The Importance of Qasidah

There are so many beautiful habits and customs that have become commonplace in countries where Islam has existed for centuries, like reciting salawat after Adhan or joining the du’a of the Imam after salat, that have not yet permeated the muslim community here. Most palpably lacking is the invoking of praise on the Propet, peace be upon him, through the beautiful poetry of nasheed, qasidah, naat, milad and so on. There are so many songs, poems, melodies praising HabibAllah SAWS in the most exquisite and moving way that are part of the cultural inheritance of Islam, and it has been fairly inaccessible and even discouraged for us American muslims.

Which is all simply to say I am so grateful and happy to have received my copy of The Qasida Burda Sharif of Imam Sharafaddin Al-Busiri today. It is so, SO very good, I’m really at a loss for words. It is translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, calligraphed by Mohamed Zakariya, sung by the Fez Singers led by Bennis Abdelfettah, produced by Sandala, and available in the US at AlHambra Productions. It is a thing of beauty, a real work of art. The calligraphy is in the maghribi style, which practically dances on the page. It’s not what I’m used to reading so I’m still getting familiar with it. But with the book in hand and the CD in the spinner, it’s not too difficult to follow along. The style of recitation is powerful but not so decorated that you can’t make out what is being said. I can’t do it justice so I won’t go on about it.

There are a few extra tidbits in the book that are worth mentioning. One is Shaykh Hamza’s description of his stay in the maghrib, and the way the Qasidah pervades the atmosphere there. SubhanAllah! How many of us can even recite Tala’al Badru Alayna from start to finish? The other is the Isnad provided through several lines by Shaykh Ibrahim al-Ya’qubi to Imam al-Busiri himself. It is of course beyond me to comment on the strength or weakness of that chain, but so is it also beyond the unfortunate finger-waggers out there who may try to discourage others from the self-evident goodness of Qasidah! Allah SWT says: Say [O Muhammad]: God and His angels bless the Prophet. O ye who believe! Bless him and salute him with a worthy salutation.


3 thoughts on “The Importance of Qasidah

  1. Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barkatuh,

    The following is a biography of Sheikh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi, the sheikh who authorized Sheikh Hamza Yusuf to relay the Burda with his sanad. InshaALLAH this clarifies the scholarly rank of Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi.

    -start of article-

    SHEIKH MUHAMMAD AL-YA’QOUBI(Syria)
    Shaykh Muhammad descends from a scholarly family whose
    lineage goes back to the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi sallam, through
    his grandson Sayyiduna al-Hasan, radiya Allahu ‘anhu. His lineage goes
    back to Mawlay Idris al-Anwar who built the city of Fes. Mawlay Idris’ lineage
    is as follows: he is the son of Mawlay Idris the Great; who is the son of
    Sayyiduna Abdullah al-Kamil; who is the son of Sayyiduna al-Hasan, the
    Second; who is the son of Sayyiduna al-Hasan, radiya Allah ‘anhu; who is
    the grandson of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

    Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi’s ancestors also include some of the greatest
    scholars of Syria: Shaykh Sharif al-Ya’qoubi (d. 1943/1362 H.) was his
    father’s uncle, and Shaykh Muhammad ‘Arabi al-Ya’qoubi (d. 1965/1384 H.)
    was his father’s maternal uncle; both were the Malikite Imams of the
    Omayyad mosque. Shaykh Siddiq al-Ya’qoubi (d. 1889/1307 H.) was his
    paternal great-grandfather, and Shaykh Isma’il al-Ya’qoubi (d. 1960/1380
    H.), a great Waliy known for his miracles, was his own grandfather. His
    father, Shaykh Ibrahim al-Ya’qoubi (d. 1985/1406 H.), was one of the
    greatest scholars Syria saw in the past 50 years; he was also the Imam and
    teacher of the Omayyad Mosque.

    Shaykh Muhammad was born in Damascus on the 13th of DhulHijja in 1382 H.
    As a little boy, he crawled in the Grand Omayyad Mosque and the
    Darwishiyya Mosque, where his father was an instructor for 40 years, and
    sat in the laps of some of the greatest scholars. Since he was
    four-years-old, Shaykh Muhammad accompanied his father in all of his
    visits, gatherings, and classes, both public and private, as well as at
    home and outside. His father took care of him and was both his teacher and
    spiritual master. Under his tutelage, Shaykh Muhammad followed a solid
    traditional curriculum since the age of four, studying, step-by-step, the
    major classical works on the various disciplines of the Shari’ah as well
    as the instrumental disciplines. Shaykh Muhammad dutifully studied with
    his father over 500 books in the course of 20 years, some of them from
    cover-to-cover and others in portions; some are multi-volumes, and others
    are small concise works.

