his is again such an extraordinary work. What I love is that it provides a glimpse into the august scholarly and spiritual traditions of Islam carried forth into our day. Some people may have concluded that the saints and sages of Islam ended with all those names with whom we are most familiar - Ghazali, Jilani, Rumi and so on. It is important to understand that the knowledge and spiritual dephth reached in past centuries and celebrated in so many books, in fact, has and does continue into the present day. Otherwise, it would not be eternal Truth.
This volume is a unique collection of forty Prophetic Traditions distinguished by their focus on the spiritual journey of drawing nearer to God, as explicated by Salih al-Jafari, one of the most celebrated teachers of al-Azhar, Islam's leading institution of religious knowledge (939 CE til now) and most authoritative voice. In an age in which people increasingly search for Truth, but are confused by opposing trends and controversies, the author's indisputable scholarship, wisdom, and spiritual insight help guide, inspire, and reassure the modern reader. This book includes a detailed biography of the shaykh, a translation of al-Jafari's commentary, al-Fawaid al-Jafariyya, as well as an illumiating treatise by Ahmad b. Idris, one of his foremost teachers, on a hadith that concisely summarizes the spiritual nature of the Prophet Muhammad. In clear and illuminating text, the book deals with matters relating to the nature of spiritual experience, nearness to and friendship with God, as well as death and the afterlife.
Excerpt from Book:
The fruits of spiritual seclusion are wondrous and strange! At the beginning of the path I had a 1000-count masbaha (prayer beads), and stayed inside my seclusion room for ten days, but nothing happened, and true stillness did not enter my heart. But on the tenth day, I saw wonders and marvels- and that lasted for a minute. Then I knew (my Lord). After that my father gave me up for the sake of religious scholarship, and I came here (from Sudan to the Azhar).
The best thing is relgious knowledge. The Prophetic gathering is the gathering of religious knowledge. The ant asks God's forgiveness for the scholar, and the fish asks forgiveness for the scholar. The best thing on the face of the Earth is the teaching of religious kowledge. I chose it for myself, and God chose it for me. If you become a Friend of God, that is for your own benefit; if you pray, that is for your own benefit. If you are in seclusion, that is for your own benefit. The one who enters into seclusion is like one who bring a roasted sheep and enters his room to feast on it. Such is the remembrance of God. As for religious knowledge, it is for the creation of God most high, and out of love for the sake of God, and good doing for the sake of God.
On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (may God be pleased with him) who said: "O Messenger of God, which of the people is most beloved to God?"
He (may God bless him and grant him peace) said: "The most beloved of people to God is the one who is of most benefit to the people."
Religious knowledge feeds the souls, just like food nourishes the bodies. It is said that one of the Sufis entered the seclusion room for rememberance, but heard a voice say to him: 'This is not what I created for you! Go out and benefit the people by your knowledge!' When the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) would come to his family, he would sit with them and teach them the Qur'an and teach them relgious knowledge. his gathering - may God bless him and grant him peace - was a gathering of relgious knowledge, and that is the best of gatherings.
-Shaykh Salih al-Ja'fari, The Friday Lessons, v.9
Samer Dajani has a master’s degree in Islamic studies from the School of Oriental and African studies at the University of London, where he is currently working on a PhD.
Shaykh Salih al-Jafari was one of the most famous scholars of the Azhar, the Muslim world’s premier institution of religious learning and its most authoritative voice, in the 20th century. He was also the imam of its mosque and a famous teacher and spiritual guide. He authored 15 works on various Islamic sciences, edited many others, and composed 12 volumes of poetry.