Every year, all over the world, muslims in the spiritual lineage of the great saint Imam Abdullah al-Haddad gather together to celebrate his life and remember his great wisdom. He is most fondly remembered in the parts of the world that have benefited from the dawah of the scholars and saints of Hadhramaut: Yemen, the Swahili Coast, the muslim parts of the Indian coast and the Malay Archipelago, the Nusantara. IMG_0667_azriIn the Nusantara, as elsewhere, the hadhrami da’is did not only preach, but stayed, intermarried and naturalized. All the major population centers of the archipelago have people who can trace their lineage back to Hadhramaut. Some have retained family titles like al-Haddad and al-Sagoff, while elsewhere, like in Kuching, the descendants carry an honorific as part of their given name, such as Wan.

Pak AliAnd where their descendants have not reached, their knowledge and piety has. Blessed practices such as recitation of Mawlid Barzanji were propagated and encouraged by such people until it has saturated the religious experience of the region. Cikgu AzriAn undeniable testimony to their influence is that the entirety of the Malay people follow shafi’i fiqh even though hanafi madhab was also represented in the region through Indian and maybe even Chinese sources during the Islamization of the region. [I have a pet theory that shafii fiqh had a major advantage spreading here due to shafii lenience on shellfish, an indispensable part of the local diet. But that is another story.]

october07 041This evening we gathered in the home of Tuan Haji Saleh at maghrib time. His living room had been cleared out and spread with carpets to accommodate us all, and a smoldering incense censer wafted perfumed smoke through the room. october07 040Following maghrib prayers, we recited Ya Sin, gifting its reward to the soul of Imam al-Haddad. The Ratib al-Haddad followed, a litany of supplications culled by the late Imam from the Quran and Hadith that is read daily by people across the region. After Isha’ prayers, Cikgu Asry read a Malay translation of a sermon given by the late Imam. Our ustaz then began to sing “Ya Tawwab”, a beautiful poem I had heard many times before. Little did I know it was originally composed by Imam Abdullah al-Haddad. Habib Sayyid Mustafa al-HaddadOur guest of honor, Habib Sayyid Mustafa al-Haddad, a direct descendant of the Imam, then recited the Arabic couplets again and translated and explained them to our congregation in Malay. Finally, we concluded the evening by reciting from the Mawlid Barzanji and reciting salawat on Our Master the Seal of Messengers Muhammad, peace be upon him.

IMG_0667No gathering would be complete without a meal, particularly in Malaysia. We had worked up a good appetite by then and handily disposed of the lamb that had been slaughtered and cooked up that afternoon by a few of the brothers.

[I’ve sprinkled photos in here from previous gatherings this year – 12 Rabiul Awwal and 1 Shawwal. View all these photos and more of the Ba’alawi congregation in Kuching.]

I took a few short clips of the event:

Ya Tawwab, Tub Alayna

[A full audio version of the poem is available courtesy of Naqshbandi.org. ]

Sallallahu ala Muhammad

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. AA- Bin Gregory,

    So nice to see the active role the Ba’Alawi Habaib are playing in Malaysia. I’ve had interactions with them in Madina and they are spiritually amazing!

  2. Asalaamu alaikum.

    JazakAllah khair for sharing this. It is very interesting. I am quite a “fan” of Imam Haddad and find his books to be some of the most important and yet very accessible.

    I like your joke about the Malaysian Shafi’i followers, LOL. One of the reasons I chose to follow Shafi’i madhab was because I was told that it is the only madhab that allows one to eat shrimp (of course, there were more important considerations as well). Since then, I’ve been told that is not true at all.

  3. wa alaykum salam and you’re welcome everybody. I’m sorry for the short clips. One of these days I’ll record the whole thing properly.

    Aaminah – yeah I believe it is makruh, not haram for the hanafis, but you can’t beat the clarity of the shafii position. I still remember my first fiqh instructor: “If you were to find a species of dog that lived in the water…”

  4. Today, I had the time of reading the whole of this very interesting article and watching the videos. Very few people know of the role played by Hadhramis in the peaceful spreading of Islam in South-East Asia and how they have greatly influenced people and lives there.

