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Sheikh Mohammed Ali Sabouni

Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News| 14 Muharram 1435/18 November 2013

“He is absolutely Noorani, if you see him, you will not stop looking at his face.”

With those words did Moulana Ismail Akoo, principal of Darul Uloom Newcastle, recently describe Sheikh Mohammed Ali Sabouni, a renowned Islamic scholar, who on Sunday began an eagerly anticipated tour of South Africa.

The Syrian-born Aalim, who is acclaimed worldwide for his Tafaseer and other Islamic research works, will be the guest of honour at the Madressah’s 41st anniversary Jalsah happening this weekend.

“I found him writing,” recounted Moulana Akoo of a visit he personally made to the 83 year old Sheikh Sabouni. “If he leaves the pen, his hand shakes. He holds the pen, his hand stops shaking. It is a strange thing. Even he says it is a miracle.”

“He is known for Quraan. Anybody who has spent even a brief amount of time at a reputable Islamic tertiary institution would recognise the name Sabouni and its relationship with Quraan,” Moulana Akoo added.

Religious Pedigree

Born in 1930, Sheikh Mohammed Ali al Sabouni hails from Halab(Aleppo) in the north of Syria. He was raised in a family of scholars – his father Jameel, a leading Aalim of the city, being one of his first teachers.

He completed memorizing the Quraan at a tender age and went on to receive instruction from some of the most famous Syrian Ulama of his time.

“If we understand who these scholars were, then we can understand what sort of personalities moulded (Sheikh Sabouni’s) personality,” says Sheikh Shoayb Ahmed, an author and aalim based in Pretoria.

“There is a man by the name of Sheikh Mohammed Najib as Sirajadeen. He was a great scholar of Quraan, and so was his son Sheikh Abdullah Sirajadeen.”

Some of his other teachers at the time included Sheikh Mohammed Saeed al Idlibi, Sheikh Raaghib at Tabaagh and Sheikh Najeeb Khayata.

He went on to become a graduate of the prestigious Khusrawiya Shariah School of Aleppo which was known for producing the some of the best students of Islamic sciences at the time.

Al Sabouni also had a brief stint as a student of a business college in his hometown, but was quickly disillusioned by the curriculum which he found to be deeply rooted in the capitalist interest based system.

Sheikh al Sabouni’s quest for Islamic knowledge then took him to the Al Azhar University in Cairo. Here, he graduated from the Faculty of Shariah in 1952. He spent a further two years in Egypt, specialising in various branches of Islamic instruction.

In 1954, the Aalim returned to Aleppo, where he taught in numerous Islamic institutes across the city.

In the early 60′s Sheikh al Sabouni responded positively to a request to become a lecturer at the Umm al Qurra University in Makkatul Mukaramah. For the next 28 years, he groomed many prominent Islamic scholars and wrote some of his most monumental academic works.

These works, such as his primer on Islamic inheritance and Safwatut Tafaseer were primarily meant to serve as study aids for his students. However, as Allah SWT willed they soon become sourceworks for students of Islamic knowledge worldwide.

During this period, the scholar also served as an advisor with the Islamic World League on the Council for Scientific Research in the Quraan and the Sunnah.

At the conclusion of his formal teaching career, Sheikh al Sabouni devoted his time feverishly to his writing pursuits. He also traveled occasionally and delivered lectures widely, some of which have been preserved as television series.

In 2007, the organizing committee of the Dubai International Quraan Award honoured al Sabouni with its prestigious annual prize for his contributions to Islam, and the Quraan in particular.

Of late, the octogenarian has been a vocal supporter of the revolution in Syria and has been a harsh critic of the Syrian regime. He has called upon all protesters to keep a firm stand and fight against tyranny. He has also issued a fatwa saying that it was forbidden for soldiers in the Syrian army to fight their own brethren.

Having dedicated a significant portion of his life to writing about the Quraan, Sheikh Sabouni recently indicated that he would like to spend the remainder of his life researching and writing about the sciences of Ahadeeth.

