From A Distance

You could say I met Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi firstly through his book, Root Islamic Education, then through some of his people, then in person at his annual gathering (moussem) in Granada, Spain. That was almost 30 years ago. For me, through that book he brought the Deen of Islam to life. He clarified what our purpose was and indicated the way to becoming the best each of us could be, in terms of being men and women of Allah, in this time.

When he was based in Achnagairn, Scotland I enquired of Hajj Issa Bryce whether I should be making more of an effort to spend time up there with the Shaykh. He told me that such a desire was commendable though it was more important to put the Shaykh’s teachings into action. In truth it was a confirmation of what some of us had already come to know.

Other men such as Hajj Abdullah Powell from Charleston in America, may Allah grant him mercy and Hajj AbdulAziz Redpath, rahimullah (also a scot) always embodied and demonstrated a love for Shaykh Abdalqadir in a way that you rarely saw with anyone else. Indeed it was Hajj AbdilAziz who shared with me his understanding of what happened when Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib passed away and how difficult it was for those who had always been around him. They understandably struggled for a while in his absence. This was in contrast to many of those who lived far afield but came to his moussems or visited the zawiyya from time to time. They developed the habit of taking from him, holding onto it and putting it into practice when they returned home. Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib famously described one such great man, Sidi Arafa, as a man whose pockets had no holes.

In terms of the outward or worldly actions, what Shaykh Abdalqadir called us to was pretty easy to grasp. It meant focussing on issues such as zakat, amirate, community building, dynamic families, education, abandoning riba and establishing halal trade. This of course included minting, distributing and using the Islamic Gold Dinar (IGD) and Silver Dirham (ISD) coins for both zakat (in particular) and commercial transactions. Thus you could say it revolved around issues of mu’amalat, our transactions with each other. The instruction from that famous hadith is clear, “do what you are able.”

However, Shaykh Abdalqadir made it absolutely clear that our goal (while doing these things) must be ma’rifa. That we had to engage in those practices that both moved and purified our hearts. We really have to want that transformation of our hearts to occur. We have to find the right balance, but it is not a static balance. So at times a murid on the verge of becoming majdoub is sent back to the dunya, while another needs to totally turn away from it. None of us can afford to get too comfortable. It is certainly not a case of, “Been there! Done that!”

Upon his passing some will now embark on a journey of finding a new shaykh. For some that succession has been made clear and they’ve moved on. For others it will may take a while longer. While another set may have no desire to move on in that respect. What we cannot do is get involved in those undesirable and distasteful criticisms of other shuyyuk and people of Allah. We must remember how critical we were of those who did that to Shaykh Abdalqadir, and how worried we were for them. How often did Shaykh Abdalqadir stress the need for us to have a good opinion of each other? It is perhaps time to double-down on that.

May Allah be generous to our shaykh and reward him with the company of His beloved in the highest part of the garden. May we be true inheritors of this legacy and this path by our himma and by our actions.


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