    Some of the books Shaykh Muhammad studied under his father are as follows:
    most of the six books of Hadith, al-Muwatta of Yahya al- Laythi, most of
    al-Muwatta of Imam Muhammad with Sharh al-Laknawi, most of al-Muwaafaqaat
    of ash-Shaatibi, the first volume and other sections (of the five volumes)
    of al-Hashiya of Ibn ‘Abideen, Ihya ‘Ulum ad-Deen, al-Hidaya of
    al-Marghinani, Mughni al-Labeeb of Ibn Hisham, Parts of Kitab Seebawayhi,
    Miyar al-Ilm of al-Ghazali, several volumes of Sharh Sahih Muslim of
    an-Nawawi, several volumes of Irshad as-Saari of al-Qastallaani, half of
    Madarik at-Taweel of an-Nasafi, Hashiyat as-Saawi on Tafseer al-Jalaalayn,
    three volumes of Mu’jam Maqaayiis al-Lugha of Ibn Faaris, al-Bayaan
    wat-Tabyeen of al-Jaahiz, several volumes of Wafayaat al-Ayaan of Ibn
    Khallikaan, and Tabaqat ash-Shafi’iyya al-Kubraa of Ibn as-Subki, Maqamaat
    al-Hariri. In fact, Shaykh Muhammad wrote a thabat (detailed list) of the
    names of the books he studied under his father entitled, The Concealed
    Pearls. This book is a testament to his father’s labor of love and of the
    expenditure of his energy in passing on his knowledge and experience to
    his children, a rarity in our modern times.

    Throughout the years of his study, Shaykh Muhammad went through spiritual
    training in the Sufi path under his father, who was a great Waliy and
    Murshid known for his righteousness and asceticism. Shaykh Muhammad
    studied the major works of Tasawwuf under him, accompanied him, and was
    his servant, the bearer of his shoes, which he considers the key to the
    opening he received. The company of his father exposed him to a wealth of
    light, wisdom, and knowledge, an experience that was far beyond what one
    may attain from books or from occasional meetings with teachers.

    In the summer of 1973, at the age of eleven, Shaykh Muhammad started
    teaching at the Darwishiyya Mosque where he taught a regular Qur’an and
    Tajwid class composed of a group of boys. He began giving public speeches
    in Ramadan after ‘Asr prayer in the same mosque at the age of twelve. At
    the age of fourteen and a half, he made his debut as Friday speaker in the
    mosque known as as-Saadaat, where Sayyiduna Mu’aadh ibn Jabal is buried.

    Shaykh Muhammad memorized Jawharat at-Tawhid when he was five-years-old,
    al-Arba’in an-Nawawiyya when he was six, and, later on, dozens of famous
    didactic odes and poems along with most of the Qur’an al-Karim. He also
    memorized considerable parts of al-Mufaddaliyyaaat and al-Hamaasah of Abi
    Tammaam. The first poem he wrote was at the age of thirteen, and it was a
    plea to the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. His collection of
    poetry is growing, and a few poems in English have been added to it.

    Amongst the scholars who gave him ijaza (the authority to narrate Hadith
    through their chains) were the Malikite Mufti of Syria, Sayyid Makki
    al-Kittan; Shaykh Muhammad Abul-Yusr ‘Abideen, the previous Mufti of
    Syria; the great Murshid, Shaykh Ali al-Boudaylimi of Tlemsan; Shaykh Zayn
    al-‘Abideen at-Tounisi; Shaykh ‘Abdul’Aziz ‘Uyun as-Soud; Shaykh Muhammad
    Wafa al-Qassaab; and several others. Shaykh Muhammad’s father, may Allah
    shower him with His Mercy, also wrote several ijazas for him, giving him
    full authority to narrate Hadith. His father also issued for him ijazas
    qualifying him to teach the Shari’ah and to be a Murshid in the Sufi path.
    This was affirmed by several shaykhs of the path, the last of whom is
    Shaykh AbdurRahman ash-Shaghouri in Damascus, may Allah extend his life.

    Shaykh Muhammad published his first article when he was
    seventeen-years-old in al-Majalla al-‘Arabiyya in Riyadh and his first
    book when he was 23. At the age of 20, some of his Friday speeches were
    broadcast live through the Syrian Radio station. Three of his books in
    Arabic have been published besides several articles in Arabic, English,
    and Swedish. The list of his unpublished books contains more than 20 works
    in Arabic.

    Shaykh Muhammad was formally appointed as Friday speaker (khatib) in 1981
    in central Damascus. Two years later, in 1983, he was appointed as Imam
    and was commissioned to teach the Sacred Knowledge. In early 1986, upon
    the demise of his father (may Allah have mercy on him), Shaykh Muhammad
    was given his father’s post as an instructor in the Fatwa Administration.
    That same year, he began teaching Maliki fiqh at the Institute of the
    Students of Sacred Knowledge (which is now the Institute of Sheikh
    BadrudDeen al-Hasani).