Commenting on the huge numbers of adherents that thronged to benefit from al Sabouni during a recent visit to Indonesia, Sheikh Shoayb Ahmed says al Sabouni’s book’s and their translations have earned him repute and followers worldwide.

“He is a well rounded scholar. In additional to his amazing specialty in Tafseer, he has authored works on inheritance, Aqeedah, Sirah etc. So he has covered different topics, and that is many a time what students are looking for.”

Adds Moulana Akoo, “This man is absolutely a giant. And with that he has Suhbah of Ulama, and with that he is a man of Taqleed – he is a thorough Hanafi scholar. He is basically our dream.”

Sheikh Mohammed Ali al Sabouni will be based at Darul Uloom Newcastle from Wednesday November 20, 2013 delivering a series of lessons. He will also feature prominently at the Darul Uloom’s annual Khatme Bukhari Jalsah beginning on Saturday.

Wake up call from Syria’s Sheikh Sabouni

Sakeena Suliman – Cii News | 18 November 2013/15 Muharram 1435

Renowned Syrian Aalim, Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al Sab0uni, made the first public appearance of his South African tour in Pretoria on Sunday November 17.

Through an interpreter, the 83 year old widely acclaimed Sheikh shared hopes, laughs, encouragement and a glimpse into his insight.

“We are Muslims and we became Muslim because Allah has honoured us with this valuable gift of Imaan… It is upon us that we realise our responsibility as Muslims. Allah SWT has honoured us by giving us the responsibility to actually save mankind, to bring them out of the darkness of ignorance and guide them towards the light of Islam,” begain Al Sab0uni.

Much of his discussion was a reminder that Muslims all over the world were not fervently upholding their responsibility. While he warned of the dangers of ignorance, he equally encouraged seeking better knowledge and understanding to spread Islam. The responsibility, he said remained with every Muslim until “we are called away from this world”.

He also maintained that Ulama and scholars were the heirs of the Prophets AS and that their inheritance was fountains of knowledge about Deen that is sadly being left untouched and forgotten. Holding on to this knowledge was a means of holding on to goodness.

“Indeed Allah SWT does not snatch knowledge by removing it from the hearts of people, but Allah snatches the knowledge by taking the lives of Ulama. When Ulama die, when Ulama pass on, when there is no longer Ulama then Jahl (ignorance) will increase,”

He impressed the importance of Muslims upholding knowledge of Deen because with it “the light of Allah will remain” but without it the world will be set into darkness and ignorance. Knowledge is a prerequisite of faith itself.

While the sheikh’s message was a strong one, he delivered his message with a light touch at times cracking the odd joke.” Sabouni is a soap, I don’t clean anything. I don’t wash anything. They just call me sabuni,” he said to chuckles, “But Insha-Allah I am a soap that will wash the hearts.”

Touching on the current civil war in Syria and the atrocities being carried out for the love of a president, the sheikh said was a clear sign that Islam needed a renewal, in understanding and intention.

“The whole world is sitting in darkness. They don’t understand who Allah is. They don’t understand why we are in this world, because we haven’t yet stood up and did what we have been sent to this world to do. We need to actually take our place back and be able to bring the whole of mankind closer to Allah SWT. This is a responsibility that we have been given always.”

He condemned the animosity and violation of the memory of the pious sahabah RA and emphasised that they were the companions of Muhammad SAW and are loved by Allah SWT. “Islam reached us through the very sahaabah RA who were around Rasulullah SAW… Allah is happy with them and those who followed after them. In this it can never ever be that a Muslim will have any issue against any sahaabah RA because the Deen has arrived to us through them… How can people find animosity with them when Allah doesn’t?”

In light of the negative media propaganda against Islam he said Islam would never be destroyed. But it was vital that every Muslim educate themselves about their Deen. “If we don’t learn our own Islam it will be impossible for us to spread it throughout the world.”

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