Posted by: 06alamm | May 24, 2011

Inward And Outward Journey


There are hundreds of reasons why not to reject a training job in Psychiatry, uproot your wife and two kids and travel half way across the world to a place where there is no sense of ‘system’, timing, traffic control; where there is bribery and unrest. But there is one reason that outweighs all of that…. to seek sacred knowledge for the sake of Allah (swt). Many people have asked me why are you going to Egypt? Even many Egyptians! ‘You can study here, on the internet, at a Western University somewhere.’ Despite not being comfortable with studying over the internet, (there is definitely a loss in the amount of senses being used and as Tony Buzan will tell you, that is not optimum for memorisation!) sometimes to journey inwards you need to journey outwards. It makes you reflect; on life, on the greater journey, on what is important, on the signs of Allah in yourself and the horizons….

In one of my first Arabic lessons here, I studied a poem written by Imam AlShafi:i on the benefits of travelling. During a recent visit to Islamic Cairo I visited the Imam’s maqam with Dr. Abdullah from the TOP committee. Most people in Egypt (whether they know it or not) follow the madhab of Imam Shafi:i and it is the dominant madhab taught at the prestigious university of Al-Azhar. When you spend time with lovers of Imam Abu Hanifa, you have no doubt of his station amongst the four imams, but when you are here with the lovers of Imam Shafi:i you start to feel his greatness too. He was amazing, subhanAllah! He was an orphan like many of the great ulema who have taken this aspect of the prophetic inheritance, and his mother wanted only for him to become a man of this religion. After memorising the qur’an and sitting with the scholars in and around Palestine he travelled to Makka at the age of 13 to study with the great ulema, eventually giving fatwa there at the tender age of 16. He then went to Madina Al Munawara and met with his teacher Imam Malik. At first glance Imam Malik didn’t think much of this young chap, and told him to review his muwatta…. Imam Shafi:i out of humbleness refrained from telling him he had already memorised the whole thing! (His memory was photographic, if he was memorising a page, he would have to cover the other page so as not to mix the knowledge in his mind). He spent 17 years at the feet of Imam Malik, mastering the way of the people of Madina and stayed with him until he passed away (RA). He then travelled to Basra and studied the hanafi school with two of its founders, Imam Muhammad Hasan Ashaybaani and Abu Yusuf (ra). So during his life, he had mastered the ways of the understandings in Shaam, Mecca, Madina and Basra before establishing his own madhab in Iraq and then in Egypt. This is just a taste of the background of this amazing man, but most likely he will pop up in later blogs inshaAllah. Oh, and while we were visiting him (ra) I said to the caretaker, ‘I don’t know why but I have seen the footstep of the prophet peace be upon him here, perhaps it is on a wall somewhere lit up?!’ He was quite shocked that I knew about the footprint, and proceeded to lift up the carpet in a distant part of the mosque. There was indeed a footprint, not as I had envisaged, but definitely a footprint with that unforgettable smell of anything connected to the beloved, peace be upon him.It is reported that it was brought by Imam Shafi:i to Egypt and he would sit next to it whilst teaching. I don’t know what made me ask about this, but I’m glad I did…. I took a nice photo of it! Dr. Abdullah showed true adab by bending to kiss the traces of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as soon as he saw it.

By Sidi Daniel

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