Imam Al-Mawahibi: A True Servant to the Knowledge

Figure 1A: One of Ba`labak, Lebanon's many masjids. This is the ancestral home of Imam Al-Mawahibi.

Figure 1A: One of Ba`labak, Lebanon’s many masjids. This is the ancestral home of Imam Al-Mawahibi.

He is `Abdul Baqi ibn `Abdul Baqi ibn `Abdul Qadir ibn `Abdul Baqi ibn Ibrahim ibn `Umar ibn Muhammad Al-Ba`li Al-Mawahibi Ad-Dimashqi. Born Saturday 18 Rabi` ul-Akhir in the year 1005 AH, he came from a family of theologians and judges.

His father, Shaikh `Abdul Baqi Al-Ba`li, was one of the People of Knowledge of his time as well as his grandfather, Shaikh Zain ud-Din `Abdul Qadir, known as the Preacher to the Muslims.

The great grandfather, Shaikh `Abdul Baqi, was the Mufti of his time period and one of the premier scholars in research and textual analysis. His great great grandfather was the Shaikh Ibrahim ibn `Umar and his great, great, great grandfather was `Umar ibn Muhammad who was the first one to be known as Ibn Badran but later came to be nicknamed Ibn Faqih Fissah.

Early Life

The author began learning with his father, memorising the Qur’an while still a small boy of ten years of age. He excelled in his efforts and completed not only the narration of Hafs ibn Abi Sulaiman from `Asim ibn Abin-Nujud but also Qalun from Nafi`.

At the age of twelve, he set out to seek knowledge from other teachers, starting with the grand Qadi, Mahmud ibn `Abdul Hamid Al-Humaidi.[1] He then moved onto the great scholar, the Qadi and Shaikh, Shihab ud-Din Ahmad Al-Wafa’ii Al-Muflihi. This continued until the year 1029.

In Egypt

He headed to Egypt in this same year and at 24 years of age was reciting texts by heart, such as the The Satisfaction,[2] Provision for the One Seeking Satisfaction.[3] While in Egypt, he met none other than the grand marja` of his time, Imam and Shaikh, Mansur ibn Yunus Al-Buhuti[4] as well as another great scholar, Shaikh `Abdul Qadir Ad-Danushi. He studied diligently with them and accompanied them frequently.

During his stay in Egypt, he was given the good fortune of coming into contact with two other marja` people, namely Imam Mar`ii ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi[5] and Imam Yusuf Al-Futuhi.[6] Egypt was in a golden period at this time as the main commentaries on texts such as the Uttermost Boundary,[7] the Sufficiency, the Student’s Guide,[8] the Student’s Primer[9] and Provision for the One Seeking Satisfaction were being penned.

Indeed it must have been amazing having the writers and commentators alive in front of you while learning and being able to ask them pithy details about what they wrote in their masterful works.

In the sciences of the recitation of the Qur’an, Hadith study, Inheritance law and poetry, Imam Al-Mawahibi took full advantage, sitting with scholars of repute such as Shaikhs `Abdur-Rahman Al-Yamani, Ibrahim Al-Laqqani – the famed Shaikh of Al-Azhar – as well as Shaikhs Ahmad Al-Muqri Al-Maghribi Al-Maliki, Muhammad Ash-Shamarlisi, Zain ul-`Abdidin ibn Abi Durri Al-Maliki, Muhammad Al-Hamawi, Muhammad Al-Babeli and others.

Leaving Egypt for Damascus

Imam Al-Mawahibi sat in lectures and gatherings of knowledge from his arrival in Egypt until the year 1032, when he returned to Damascus with numerous teaching licenses to more than seventeen teachers in various sciences. He was given permission to teach and give rulings but was still very much dedicated to adding more knowledge to what he already possessed.

So he began to learn syntax, grammar, orthography, hadith verification, principles of fiqh from the Shaikh `Umar Al-Qari. Not long after, he was given a written authorisation in the books, staying on in Damascus until the year 1036.

Makkah, Hajj and then on to Al-Madinah

When he reached the middle of the year 1036, he intended to head to Makkah and complete the obligation of Hajj.

While present there, the author when not engaged with Hajj and `Umrah obligations, sat with a number of scholars to enrich himself with their knowledge. This included the knowledge of the Shaikh, Muhammad `Ali ibn `Allan As-Siddiqi, who gave the author authorisation to narrate his works. Another teacher was the Shaikh, `Abdur-Rahman Al-Murshidi.

Once he completed all of his Hajj and `Umrah rights, Imam Al-Mawahibi headed to Al-Madinah to visit the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. During his stay, he came to know of the Shaikh, `Abdur-Rahman Al-Khayyari.

Return to Damascus and Becoming Marja`

In the year 1040, Imam Al-Mawahibi left Arabia and returned to Damascus and in 1041, he undertook his writing career and taught extensively, being declared marja` one year after by the scholars present in a gathering. His teachers had been more than 26 in number and he had travelled to invest and absorb knowledge from Makkah, Al-Madinah, Jerusalem, Damascus and Egypt.

The teaching schedule of Imam Al-Mawahibi consisted of lessons in the Umayyad Family Central Masjid in the morning after sunrise and between Maghrib and `Isha’ prayers. He would read aloud in his lessons and often test the students.

He would then head to the Al-Muzaffari Central Masjid, holding two lessons in Hadith a day, two lessons in Tafsir Al-Jalalain as well as reading from the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari and completing it every year. He would also read from the Sahih of Imam Muslim, the Shifa’ of Al-Qadi `Iyad, Al-Mawahib of Imam Al-Qastalani.

