Makhdum II – a great Islamic scholar lost in history

Updated 07 December 2012
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Makhdum II – a great Islamic scholar lost in history

Sheikh Zainuddin Makhdum II, author of Tuhfatul Mujahideen and Fathul Mueen, was a heroic personality in history as he had played a major role in achieving social and religious renaissance, especially in the south Indian state of Kerala.
Unfortunately, his life and books have not been studied as they deserved. Tuhfatul Mujahideen is the first ever written history of Kerala or Malabar while Fathul Mueen is a widely accepted textbook on Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence, especially by the Shafii school of thought and Egypt’s Al-Azhar University. The Makhdum family came from Ma’bar, Yemen. They visited the South Indian coastal cities of Keelakkara, Madurai and Kayalpattanam to propagate Islam. Sheikh Ali bin Ahmed Al-Ma’bari and his brother Sheikh Ibrahim moved from Kayalpattanam, a place now in Tamil Nadu, and settled in Kochangadi, in Kochi in the 15th century CE. The word Ma’bari has been misunderstood as Malabari (which means from Malabar) by some historians, which is a grave mistake. Zainuddin Makhdum I, whose full name is Sheikh Zainuddin bin Ali bin Ahmed Al-Ma’bari, was born in 1465 at Kochangadi. After the death of his father, Zainuddin came under the guardianship of his uncle Ibrahim and they came to Ponnani and settled there. He received preliminary education under Abubaker Fakhruddin of Kozhikode. Later he came to Makkah to pursue religious studies and remained there for seven years and then at Al-Azhar University for five years before returning to Ponnani.
Sheikh Zainuddin, popularly known as Zainuddin Makhdum I, constructed the famous Makhdum Juma Masjid in Ponnani in 1519-1520, which was renovated in 1753-54. This mosque is a masterpiece of woodwork which was carried out under the leadership of a Hindu carpenter, who later embraced Islam and known as Asari Thangal.
Sheikh Makhdum established a religious school near the masjid and started teaching there. He was given the title of Makhdum (a respectable person who deserves to be served) by the people of Ponnani. He died in 1522 at the age of 57.
In his collection of Arabic poems, he had encouraged Malabar Muslims to fight against the Portuguese, the first European colonial invaders who were deadly against Islam and Muslims.
The author of Tuhfa, Sheikh Zainuddin Makhdum II, was born in 1530 (938 H) as the first son of Muhammad Al-Ghazzali, who was the third son of Makhdum I. His father, Al-Gazzali, was a renowned scholar, qadi and grand mufti of northern Malabar. He constructed the juma masjid (Kunhippalli) in Chombal, near Mahe. His mother was a pious and noble lady from the Valiyakath Taraketti family of Chombal. Makhdum II had three children, Abubacker, Abdul Aziz and Fatima. He was born in Chombal and then came to Ponnani.
Makhdum II too traveled to Makkah for higher education. During his 10-year stay in Makkah he mastered all branches of Islamic knowledge, especially Hadith. He was lucky to study under such eminent scholars as Imam Shihabudhin Ahmed bin Hajar Al-Makki, a renowned scholar and author of Fiqh of Shafii school of thought, and Abul Hassan Al-Siddiq Al-Bakari who taught him Sufism. Back from Makkah, Makhdum started teaching at Ponnani religious classes (dars), and he engaged in teaching there for about 36 years. He was not only an inspiring teacher but also a powerful orator. He established close relationship with eminent scholars of the Islamic world of that time. The prominent among them were his teacher in Makkah, Ibn Hajar Al-Haythami, who had visited Ponnani. It is said that the famous lamp made of stone, presented by Al-Haythami, is still kept in Ponnani Dars. Thousands of students gained light of knowledge by sitting and studying around this lamp. Fatwas issued by Al-Haiythami during his stay in Ponnani are still preserved carefully. Imam Muhammed Ramli and Imam Muhammed Khatib Al-Sarwini were other renowned scholars whom Makhdum II had close relations with. His circle of friends included eminent state leaders like Akbar, the Mughal emperor, Bijapur Sultan Ibrahim Ali Adil Shah, Muhammed Ali Adil Shah and the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Makhdum often served as the envoy of Samoothiris to the rulers of Islamic countries like Egypt and Turkey for military assistance against Portuguese as he was well versed in Arabic and Persian. He died in 1583 and was buried in Kunhippalli, Chombal. He authored a number of books on Islam.
Fathul Mueen is a revised version of his early work named Qurratul Ain. Published in different parts of the Islamic world with many editions, Fathul Mueen has been translated into many languages. It is a standard textbook of Fiqh in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and other countries.
Tuhfatul Mujahideen, which means glory to the victory of martyrs, is perhaps the most important and renowned literary work of Makhdum II. It was written in Arabic between 1560 and 1583 and first printed and published in its Arabic original in Lisbon. A copy of this edition has been kept in the library of Al-Azhar University and has been translated into several world languages.

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The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.