Biography – Imam al-Haddadadmin | January 4, 2009
‘Abdulllah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad is best known as ‘Imam al-Haddad’ or ‘Qutb al-Irshad’ (The Pillar of Guidance). He was born in a Subair on the northern outskirts of Tarim in Hadramaut on the night of Sunday 5th Safar, 1044H, corresponding to 1st August 1634 ce. Allah took his sight at the age of four, after which his parents paid special attention to his Islamic education.
Despite his young age and the loss of his sight, he was known for his sharp memory, comprehension and recall. He memorised the Quran and several other texts while still a child and then went on to study under a number of the prominent scholars of his time. Among the 140 scholars he studied under were:
- Abdul Rahman bin Shaykh, known as Mawlay Aidid
- Abdul Rahman’s son, Shaykh bin Abdul Rahman
- Aqil bin Abdul Rahman al-Saqqaf
- Umar bin Abdul Rahman al-Attas
- Abu Bakr bin Abdul Rahman al-Saqqaf
- Shaykhan bin Hussain bin Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim
Imam al-Haddad corresponded with his Shaykh, the Imam, Muhammad bin ‘Alawi bin Muhammad al-Saqqaf in Makkah and travelled to the town of Shihr to study under, Ahmed bin Nasir bin Ahmed bin Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim.
Imam al-Haddad was very concerned about his community and preserving the religious values of Hadramaut. To this end, he wrote copiously and travelled to various communities calling them to the religion of Islam to traditional values. Because of his great efforts, he gained the title ‘Pillar of Guidance’. His books remain popular sources of inspiration and guidance. They have been translated into many languages including English, French, Malay, Indonesian, Urdu, Swahili and Turkish. Several of his books and poems have had extensive commentaries written on them. He is said to have reached the status of mujtahid in 70 branches of Islamic knowledge. In 1079 (1668 ce), Imam al-Haddad performed the pilgrimage to Makkah and visited the Prophet, upon him be peace, in Madina. He met many of the world’s leading scholars and came back with even greater vigour and desire to call people to Islam and teach the religion.
On his return, he settled in al-Hawi on the outskirts of Tarim where he established his home and mosque. He remained there until his death on the night of Tuesday 7th Dhul Qada 1132 corresponding to 12th August 1720 ce.
Imam al-Haddad has a number of litanies, which are read as acts of devotion and reminders of the basic principles of monotheism. The most famous of his litanies are the famous Ratib (al-ratib al-shahir) and the Wird al-Latif.
He produced many great students. Among the most famous were his son al-Imam Hasan bin Abdullah al-Haddad and al-Habib Ahmed bin Zayn al-Habashi and the two brothers Umar and Muhammad bin Zayn bin ‘Alawi bin Sumeit, Umar bin Abdul Rahman al-Bar and Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Balfaqih.
His contribution to the spread of Islam through his words and actions and his students and writings was immense. His works continue to inspire and he remains the ‘Pillar of Guidance’ he had been during his lifetime. May Allah reward him greatly and help us to imitate the noble Prophet through his fine example.
Abdul Aziz Ahmed 7th Dhul Qada1421