now. I slowly backed away and headed away from the area and briskly made my way back to the hotel.

“Brother Abu Ja`far,” one of my roommates called. I did not want to speak so I made my way around the corner and quickly disappeared up one of the back streets. I had to gain my composure and then I could speak to him. I did not want him to think something was wrong and have to explain my own inefficiencies in detail.

Some day when I was ready I would be able to make my way there…but not today. I didn’t even know if I would be able to do it during this visit. It was Thursday and I gave strong thought to cancelling the lessons on Imam at-Tirmidhi as I just did not feel 100% at all.

If I did not feel that I had the strength to visit the greatest human being that had ever lived, how could I do any other teaching? Although saddened by this, I still felt the great need to go there and visit at some point in the future.

I walked along the arcade area outside of the fencing of the compound of Al-Masjid un-Nabawi and pondered for a period of time. There was a shop that Allah directed me to and I stumbled inside the area.

I just looked across the bookshelves and notices that they had a good selection of books on the madhhab so I began looking. I had lost one volume of Al-Furu` that a brother had loaned me and was resolved to buy another.

The shopkeeper saw me and remarked, “Mauritania?” I smiled and chuckled. “No,” I replied in Arabic. “But you’re a student here? What are you looking for? I’m sure we have it.” “Kitab ul-Furu` by Imam Ibn Muflih.” He scanned the shelves and then went in the back.

“Ah, yes. Here it is here. Now this is a very good edition. They have included both the Furu` but the Tashih that Imam al-Mardawi did on the work to correct any rulings that might have been out of sync.” He and I then had the most interesting discussion about the text, its’ history and the Muqni` and its’ best commentaries.

“Are you on al-Muqni`?” I nodded. “Good, so you’ll memorise it?” He seemed very enthusiastic. “Just make du`aa that I do so,” I sort of half shrugged. “You’ll need this one and also the other commentaries to get a proper understanding once you are done. Are you using the Zad or the Dalil?”

“My framework is the Zad. That’s what I know best. I prefer the Zad.” He nodded and stacked the three volume set of Al-Furu`. Normally appearing in 11 volumes, this edition had small print but was also more expansive in terms of Al-Mardawi’s notes.

This would be very important as Imam al-Mardawi belonged to the last generation of Murajjihun so his understanding and also layout would be of the utmost use. I possessed his al-Insaf, so I had no need to be convinced of his genius.

I was given a discounted rate as the man said he would discount a student. Then after that I headed out the door with the jewels and sat on a stoop and looked at the sun go from a soft yellow to an angry red as the day progressed.

Now back at the hotel room, I added the books together. The brother would be happy once I presented the books to him. I could not find the fifth volume of al-Furu` I had lost and had given my personal word that I would return it in full if I could not find the other volume. A student of knowledge has to return his trusts, I thought.

I thought back numerous times, trying to remember where I might have put it but I had no idea. I really had lost the volume. When food time came, Al-Hajj `Ismah and the others insisted I come with them and enjoy some of the goop that was gazing back at us in the food pans.

I resolved to eat only things I could identify, pronounce and that were not submerged in a swamp of oil. Looking at the oily mixture, my heart warned me that it would trigger angioplasty signals immediately unless I backed away.

The other brothers at the table spoke while I continued to sit and reflect over my own life. I had thought about everything before, but being in Madinah amplified things. I had made it. I had survived; but why had I made it versus others who were more worthy? I knew I had to trust Allah in this regard.

Al-Hajj `Ismah chose me as the man to take him back to the room and look after him and observe his health. I saw no problem with this and enjoyed his company immensely. I sat on the bed and read, immersed in my own world. “You know, the main thing you have to understand is that you must not worry. Allah is in charge of all things.”

The words flowing from this white bearded sage about al-Harith al-Muhasibi, Bishr al-Hafi and others gave me food for thought but also encouraged me. Allah chooses whom He wills and uses any vessel for what He pleases, irrespective of how unworthy such a vessel may be in reality.

Once my mind was at ease, I made my intention to visit the sacred place on Friday. It was Thursday night before sunset and I read the dhikr and salam upon the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

I was going to try to go see him tomorrow and I would still go ahead with the Tirmidhi dars. Let’ s get moving, I thought. I have to get moving. In the excitement of everything, I somehow managed to fall asleep.

Visiting Madinah-15 Dhul Hijjah

Figure 1A: The courtyard of Al-Masjid un-Nabawi at  night time.
Figure 1A: The courtyard of Al-Masjid un-Nabawi at night time.

