As the newest part of the Imam Al-Haddad Spiritual Masters Series- The Sublime Treasures is an important work in the field of Islamic spirituality.
This volume contains Imam Al-Haddad's answers to letters he received posing questions on easily confusing and subtle Sufi matters, presented in Imam Haddad's inimitable style of succinct clarity. Included are questions pertaining exclusively to Sufism, such as those concerning the Pole of Time and the Circle of Saints, the Afrad- who are the solitary saints said by some to be outside the jurisdiction of the Pole and in direct contact with al-Khidr, the definition of the siddiq, that of the majdhub, the states of extinction and subsistence, various technical points concerning the relationship between the master and the novice, Sufi courtesy with God and His saints, the worlds of Mulk, Malakut, Jabarut, and Lahut, which are the degrees of universal existence, and how to deal with obscure passages in the works of such esoteric writers as Ibn Arabi. There are also questions of a more general tenor, such as those concerning the degrees of the Garden and its gates, the merits of recitation of the Qur'an over awrad, the respective merits and courtesies of poverty and wealth, and of fame and obscurity, the offering of the rewards of certain acts of worship to the spirits of the dead, sins committed in Ramadan when devils are shackled, and the causes of the civil wars that Ali ibn Abi-Talib was forced to wage.
It will be noticed how the Imam curtly sweeps aside anything that has no direct bearing on the traveler's path. Questions devoid of practical value are pitilessly dismissed in a summary manner and the reader is firmly reoriented to what is of immediate benefit to him. Sufi masters have always been most reluctant to discourse openly about Divine secrets, knowing that such discourse causes much confusion and frequently leads novices into believing or pretending they have reached that which they have not. The Imam, however, allowed himself more freedom in letters addressed to his scholarly disciples- extracts of which constitute this volume- than in books.
Imam Abd Allah ibn Alawi al-Haddad was born in 1634 CE (1044 Hijri). He lived his entire life in the town of Tarim in Yemen’s Valley of Hadramawt and died there in 1720 CE (1132 Hijri). In Islamic history, he was considered one of the great Sufi sages. He was an adherent to the Ashari Sunni Creed of Faith (Aqeedah), while in Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), he was a Shafi'i.
He lived at Tarim in the Hadramaut valley between Yemen and Oman, and is widely held to have been the ‘renewer’ of the twelfth Islamic century. A direct descendant of the Prophet, his sanctity and direct experience of God are clearly reflected in his writings, which include several books, a collection of Sufi letters, and a volume of mystical poetry. He spent most of his life in Kenya and Saudi Arabia where he taught Islamic jurisprudence and classical Sufism according to the order (tariqa) of the Ba'Alawi sayids.
In spite of being a major source of reference among the Sunni Muslims (especially among Sufis), only recently have his books began to receive attention and publication in the English-speaking world. Their appeal lies in the concise way in which the essential pillars of Islamic belief, practice, and spirituality have been streamlined and explained efficiently enough for the modern reader. Examples of such works are The Book of Assistance, The Lives of Man, and Knowledge and Wisdom.
Mohammad Mustafa Badawi was born in Alexandria (Egypt) in 1925 and obtained BA from Alexandria University and Ph.D. from London University.
He is a Fellow of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, and former Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Director of Middle Eastern Studies Center at Oxford. He served for many years as editor-in-chief or member of editorial boards of international journals of Middle Eastern studies. He was also a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge History of Arabic Literature (which got translated to Arabic in 2002).
Professor Badawi published some 30 books, editions and translations, and numerous scholarly articles and reviews in Arabic and English. His translations of literary classics into Arabic have been invaluable to Arab scholars, especially the translation of I. A. Richard’s Principles of Literary Criticism, a landmark of literary criticism. Professor Badawi overcame the difficulties of this translation and presented the text in simple, easy-to-understand Arabic. Among his many other contributions are his books An Anthology of Modern Arabic Verse, A Short History of Modern Arabic Literature, A Critical Introduction to Modern Arabic Poetry; Modern Arabic Drama in Egypt; Modern Arabic Literature and the West; Background to Shakespeare; Coleridge: Critic of Shakespeare; Selected Works of Phillip Larken and Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a translation into Arabic of Prophetic Invocations by Imam Al-Haddad. Badawi also translated modern Arabic classics into English, including Sara, by Abbas Mahmud Aqqad, The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz (translated jointly with Trevor Le Gassick), The Sultan’s Dilemma and The Song of Death by Tewfik Al-Hakim and The Saint’s Lamp and Other Stories by Yahia Haqqi. His books in Arabic, on the other hand, include: Dirasat Fi Al- Shir Wa Al-Masrah and Atlal Wa Rasail Min London.
Dr. Muhammad Badawi has spent much of his life translating critical and literary works into Arabic. His impressive efforts have enriched the Arabic library with a number of important books. Foremost among these is I. A. Richard’s “Principles of Literary Criticism”, a landmark in the area of literary criticism. Dr. Badawi overcame the difficulties of this translation and presented a text in simple, easy-to-understand Arabic.