Monday, July 13, 2009

Grand Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi (1924 - 2009)

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi

















Indeed - the Friends (Awliya) of Allah, no fear is upon them, nor do they grieve. For them are glad tidings, in the life of the Present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the Words of Allah. This indeed is the supreme triumph. - The Quran 10:62, 64

My companions are stars. Whomsoever any one of them you follow, you will be rightly guided. - Sacred Tradition of Islam

1.
On this past July 10th (14th Rajab 1430 in Hijri Calendar) the Grand Shaykh of Darqawi Shadhili tariqa has passed away into the Mercy and Pleasure of Allah Most High and His Loving Care, ... inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un! we are from Allah and to Him is the return. May Allah be well pleased with him.

Quoting from a Eulogy by Ibrahim Hakim al Shaghouri: "If a number of you have not heard of him, it is because he chose to live a life based on the principle of hiding and erasing yourself to instead show a reflection of Allah's Attributes, and indeed anyone who came into contact with the gentle tranquility and effacing humility of his being knew that he was one of those that Allah chose to guard under His veils of jealousy. His entire life - from when he was conscious of his surroundings until his passing away at an age exceeding 80 years - was truly spent entirely for Allah.

He loved orphans, and said many times that no one can build a sound connection with Allah while ignoring the orphans; like the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam, he was always looking out for new opportunities to make du'a for someone; he preferred that people know Allah more than knowing him, because "Allah is greater and more everlasting" as the Qur'an says, and because of this his whole being and demeanor was subtle and limpid. When he one time saw my large Moroccan style Tasbih, he showed me his tiny unnoticeable tasbih.

He never extended his feet, even when he sat alone, because he never felt himself absent from Allah's vision. He slept very little during the night, and regularly spent his nights reciting Qur'an and having intimate conversation with Allah, even into his old age.

He will be missed for all of the above, as well as for many other deeper spiritual aspects of his being, spiritual aspects which even many Muslims would find confusing and distant, being unfortunately so tied up with the material world while being unfamiliar with the matters of the soul. I ask Allah to rest his graceful soul firmly on the carpet of His Presence and Nearness, and I also ask each of you to recite a "Fatiha" on his behalf, and feed an orphan in his name."

2.
Shaykh Ibrahim Muhammad al-Battawi Abu-Dhikri's ancestors, from the sadah of the Prophet Muhammad,‘alayhi salat wa salam, came to Egypt from the Maghreb in the time of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. He was a contemporary of Shaykh Abdal-Halim Mahmoud, the great mujaddid of the 20th century in Egypt, and Shaykh al-Azhar. he taught the works of Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali for some 25 years in the Azhar, as Professor in the Department of Speculative Theology and Philosophy in the Azhar.

In the path of Shadhuli sufism Shaykh Ibrahim dedicated himself for most of his long life, in the service of his Lord. Shaykh Ibrahim was first a disciple of the great mujaddid of the Sufi ways in Egypt, Sidi Salama al-Radi - the shaykh of the Hamdiyyah-Shadhuliyyah tariqah. That noble shaykh was an inheritor of Imam Abu-l-Hasan al-Shadhuli. Most recognise the line as going through Sidi Abu-l-Abbas al-Mursi, who was Imam al-Shadhuli's sole successor, and then through Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari, the author of the famous ‘Hikam' - but they often neglect that while Sidi Ibn Ata'illah was the transmitter of the ‘written teachings' of the tariqah, there was another successor of Sidi Abu-l-Abbas. Sidi Yaqut al-Arsh was the transmitter of the ‘oral teachings', which have not been written down, and are passed only from shaykh to student by word of mouth.

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi, MysticSaint, SadiqShaykh Ibrahim was a professor in what is well known to be the most difficult department at the Azhar. Shaykh Abdal Halim Mahmoud, the great Shaykh al-Azhar and a contemporary of Shaykh Ibrahim, had graduated himself from that department. Every year, he would identify a few students who appeared to be attracted to certain principles, and would teach them privately at the small zawiyah that was housed a few minutes down from the Azhar mosque in Old Cairo. Here, he would focus on transmitting the knowledge of classical books of the Islamic canon in the traditional manner, where the student would recite, and he would clarify the meanings of the words as time went on.

In that zawiyah, the hadrah might be held - although in recent years, that zawiyah became less common as a meeting place, as he focused on the second zawiyah in Heliopolis, which was also a mosque in one of the new suburbs of Cairo. There, he had also built a hostel for students, as well as a clinic for taking care of the sick; such was the model he followed when building mosques all around Cairo and further.

His students were literally from all around the world. They did not come to him out of a note of his fame, for he stuck very strictly to the doctrine of transparency of the Shadhuliyyah - what a great Shaykh of that way described as ‘More glow... and less show.' And certainly, Shaykh Ibrahim was glowing.

He lived incredibly simply, but he was wealthy inside - and indeed, much of his external lack of wealth was due to the amount of money he constantly gave to his poorer students and others. He often gave the khutbah in the mosque of Sidi Ibn Ata'illah, his ancestral teacher in one of the lines that he inherited the Shadhuli tariqah from. He often visited the cities of Makkah and Madinah, for a long time doing it on a yearly basis.

His way was simple. He called for attachment to the shari'ah, and abhorred any suggestion that success in tasawuf could be reached outside the realm of the shari'ah and the tradition of this religion of Islam. He reminded his students to pay attention to their dreams, which the Prophet himself, ‘alayhi salat wa salam, described as a part of prophecy. He turned their attention to the orisons of Imam Abu-l-Hasan al-Shadhuli, certain in the value of these collections of du'as and ayat from the Qur'an. He insisted they spend a portion of their day studying the disciplines of the shari'ah, and reading from the book of Allah.

And finally, clearly and without any doubt, he said that one of the conditions of his way was to guide people to the truth of Islam through love, and he emphasised ‘love' very strongly. He specifically warned against taking any price or profit in dunya for this work; this work is for Allah, and for Allah alone, with absolute sincerity.

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi was taken from us in this world on the 14th of Rajab, 1430 hijri, surrounded by his family in Cairo. We may never see the likes of him again, but as he reminded one of his students, ‘in the realm of the spirit (ruh), distance means nothing.' Wa-l-hamdulillah.

- al-faqir as-shadhuli via Green Mountain School


Reference:
. Green Mountain School
. Shaykh Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee
. Al-Azhar University
. The Grand Imams of Al-Azhar | Shuyukhul Azhar
. Shadhili School of Sufism
. Fatawa of Shaykh 'Abd al-Halim Mahmud: On Sufism Pin It Now!

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