Monday, October 01, 2012

Remembering Abdul Ghaffar Abu Ibrahim al-Hanafi

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Ya Rabb, what can I say about the faqih, ustadh and da’wah carrier, Abdul Ghaffar Abu Ibrahim al-Hanafi who left this world today.

He reminded me of Your Kitab and the Sunnah of your beloved Messenger every time I was in his company. Ya Rabb, grant him al-Firdous for many will testify to his persistence on sticking to the details of your shariah, his tawaasi (calling) to the truth, his enjoining of the good and forbidding the evil. Indeed his death is as Umar bin al-Khattab mentioned:
لَمَوت ألف عابد قائم الليل صائم النهار أهون من موت العاقل البصير بحلال الله وحرامه
“The death of one thousand worshippers who pray at night and worship in the day is less serious than the death of one intelligent knower (baseer) of the halal and haram of Allah.”

In every one of our discussions I learnt so much from him, his concern and love for the deen truly made one aspire to better himself. Even in the state of illness he was concerned about the law of Allah and truly reminded me of the example of one of the great Imams he respected, Qadi Abu Yusuf al-Hanafi. I want to share the example of what happened when I was with him a few days before his departure from this world. His wife mentioned how he was asking for me and had been mentioning an answer about the fiqh of Ijara (hiring) of the employee by the noble Sheikh Ata’ Abu Rashta that I had sent to him earlier whilst he was in hospital. This man whom I loved for the sake of Allah was coming in and out of consciousness, when he opened his eyes I asked him whether he received Sheikh Ata’s answer, he replied that he had read it but wanted to read the exact question that was sent to the Sheikh as well. This is the mindset of Taqwa, as Umar bin al-Khattab said, “being cautious and meticulous in the deen of Allah”. After this my beloved friend, teacher and brother fell back to sleep.

This reminded me of the example Qadi Abu Yusuf al-Hanafi (died 182 AH) whom Abdul Ghaffar used to respect greatly. Qadi Abu Yusuf’s student al-Qadi Ibrahim ibn al-Jarrah al-Kufi, later al-Misri said: “Abu Yusuf became ill, so I went to visit him, and found him unconscious. When he regained consciousness he said to me: “O Ibrahim, what is your opinion on this matter?” I said to him: “While you are in this state?” He said: “That is fine, let us discuss it, perhaps one may be saved by it.” Then he said: “O Ibrahim, which is better in the casting of stones [during pilgrimage], to do so while walking or while mounted?” I said: “Mounted.” He said: Wrong.” I said: “Walking.” He said: “Wrong.” I said: “Say your opinion, may Allah be pleased with you.” He said: “As for the case where one stops where one should make supplication, then it is better to do so while walking, but if it is elsewhere then it is better while mounted.” Then I left him, as soon as I reached the door of his house, I heard crying, and he died, may Allah have mercy on him.

Abdul Ghaffar also ate for the first time in two days when I was with him, before he was about to eat the fruit his character and adab made me feel embarrassed about myself as he first offered me the food. In his absence there is a void that is difficult to fill.

There are some other examples I want to share about him. Everyone who knew him well will remember his love for Islamic books, even when in hospital a few weeks he asked me to bring him the translation of the new edition of the book Mafahim Siyasiya (Political Concepts). I have never met anyone in my life with as vast of a collection as he had. His house was like a library covered wall to wall with books, he had informed me that there were more he had to put in storage as there was not enough space to fit them. The amazing thing was not only his collection of books but that he was well acquainted with them as he used to read widely. Often during a discussion would refer to particular books and sometimes then show the quotations.

He was very learned, some are not aware that academically he gained a bachelors degree in Economics and also a degree in Arabic language from a prestigious institute, he also travelled to Syria to further his knowledge of Arabic. The knowledgeable brother had also studied various works like the Hanafi fiqh manual al-Mukhtasar by Imam Quduri with Ulema.

The Ustadh although generally Hanafi in fiqh was fond of the works of Imam al-Ghazali al-Shafi’, he revised the translation of some of his works and published them such as:

He also recently published, particularly for the students of this book, a limited edition of the first volume of Shaksiyya Islamiyya (The Islamic Personality) by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani whom he highly regarded and whose Ijtihad on the methodology to resume the Islamic way of life through re-establishing the Khilafah he followed.  

