This book is unique in that Imam al-Haddad is the first scholar to have divided mankind into eight main categories according to the kind of summons to God or dacwa they need, and then detailed the rights and duties of each category, which scholars ought to enjoin upon them for the good pleasure of their Lord. The author introduces his book by saying, “As for the introduction, we have explained in it the summons to God, His religion, and His path. As for the eight sections, each concerns a certain category of people, the first category being the scholars; the second the ascetics and devotees; the third the kings, the rulers, and other people in authority; the fourth the merchants, the craftsmen, and other such people; the fifth the poor, the weak, and the destitute; the sixth the dependents such as the women, children, and slaves; the seventh the generality of believers, both the obedient among them and the transgressors; the eighth those who have not responded to the summons of God and His Messenger and do not believe in God and the Last Day. Finally, in conclusion, we give brief counsels of advice to all eight categories, in addition to general counsels and exhortations that soften the heart, the completion of which closes the book.
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.