    Thank you very much for sharing this.

  5. Salam ‘alaikum.

    MasyaAllah, what a beautiful blog. Jazakum Allah khair.
    Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad wa ‘ala aali sayyidina Muhammad. May Allah bless every Muslim whom are folloing the noble path taught & shown by sayyidina wa habibina Muhammad sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. insyaAllah. amin.

  6. Salam readers,
    i was reading the bigraphu of imam abdullah of haddad, and i was amazed of how people followed his writings and his poems. Then i remembered a hadith from rasulullah saw,saying that whoever doesnt follow his footsteps(sunnah), he is not among his ummah. This is a very interesting hadith indeed.
    Just out of quriosity, why is that people tend to people imam abdullah al-hadad instead of the sunnah and al-quran. Is it not clear that by following the footsteps of sunnah and al-quran is better than following the imam’s footsteps. One reason is that abdullah al-hadad doesnt receieve any wahyu from Allah swt, but our prophet does.So logically thinking, we priorities our prophet instead of this imam. Rasulullah saw said that the most important thing in life is to spread the word of Allah to all over the world, by reading the poems by abdullah al-hadad,does this fulfill our duty as a khaliph?think again my friend what you guy are doing.There is much more in islam that just reciting and imams poem, where is the jihad fisabillah.Come back to the sunnah,It is ,much much better than following some imam that you guys dont even know.


  7. My dear Superman,

    Please understand the ‘uslub’ of the discussion. You’re just expressing your own foolishness by not understanding the meaning of following sunnah, have you not heard the importance rank of ‘ulama among commons? Most importantly, who are the one who explained the sunnah of RasuluLlah Al Mustafa to us for generations? Dont tell me just by reading a few books of hadith and translation of Al Quran you are more knowledgeable than this great Imam. This Imam RahimahuLlah understand the sunnah and live by it his whole life.

    I ask for dear ‘Tuan Rumah’ to forgive this faqir correcting such ignorant behavior. Thanks

    Allahumma Solli ‘Ala Saiyidina Habibina Syafi’ina Muhammad wa ‘ala aalihi wa sohbihi wa sallam.

    Al Faqir ilaLlah..
    Abi Qalam

  8. wa `alaykum as-salam:

    Ii think it is permissible in the Maliki madhab to eat shrimp but I would have to look that up or ask one of my teachers (i’m not exactly sure).

    Wassalamu `alaykum

  9. but the joke was still very nice, especially being that I was a Shafi`i at one time even though I was born Hanafi and later permanently adopted the Maliki madhab of fiqh

  10. In the Name of the Most Merciful GOD.

    Allow me to clarify the rulings on the consumption of shrimps and other shellfish according to the Four Canonical Guilds (Mazahib) of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah:-

    Seafood is considered “Halal” (wholesome and fit for Muslim consumption) by consensus (Ijmaa’) though they disagree on the type sand kind permitted.

    The vast majority of jursists (Fuqaha’) and leading authorities (Ashabul-Wujuh / Mujtahid Tarjih) of Maliki, Shafi’ie and Hanbali consider all kind of sea creatures as lawful even though they do not look like or resemble fish. As long as these creatures are not venomous or poisonous. Thus shrimps, prawns, squid, and crabs are lawful according to these Mazahib. The Qawl Mu’tamad (relied-upon position) of the Shafi’ie is that all aquatic animals are considered pure and wholesome even if it resembles swine or dogs (see مغني المحتاج إلى معرفة ألفاظ, تحفة المحتاج في شرح المنهاج), though Imam Malik considered it blameworthy, but this is dismissed by Ibnul Qasim in التاج والإكليل لمختصر خليل (Maliki Fiqh Manual). The Shafi’ies stipulate that in order for sea creatures to be rendered Halal, they have to be completely aquatic animals and not amphibians/reptiles though the Hanbalis do not share the same view, as such turtles and tortoises are edible as per Hanbali (seeكشاف القناع عن متن الإقناع, مطالب أولي النهى, شرح منتهى الإرادات ).

