The Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib al-Amghari al-Idrisi al-Hasani Arabic with English translation.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Monday, August 03, 2015
- Al-qasd al-sahih - having a clear intention and a sound purpose,
- Al-sidq al-sarih - they say this means a genuine belief in the khususiyyah of your Shaykh. They say the student's grasp of the secret of his Shaykh depends on the degree of his sincere belief in him. There is no progress in the tariq without this properly considered and properly thought-out perception of one's Shaykh.
- Al-adab al-mardiyyah - Pleasing courtesy,
- Al-ahwal al-zakiyyah - Pure states,
- Hifdh al-hurmah - Protection of the honour of people,
- Husn al-khidmah - Excellence of service,
- Raf' al-himmah - This means more "highness of one's goal or aim" as opposed to "lower aims". The aim of the murid should be focused on knowledge of Allah rather than achieving worldly dreams or other purposes.
- Nufudh al-'azimah - Determination to attain fulfilment.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
Since the 1950s, linguists working on the history of Afrikaans have known that the earliest written and printed Afrikaans documents – a language recognisably distinct from Dutch – were written in “Arabic-Afrikaans” in the 1800s. That is, Arabic script was used to “spell out” and produce the sounds of the language that was then developing in the colony known as the Cape. The most well-known of these is Bayān al-Dīn (loosely, “Exposition of the Faith”) by the Kurdish scholar, Abubakr Effendi, who apparently came to SA, via complicated Ottoman allegiances to the British Empire, to teach Islam to the Muslims at the Cape. While Bayān al-Dīn was completed in 1869 and published in then Constantinople in 1877, Effendi makes reference to an earlier work of the same kind. For a foreigner to move here and learn how to write in this form must mean that there was an already established tradition of such writing, as Achmat Davids indeed claims.
Documents (student notebooks) from as early as 1845 have been found, pointing, obviously, to Muslim writers who were literate in at least Arabic and writing for an audience that could ‘read’ Arabic. And while most of these texts are of a religious nature (for the purposes of Islamic instruction), there are also secular ‘texts’, like a tailor’s shopping list.
It’s a fascinating area of language study, and it’s not exclusive to South Africa and Afrikaans. Languages survive because they can be bent and shaped to a range of local conditions, and there is a well established tradition of “ajami” writing – using Arabic with which to write in a local language – in other parts of Africa where Islam had spread print-literacy in Arabic.
As Achmat Davids (1939-1998) points out, however, research on the social and historical aspects of these Arabic-Afrikaans texts is at best patchy. This posthumous book, his 1992 M.A. thesis, is then one step in renewing the interest in these documents, and it is a fascinating read, albeit at times quite technical.
Davids’s main aim is technical: he lays the ground for a standardised system of transcribing the Arabic-Afrikaans into Afrikaans in Roman script. This requires an extensive discussion on the mechanics of Arabic. But this allows Davids to claim that these manuscripts are virtual audio recordings of what Afrikaans at the Cape at that time would have sounded like. Anyone who has wondered why some older people in Cape Town say “gaseg” (“gesig”/ face) and “karrag” (“krag”/ power) will find some answers here. Arabic has fewer vowels than Afrikaans and these writers used whatever was available in Arabic phonetics to produce sounds as closely as possible to the Afrikaans vowels. Arabic also avoids consonant clusters – the k and r pronounced as one sound in “krag”, so when scripted in Arabic, the word becomes “k’rag”.
Davids paints these writers as creative innovators, which they certainly were. And while they adhered to a rather strict Arabic linguistic science (which their audience of course uses to ‘decode’ as they read), they nevertheless found ways in which they could bend Arabic into sounding out a Germanic language. As Muslims generally think of Arabic as a sacred language, I find it remarkable that religious writers back then were actually re-shaping Arabic, in a manner of speaking.
Notwithstanding the technical nature of the book, Davids is also concerned with the social and cultural context in which this literature was produced. Past studies, he claims, have focussed too narrowly on the linguistics itself, thereby ironically making errors about the linguistic development of Afrikaans itself. Central to this is whether the Afrikaans of the Muslims at the Cape then should be considered a de-limited dialect of Afrikaans or whether this Afrikaans was more widespread. Davids would like to think the latter, although his argument in support of this relies on one early 20th-century grammarian’s assertion.
