Gratitude to Our Shuyuukh - Shaykh Muhammad Drammeh, the Shaykh, al-Aseer (the Captive) Bilali Muhammad, the Mujaddid (Reviver of the Deen), Nur uz-Zamaan (Light of the Age), the Shehu Uthman Dan Fodiyo and Shaykh Little Malik Abdullah Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and the best prayers (afdalu as-salaati) and most abundant peace (attamu at-tasleemi) be upon Muhammad our master (sayyidina) Muhammad, upon his family (alihi), and Companions (sahbihi), all of them (ajma’een). May Allah, the Most High, be pleased with the masters (as-saadaati) of the Taabi’een and the right-acting ‘ulamaa’ and the four Imaams who exercised independent judgment and those who follow them until the Day of Judgment. As to what follows (amma ba’d):
Says the poor slave in great need of the mercy of his Lord, Na’eem Abdullah. It is our intention to express our gratitude (shukr) to those we have benefitted from in connection with the blessed book named Ar-Risaalah. If Allah wills, it will be of benefit to myself and whoever reads it. Success is with Allah!
I’m grateful for the shaykh known as “Malik as-Saaghir” which means “The Little Malik” for thinking about benefitting the children when he wrote his book Ar-Risaalah - Abdullah Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani. He wrote this book in 327/938 when he was 17 years of age. All of his books are beneficial, extraordinary full of knowledge, and relevant. There have been numerous commentaries written upon this blessed text! This “children’s book” is now a mid to high-level standard text for specializing in Maliki Fiqh.
Shehu (shaykh) Uthman Dan Fodiyo said in his book “Tareeq ul-Jannah” that shukr – gratitude – is that thing which secures your blessing, increases your blessing, and prevents you from losing your blessing! Allah, the Most High says “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is with themselves.” – Surah ar-Ra’d (#13), Ayah #11. In other words, Allah will not remove your blessing (ni’mah) until you become ungrateful for it!
The shaykh also quoted Allah’s verse “If you are grateful, I will increase you.” – Surah Ibrahim (#14), Ayah #7. This is the proof that Allah will increase your blessing if you are thankful for it! This goes for all blessings!
I’m also grateful to the Shehu, may Allah envelop him in His Mercy, for many reasons which can’t be enumerated here, but suffice it to say, I am thankful to the Mujaddid for reviving the deen in general and for including the Risaalah in his blessed writings in particular. He along with others in his scholarly family and entourage often quote the Risaalah and its commentaries like al-Fawaakih ad-Diwaani.
The Shehu is a proof that a black man can learn and teach Allah’s deen without relying upon others to validate the teaching! Under normal circumstances, my last statement could be misunderstood to be a racist or tribalistic statement; but the black man in America (in particular) and in the Diaspora (in general) have been unnaturally breed – like animals – to have an intense hatred for – and distrust of – themselves and anything connected to Africa. This hatred includes the pure Islam which first took root there (in Africa) during the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and has remained there – uninterrupted ever since. In this regard the Shehu said, “The cure of every sickness is in its opposite.” This hatred of self is a sickness which is tantamount to kufr (disbelief) because it is a manifestation of ingratitude regarding Allah’s creation. In other words, Allah created you black and you wish you were other than black! Our variety of colors and languages are signs from Allah: “And among His Signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the differences of your languages and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge.” – Surah ar-Rum (#30), ayah #22.
Thus, when blacks learn their deen from blacks it treats 2 diseases with 1 cure. It cures the sickness of ignorance of Allah, His Messenger and His deen – which can be learned from anyone regardless of color or nationality; and it cures the disease of self-hatred, low black self-esteem, etc…
I’m thankful for the Shaykh, the enslaved prisoner of war (al-Aseer) – Bilali Muhammad, may Allah have Mercy upon him. He was originally from Futa Jallon, which is the modern West African state of Guinea.
When Shaykh Bilali was about 14 years old he was captured in a tribal war and sold into slavery. He landed in Nassau, Bahamas and eventually ended up on Sapelo Island, Georgia between 1803 and 1808. He had 19 children and 4 wives. He was known to wear a fez, carry sibha (dhikr beads), and keep his Qur’an with him.
All of this is amazing considering the fact that he was a slave on an American plantation. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was different from every other type of slavery because those who were enslaved were stripped of their humanity – literally. They were considered property – like animals! They were prohibited from learning how to read – especially Arabic or any other African language. In most places during slavery, reading was a capital offense! In other words, a slave could be killed for reading!
He was also known to wear a long robe. But even more amazing about Shaykh Bilali is the fact that he wrote a document from memory – much of it has been preserved until this day. This document – well, at least most of it – is none other than the Risaalah of ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawaani! He wrote this from memory; which means that he memorized it before he was captured at the age of 14!
Many other beautiful and important things can be said about Bilali Muhammad but my words here are limited to expressing my gratitude to him for bringing the Risaalah to the far West – America! This forerunner and progenitor of Islam in America died in or around 1860. May Allah have Mercy on him!
Lastly, I’m thankful for our Shaykh from Gambia – Muhammad Drammeh. He spent over a week with Nur uz-Zamaan Institute here at Masjid al-Mu’min in Pittsburgh transmitting the Risaalah to us with his isnad (chain of authority). He didn’t have to do that! He could have ignored the grassroots and traveled the path of the “pop icon shaykh”. He could have insisted on 1st class airfare, 5-star hotel suites, gourmet food and the remainder of pomp and glitter which accompanies many of the contemporary purveyors of “traditional” knowledge – but he didn’t!
May Allah reward him for connecting us with our roots by means of this sacred knowledge! May Allah bless his family, community and loved ones! May Allah protect and increase his good works – particularly with his school and the orphans under his care!
We thank Allah for connecting us to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by means of the beneficial knowledge contained in the Risaalah. May Allah forgive all of our teachers and their teachers!