    As for the Hanafis, the relied upon position upon which the Fatwa is pronounced (Mufta Bihi) as apparent in Al-Hidayah and other major tomes, they only consider FISH and anything else that resemble fish as being lawful but not others. As such clams, crabs, lobsters, squid, octopus, etc are Haram as per Hanafi. The basic criterion is that anything that the Arabs considered ‘fish’ (samak) at time of revelation is permitted. Other produce of the sea is not permitted in the Hanafi school. As for shrimps, the most prevalent view among the Hanafi authorities is that it is “Haraam” since they cannot be classified as “fish” nor do they physically resemble it. This view is espoused by Tahtawi, Sakhawi and Ibn Abidin (see العناية شرح الهداية, الجوهرة النيرة , البحر الرائق شرح كنز الدقائق ). It is interesting however to see that modern Hanafi academicians such as Taqi Uthmani (who is wahhabi-inclined) and others consider “shrimps” to be fish as such it is Halal for consumption. The way of the pious scholars and devout servants is that to abstain from what is doubtful.

    PS: Shrimps are perfectly OK in Maliki (refer to مواهب الجليل في شرح مختصر)

    GOD knows best.

    Houwaida Maqdisi Al-Halaby

  11. …and if I may add, theoritically speaking, it would be inaccurate to say level the term “lenience” on Shafi’ie when it comes to consuming shellfish as the vast majority of scholars deem shellfish to be Halal (not Shafi’ie alone), the Malikis consider shrimps/prawns to be Halal without Kirahah (blameworthiness) nor do the Hanbalis. On the contrary, other Mazahib are considered lenient when it comes to dietary laws, the Hanbalis allow turtles and tortoises, the Malikis consider cats and frogs to be edible while the Hanafis claim rennet from unslaughtered animals to be Halal and so are the alcoholic beverages made from other than grapes and dates – which are perfectly OK to be consumed in moderation according to Imam Abu Hanifa as stated in the Mabsout (though this anomalous view of his is rejected by his own students Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad). All those are Haram as per Shafi’ie…so Shafi’ie is actually quite strict 🙂

  12. Typos in my entries:

    1) they disagree on the type sand kind permitted.===> It should be “they disagree on the TYPES and KIND permitted”

    2) nor do the Hanbalis ===> It should be “so do the Hanbalis”

  13. The official and relied upon position of Shafi’ies is that all aquatic life is permissible to eat, whether it looks like fish or not, except for harmful ones that they contain poison, for they are not permissible to eat. As for what lives on land and in water, it is haram to eat them, such as the snake, the crocodile, the turtle, and the rock-crab [lives both in water and on land] and others like them

    وأما حيوانُ البحر فكلُه حلالُ أكلُه سواء ما كان منه على صورة السمك أو لا ، إلا ما يضرُّ منه كذوات السموم فيحرم أكله . وأما ما له عيشٌ في البر والبحر فيحرُم أكلُه وذلك كحية وتمساح وسلحفاة وسرطان ونحوهما .

  14. There’s this book of litanies composed by the Ba’lawis which is good for daily recitation and devotion. It has selected Surahs, Major Salawat and other invocations. It comes in two sizes medium and small with choices of gold and red cover. It’s a must-have item for travellers and I carry it with me in my tote bag.

    Correction: Imam Abu Yusuf (the student-companion) of Abu Hanifa agreed with the latter on the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages derived from other than grapes and dates. It was late night when I typed the above post, hence the typos….

  15. Assalamu’alaykum to all especially Mr BinGregory,

    I would like to inform that the Haul of Imamul Haddad this year would fall on the 22nd of October, held at Masjid at -Taqwa, Kampung Gita. The majlis tentatively starts at 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm. May ALLAH s.w.t grant His bless and mercy to us through the barokah of the great scholar, the highest saint of his time, the direct descendant of our beloved Prophet s.a.a.w; Qutbul Irsyad wa Ghautsil ‘Ibad wal Bilad al Imam al Habib ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al Haddad Ba’alawi al Husaini asy Syafi’i at Tarimi

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