12pm brought me out of my sleep and sitting upright in bed while replying to greetings from my roommates who also began stirring at the same time. “When is the adhan to be made?” I looked around.

“I don’t know. I checked the timetable for Madinah and it looks like Zuhr begins just after 1pm.” Al-Hajj `Ismah’s bed was conspicuously empty and bore no signs of exactly when he left for Al-Masjid un-Nabawi.

“Do we have any leftovers from what we brought from Makkah…you know the juices and salads?” I felt thirsty and was genuinely relieved when I made my way to the refrigerator and found there were some remnants of our past healthy snacks that we had consumed in Makkah.

Matloob could not help himself and just had to put on terrestrial television and take a peep. He would find nothing but programmes about Islam, recitation, the occasional Salafi ranting (I mean by this that he was actually red in the face shouting like some sort of Waffen SS veteran trying to increase the morale of his troops) and then there was just pure news.

Tanweer switched off the box using the remote. “Come on, we did not come all the way to Hajj and Madinah for the tele. Let’s do something else.” Matloob looked and only gestured. “Just checking what was on to see how the other half lives.” Tanweer nodded and we looked at each other.

There was the initial stop in the time-space continuum as all three of us stared at the bathroom door. Would we all try to go in at once and live by the law of the jungle or would we be civilised. We started smiling immediately.

“So how are we going to do this? Who’s in first?” Tanweer stared at me briefly. “You go in first. You’re closest to the door.” I felt it would be fine for him to go first and I could be patient. Being last meant that you had the place all to yourself.

And last I was…Matloob strolled out and promptly announced to me that if I was thinking of a shower I would have to wait for fresh towels. “Nevermind. I’ll just air dry,” I announced to the duo.

The shower room was just as palatial as our bathroom in Makkah. It was as large of the largest bedroom in my house back in the UK and thought this was the stuff of legend.

I tried to dress and put on my best clothes for the occasion and prepared myself. I came out and found that they were both reclining back on the bed and enjoying their time. We now found our way out of the building and exchanged some pleasantries with the desk staff.

The walk to the masjid was quiet and looking at our watches, could see that it was 1:30pm, but we had not heard the Adhan. It seems that the Adhan of Madinah was much softer and lighter on the tongue than the mighty blast we used to receive in Makkah.

It is at this point I would like to make a worthy observation. Makkah and Madinah were both equal in my eyes as you saw different things in each and each was noble in its’ own right. Makkah was the place where you saw the pure Holiness of Allah, his Taqaddus and Majd.

Such was this that people often feel that sense of terror and awe while at the Sacred Compound. The blasting heat of Makkah made you understand that this was the place where revelation first came, the home of prophesy, the place where the human race began once the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, descended to Earth from the Paradise.

Madinah was where you saw the Mercy of Allah, His Rahmah, Fadilah and Sharaf. The cool wind, soft adhan, soft people and placid attitude were all signs of this mercy. I looked at the city and remembered that these same gentle people had been forced by invading Salafis to eat all the dogs in the city when there was a supply blockade from the stubborn cult.

We decided to break up and then meet back at the hotel and then maybe have a dinner together. “Remember to do as much du`aa as possible.” I nodded to Matloob and we parted ways. I was on my way to the entrance of the masjid and could see Arabs outside, both Badawi and Hadari, mixing and talking.

I went in without so much as even a look from the hirasah (security forces) and found a section of the masjid to call my own for the time being. I had missed Zuhr in jama`ah so the people were filing out or doing their sunan ratibah. One shaikh was teaching Maliki fiqh to some students quietly.

It was a pity as the Salafi establishment, in its’ monopolisation of the sacred area, stopped people from conspicuously teaching and left Imams having to behave like crack dealers when teaching Maliki fiqh and the like.

I prayed the greetings to the masjid, two raka`ah before Zuhr, Zuhr and then the two raka`ah after that. I had to be back at the room quickly because we needed to catch Al-Hajj `Ismah and taken him to the hospital to check how much damage had been done to his heart.

The ailing al-Hajj was full of ideas and quite buoyant for a man who had been laying on the floor in Mina on one fajr morning waiting for death. “Are we going?” Yes, we were going, I thought. We flagged down a taxi and a very calm Yemeni took us to the clinic and gave us dates on the way. Shaikh al-Husri blasted from the stereo and he talked about how happy he was to be living Madinah and would never leave.

He dropped as at Ash-Shifa Clinic and told us what to do and how to be booked into the clinic. Our 4:30pm arrival was good because waiting times were long. At 5pm we met an Indonesian woman that spoke fluent Arabic and advised that what we wanted to do could not be done there but would have to be done at the Al-Ansar Hospital.

