Shaikh Abu Bakr ‘Abdu-r Razzaq al-Baghdadi

August 13, 2013

The expert jurist and exemplary guide, Shaikh  Abū Bakr ‘Abdu-r Razzāq is the foremost intellectual  and spiritual heir of sayyiduna-sh shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with them both). He is rightfully anointed with the title: crowning adornment of the religion [tāj ad-dīn].

He knew the entire Qur’an by heart. He studied Islamic jurisprudence under his blessed father (i.e. sayyiduna-sh shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir al-Jilani), from whom he also received instruction in many other traditional subjects. He also attended the classes of other notable scholars, including Abu-l Ḥasan ibn Ḍaramā.

This background prepared him well for his own career, in which he gave lectures and dictation, provided training and education, delivered formal opinions on legal problems, and engaged in public debate. More than a few of his students graduated with distinction, including Isḥāq ibn Aḥmad ibn Ghānim al-‘Athlī, and ‘Alī ibn ‘Alī  Khaṭīb Zūbā, to name only two of them.

His Birth and Passing

In his Generations [abaqāt], al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī states (concerning Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq):

He was born in the evening of Monday, the 18th of Dhu-l Qa’da, in the year (A.H.) 528, and he died in Baghdad on the night of Saturday, the 6th of Shawwal, in the year (A.H.) 603. He was buried at the Battle Gate [bāb ḥarb] in Baghdad.

His Teachers

In his History [ta’rīkh], al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn an-Najjār informs us:

His father taught him in his early youth, and later he studied under the following professors:

  • Abu-l Ḥasan Muḥammad aṣ-Ṣā’igh

  • the Judge [al-Qādī] Abu-l Faḍl Muḥammad al-Armawī

  • Abu-l Qasam Sa’īd ibn al-Bannā’

  • Abu-l Faḍl Muḥammad ibn Nāṣir al-Ḥāfiẓ

  • Abu Bakr Muḥammad ibn az-Zāghawānī

  • Abu-l Muẓaffar Muḥammad al-Hāshimī

  • Abu-l Mu’āfā Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī  ibn as-Samīn

  • Abu-l Fatḥ Muḥammad ibn al-Baṭir

Further along in the same book, Ibn an-Najjār relates:

Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq also pursued his own quest for knowledge. He learned many lessons from the colleagues of Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb ibn al-Baṭir and Abū ‘Abdi-Llāh ibn Ṭalḥa, as well as several other teachers. Then he went on to learn from our Shaikhs and others of their calibre. He took many notes in his own handwriting, both for himself and for other people. Although his handwriting was an awful scribble, I learned a great deal from reading those notes of his.

His Students

The author of The Beautiful Gardens [ar-Raw az-Zāhir] Ibrāhīm ad-Dairī ash-Shāfi’ī informs us:

The Shaikh awarded a diploma to each of the following graduates:

  • Shaikh Shams ad-Dīn ‘Abdu-r Raḥmān

  • Al-Kamāl ‘Abdu-r Rahīm

  • Aḥmad ibn Shaibān

  • Khadīja, the daughter of ash-Shihāb ibn Rājiḥ

  • Ismā’īl al-‘Asqalānī

  • Al-Fakhr ‘Alī al-Muqādasa

His Knowledge

Ibn Rajab states:

He had a remarkable knowledge of the (Ḥanbalī) legal doctrine [madhhab], yet his knowledge of the Prophetic Tradition [adīth] far exceeded his knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh]. In the words of Ibn Nuqṭa: ‘He was someone who knew the entire Qur’an by heart [Ḥāfiẓ], a trustworthy and reliable person.’ He has been highly commended by ad-Danīthī, not to mention many others. According to one report about him, he spent thirty years without raising his head toward the heaven above, due to a sense of shame in the sight of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

Ibn an-Najjār relates:

Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq was a Ḥāfiẓ (one who has learned the whole of the Qur’an by heart). He was thoroughly proficient, trustworthy and truthful. Whenever he spoke, he gave expression to a fine understanding. As an expert Jurist [faqīh], he adhered to the legal doctrine [madhhab] of Imām Abū ‘Abdi-Llāh Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal.

His Character and Personality Traits

The following passage is an excerpt from The History of Islam [ta’rīkh al-Islām] by al-Ḥāfiẓ adh-Dhahabī:

Abū Bakr ‘Abdu-r Razzāq al-Jīlī (to whose name the epithets ‘al-Baghdādī al-Ḥanbalī al-Muḥaddith al-Ḥāfiẓ’ were eventually added: His reputation is that of a trustworthy person [thiqa] and a pious ascetic [zāhid]. He learned much from his father’s instruction, then pursued further studies on his own. He devoted himself tirelessly to the quest for knowledge, especially of the Qur’an and the Tradition, until he was ready to speak and teach on his own account. He is also known by the epithet ‘al-Ḥalbī’, an adjectival reference to al-Ḥalba (the Racetrack District), which is a neighbourhood in the eastern side of Baghdād.