Nevertheless, the parts on the history of the speech community at the Cape I find the most fascinating because it provides an insight into the influences languages and cultures had (and have) on each other. The Hindu influence in local Islam can be found, for instance, in “rampies” and “puwasa”. “Puwasa”, generally thought of as a Melayu word and meaning “to fast”, here and still in the Malayan Archipelago, comes from Hindi. A “rampie” is a small pouch of “crinkle paper” (crêpe paper) filled with shredded and perfumed citrus leaves, and doled out to attendees at mosque on Maulid, a celebration of the prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Apparently this word comes from the Hindu “Rampa”, indicating that the “rampie” may have been adopted, also, as a way of attracting slaves who were Hindu to Islam.
While the book is thus technical in parts and of interest to historians and linguists, I find that there is much in it to recommend it to the general reader who has an interest in local history, culture and language.
Friday, March 20, 2015
- Recite a portion of the Quran on a daily basis or as often as possible.
- Try to be in a state where you feel hunger or eat less. Eat only to sustain yourself and not for pleasure.
- Practice qiyam ul layl by breaking your sleep during the middle of night for any type of ibadah (worship). This helps with better focus and concentration.
- Make dua and supplications during the final portion of night with intense humility. There are hadeeth which support this in which Allah swt descends to the earth in last third of the night to answer those who make dua.
- Maintain suhba and close contact with people who aspire to be closer to, and who are closer to Allah. It is well known that those who you associate with on a regular basis, a profound influence on your character.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri (Homs 1912 – Damascus 2004) was a Syrian Sufi master of the Hashimi-Darqawi branch of the Shadhili tariqa, as well as poet, textile worker, and trade unionist.
His life and work
Born in Homs in 1912, al-Shaghouri was soon orphaned and moved to Damascus with his brother. As a child, he worked as an errand boy and later as a weaver.
He attended the lessons of the major scholars of Damascus: Husni al-Baghghal, Muhammad Barakat, 'Ali al-Daqar, Ismail al-Tibi, and Lutfi al-Hanafi.
However, his most important teacher was Muhammad al-Hashimi, an Algerian Sufi from Tlemcen who had already been living in Syria for twenty years before becoming the representative of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, spiritual master of the Shadhili tariqa. Al-Shaghouri himself met al-Alawi in 1932 in Damascus, but it was al-Hashimi who served as his spiritual guide. Finding that al-Shaghouri was already suitable, al-Hashimi placed him in a spiritual retreat. On the first day, al-Shaghouri pledged himself to al-Hashimi's guidance, an unusual if not unprecedented occurrence in Sufi instruction and discipleship.
He never stopped teaching. He once entered the head office of a small religious academy in Damascus with a group of his students and sat down to talk to the director, who bade him wait until he finished some things that were apparently urgent. One thing seemed to lead to another, and the phone kept ringing.
Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman waited patiently, while his disciples, as the minutes drew on, became less and less so. Finally, the principal of the school set aside his work, looked up at the sheikh and apologized with a smile, and put himself at the sheikh’s service. The sheikh thanked him, asked him how he was, and then said, “I just wanted to make a phone call.” After a short call, he got up, thanked the principal, and left with his disciples. They had needed a lesson in patience and manners, and the sheikh had given them one.
Practice was the aim of the sheikh’s knowledge. Imam Abul Hasan al-Shadhili (d. 654/1258), whose order the sheikh belonged to, would not let his disciples beg, but had them earn their own livelihood, and Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman emphasized the importance of having a trade to earn one’s living by the work of one’s hand. He used to say, “I hope to pass on from this world without having taken a single piaster from anyone: I don’t even take from my own children.”
We had sat on the edge of a pallet on a narrow wooden bed in a room with a single window, whence light shone down on us, and the sheikh was answering a few questions I had on the last day of my first khalwa. “Will we be together in the next world?” I had asked. “All those who attained marifa, gnosis of the
Divine, in this life,” he said, “shall have a special place in paradise by a white dune of musk. Our Lord shall manifest Himself to them once a week, and they will remain drunken with the vision of it for the entire week, when He shall appear to them again, and hence ever shall it be.”