We prayed Maghrib upstairs and prepared to make our way. I came up and found most of the people had finished. I was going to pray by myself when another man came in and we joined in together.

After the prayer, he was very friendly and happy to make my acquaintance. One of the doctors on site, he was also perceptive. “So what group did you come with?” I replied that I had come from the UK and had just been visiting. “You’re Hanbali?”

When I replied in the affirmative, he beamed. “So there are many there?” I remarked in the negative and that it is just a few but I was working with some to get works translated. The doctor was very excited about that and gave his final reply, “Allah accept it from you.”

After I came down the winding stairs, Tanweer and Matloob were waiting out side with Al-Hajj, who wanted to get checked and scanned as soon as possible. We were at Al-Ansar Hospital for 5:30pm and waiting at the door. We had to check in at the counter, twice.

Security swapped and we had to again state our purpose. Military men with rifles waited in the lobby and were also in the leisure rooms. The khaki suits made me want to laugh but I stifled it. I had to ask to see someone to get X rays and after some wrangling and raised eyebrows, we eventually reached an understanding.

I had never learned the medical language of Arabic so I had to learn off the cuff. I was fortunate that I had two doctors with me as they would explain the process and medical situations and in painstaking detail I would have to explain the situation.

They would after some time nod with understanding and then repeat the necessary Arabic equivalent and go through the technical situation. When we met the doctor, he was s tall, slim be speckled man who had an easy gait. The process of taking the X rays and our release sped up once we made his acquaintance.

At 8:30pm we had to call a cab to get back and easily found our way back to the hotel. So that by 9:30pm we were at our hotel door and Al-Hajj `Ismah said that he would rest and make sure he could get up before tahajjud.

Once we had changed into our sleeping clothes, we heard a thumping at the door. “Brother Abu Ja`far, it’s Uwais. May I come in?” I assented and opened the door and in slipped our tall compatriot.

“You know what we spoke about before, you know doing the Shama’il of Imam at-Tirmidhi. I was wondering if we could start it on this Friday. It’s Wednesday now so I wanted to give you some notice.” I recalled what we had discussed and agreed. “Great, so we’ll meet after Maghrib and begin.”

“Wonderful. So where should be do it? My room or yours?” I looked over and he gave me a quizzical look. “You didn’t know? I thought you knew that my sister, some brothers and I agreed to have it outside of Al-Masjid un-Nabawi, in the courtyard not far from the green dome.”

I immediately went on alert. “As long as you know the risks. I am not trying to collide with the Salafi police and everything. I just want to enjoy the city and relax after the hajj.” “So you think the deviants will try something?” Uwais raised his eyebrow and as I was formulating a response brother Mumtaz came in along with Saghir and `Irfan.

“Is it true about the dars on Tirmidhi after Maghrib on Friday?” I nodded but then offered a statement. “Let’s try it out and see and if anything happens we will have to move it or not do it.” “Agreed.” Uwais was in agreement and understood the risk we were taking.

I would just have to be prepared. After seeing them out and bidding farewell I reclined on my bed and thought about the fitnah that I could face and also the lies that Salafiyyah was known to do. If someone disagreed with them, they tried to discredit the person and in this way they would (in their own twisted and distorted reasoning) have answered the arguments or objections raised.

The only parallel I had for them was the Jehovah’s Witnesses, both carrying an air of knowledge and adherence to scripture. The difference is Jehovah’s Witnesses never claimed to be the only true Muslims and are generally pacifistic (Jehovah’s Witnesses were never called apostates by our scholars either).

Salafis on the other hand, kill detractors, slander questioners and refer to arguments against them as grave worship and such. We would see Friday what Salafiyyah would do. Allah, on the other hand, protects His Slaves and gives power to whom He wills.

Q and A: Feedback on the book, Divine Lightning

Salaam alaikum,

Thank you for the books and the blog. I had some questions about divine lightning because I am speaking with some salafis and they have made some statements. They claim that Muhammad bin abdel wahhab never used to make takfir on everyone and he even denied that he did. They quote

“And Allah knows that the man has fabricated statements from me that I never said nor that ever occurred to my mind. This includes his statement that I said that the people

have not been on anything [of the truth] for six hundred years or that I declare as disbeliever the one who seeks closeness to Allah via the pious or that I declared al-Boosairi a disbeliever or that I declare the one who swears by other than Allah a disbeliever… My response to those issues is that I say, ‘Exalted be You [O Allah] this is great slander.’” Muallifaat, vol. 7, pp. 11-12.

