The Ramadan Discourses

The Ramadan Discourses :
[A5] Paperback - 232 pages,
by Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib
Translated by Abdalhaqq Bewley, &
by Safwan Najjar & Abdalqadir al-Harkassi,
EDited by by Abdalhaqq Bewley,
Published by Diwan Press.


The tafsir discourses in this book were recorded during Ramadan in October 1971 just two months before Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahmatullahi ta'ala 'alayhi, died in Algeria on his way to Hajj. They are the only recordings ever made of the teaching of the Shaykh and, as such, represent an extremely precious element of his legacy. His teaching discourses almost always took the form of giving a tafsir of Qur'anic ayahs that had just been recited and these discourses follow that pattern. It was his custom in Ramadan year on year to remain in Meknes during the entire month and go through the Qur’an from end to end, starting in one Ramadan where he had finished the previous year. In this, his last Ramadan, he began half way through ayah 156 of Sura al-A‘raf, which was where he had reached the year before.

It must be remembered, as can be seen from the short biography that introduces this volume, that Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib completed his studies at the very beginning of the 20th Century, certainly before 1905. This means that he was from the last generation of scholars whose entire education took place before the intervention of any colonial administration into the Moroccan education system. So he was the direct legatee of a traditional education process that had been continuing unbroken in Fez for more than a millennium and that was completely unaffected by the ethos of scientific materialism which the colonial powers brought in their wake and which now dominates the entire world. This is clearly reflected in his teaching which comes across with a freshness and authenticity and freedom from any modernist influence that no scholar of subsequent generations has been genuinely able to achieve.

This is reflected in everything he says but is demonstrated particularly clearly in his continual insistence on a pure understanding of tawhid. This is something he emphasised generally throughout his teaching and, as can be seen, he returns to it again and again in these discourses. Something else that shines through in his words is his constant, almost urgent, awareness of the Divine Presence and the reality of the Next World, and his fervent desire to communicate that to his hearers so that they realise the true nature of the human situation and their need to act upon what he says. This has made these discourses as relevant, or even more relevant, than they were when they were first delivered fifty years ago. 

The doctrines of scientific materialism, positing, as they do, the absolute reality of cause and effect, have now penetrated even more deeply into human consciousness and have made it vital that the true teaching of tawhid is once more made accessible to Muslims in the way it is through the Shaykh’s words here. And the rampant secularism that now dominates virtually the whole world, which treats the Divine Presence and the realities of the Next World at best as myth and frequently as fiction, makes the Shaykh’s certainty about them and vibrant awareness of them all the more inspiring and needed in the present time. May Allah greatly benefit all who read these discourses and increase the reward of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib by the benefit they bring.---Abdalhaqq Bewley.



Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib 1288/1871 – 23 Dhu al-Qa‘da 1391/11 January 1972.

The highly informative brief summary of the life of Shaykh Sidi Muhammad ibn al-Habib, may Allah purify his secret, by Bashir ibn Isma’il reveals, as Abdalhaqq Bewley insightfully says, that he was entirely grounded in the tradition and unaffected intellectually by the materialism of the so-called ‘enlightenment’ that so devastatingly worked its mischief on so many Muslims. Moreover, he was an exemplar of the almost uniquely Moroccan take on the deen, that is the unity of Islam, Iman and Ihsan derived from the Madinan tradition rather than later efforts at synthesis. Not only was the Shaykh thoroughly grounded in the sciences of the ‘ulama but, experiencing the imperial French attempt at colonisation, he engaged in jihad having to learn to ride a horse and use weapons for the purpose. In the last decades of his long life, he travelled constantly in Morocco and Algeria teaching people in the cities, the villages and the deserts, and going on Hajj three times, the third time passing away in Algeria at more than a hundred years of age, may Allah be merciful to him and pleased with him.





Table of Contents

---A brief summary of the life of Shaykh Sidi
Muhammad ibn al-Habib by Bashir ibn Isma’il,
------His origins and youth,
------His memorisation of the Noble Qur'an,
------His quest for knowledge at the Qarawiyyin Mosque,
------His teachers,
------His teaching at the Qarawiyyin Mosque,
------His Jihad in the cause of Allah,
------His meeting the Shaykhs of his time,
------His meeting Sidi Ma 'al-'Aynayn,
------His meeting Sidi 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Salih,
------His meeting with Sidi Muhammad al-Ghiyathi,
------His meeting with Sidi Abdullah al-Badrawi,
------His meeting with Sidi Muhammad al-Lahlu,
------His taking the tariqa of Sidi al-'Arabi ibn Abdullah Baba al-Huwari, 
------Renewal of the pledge to Sidi Muhammad ibn 'Ali,
------His appearance as a Shaykh and calling to the path of the people of Allah.
------The opening of his zawiya in Meknes,
------His bringing about a rebirth in knowledge in Meknes,
------His connection with Sidi Ahmad ibn 'Aliwa (al-'Alawi),
------His pedagogical method,
------His first Hajj,
------His second and third Hajj,

Surat al-A‘raf 7:156-180 49

---Chapter [1]. al-A‘raf 7:156-157 51,
------and pay the Zakat,
------those who believe in our signs: those who follow the Messenger,
------those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written down with them in the Torah & the Injil,
------commanding them to do right, forbidding them from doing wrong, making good things halal for them,
------and bad things haram for them, relieving them of their heavy loads and the chains which were around them,
------those who believe in him and honour him,
------and follow the light that has been sent down with him,
------those are the ones who are successful.

