Muhammad al-Sumali

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Muslim scholar
Muhammad Al-Sumaalee
Title Shaykh
Born 1910
Died 1999
Ethnicity Somali
Era 20th century
Region Horn of Africa
Main interest(s) Islamic philosophy, Islamic jurisprudence

Muhammad Al-Sumaalee (Somali: Sheekh Maxamed Soomaali, Arabic: الشيخ محمد الصومالي‎), (b. 1910-1999) was a Somali scholar and teacher in the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca. He influenced many of the prominent Islamic scholars of today.[1]

Early life[edit]

Al-Sumaalee was born in the Ogaden in the town of Amaadin. The Shaykh remembered seeing as a child the Dervish leader Sayyid Abdullah Hassan, the latter of whom led one the fiercest colonial resistance wars on the continent during the Scramble for Africa. From the time he was seven, Al-Sumaalee sought knowledge and began memorizing the Quran and read it to his teacher. When the Shaykh was old enough to travel and had memorized all that his teachers could teach, he travelled to other lands in search of more knowledge.

At the age of 20, Shaykh Al-Sumaalee began his travel through Ethiopia and studied the book Nadhm Al-'Umarbatee with Shaykh Muhammad Mu'allim Husayn and several other scholars. He stayed in Ethiopia for two years and then decided to go back home. During this journey, he became very sick due to the difference in food between Ethiopia and Somalia. His paternal aunt helped him recover from the illness, and gave him an ox so that he could sell it on the market and travel to his next destination, which was Djibouti.

In Djibouti, Shaykh Al-Sumaalee studied the book Safeenah An-Najaa. However, he did not complete it as he was only in Djibouti for two months, after which time he headed for Yemen. It is said that during this particular boat trip, Shaykh Muhammad became so ill that he swore he would never again travel by sea. He later arrived in the Yemeni city of Zabeed and stayed there for three months. From there, he went on to Sana'a.

Quest for knowledge[edit]

He sought knowledge from his early youth since he was seven or eight years old. He began by memorizing the Qur'an and read it to Shaikh Hasan. Then he read the book Safeenah An-Najaa, which is a book on Shaafi'ee Fiqh to Shaikh 'Abd-ur-Rahmaan 'Awl. Then he read the book Al-Minhaaj, on Shaafi'ee Fiqh, to Shaikh Haaj 'Alee Tam'asee. Then after that, he read from the text of Al-Ajroomiyyah to Shaikh Muhammad Noor Hirsee concerning Arabic grammar, as well as its explanation by Al-'Ashmaawee, then Milhat-ul-'Iraab, then Laamiyyat-ul-Af'aal concerning Arabic morphology.

After the Shaikh completed his studies with the scholars of his land, he decided to travel to other lands in search of knowledge, following the way of his pious predecessors (i.e. the Salaf). His first travel was to Ethiopia, to the regions known as Jigjiga and Faafan, which took a distance of ten day's journey from his country. At that time he was twenty years old. He studied the book Nadhm Al-'Umarbatee with Shaikh Muhammad Mu'allim Husayn, and he studied Laamiyyat-ul-Af'aal and Milhat-ul-'Iraab with Shaikh 'Abd-un-Noor. He also studied the books Qatr-un-Nadaa and Alfiyyah Ibn Maalik with Shaikh Aruboo. Then he studied the science of Bayaan with Shaikh 'Alee Jawhar and then with Shaikh Hasan Ibn Ash-Shaikh Hasan. His stay in Ethiopia lasted about two years.

During his journey back home, the Shaikh became very sick due to the difference of foods between Somalia and Ethiopia. His paternal aunt tended to him, nursing him. When he recovered from his sickness, he became determined to travel again, so his aunt gave him an ox, which he sold and used the money to travel to Djibouti.

There he read the book Safeenah An-Najaa to Shaikh 'Alee Jawhar but he did not finish it. And his stay did not last for more than two months, for he traveled by sea towards Yemen. The waves and the currents of the sea threw their ship back and forth until they feared for their lives, and it was such that the Shaikh swore that he would not ride by sea again. They arrived at the city of Zabeed in Yemen and stayed there for three months. There he studied the book As-Safeenah concerning Shaafi'ee Fiqh. Then he traveled to the area of Qatee' and remained there for a month listening to Al-Minhaaj concerning Shaafi'ee Fiqh in the presence of Shaikh Yahyaa, the Muftee of the lands of Qatee'. Then he moved to the city of San'aa and studied the sciences of the Arabic Language there. So he studied the books Qawaa'id-ul-'Iraab, Qatr-un-Nadaa, Al-Jawhar-ul-Maknoon, Al-Alfiyyah and Al-Ashmoonee. He rejected the beliefs of the people of that land, which was Zaydee (a sect of the Shi'ah), and said to them: "I am a Shaafi'ee." But they did not let him continue studying his madh-hab. Then, one of the teachers there, Al-Ustaadh Yahyaa Al-'Eesaa advised him to study the Science of Hadeeth.