They also say that he did not denounce the madhhabs and agreed with them and followed one. The salafi gave me a quote where he said

“We, and all praise be to Allah, are followers and not innovators, upon the school of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.” Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab, Muallifaat, vol. 7, p. 40.

“We are followers of the Book, the Sunnah, and the pious predecessors of the Nation and what is supported in the opinions of the four Imams, Abu Hanifah al-Numaan ibn Thaabit, Malik ibn Anas, Muhammad ibn Idrees [al-Shafi’ee] and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on them.”

Wa `Alaikum us-Salaamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

Thank you for your reading of the book and may Allah reward you. I am glad to hear that you are reading through it. What I would say to you and every other reader – salafi or not – is to read the entire text through with its associated notes first. Then upon completion of the book to ask the questions.

I ask this because it may be that most of the questions you have asked will be answered by the author or in the notes that are at the bottom with references to what he said.

Now let us look at the quotes. All of these are coming from al-Mu’allafat, which means, “The authored works.” These are supposed to be collected writings that were put together after his death by his followers.

The problem is that these quotes were 100 years after the author. There are even other issues if we want to be specific. Let us look at each quote:

“And Allah knows that the man has fabricated statements from me that I never said nor that ever occurred to my mind. This includes his statement that I said that the people have not been on anything [of the truth] for six hundred years or that I declare as disbeliever the one who seeks closeness to Allah via the pious or that I declared al-Boosairi a disbeliever or that I declare the one who swears by other than Allah a disbeliever… My response to those issues is that I say, ‘Exalted be You [O Allah] this is great slander.’” Mu’allifaat, vol. 7, pp. 11-12.

Let’s put this next to statements that he has made that buttress this point. He said at one point,

“The best spoken word that could be said was the case of a Bedouin coming to us one day saying he had heard something about Islam. He said, ‘I bear witness that we were kuffar (he meant all the desert Arabs) and I bear witness that the guard who came to tell us about things is of the People of Islam’.

So the man bore witness that he was an unbeliever.” Majmu`at ut-Tawhid: Sharh Sittah Mawadi` min as-Sirah, pp.25-26.

This indeed shows that this creed was taught to the people. Further could be said by his son and first successor, `Abdullah Ala Shaikh, who stated:

“Indeed, major shirk has become the norm for most of these people due to ignorance spreading and knowledge disappearing.” Al-Kalimat un-Nafi`atu fil Mukaffirat il-Waqi`ah, pp.15-16.

There is further evidence for Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab’s theology and beliefs when we mention a few more points. It was mentioned by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab:

“It has been explicitly stated that idolatry would happen in this Ummah to the vast throngs of the people. The good news is that the truth will always be present, even as it has been in the past.

There will always be a small group upon it. The great sign is that even though people may oppose, abandon or kill them, it will not harm them, and this state will remain until the Hour is established.

It was prophesied that there would be a Victorious and Aided Group upon the truth, which has already happened, just as was foretold.” Kitab at-Tawhid (Ar.), pp.48-49, mas’alahs 7-12.

`Abdur-Rahman ibn Hasan, one of the successors of The Brotherhood movement, made this clear when he gathered the opinions of his grandfather and uncles together then commented:

“So this tribulation of worship of idols was brought about, to the point that no one in these later ages knew that they were supposed to reject it.

This was the case until shaykh ul-Islam Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab, may Allah have mercy on him, established that worship of idols was to be repudiated and forbidden. He forbade idol worship.

He then called the people to leave it, to worship Allah alone in His Lordship, Divinity, Names and Attributes.” Qurrat `Uyun il-Muwahhidin, pp.125-126.

We thus know for a fact that Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab taught the theology regarding the Ummah, their being in idolatry, how long they have been in idolatry, that one must bear witness against himself and his ancestors have committed idolatry and so forth.

We know this from the works quoted above which encompass his works, those of his sons and grandsons, those who took from him directly or took from those who took from him. This counts as primary and secondary evidence. There are also those who were enemies of his that state virtually the same thing.

This therefore counts as proof and establishes a historical reality for the time period. There is the second quote:

“We, and all praise be to Allah, are followers and not innovators, upon the school of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.” Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab, Muallifaat, vol. 7, p. 40.

“We are followers of the Book, the Sunnah, and the pious predecessors of the Nation and what is supported in the opinions of the four Imams, Abu Hanifah al-Numaan ibn Thaabit, Malik ibn Anas, Muhammad ibn Idrees [al-Shafi’ee] and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on them.”