---Chapter [2]. al-A‘raf 7:158 68,
------of Him to Whom the kingdom of the heavens and earh belongs,
------there is no god but Him,
------He gives life and causes to die,
------so believe in Allah and His Messenger,
------the unlettered Prophet,
------who believes in Allah and His words,
------and follow Him so that hopefully you will be guided.

---Chapter [3]. al-A‘raf 160 – 162 81,
------We revealed to Musa when his people asked him for water: Twelve fountains flowed out from it,
------And we shaded them with clouds and sent down manna & quails to them,
------"Eat of the good things. We have provided you with."
------They did not wrong Us; rather it was themselves they wronged,
------When they were told; "Live in this town and eat of it wherever you like and say, "Relieve us of our burdens!" and enter the gate prostrating."
------"Your mistakes will be forgiven. We will grant increase to the good-doers."
------So We sent a plague on them from heaven for their wrongdoing.
------Ask them about the town which was by the sea.

---Chapter [4]. al-A‘raf 163 – 167 89,
------and ask them concerning the town,
------"So that we have an excuse to present to your Lord, so that hopefully they will become people of taqwa."
------Then when they forgot what they had been reminded of, We rescued those who had forbidden the evil and seized those who did wrong with a harsh punishment because they were deviators.
------Your Lord is Swift in Retribution. And He is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

---Chapter [5]. al-A‘raf 7:168-171 97,
------And We divided them into communities on the earth,
------Some of them are right-acting,
------We divided them into communities iin the earth,
------We tested them with good and evil...,
------So that hopefully they would return,
------A generation - khaff - has succeeded them, inheriting the Book,
------Inheriting the Book,
------Taking the goods of this lower world,
------and saying we will be forgiven,
------But if similar goods come to them again, they still take them,
------and have they not studied what is in it? The Final Abode is better for those who have taqwa,
------The Final Abode is better for those who have taqwa,
------Will you not use your intellect ?
------As for those who hold fast to the Book,
------and establish the Prayer,
------We will not let the wage of the Saliheen go to waste,
​​​​​​​------When We uprooted the mountain, lifting it above them like a canopy,
------and they thought that it was about to fall on them,
------Seize hold vigorously of what We have given you,
------and remember what is in it, so that hopefully you will have taqwa.

---Chapter [6]. al-A‘raf 7:171-178 114,
------Seize hold vigorously of what We have given you, and remember what is in it,
------When your Lord took out all their descendants from the loins of the children of Adam...,
------made them testify against themselves,
------"Am I not your Lord?"
------They said, "We testify that indeed You are."
------Lest you say on the Day of Rising, "We knew nothing of this."
------"Our forefathers associated others with Allah before our time, and we are merely descendants coming after them."
------"So are you going to destroy us for what those purveyors of falsehood did."
------That is how we make the Signs clear so that hopefully they will return,
------Recite to them the tale of him to whom We gave Our Signs,
------but who then casts them to one side,
------and Shaytan caught up with him. He was one of those lured into error,
------and if We had wanted to, We would have raised him up by them,
------But he gravitated towards the earth and pursued his whims and base desires,
------His metaphor is that of a dog...,
------That is the metaphor of those who deny Our Signs,
------So tell the story so that hopefully they will reflect, 
------How evil is the metaphor of those who deny Our Signs, it is themselves that they have badly wronged.

---Chapter [7]. al-A‘raf 7:178-180 128,
------but those He misguides are the lost,
------We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell,
------They have hearts they do not understand with,
​​​​​​​------They have eyes they do not see with,
​​​​​​​------They have ears they do not hear with,
------Such people are like cattle,
------Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray,
------They are the unaware,
------To Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so call on Him by them,
------and abandon those who desecrate His Names,

Surat al-An‘am 6:1-31 143

---Chapter [8]. al-An‘am 6:1-3 145,
------In the Name of Allah the All Merciful, Most Merciful,
------Praise be to Allah,
------Who Created the Heavens and the Earth,
------and appointed darkness and light,
------Then those who are kafir make others equal to their Lord,
------It is He Who created you from clay,
​​​​​​​------It is He Who created you from clay and then decreed a fixed term. Yet you still have doubts!
------Yet you still have doubts!
------He is Allah in the Heavens and in the Earth,
------He knows what you keep secret and what you make public,
------and He knows what you earn.