“We never speak of three things: this world, women, or politics.”
His weakness and death
Despite his later physical weakness, he never stopped receiving visitors or attending the weekly hadra at the Nur al-Din al-Shahid mosque, in the old quarter of Damascus. He died on 8 June 2004. A great crowd gathered to attend his funeral at the mosque dedicated to Shaykh Muhy al-Din Ibn al-Arabi.
The funeral prayer was led by Habib Ali al-Jifri, from Yemen, a well-known representative of traditional scholarship and Sufism in Arab media. His death was widely mourned by scholars and laymen alike, and he was widely recognized as one of the most important revivers of the Shadhili tariqa and Sufism in general, particularly in Syria.
His legacy and renown has also become widespread (particularly in the English-speaking world) through two American students whom he authorized in the Shadhili tariqa, Nuh Ha Mim Keller and Zaid Shakir.
- Collections of his poems
- Al-hada’iq al-nadiyya fī al-nasamat al-ruhiyya ("The Dewy Gardens in the Spiritual Breezes"), Damascus, Dār fajr al-‘urūba, 2nd ed., 1998.
- Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller
- Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
- Shaykh Zaid Shakir
- Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
- Shaykh Gibril Haddad
- Shaykh Ismail al-Kurdi
Hadrah with Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri in Damascus 1996
A video which captures a hadrah in Damascus 1996 with Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri. Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri was a well known Shaykh of tazkiyah and master of tasawwuf from the Hashimi-Darqawi branch of the Shadhili tariqa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iZ_9EoYeqI (Hadrah with Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri)
Saturday, July 26, 2014
One of the first-ever motion pictures was filmed in Ottoman Palestine by the French Lumiere brothers. It is known popularly as Train Station in Jerusalem (1896). Its exotic, panoramic views are as transfixing today as when they were first screened for a European audience. (1)
The Lumière (pronounced: [lymjɛːʁ]) brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas [oɡyst maʁi lwi nikɔla] (19 October 1862, Besançon, France – 10 April 1954, Lyon) and Louis Jean [lwi ʒɑ̃] (5 October 1864, Besançon, France – 6 June 1948, Bandol), are credited to be first filmmakers in history. They patented the cinematograph, which contrary to Edison's "peepshow" kinetoscope, the former allowed viewing by multiple parties at once, like current cinema. Their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered the first real motion picture in history. Curiously, their surname, "Lumière", is French for "light". (2)
This film footage of Palestine in 1896 was published online thanks to Lobster Films. It shows Palestinians of all faiths – Christians, Jews and Muslims – living side by side, and praying side by side. I transcribed the narration below.
15 years later, the cinema is taking its first steps. Cameramen employed by the Lumiere Brothers filming in Jerusalem’s station, provide the first moving pictures taken in Palestine. From now on, the camera’s a recording eye and what it records is this: A society much like that of Cairo, Damascus, or Beirut, in an Arab city much like any other.
By the end of the 19th century, Palestine has 500,000 inhabitants, of whom 30,000 live in Jerusalem. A veiled woman, a Sunni Muslim, one of the majority. An orthodox Jew. He too turns away from the camera. Here we have an Armenian pope. Each of the Christian denominations has its church here in the holy city. The holy places of the three religions are scattered across a few hundred square meters. The Great Mosque is close to Christ’s tomb. Further along at the foot of the wailing wall, a Jew is reciting a prayer. He is wearing a Turkish tarboush, and although he prays in Hebrew his everyday language is Arabic. Jews form half the population of Jerusalem, but in the country as a whole they make up less than 5% of the total. Christians account for 10% and Muslims 85%. All of them are subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople. There are no frontiers in the Ottoman Empire. There are administrative divisions in which, in this immense territory, Palestine occupies a mere 27,000 square kilometers, made up of three small districts, in the south of the province of Damascus.
According to the Electronic Intifada’s Jalal Abukhater, the film was recovered in Paris, February 2007. (3)