But what does he mean by this following? How is he respecting the Imams and revering them? How does he go about doing this? We can go to the one who said the aforementioned words himself. Please read the following:

Also remember this statement of his,

“Most of what is in The Satisfaction and The Uttermost Boundary contradicts and opposes the madhhab of Imam Ahmad and his explicit statements and more so the explicit statements of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, so whoever knows that indeed knows it and whoever does not, does not know.”

He said at another point, “The same holds true for the books of the latter day scholars of the other madhhabs.” Hashiyat ur-Rawd il-Murbi`, vol.1, pp. 17-18.

This man has nothing to do with the madhhabs, Hanbali or otherwise. If he does not accept the books, then he also will not accept their authorities, living or dead.

This was made absolutely clear when Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab told two of his harshest critics, Imams `Abdullah ibn Dawud al-Basri and `Alawi al-Haddad:

“The Shari`ah is one. What is wrong with these people who have made it into four madhhabs?

Here we have the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. We do not act except by these two things. We do not take our orders or obey the judgements of the people of Sham, Egypt, India or anyone else for that matter.”

Imam `Abdullah ibn Dawud al-Basri said: “He was referring to the scholars of the Hanbali School and the other schools as well.”

As-Sawa`iq war-Ra`ud fir-Raddi `al ash-Shaqi `Abdul `Aziz ibn Sa`ud, chapter 2; Misbah ul-Anam, pp.129-130, respectively. This same claim was repeated to Imam Zayni Dahlan (1232-1308 AH (AD 1816-1890) only some years later by the successors of the movement’s founder. Please see Imam ad-Dahlan’s ad-Durar as-Sanniyah fir-Radd `al al-Wahhabiyyah, pp.44-45.

And further to this, if we take the apocryphal statements attributed to Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab as proof and disregard what is historically established, how do the advocates of Salafiyyah reconcile the mu’allafat that they quote as proof with another text where Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab remarks,

“I, praises be to Allah—neither calling to a Sufi way, fiqh or theological school. Nor am I calling to any of the Imams that I hold in high regard, be it Ibn al-Qayyim, adh-Dhahabi, ibn Kathir or others for that matter.

Rather, I call to Allah alone, who has no partners, and I am calling to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, which he advised his Ummah from the beginning to end to follow and hold onto strictly.

I hope that I never reject any truth that should come to me. In fact, I call to witness Allah, His angels and all of His creation that if any word of truth should come to me from him I should then accept it with a complete submission.

I should completely discard any statement from my Imams that contradicts it—this is the same for everyone except the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who only spoke the truth.” Al-Mu’allafat, vol7, pp. 250-252

That he sees himself as an absolute mujtahid to independently interpret the texts is discernible both from his writing style and how he saw himself. And what is more, merely claim to something does not mean someone’s membership to it.

Early Ahmadiyyah and Ahl ul-Hadith (the jama`ah in Patna) both claimed to be real Hanafis as did the Salafi Bengalis Hajj Shariatullah and Titu Mir. However we know that their theology and actions had nothing to do with the Hanafi school.

Sources cited: The Wahhabi Movement in India, pp. 21-32; 42-45; Muslim Societies in Transition, pp. 44-45; History of the Fara’idi Movement in Bengal, pp. 1-5; 6-12; 13-15; also see pp. xxxvii-liii of History of the Fara’idi Movement in Bengal

Abu Bakr Bashir and the Jameah Islameah in Indonesia (a splinter from the first Salafis who came in the beginning of the 20th century) claim to be the real Shafi`iis yet we know that they have more in common with Betty Crocker than the fiqh of Imam Ash-Shafi`ii or his school.

Sources cited: Buhuth Nadwah Da`wat ish-shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, vol. 2, pp. 391-422, Riyadh: Muhammad ibn Sa`ud University, 1991,

As-Sa`iqah (the Lightning Bolt) and SGPC (Salafi Group for Propagation and Combat), Salafi groups from Morocco and Algeria respectively, both claim to be the proper Malikis.

Source cited: Ramadan 1423 comminique on Our `Aqeedah (Ar. `Aqidatuna) and also As-Saif ul-Battar (written by the GIA-Armed Islamic Group, which SGPC splintered off from)

Yet they know nothing of the school of Imam Malik except what their imaginations tell them. They don’t study accurately, memorise or implement yet they are entitled, nay obliged to give opinions.