The following hadith springs to mind when thinking about our beloved brother:

Huzayfah b. al-Yamaan (ra)narrated the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
}فضل العلم خير من فضل العبادة، وخير دينكم الورع. {
“The excess of ‘Ilm (knowledge) is better than the excess of ‘Ibaadah (worship), and the best of your religion is the wara’ (piety, self restrain).” [Reported by at-Tabarānī, al-Bazzaar. Al-Mundhiri said the isnad is hasan.]

There are a number of examples of his wara’ and avoiding of the shubuhat (doubtful matters) that struck me:

He would be very careful of eating or drinking from anything that had a shubha of being haram, he informed me that he did not eat at any take-away such as KFC which displays a halal sign but has gained a certificate from the Halal Food Authority (HFA). As he explained that they use the method of stunning chickens in which up to thirty percent of them die and the machine cuts them following this, thus as he put it, “you could be eating maytah (carrion)”.

Once when he was in hospital I had bought him a Rubicon juice drink which doesn’t have anything haram mentioned in its ingredients listed on the carton.  However, he informed me that he would not drink it as it had been verified by Rubicon that the particular juice had small trace elements of alcohol, I later read their statement on their website.

He was very careful in financial transactions not to even fall into the shubuhat. I once inquired from him as to why he didn’t purchase a particular book through using Paypal, the online payments facility he explained that in mind it was an issue of shubha even though other scholars have permitted it. This reminds me of the following narrations:

Abu Tha’labah al-Khushani (ra) narrated: I said: O Messenger of Allah. Tell me what is halāl for me and what is harām for me. He (saw) said:
}البر ما سكنت إليه النفس، واطمأن إليه القلب، والإثم ما لم تسكن إليه النفس، ولم يطمئن إليه القلب، وإن أفتاك المفتون. {
“Virtue is that which the soul enjoys repose and the heart feels tranquillity regarding it. Sin is that which the soul does not enjoy repose and the heart does not feel tranquillity regarding it, whatever fatwas people may give you”.

Al-Hasan son of ‘Ali (may Allah be please with them both) said: 
}دع ما يريبك إلى ما لا يريبك. {
“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” 
[Reported by at-Tirmidhi who said the hadīth is hasan sahīh. Also reported by an-Nasaa’i and Ibn Hibbaan in his Sahīh.] 
‘Atiyyah b. ‘Urwah as-Sa’di (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
}لا يبلغ العبد أن يكون من المتقين، حتى يدع ما لا بأس به حذراً لما به بأس.{
“No one can achieve the height of piety till he forsakes those practices in which there is no sin merely to guard himself against those which have sin in them.” 
[Reported by al-Hākim who said the hadīth is sound and adh-Dhahabi agreed.] 

This da'wah carrier was very adamant in encouraging Muslims to learn matters which are Fard Ayn (individual obligations) for them such as fiqh of muamalat (transactions) and ibadat (worships). 

Ya Allah include him in what was mentioned by your Messenger (saw): “He whom death overtakes while engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophets in paradise.” 
[Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 249, narrated by Al-Hasan al-Basri, Transmitted by Darimi]

Abu Ismael al-Beirawi

15 Dhul-Qa`dah, 1433
1st October 2012 


Anonymous said...

May Allah(swt) grant this great mujahid Jannat ul Firdaus n plz sheikh Abu Ismael keep sharing with all of us all the precious moments that you have enjoyed in his company so that we can also benefit.
May Allah(swt) grow us stronger so that we struggle till our last breath to uphold our Deen, ameen

Anonymous said...

where did he do a complete arabic degree from? I never knew this?

Islamic Revival said...

SOAS in London

Abu Talha said...

May Allah Azza wa Jall grant him his Mercy and enter him into Jannah. He instilled learning into all the brothers he met. He would research widely and was sincere to the deen.

Islamic Revival said...


Firstly, please do not call me sheikh as I am only a talib, a student of knowledge. One incident from Ustadh Abdul Ghaffar to share regarding this, the Friday before his passing a good brother went to see him in hospital whilst he was very weak, the brother called him 'sheikh' when talking to him. Before leaving Ustadh AG called him close and said to him, "forget all this sheikh business". As he previously had told him not to call him Sheikh.