He would also teach At-Targhib wat-Tarhib by Imam Al-Mundhiri, At-Tadhkirah by Imam Al-Qurtubi, the Commentary on Al-Bara’ah, Al-Munfarijah, the Shama’il by Imam At-Tirmidhi, the Ihya’ of Imam Al-Ghazzali and this would be done solely by him through weekly lessons on a regular basis. The reader is correct if he understands that this easily amounts to between ten to fifteen lessons a day.

He would start by teaching at the prayer niche of the Hanbalis but would then move and teach at the prayer niche of the Shafi`iis so that others would not feel neglected by his teaching solely in one spot.

There would also be large crowds and he would have to make way by moving from one to the other. This would often mean that from his prayer niche, crowds would overflow onto the Shafi`ii prayer niche and he would teach there sometimes to accomodate overcrowding.

Many of his lessons were quite general but he would have other classes for his specialised students in the area of fiqh. Most of his lessons in the morning and afternoon consisted of knowledge of hadith which Al-Mawahibi loved and would give people authorisations in if they showed due diligence and fervency.

As with the large amount of people, he often used sub-readers, to repeat his statements to the crowd as he did not have a loud voice. These sub readers were often given opportunities to take first pick of the chains they wanted to try for and receive authorisation.

Students

Among those eager to take knowledge from the Imam and carry it to the next generation as successors were the following:

Hamzah ibn Yusuf Ad-Dumi, Abul Fallah `Abdul Hayy Ibn ul-`Imad Al-`Akkari, Ahmad Ad-Dumi, Muhammad Abul Muwahibi (the son of the Imam), `Abdul Qadir ibn `Abdul Qadir At-Taghlabi, Burhan ud-Din Ibrahim Al-Kawrani Ash-Shafi`ii.

Other students include shaikhs `Abdul Ghani An-Nabulsi, Mustafa ibn Suwwar, Muhammad al-Batanini, Ahmad Ad-Darani, `Abdul Haqq As-Safuri, Ramadan ibn Musa Al-`Atifi and his brother Hasan Al-`Atifi.

Figure 2A: An example of a combined teaching license and recommendation to another teach written by Imam `Abdul Baqi Al-Mawahibi.

Figure 2A: An example of a combined teaching license and recommendation to another teach written by Imam `Abdul Baqi Al-Mawahibi.

Written Legacy

Although a mountain of knowledge with voluminous knowledge as deep as the ocean, Imam Al-Mawahibi did not pen books copiously. Those he did write were universally accepted, which include:

Sharh ul-Jami` is-Sahih. This is commentary by the Imam on Imam Al-Bukhari’s hadith collection. He was not able to complete this work and the text remains in manuscript form.

Iqtitaf uth-Thamar fi Mawafaqati `Umar. This work covers the rulings given by the second khalifah, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab but also the times revelation was given confirming his decisions.

`Aqd ul-Fara’id fi Nazm min al-Fawa’id. A book dealing with virtues and basic etiquettes that lifts generously from Ibn ul-Qayyim’s Bada’i` ul-Fawa’id.

Riyad ul-Jannati Fi Aathari Ahl is-Sunnah. A series of admonitions and rulings about Muslim Orthodoxy with regard to their theology, etiquettes and practice.

Tafsir ul-Ayat. This is a series of commentary notes on selected ayat from the Qur’an.

Faid ur-Razzaq fi Tahdhib il-Akhlaq. A work covering etiquettes and how to treat oneself and others. There are a few references to theology and fiqh rulings.

Risalah fi Qira’ah `Asim. This work discusses the recitation according to the narration from Asim ibn Abin-Nujud.

Al-`Ain wal-Athar fi `Aqa’idi Ahl il-Athar. A text on theology and comparative doctrines written to answer questions by some students as well as other marja` people.

Death

On Tuesday 17 Dhul Hijjah in the year 1071 AH, Imam `Abdul Baqi Al-Mawahibi died. He was buried in an area called Al-Ghuraba’ which neighbours the graveyard of Al-Faradis in Damascus.

[1] He is the grandson of Imam Musa Al-Hajjawi (d. 968 AH).

[2] Ar. Al-Iqna`. This work is by Imam Musa al-Hajjawi and was later commented upon by Imam Mansur al-Buhuti, may Allah be pleased with both of them.

[3] Ar. Zad ul-Mustaqni`

[4] d. 1051 AH (AD 1656). One of the depended upon sources in the Hanbali School, he studied with many of the Sham fathers, such as the son of Imams Yahya Al-Hijawi, `Abdul Qadir Ad-Danushi and others. He became the leading Hanbali scholar in Egypt, even outranking the senior Subki, Futuhi and Sa`di families in importance. He wrote five large works in fiqh and smaller texts on selected topics. Imam Sulaiman ibn `Ali (d. 1079 AH (AD 1684), upon hearing that he had written his fiqh text, Ar-Rawd ul-Murbi` burned his own text on the topic and told all his students in Najd to follow the Imam.

[5] d. 1033 AH (AD 1624). Considered by his peers to be a master of all sciences, he was the premier scholar of Egypt in his time, but studied with the great scholars of Sham as well. Although concentrating his energies on creed and fiqh, he covered many of the most trying issues of his time, such as the widespread use of coffee and cigarettes. He was renowned as a defender of righteouness and an enemy to sin.

[6] He is the grandson of Imam Ibn An-Najjar Al-Futuhi (d. 972 AH)

[7] Ar. Al-Muntaha al-Iradat

[8] Ar. Ad-Dalil ut-Talib

[9] Ar. `Umdat ut-Talib

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One response to “Imam Al-Mawahibi: A True Servant to the Knowledge

  1. Al-salamu alaykum. Is there any way that I can contact you? I have recently set up a Q and A site and I need some input from Hanbali scholars and students of knowledge. Please let me know if you are interested or if anyone you know who is Hanbali is.

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