EARLIER this week a seminal work of one of the 20th century’s greatest Islamic scholars, Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki, was published in English translation by the International Peace College South Africa and the Kaaf Trust of Cape Town.
The Manhaj us-Salaf fi Fahm un-Nusus wan-Nadhariyyah wal Tatbiq [translated as The Way of the True Salaf] is a work aimed at correcting the error that fuels the fires of Islamic extremism world-wide.
The Salaf, who represent the best of the prophetic era, also symbolise the loftier aspirations of all Muslims. However, the term “Salaf” has been abrogated by those who have wished to transform it into a latter-day “reformist-Arabist” movement based on crude literalism, violence and intolerance.
This idea of discarding the vibrancy, dynamism and diversity of Islam originally festered in the sands of the Najd – an area of modern Saudi Arabia that the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], in a famous saying, refused to bless.
Its founder was a wayward scholar, Shaikh ibn ‘Abd ul-Wahhab, who was condemned even by his own brother and father. He is recognised as the founding spirit of the Salafi-Wahhabi movement, a movement that joined forces with tribal chieftain, Ibn Sa’ud, at the end of the 18th century when Ibn ‘Abd ul-Wahhab married Ibn Sa’ud’s daughter in a political pact.
After the Ottomans put down the Wahhabi forces of Ibn Sa’ud who’d massacred thousands of Sunnis and Shi’ah across the Middle East for being “unbelievers”, the family rose from the sands of exile a hundred years later to create the modern Saudi state – the only country named after a family – in 1923.
Since then, Wahhabism has been the wellspring of Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf, Jabhat an-Nusra, ISIS and so many other extremist groupings. And whilst these extremist movements constitute less than 1% of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, they have managed to paint an extremely negative picture of Islam.
Sayyid Muhammad, who is a direct descendant of the Prophet, wrote over 100 books and the Manhaj was one of his final works before his untimely passing in Mecca in 2004 at the age of 58. During his life the Sayyid had warned and advised the Sa’udi authorities against extremism, prompting him to pen the Manhaj.
Rendered into English by a team of South African translators from IPSA and the University of South Africa (UNISA), the Manhaj is now accessible to a broad English-speaking audience.
Launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the Cape Town launch was hosted at the Azzawia where a former student and representative of Sayyid Muhammad, Shaikh Seraj Hendricks, resides as imam together with his brother, Shaikh Ahmad.
Guest speaker at the event was Dr Wasif Kabli, a well-known Hijazi businessman, philanthropist and author, who was a student of Sayyid Muhammad’s father, Sayyid ‘Alawi, and who was a friend of Sayyid Muhammad. Dr Kabli said that Muslims subscribed to “wasitiya”, the middle way of reason, peace and tolerance.
“Wasitiya has changed from age to age, life today is different to the 14th century, and we have to acknowledge that. As Muslims we have to be kind to all of Creation, Muslims, non-Muslims, the plants, the animals, the insects, the environment. We have to show compassion and kindness by example,” he said.
The launch was also attended by another luminary, Sayyid Idris al-Fasi who hails from the saintly Idrisi family whose forefather, Moulay Idris, established a place of spiritual learning at Fez in the 9th century. Sayyid Muhammad’s family originates from the Idrisi line, and according to Sayyid Fasi, Sayyid Muhammad had stayed at his house on his last visit to Morocco in 2004.
|Shaikh Seraj Hendricks and Dr Wasif Kabli.|
|Guests are honoured.|
|Second right: Sayyid Idris al Fasi.|
|Sh Fakhruddin Owaisi (IPSA) introduces Dr Kabli.|
|Sayyid Idris talks.|
|Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki.|
Images Copyright Shafiq Morton.