    While in Damascus, in addition to teaching native Syrians, Shaykh Muhammad
    taught students from various parts of the world; many of them are now
    Imams and teachers in Malaysia, the Philippines, Algeria, Mali, Gambia,
    and other countries. Amongst the books he taught, partially or completely,
    are Sahih al-Bukhari (which he taught twice), Sahih Muslim, al-Muwatta
    (which he also taught twice), ash-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya (which he
    taught four times), the commentary of al-Bajuri on al-Jawhara, an-Nasafi’s
    Madarik at-Tawil, Jawahir al-Iklil Sharh Mukhtasar Khalil, al-Kaafi of Ibn
    AbdulBarr, al-Hikam of Imam ibn Attaa Allah, Sharh ar-Risala of Imam
    al-Qushayri, al-Marghinani’s al-Hidaya, Sharh al-Bayqouniyya, Sharh
    ar-Rahabiyya, Sharh al-Jazariya, ash -Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyaad, and Ibn
    Hisham’s commentary on the Alfiyya of ibn Malik.

    Besides serving as a Friday speaker and instructor until 1990, Shaykh
    Muhammad pursued his academic studies at the University of Damascus,
    Faculty of Shari’ah, where he frequented some lectures and benefited from
    several professors between 1982-1985. He also received a degree in Arabic
    literature in 1987 and completed a two-year study of philosophy at the
    Arab University of Beirut. In 1991, Shaykh Muhammad joined the PhD program
    of linguistics at Gothenburg University in Sweden, Department of Oriental
    Studies, where he also worked as a researcher and a teacher of classical
    Arabic literature for a few years until 1996.

    Shaykh Muhammad worked in Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah in Kuwait in 1990 as
    Research Editor, and, between 1998-1999, as Assistant Director for
    Research and Studies, a position he was awarded due to his keen interest
    in the studies of ancient Arabic manuscripts and paleography. He
    eventually resigned to devote his time to the Sacred Knowledge and to
    serve its students in teaching and writing.

    While in school, Shaykh Muhammad studied French as a second language. It
    was in 1988 that he began learning the basics of English and German. At
    the age of 30, upon traveling to Sweden, he realized how vital is the
    English language in the work for Islam, so he moved to England at that
    time and completed the FCE, CAE, CCS, and CPE Cambridge courses in English
    within a year before returning to Sweden where he continued his studies in
    Swedish.

    In Sweden, Shaykh Muhammad served the Muslim community of Gothenburg as
    Imam, where he struggled for the establishment of Islam in the country.
    His work there was documented in several newspaper articles and
    interviews; it included teaching Muslims, giving presentations about
    Islam, and engaging in multi-religious dialogues and debates on political
    and social issues, such as European-Islamic dialogue, atheism, etc..
    Shaykh Muhammad was hosted by all of the major Swedish universities and
    Institutions and was co-founder of the Nordic Center for Inter-religious
    dialogue (NCID) in Gothenburg. He represented Swedish Muslims in several
    international conferences until he returned to Syria towards the end of
    1996. In 1999, the Swedish Islamic society in Stockholm (SIS) chose him as
    the Mufti of Sweden, forwarding to him the burning issues of fiqh that
    concern Swedish Muslims. In the year 2000, SIS elected him as a permanent
    founding member of the Swedish Islamic Academy in Stockholm in recognition
    of his work in Sweden to which he continues to commit through lectures and
    classes during his visits to Scandinavia.

    Besides working in Syria and Sweden, Shaykh Muhammad participated in
    conferences, delivered lectures, and gave Friday speeches in Lebanon,
    Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Denmark, Finland, Norway,
    Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, England, Canada, and the United
    States. His first tour to the US took place in the spring of 1997. Since
    then, he has been frequenting North America and is now hosted by Zaytuna
    Institute in California where he has been teaching since the past year. In
    his efforts to revive the Tradition, he has taught Hadith, including the
    Muwatta’ and Sahih al-Bukhari, and he intends to finish all six books in
    the coming terms in sha Allah. Shaykh Muhammad is married and has three
    children, Aicha, who is four; Ibrahim, who is two; and Ismael, who is
    four-months-old.

    Others besides Shaykh Muhammad have seen many of the miracles of his
    father, but for those who have not seen them, Shaykh Muhammad says, “This
    is one of the miracles of my father that everyone can see. It was his
    du’ah for me, his blessing, and his company that opened the way for me to
    be where I am now.”

    -end of article-

  2. Assalaamu’alaikum! Dear Brother, My name is Mikael Pittam, I am the Operations Manager at Alhambra Productions. I would like to thank you for posting our website address on your blog. We really appreciate your support. I do hope that in the future we can depend on you to support us. We are hoping to set up a reliable network of brothers and sisters to help us spread the word of Alhambra Productions. You can e-mail me at mikael @ alhambraproductions . com (please remove the spaces). There is a blog that I maintain as well: http://sumikael.blogspot.com

    Thank you.

    Salaam,
    Mikael Pittam

    P.S. Insha’Allah, I will be visiting Singapore and Malaysia in June. I used to live in Singapore and have visited Malaysia many times. This time it will be for Alhambra business. Thanks.

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