So Shaikh Muhammad began to memorize Buloogh Al-Maraam and memorized 500 hadeeth from it. Then he began to study the book Subul-us-Salaam (the explanation of Buloogh Al-Maraam) with one of the well-known Shaikhs. Among his teachers of the Arabic Language in Yemen, were Shaikh Lutfee, Shaikh 'Alee Fiddah and Shaikh Kabasee. Then the Shaikh desired to go to Egypt to seek knowledge, but at that time World War II started and all of the sea routes were closed.

Then the Shaikh met a man that had come from Makkah, so he asked him about how Makkah was. The man responded to him, saying: "O Muhammad, there is a school in Makkah in which they teach hadeeth. It is called Daar-ul-Hadeeth." So the Shaikh was pleased with this and traveled to Makkah from San'aa towards the end of 1359H along with other people going to Hajj. Shaikh Yahyaa entrusted the leader of the Hajj trip with him. So he gave him a riding animal and the journey lasted a month from San'aa to Makkah. He reached Makkah in 1360H and enlisted in the Daar-ul-Hadeeth school.

In Daar-ul-Hadeetth, Shaikh Muhammad Haamid Al-Fiqqee met Shaikh Muhammad Ibn 'Abdillaah and asked him: "Where did you come from O Muhammad?" So he told him: "I came from Somalia in search of the noble hadeeth." So he was greatly impressed and said: "The Khuraafees (a deviant sect) and the followers of (sufi) orders eat and fill themselves, but the students of Hadeeth do not find anything."

So he took him to a shelter whose caretaker was from the ashraaf (those whose lineage can be traced back to the Prophet) and said to him: "This person seeks the hadeeth of your forefather." So he would reserve two loaves of white bread for him every day.

The Shaikh continued seeking knowledge in the Haram and in Daar-ul-Hadeeth. He studied under Shaikh 'Abd-ur-Razzaaq Hamzah Al-Misree, Shaikh Abu As-Samah, Imaam of the Haram, Shaikh Sulaymaan Ibn 'Abdir-Rahmaan Al-Hamdaan, teacher of Tawheed and Hadeeth at Al-Masjid Al-Haraam, Shaikh Abee Sa'eed Al-Pakistani, Shaikh Muhammad Sultaan Al-Ma'soomee, Shaikh Abu Muhammad 'Abdul-Haqq Al-Haashimee, and Shaikh Ibn Maani'.

From the most particular of his teachers was Shaikh 'Abd-ur-Razaaq Hamzah, whom he studied and read the Six Books of the Sunnah with, as well as Tafseer Ibn Katheer and Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah, but he didn't complete it. Upon seeing the Shaikh's eagerness and great concern for seeking knowledge, Shaikh 'Abd-ur-Razaaq Hamzah began to esteem him and love him more than his own children.

Shaikh 'Abd-u-Razaaq's method in teaching hadeeth was that he would read the chain of narration and then ask his students about the name, kunyah and laqab of the reporter. So if they didn't know, they would have to research it in their books.

After studying for two years in Daar-ul-Hadeeth, he was appointed as teacher of Arabic Language, which he would do while still studying Hadeeth. The Shaikh graduated from Daar-ul-Hadeeth in 1975 and achieved the high approval (Ijaazah 'aaliyah) and the degree of Mujtahid in the assigned subjects. Then he was appointed as a teacher in the Islaamic University of Madeenah and there a number of students of knowledge studied under him.

Afterward, he was appointed as a teacher in the Haram of Makkah until the year 1406H when he broke his leg. But he remained employed as a teacher and was given permission to teach at home. And he would teach in his home until the time he passed away.

Abstinence and piety[edit]

The Shaikh was one who abstained from worldly luxuries, who was careful of what he received and took and was very modest. He did not know anything of the dunyaa for he had abandoned the worldly life after it had been presented to him. Among the examples of this is the following story. He used to live in one small apartment, and when it was said to him: "Shall we not look for another apartment for you", he responded by saying: "Do you want people to say that Shaikh Muhammad is greedy?"