Ibn an-Najjār relates:

He was piously devout [wari’], deeply committed to his religion [mutadayyin], and dedicated to the frequent practice of worshipful service [‘ibāda]. He performed his devotions in the seclusion of his own home, away from public view, and only came out (to the mosque) in order to take part in the congregational prayers. He had a great fondness for the narration of traditional stories and reports, and he held the seekers of knowledge in high esteem.

He was very generous with anything he had at his disposal, and chivalry was natural to him, despite the paucity of his material means. His attributes of character were excellent. He was modest to the point of humility, and adroit in all the skills of courtesy and politeness. His lifestyle was extremely simple, and he endured his poverty with steadfast patience. He was noble by nature, and virtuously conformed to the standards set by the righteous predecessors [salaf].

Ibrāhīm ad-Dairī ash-Shāfi’ī informs us:

Abū Shāmma, in his History [ta’rīkh], describes Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq as a ‘pious ascetic, a devout worshipper, a trustworthy person, satisfied with very little material wealth.’ Reliable reports concerning Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq have been transmitted by ad-Danīthī, Ibn an-Najjār, aḍ-Ḍiyā’, an-Najīb ‘Abdu-l Laṭīf, at-Taqī al-Buldānī, to name but a few.

His Funeral

We learn from Ibn an-Najjār:

When morning came around, the call to his funeral prayer [aalat ‘alaih] was proclaimed in all the districts of Baghdad, and a host of people gathered where he lay. His bier [jināza] was then carried in solemn procession to the prayer ground [muallā] on the outskirts of the city, and the funeral prayer was performed for him there.

Then he was borne, on the heads of men, to the congregational mosque [jāmi’] of ar-Ruṣāfa, where his funeral prayer was again performed. It was next performed at the Gate of the Graveyard of the Caliphs [bāb turbat al-khulafā], then on the bank of the River Tigris [ad-dijla], in the presence of the market gardeners.

From there, he was ferried across to the western side, where his funeral prayer was performed at the Harem Gate [bāb al-arīm]. He was then taken into (the ruined area of) al-kharibiyya, and his funeral prayer was repeated. Then he was carried to the graveyard of Aḥmad [ibn Ḥanbal]. The funeral prayer was again performed for him there, and there he was buried. That was indeed a memorable day.

His Spiritual Rank

Sayyiduna-sh Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir al-Jilani acknowledged Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq as one of those who are ablaze—quite literally—with the ardour of longing for the Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). It was al-Ḥāfiẓ Abū Zar’a Ẓāhir ibn Muḥammad ibn Ẓāhir al-Maqdisī ad-Dārī who said:

I once attended the public session [majlis] held by Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), and I heard him say:

‘This speech of mine is addressed to some men who have come to my session from behind Mount Qaf. Their feet are in the air, and their hearts are in the presence of holiness [quds]. Their hoods and their cotton skullcaps are almost set ablaze by the fierce heat of their ardent longing for their Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).’

His son, Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq, was present at the session, sitting (below the lectern) beneath his father’s feet. He raised his head toward the sky, and his eyes became glazed for a while, till his skullcap [ṭāqiyya] and his neckband [zīq] caught fire. Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) stepped down and extinguished the flames, then he said: ‘And you, O ‘Abdu-r Razzāq, are one of them!

When I asked ‘Abdu-r Razzāq (may Allah be pleased with him) what had come over him, he said:

‘When I looked up into the air, I saw some men standing there, with their heads respectfully bowed, as they listened to my father’s speech. They filled the whole horizon. There was fire in their cloths and their garments, and some of them were screaming and crying in the air. Some of them fell to the ground, where the Shaikh was in session, and some of them stayed in their places, trembling and shaking.’

May Allah be well pleased with them all.

His Supplication

This is one of the many supplications that Shaikh Abdu-r Razzāq relates from his blessed father. He says:

Here is one of the prayers of supplication [ad’iya] that my father used to offer, during his sessions of exhortation:

‘O Allah, we take refuge with Your connection from Your exclusion, and with Your nearness from Your dismissal, and with Your acceptance from Your rejection. Include us among those whose obedience and love are devoted to You, and make us worthy of giving thanks and praise to You. O Essence of Mercy!’

May Allah bestow His mercy and be well pleased with Shaikh ‘Abdu-r Razzāq and the narrators mentioned above, and bless us for their sake.

Adapted from: Holland, M [Al-Tadifi, M] (1998). Necklaces of Gems [Qala’id al-Jawahir]. Florida: Al-Baz Publishing, Inc.

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