Thursday, February 10, 2005

Obituary-Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki

JUST BEFORE dawn on Friday the 15th of Ramadan of this year the Muslim community lost one of its most eminent scholars and men of Allah. Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki came from a long line of eminent scholars, Idrisi sharifs connected to the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, through Imam al- Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him. His ancestors came from Morocco many centuries ago and settled in Mecca. The custom in Mecca has always been to use the title Sayyid for the scholarly among the descendants of Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein, reserving the title of sharif for the rulers of Mecca, until the modern day Saudi era, for the martial, warrior scion amongst the ahl al-bayt. Thus it was that the newcomers retained the surname of Maliki, that of their illustrious ancestor Muhammad al-Maliki, whose North African origin made him a follower of Imam Malik in matters of jurisprudence, and the title Sayyid for being scholars, not warriors.

The Maliki family home was very near to the Sacred Mosque, next to Bab al-Salam. This is where Sayyid Muhammad was born in 1367 AH He went to school in Mecca, but his first and most important teacher was his father, the illustrious Sayyid ‘Alawi (1328-1391) whose name was a rather unusual one for an Idrisi sharif. The story behind it is that his father, Sayyid ‘Abbas, son of Sayyid ‘Abdal ‘Aziz, son of Sayyid ‘Abbas, son of Sayyid ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, son of the great saint Muhammad al-Maliki al- Makki al-Idrisi, had only daughters and greatly desired a son to succeed him as the chief Maliki scholar of Mecca. When he learned that the great Hadrami scholar and saint, Habib Ahmad ibn Hasan al-‘Attas had arrived in Mecca, he went to visit him, explained the situation to him and asked him for his prayers. Habib Ahmad answered him that not only would Allah grant his request and give him a son, but that he would also be the most eminent scholar in Mecca. However, because it was to be through the baraka of the Ba-‘Alawi sayyids, he was to name the boy ‘Alawi.


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