And one time when he broke his leg and was not able to go to the Haram to teach, he refused to accept the stipend that he normally would take (for teaching). So Shaikh Muhammad Ibn 'Abdillaah As-Subayyal, head of the affairs of the Haramayn, said to him: "The pious and wicked both take this money, and you have more right to it. So whoever comes to you, then teach him in your home."

Students[edit]

A number of students studied under the Shaikh, at the Daar-ul-Hadeeth center, in Al-Masjid Al-Haraam, and at the Islamic University.

  • Shaikh Muhammad Ibn 'Abdillaah As-Subayyal, the head of the affairs of the Haramayn and the Imaam and khateeb of Al-Masjid Al-Haraam
  • Shaikh Yahyaa Ibn 'Uthmaan al-Mudarris Al-Makkee Al-Hindee, from the scholars of Hijaaz
  • Muqbil bin Hadi al-Wadi'i, the Muhaddith of the lands of Yemen, who described his Shaikh in his book "Al-Muqtarah fee 'Ilm-il-Mustalah" as "the most knowledgeable person about the Science of Hadeeth in the area of Hijaaz."
  • Shaikh 'Umar Ibn Muhammad Ibn 'Abdillaah As-Subayyal, Imaam and Khateeb of Al-Masjid Al-Haraam
  • Shaikh Ahmad Wulu Al-Habashee
  • Shaikh Muhammad Hasan Al-Jaysh[1]

Those who received an ijaazah (religious certification) from him[edit]

They are a large number. Amongst the most famous of them are: 'Abd-ur-Rahmaan Al-Hudhaifee, Shaikh Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn 'Uthmaan Al-Mani'ee, Shaikh Musaa'id Al-Humaid, Shaikh Rabee' Ibn Haadee Al-Madkhalee, Shaikh Muhammad Al-Madkhalee, Shaikh Usaamah Al-Qoosee and Shaikh Wasiyullaah Muhammad 'Abbaas.

Death[edit]

The beginning of his last sickness was at the start of the month of Sha'baan, when he began feeling great sluggishness. On Saturday, he made a lot of supplication, and from his supplications was: "O Allaah, let me live if life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me."

Then on Monday morning, he fainted and was taken to a hospital. The Shaikh regained consciousness the next day and a large group of his students came to visit him. He made a final request that Shaikh Muhammad 'Abdullaah As-Subayyal lead the prayer over him. Then he fainted again after that and from then on it was customary that he would recover and then go into unconsciousness again and again for some days. We ask Allaah that He make that as a means of purifying him and raising him in levels.

The Shaikh finally died on Sunday night, the 3rd of Ramadaan 1420H. And his Janaazah funeral prayer) was prayed the next day, Monday, in Al-Masjid Al-Haraam after 'Ishaa. He was buried in the Al-'Adl cemetery, in the vicinity of his brother (in Islaam) Shaikh 'Abdul-'Azeez Ibn 'Abdillaah Ibn Baaz, may Allaah have mercy on both of them.

Notes[edit]

[1] Translator's Note: Ogaden is a large area of land in west Somalia that borders with Ethiopia. It was taken over by the Ethiopian government and to this day is occupied by their forces. There is still fighting going on between Somalis and Ethiopians with regard to liberating Ogaden. May Allaah assist the Muslims there.

[2] Translator's Note: Shaikh Ibn 'Abd-ir-Razaaq Hamzah was born in 1311H and died on 1392H (1893 - 1972). He was born in a small lightly populated village in Qalyubiyyah (a province) in Lower Egypt). He studied there in Al-Azhar University and then traveled to Saudi Arabia in 1344H. He was put in charge of giving the khutbah and leading the prayers (Imamate) in the Prophet's Mosque in Madeenah. Then he moved to Makkah and was appointed a teacher in Hadeeth and Tafseer. He specialized in Hadeeth and its sciences and was in charge of printing a number of books, such as Ikhtisaar 'Uloom-il-Hadeeth of Ibn Katheer, Mawaarid-udh-Dhamaan of Al-Haithamee and Al-Kabaa'ir of Adh-Dhahabee. He also wrote books, a majority of which were refutations of some books, such as his works: Dhulumaat Abee Rayaa, which is a critique of the book "Adwaa 'alaa As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah" of Mahmood Abu Rayya in which there is disparaging of the Sunnah and some Companions. Another book he wrote was Ash-Shawaahid wan-Nusoos, which is a criticism of the book "Al-Aghlaal" by 'Abdullaah Al-Qaseemee. And he also wrote "Al-Muqaabilah baina Al-Hudaa wad-Dalaal." He died while in Makkah.

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References[edit]