The Mu`tazilah, including those that tortured  scholars like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, from Ibn Du’ad all the way to the executioners and inquisitors in the Inquisition, claimed to be Hanafis, so much so that the Imams denounced them as having disgraced their madhhab.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him, said of the Hanafis in his time,

“The People of Ra’ii are a group of astray innovators and enemies to the Sunnah and Authentic Narrations. They negate the Hadith and refute the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

They have taken claim of Abu Hanifah and whoever speaks with his words as an Imam for them and judge by their religion. Every astrayness is clear from the one who spoke in this way.

So the one who has done this, has he then truly left the words of the Messenger and his Companions and gone to the words of Abu Hanifah and his companions. Sufficient is the state of such a person to show their wrong doing, evil and transgression.”

Source cited: Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 36-37

Jarullah Az-Zamakhshari claimed to be Hanafi and said that parts of the Qur’an were from the Angel Jibril, peace be upon him; but he is denounced today.

Mansur al-Hallaj, executed by the command of Imam Junaid al-Baghdadi, may Allah be pleased with him, for idolatry, claimed the Hanafi madhhab; but they recognised no part of him at all in connection to themselves.

Imam `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, may Allah be pleased with him, denounced the Hanafis in his area in his time, as they were all Mu`tazilah. He said of them,

“As far as the Hanafiyyah are concerned, they were a group among the followers of Abu Hanifah An-Nu`man ibn Thabit. They professed the doctrine that faith is the recognition and acknowledgement of Allah and His Messenger, and of everything, as a totality, that has come to us from His Presence.”

Source cited: Al-Ghunya Li-Talibi Tariq il-Haqq, vol.1, under the chapter, Al-Murji’ah (Ar.); Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth, vol.1, pp. 425-426

The reason for this is that up until the early Ottoman period, in the Muslim west, Hanafis were almost always Mu`tazilah; but in the Muslim east, they were upon the Orthodox creed due to the valour and bravery of Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and other scholars of repute.

Those cultists who claimed the madhhab were not from it for the most upright advocates did not accept their pledges and claims. The same holds true for any cult.

Yusuf al-Qardawi claims to be Hanafi but he is denounced continually as he has nothing to do with the fiqh. The same counts for Mahmud Shaltut who said that the Prophet `Isa is dead and will not return, mortgages are compulsory and that democracy is from Islam.

Source cited: Al-Fatawa, pp. 58-60 under the chapter, Was `Isa Raised or Is he Dead?

So in ending, it is not always important what you claim, but what you truly are in reality. If you claim to belong to something and the people who are the heads and leaders of that outfit state that you are not, then you simply are not.

Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab’s name only appears in Salafi literature. Any of the literature in Arabic that is an independent eye witness account, his name does not appear under any scholar lists. The few times it does appear in literature, it is negative.

So to state again, Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab, as mentioned by 60 scholars in their response literature, is a false teacher, false prophet and the scholars rightly fought him. Salafiyyah, to buttress its claims, needs to bring independently verifiable proof of his credentials.

Salafiyyah is unable to do this; but why should they. It should be every Salafi’s goal to stop following and being devoted to the wrong Muhammad and follow the right one.

And with Allah is every success,

Brother in Islam,

Al-Hajj

A Hajj Journal-Visiting Madinah 14/15 Dhul Hijjah

Figure 1A: An example of a roadside in the Arabian Peninsula.
Figure 1A: An example of a roadside in the Arabian Peninsula.

The bus was now rumbling along and making great moves. Matloob, Tanweer and I began talking gently  as some others slept but every now and then we would look back at Al-Hajj `Ismah to see if he was feeling faint or weak.

He seemed quite serene but was still very adamant on dying in Madinah. Our driver was a noble looking man from Sham.

I watched one man from our group step forward and snake his hand around me with the Urdu nasheeds and ask the driver to insert them. Please, Allah. Not here.

Not this despicable droning, the Satanic rustling of voices that will break our tranquillity. Please, Allah. Not here. The driver looked back at me briefly while at a stop light with the nasheeds just pumping away.

I could feel his relief when they failed and the disk skipped and did not function. The devilment of the filth had stopped.

I went into my bag and presented a recitation of Shaikh Mahmud Khalil al-Husri, may Allah have mercy on him, before another cassette or CD could be mustered. He looked at the tape and then at me. “Al-Qur’an…al-Husri.”

He smiled and slid the tape in straight away. I was so happy I could not contain it and smiled out the window.

The driver gave a murmured masha’allah and continued the drive. We were well into Maghrib and the redness of the shafaq was disappearing.