Some other incidents to share:
- He would never buy or eat from a Muslim owned shop which sold alcohol such as restaurants, he saw this as haram from multiple perspectives.
- He displayed 'anger for the sake of Allah' even in matters many would overlook such as violation of the Islamic rules of trade, for example once he told me how he was angered after going to a Muslim brothers shop and seeing a sign saying for people to check their goods before leaving the store as they would not be able to return the goods and get their money back. He was angered as this contradicts the shariah right of khiyar al-ayb (the option of defects) which permits anyone to return the good if it is defective.
- He was unhappy that Muslims would be employees or employers, trade, hire, borrow etc without knowing the Islamic rules of doing so and before his passing emphasised to many the importance of learning the shariah rules before undertaking actions as otherwise one is sinful even if what he does is in line with the shariah, as he hasn't learn the rule regarding it.
- I will share some more examples later inshallah.

Abu Ismael

Islamic Revival said...

Actually, he said to me once about the issue of Sheikh that when he reached 40 it would be ok as one of the meanings of sheikh is the old man above 40.

Also before his passing he taught classes of the fiqh of buyu (trade) and ijara (hiring), when he started the classes he told the brothers present that he wanted to teach as didn't know whether he would live to teach this in future. He taught for many hours at a stretch, sometimes a whole day whilst he was still going through chemotherapy, blood transfusions etc, May Allah (swt) accept his deeds.

Abu Ismael

Islamic Revival said...

The following is extract from one text that brother AG sent to the students in his fiqh of buyu class that a brother shared:

"salams ikhwan,

Dear ikhwan a reminder for me and you.

Please keep in mind dat we are learning some of the fard ayn ahkam that effect our lives.
These are ahkam that we shud already know, so we need to prioritise accordingly.

Doing a fard kifayah/ or mandub at the expense of a fard ayn is completely wrong and disobedience to Allah azza wa jalla.

There is sin for neglecting the fard ayn and the actions of kifayah/mandub will not be accepted because this was done in contravention of the shara. it also means we r putting our hawa, aql etc as a reference point instead of the shara.

Please think over this and if you hav any questions or issues of clarification I will do my best to provide answers with dalil and dat you can be reassured and hav sakinah in ur hearts about what you are doing.

A final point, if you cant make it to class let me know as early as you can.
DONT wait til the last minute.

Most people hav free texting on their mobiles and if u dont hav free calls or texts then giv me a miss call and ill ring u back when im free.

Jazakallah khayr

ws AG"

Anonymous said...

I googled Abdul Ghaffar's name and his kunya, Abu Ibrahim al-Hanafi, because I was interested in buying some of the al-Ghazali books he revised, edited and published, and I stumbled across this blogspot.

I would like to share a few of my memories and experiences of him from my childhood. He was my cousin-brother, distantly related, however because my extended family were back home in Bangladesh, mine and his were extremely close.

I've had the priveliege of being able to receive bits and bobs of Islamic knowledge from Abdul Ghaffar when I was growing up and these concepts and principles positively impacted my character and personality. For example, when he use to tell be about the Islamic stance on Nationalism (Assabiyyah), I could remember trying to disuade two of my close secondary school classmates, of Paskitani and Indian origin, about Islams stance on nationalism.

I use to accompany him when I was a kid, whenever he was on various missions. I can remember he use to photocopy pages and pages of entire Islamic books! And then he would put a plastic cover and have them binded. He use to transcribe books, word-for-word and word process them on the computer and then print them out in hundreds of pages! So really, you could say he was 'pubslishing' from very early on in his days! He taught me there is no such thing as 'copyright' in Islam.

Some of my fondest memories of Abdul Ghaffar would be when he use to come and bunk up in our house. We would play 'Street Fighter Alpha 3' and 'Bust-a-Move' on the Playstation, you should have seen the kid come out of him in those viedogaming sessions! Those who knew him, knew how much of a humorous and funny guy he was and he never failed to make us laugh. Even in his last days before his passing, when he was weak, fragile and frail and barely able to speak, he would still be able to crack jokes and make us laugh and allow us to appreciate how just a source of pleasure he was to be around with and enjoy his company.

May Allah forgive you and have mercy on you. May He forgive your sins, both minor and major, wich you comitted knowingly and unknowingly on your time on Earth. May He reward you for all your good works and deeds, and may He reward you continously in the form of Sadaqah Jariyah, for teaching knowledge and leaving behind knowledge. May He widen your grave for you and fill it with light and warmth you, and with the vegetation and scents of Jannah, and let you sleep in comfort. May He save you from the punishment of the grave, and save you from the punishment of Hellfire and may He grant you Jannatul Firdaws. Ameen.