---Chapter [9]. al-An‘am 6:4-13 156,
------They deny the truth each time it comes to them, 
------But news of what they were mocking will certainly reach them,
------Have they not seen how many generations we destroyed before them which We had established on the Earth far more firmly than We have stablished you?
​​​​​​​------We sent down heaven upon them in abundant rain and made rivers flow under them. But we destroyed them for their wrong actions,
------and raised up further generations after them,
------Even if We were to send down a Book to you on parchment pages and they were actually to touch it with their own hands,
------Those who disbelieve would still say, "This is nothing but downright magic."
------They say, "Why has an Angel not been sent down to him!"
------If We were to send down an Angel that would be the end of the affair and they would have no reprieve,
​​​​​​​------and if We had made him an Angel,
------and further confused for them, the very thing they are confused about,
------Messengers before you were also mocked,
------But those who jeered were engulfed by what they mocked,
------Say: "Travel about the Earth ..."
------Say: "To whom does everything in the Heavens and Earth belong" Say: "To Allah."
------He has made Mercy incumbent on Himself,
------He will gather you on the Day of Rising about which there is no doubt,

---Chapter [10]. al-An‘am 6:13-18 167,
------Say: "Am I to take anyone other than Allah as my Protector ..."
------"...the Bringer into Being of the Heavens and Earth..."
------"...He Who feeds and is not fed!"
------Say: "I am commanded to be the first of the Muslims"
​​​​​​​------"And do not be among the idolators."
------Say: "I fear, were I to disobey my Lord, the punishment of a dreadful Day."
------Anyone from whom punishment is averted on that Day has been shown great mercy to Allah,
------That is the Clear Victory,
​​​​​​​------If Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but Him,
​​​​​​​------If He touches you with good, He has power over all things,
------He is the Absolute Master over His slaves,
------He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware,
------The All-Aware, 
------Say: "What thing is greature as a witness?" Say: "Allah."

---Chapter [11]. al-An‘am 6:18-20 178,
​​​​​​​------He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware,
------"What thing is greatest as a witness?" Say: "Allah."
​​​​​​​------He is Witness between me and you,
------This Qur'an has been revealed to me so that I may warn you by it, and anyone else it reaches, 
------and anyone else it reaches, 
------so that I may warn you by it, and anyone else it reaches, 
------Do you testify that there are other gods besides Allah. Say I do not testify,
------Say: " I do not testify,"
------Say: "He is only One God,"
------"And I am free of what you associate."
------Those We have given the Book recognise their own children. As for those who have lost their own selves, they have no Iman,
------As for those who have lost their own selves, they have no Iman,
------Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah.

---Chapter [12]. al-An‘am 6:21-26 189,
------or denies His Signs,
------The wrongdoers are certainly not successful,
------On the Day We gather them all together,
------We will say to those who associated others with Allah, "Where are these partner-gods, for whom you made such claims?"
------Then they will have no recourse except to say, "By Allah, our Lord, We were not idolaters."
------See how they lie against themselves,
------and how what they invented has forsaken them!
------Some of them listen to you but We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it,
------and heaviness in their ears,
------Though they were to see every Sign, they would still not believe,
------so that when they come to you, disputing with you,
------those who are kafir say, "This is nothing but the myths of previous peoples!"
------They keep others from it and avoid it themselves.

---Chapter [13]. al-An‘am 6:26-31 202,
​​​​​​​------If only you could see when they are standing before the Fire,
------and saying, "Oh! If only we could be sent back again,
------If only we could be sent back again, we would not deny the Signs of our Lord and we would be among the believers."
------No, it is simply that what they were concealing before has been shown to them,
------and if they were sent back they would merely return to what they were forbidden to do,
------Truly they are liars,
------They say, "There is nothing but this life and we will not be raised again."
------If only you could see when they are standing before their Lord,
------He will say, "Is this not the Truth?"
------They will say: "Yes, indeed by our Lord." 
------He will say, "Then taste the punishment for your unbelief."
------Those who denly the meeting with Allah have lost,
​​​​​​​------so that, when the Hour comes upon them suddenly, 
------they will say, "Alas for how we neglected it! " They will beat their burdens on their backs,
------How evil is what they bear!

---Chapter [14]. al-An‘am 6:29-31 213.
------If only you could see when they are standing before their Lord,
------"Is this not the Truth?"
------"Yes indeed by our Lord."
------He will say, "Then taste the punishment for your unbelief,"
------Those who deny the meeting with Allah have lost,
------so that, when the Hour comes upon them suddenly, they will say, "Alas for how we neglected it!" They will beat their burdens on their backs,
------How evil is what they bear!
------The life of the dunya is nothing but a game and a diversion,
------The Next World is better for those who have taqwa,
------The Next World is better for those who have taqwa. So will you not use your intellect?





More Qur'an Commentaries,
Also see Sufism.


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  • Written by: Sh. Muhammad ibn al-Habib

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