Once that redness was gone I was going to combine Maghrib and `Isha. The driver, who I suppose I can just call Shukri for the sake of familiarity, wheeled the bus with such ease I was amazed.

The grey goose was huge and reminded me of buses I would see on the West Coast taking people either to the county jail, 48 hours or juvenile hall.

At first we had plenty of space in the road; but as we carried on with our 12 hour journey and came off the freeway onto city streets, it was crowded. The bus stood, engine running, unmoving for some two hours. Shukri turned off the engine to conserve gasoline.

I could still hear Imam al-Husri reciting and the calmness in his voice was soothing. While we had time, I tried to get off the bus to pray my Maghrib and `Isha combined. However I could not. I was merely getting into position next to one of the bus tires when Shukri called out and the engine roared.

I had to wait. Fine. I will get back on. I will do it later. “Sorry, Akhi. The traffic just clears up and then it starts moving again.” I liked Shukri. His manners and behaviour were noble and he had a good character. One older brother next to me asked me to translate to the driver that the air conditioning should be on.

“No, no. Tell him it’s cold.” The whole journey I had dealt with people that had not even tried to use Arabic. It was always the same culprits. I was not going to do it any longer. “What’s going on?” The driver looked back at me.

“You tell them. You need to learn Arabic. I’m not going to carry you any more. You should have learned a long time ago. If you want to have him do something, you tell him.”

I excused myself from Shukri and moved to the back near Matloob and Tanweer so as to be closer than them. Let them flounder around, I thought. They don’t even try to use Arabic. They don’t even make an effort.

I thought back to the terminal in Jeddah when some Muslims, exasperated that English was not the universal language (and perhaps that some people knew it but did not want to speak it in their own country-which actually has its’ own language) said, “English…do you speak English?”

I was tired of this laziness. Rolling my body towards the window I snuggled up and tried to sleep off some of my tiredness. “Brother Abu Ja`far. Wake up.” I looked over bleary eyed at the meaty hands of Matloob gesturing and nudging me. “Are we in Madinah.” I looked out the window and looked for the dome and did not see it.

“No, but we need to have some food and drink. We’ve been travelling for some time. We’ve reached a rest stop. Do you need the toilet?” I shook my head in the negative and made friends with the window again.

I heard Shukri asking me, “Akhi, do you want coffee.” I again shook my head in the negative. “No thank you. It’s makruh.” He laughed. “Tea?” I shook my head again. “No, I am fine. That too is disliked. I’m not thirsty.” “Hanbaliyyan,” he said humorously and disembarked from the bus.

Some Shamis and Egyptians often used the expression to refer to someone that they thought was puritanical or strict. They meant it tongue in cheek so I never took any offence. I drifted off again.

We came to the next rest stop. Now I was thirsty and needed to freshen up. Coming off the bus, I saw a Bedouin encampment not far from the Arab restaurant and then there was a tiny masjid. Yes, I’ll pray here. I prayed Maghrib and `Isha together. It felt so good to discharge my duty with Allah.

I spied brother Uwais coming my way and smiling. We exchanged greetings and then looked around. “This place is amazing isn’t it. Even the freeway has remembrance of Allah.” My eyes felt misty at his mentioning this point.

All along the freeway, every 100-300 feet were signs reading: Subhanallah. Another 300 feet: Al-Hamdu lillah. Another 300 feet: La ilaha illallah. Another 300: Allahu Akbar. And on and on.

There were supplications for ascending and descending. I was exultant. I grew up seeing signs with gang graffiti, bullet holes or blood spatters. What a difference the faith makes.

I wondered about the emigration of my tribe and how I would have grown up if we had just stayed in Central America or Cuba. Would I have grown up the same way and suffered the same horrible trauma I did on the West Coast?

Allah only knows the answer to that question. Uwais treated me to a fruit drink in the restaurant and one of the men approached us. “Yemeni?” He looked at us and pointed at Uwais as well. I grinned.

Uwais gets mistaken for just about everything but his racial origin. I find it humorous. Yemeni is my favourite. His tall languid frame does give the appearance of Yemeni. I told the man that he was not and explained about his origins, which brought a laugh.

Not just content with a drink, Uwais also bought what appeared to be a whole baby chicken. He got out the door with it before a swarm a people from our group clawed and gnawed at the carcass of the beast. One would have thought he was watching an episode of Wild, Wild World of Animals.

“Are your sister and mother fine?” He nodded to me. “I think they just want to get to a room and rest. They must be really tired. You know, with all the bumps and cracks in the road on the journey.”

“Yallah!” Shukri shouted after taking a final sip from his tea and revving the engine of the bus and giving the air shocks a hearty thrust. Uwais and I exchanged greetings and separated into our groups, I made my way to but 45, no 1 and he headed to 45, no 2.

From what our group leader was telling me, our stay in Madinah would be at the Wasal ar-Reem hotel. I had never seen it so I trusted his judgement and prepared for an interesting sleep.

When I heard the driving saying that we were lost in Arabic, I merely thought that he meant the ride was long, but no…we were actually lost. Bus no 1 had pulled ahead in the move on the freeway ahead of us and then disappeared into the distance. We had no way to communicate.

Shukri knew the way but he did not know where in Madinah we were to stay and which quarter. I got our group leader on the phone and handed it to Shukri. The bus revving under his foot on the gas peddle, Shukri nodded, smiled grimaced and upon completion of the call handed the phone back to me.

He now knew but still had to arrive into the city and wait for Muhammad Ishaq. When we heard that brother Muhammad Ishaq would be waiting to guide us, Matloob, Tanweer and I all immediately fell into laughter.

It was the same Muhammad Ishaq who speaking Arabic, Urdu, Bengali or English sounded the exact same. He was such a wonderful brother but he just made us laugh by how quickly he would speak and gesture his hands as if always in a panic.

Muhammad Ishaq knew that we found it funny and would often give a greater performance for our added benefit and alleviation from tiredness or boredom. How we would greet him in Madinah. Meanwhile the Deobandi/Berelwi issues started up in the bus while we were in the back.

I was happy I had never grown up in that situation. “It’s really sad. They have ruined Islam in the subcontinent. This is all they do.” Tanweer looked out the window as the freeway lights shimmered off his face, giving him a wistful expression.

“Which one?” Matloob looked over. “All of them. They make my stomach turn.” Tanweer’s statement made me laugh for some reason. Here was a Muslim brother who was a doctor, Pakistani born in the UK of the Jat caste but sickened by all the other foolishness.

He was part of a growing breed of people who were sickened by the Deobandi/Berelwi groups, both of whom had worked together to single-handedly disgrace the Hanafi madhhab in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan.

This contributed to the ruination of anyone in UK every learning Hanafi fiqh in the UK or other Asian dominated areas as this was always brought up and then people would be shunned.

These throwbacks to British colonialism had done more to undermine Islam and stimulate the growth of Ahmadiyyah, Ahl ul-Hadith and Salafiyyah than Christian missionaries, brother Matloob had told me over dinner one night in Makkah.

The only way I reckoned this thing could be resolved would be through some violent takeover and then have a method of religion forced upon them that would eradicate all other ways and means.

We sat calmly on the bus in silence for hours, shuffling and bumping down a long, straight road to Madinah.

I could tell that the Saudi government (if they had indeed ordered or played a part in the laying of the asphalt on the road) had taken generously from the Americans.

The roads were wide and spacious with the familiar West Coast shaped signs that were just translated into Arabic. Even the freeway signs and the angular shape of the words were taken from the Interstate-5 and other US structures.

The horizon became lighter the closer we came to Madinah. There was a gust of wind and a light rain that pelted the bus on our turn into Madinah’s fair streets. Palm trees abounded and the people walking on the street gave us no more than a second look.

We came to a stop and looked around. The driver called me and said that he needed a call made to our group leader to come get us.

We were indeed lost and were waiting for our other bus to link up with us. It took two hours before Muhammad Ishaq materialised. Brothers began to come off the bus and prepare for Fajr.

The driver came next to me. “Let’s pray, akhi. Don’t worry. I’m Shafi`ii…and Ash`ari.” He had known by reservations and hatred for the one cult whose name I had not spoken as of yet.

We placed a scrape of cardboard on the dusty Madinan streets and prayed with him leading. His tajwid was very well patterned and he prayed with all the manners of the Sunnah. After Fajr we were guided by Muhammad Ishaq to the hotel and told to choose our rooms.

I went out and gathered our things with a haggard looking Matloob and Tanweer. I staggered about for the first five minutes but was no longer dazed as we worked with effort to pull our luggage from the roof and organise it in front of the hotel door.

We moved inside of the hotel and the group leader stood smiling, assigning us our rooms. We made our way to the room, no 220 and opened the door. The air conditioning was already on and the television blazing. Al-Hajj `Ismah had dug his heels into the place.

“Brothers, you know I was waiting for you to come. Shall we get some rest?” We merely nodded and unpacked our things and switched into our sleeping jalabiyyat. Like lightning I was in the bed and after the du`aa for sleep entered the dead zone.