Dedicated to our teacher and spiritual father, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

“He came to remind us of what it means to be a human being. He had the community in the palm of his hand yet preferred patience (sabr) and reliance on God (tawakkul) rather than to rush after the vanities of this world. He embodied justice (‘adāla), wisdom (hikma) and was an inheritor of the prophetic character (adab) and a manifestation of mercy (rahma) to God’s creation.”

Adab is the Arabic term for courtesy, excellent behaviour and comportment and is the door to the discipline of spiritual purification. Imam Zakariyyah al-Anbari said that knowledge without adab is like fire without wood, and adab without knowledge is like a spirit without a body.

Adab was the very first topic I heard him discuss. He, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, informed us so often that, “Adab is loftier than knowledge (Al-Adab fawq al-‘ilm).”

𝐀𝐃𝐀𝐁 I wish to share with you the relationship we had. I’m heartbroken and in tears as I type this message. But I’m trying my best to capture the memories flashing before me. I am not from his household and I cannot picture what they are experiencing. Yet he reminded me so often that our stream is one. I spent nearly half my life in his classes, slowly developing a bond with his family. I was his student, yet he addressed me as shaykh. This was the respect he dished out – a kind of respect that is seldom matched. This respect was not exclusive to me, no, not at all, rather, it was from him to every single person that entered his humble presence. What grasped my attention over the years was the humility he displayed within the Zawia to the older Murids like Umar Kemp and many others. His beautiful character (husnul hulq) was not limited to his tongue -it was manifest in his behaviour before his students. As they grew in knowledge, their respect towards him increased. Some could not look him directly in the eye when greeting so they would quickly kiss his hand and pass by.

I recall an Imam who once publically reprimanded a young man inside the mosque for wearing a denim jeans and jacket. He scolded him for not dressing appropriately in the house of God. A few months later I saw another young man with the same garb in the Zawia. He was about to greet the Shaykh and as he drew closer, Shaykh Seraj said to him, “Wow! You look smart, Mashallah! I love the jacket.” This is adab and hikma! Hikma is the Arabic term for “putting things in their proper places and assigning them to their proper status.” Shaykh Seraj and hikma are synonymous, and I doubt anyone will disagree on this point. He was indeed a wise man. Thank God Almighty for permitting us to have grown up in the presence of such a remarkable human being. Thank God Almighty we still have Shaykh Ahmad in our midst. All praise be to God (Alhamdulillah).

𝐑𝐄𝐋𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐏 At least once a month we would talk for hours on the phone, and it doubled when we needed to vent. We spoke about many things and then at the end of the conversation he would dish out the next case for me to look into because his plate was full. Our last phone call was just before he went into hospital and it lasted for nearly two hours. This was the second call we shared during that week. He had just received his new phone and was so overjoyed and he called me to express it. He mentioned speaking to only a few people using his new number including Erfaan Abrahams. He would frequently change his phone number due to the amount of requests he received on a daily basis. I’ll get back to some of the contents of our last conversation if time and space allows.

𝐆𝐑𝐎𝐖 𝐌𝐘 𝐒𝐎𝐍 Shaykh Seraj helped me publish my first book in 2006, my second in 2009 and my third in 2012. He officially opened my school and was the keynote speaker at all these events. This man was selfless. He brought people together and always had a good word to say about everyone. He was a man who made all feel welcome. He gave people platforms, drew them closer then gave them space to grow. Every single person whom he gave a platform to believed they were the most special person in the world. This was one of his many noble gifts (karāmāt). When he was called upon to speak at local events, his presence would fill the entire place. This I witnessed when he was invited by Dr. Yusuf Da Costa to deliver a talk on the subtle differences between the Naqshabandi and Bā ‘Alawi style of dhikr many years ago. When he spoke there was silence as his words were like pearls.

𝐑𝐄𝐋𝐈𝐀𝐍𝐂𝐄 IPSA (Islamic Peace University of South Africa) held a function one evening focussing on the great Scholars of the Cape, where Shaykh Muhammad Salih’s legacy was honored. Sahykh Seraj was the keynote speaker presenting this legacy that evening. I received a call from the Shaykh one day asking if I could please do the talk because he was not feeling well. This was indeed a tremendous honor. I still have the power point slides which contain some of the old Shaykh’s chains of transmission and notes. Its available should anyone like to read them.

Sister Naeema’s Dhikr jama’ (Dā-irāt al-Sālihiyyah) is by far one of the biggest female dhikr groups in South Africa. I had the great honor of once writing some of the Names of Allah on the cloths she would prepare for the shrines of the awliyā. When her gatherings started to increase, Shaykh Seraj started doing the yearly talk at her functions. A few years ago she called me saying that Shaykh Seraj could not make it and asked if I could do the talk. I went to Shaykh Ahmad and informed him, hoping he would do the talk. Guess what he said to me, “I cannot take Shaykh Seraj’s place, sorry.” He cannot take Shaykh Seraj’s place? Ya Rabb! Let me rather leave this request off. Soon Shaykh Seraj called me himself asking me to do the talk.

I in turn did the talk for a few consecutive years at the yearly moulud gathering arranged by Dr. Rafiq Khan. I was in Egypt one year and could not make it and requested our Shaykh to take my place. He didn’t hesitate and confirmed immediately. Dr. Rafiq was over the moon. When we spoke over the phone it was like talking to a young boy who had just received the best gift in the world.

Shaykh Seraj constantly reminded us not to seek out position and authority for it would become a huge burden. If, on the other hand it came to us and we accepted it then Allah would aid us with it. These words will resonate well with all those who attended his durūs.

𝐈𝐍𝐒𝐓𝐈𝐓𝐔𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍, 𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐄𝐑𝐘 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄𝐒 When he stayed in Pinelands he would invite a few of us over to discuss important matters including his desire to start a college. He had already decided upon a name “Mantiq al-Tayr” (The Language of the Birds), which was most probably due to his love for these amazing creatures. My father in Law, Jamiel Toefy gifted Shaykh Seraj with his first pidgeon and this was the start of his love for birds. This love was and is still part of their legacy. Shaykh Seraj’s brother, Fadiel Hendricks is living proof of this. In fact, one of the clearest explanations of a Quranic verse I heard from him was the verse speaking about the bird in Sūrah Tabārak, “Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None keeps them suspended (in the air) save the All-Merciful (Al-Rahmān).” Quran 67:18

I can still see him demonstrating this verse while expanding his arms then contracting them. All his lessons had an outward reality and an inward essence. No one was left out. To some he was talking about the bird. To others there was always a deeper lesson like that of the expansion (al-bast) and contraction (al-qabd) of the heart. Either way, the verse culminated in the mercy of God keeping the bird suspended in the air. That was the point. Nothing happens except through God’s Mercy (Rahma).

He also loved games and often spoke about creating a board game where one crossed various hurdles in an effort to reach the gates of paradise. This game would be built on the ideas of mercy and tolerance. I will limit further comments on games to those who knew him more intimately.

𝐉𝐔𝐌𝐔’𝐀 9 𝐒𝐄𝐏𝐓𝐄𝐌𝐁𝐄𝐑 2005 – 𝐆𝐇𝐀𝐙𝐀𝐋𝐈 “No politics today people, today we change the topic a bit. The tests and challenges facing Muslims today are numerous. Our children and their children will look back at us one day and ask, “What exactly did our parents and teachers do (for us)?” But we should never be even vaguely depressed with matters, for that is certainly not the spirit of a Muslim. We need to look at Ghazāli and the way he approached issues. It is no mystery why virtually all the scholars after him decorated him with the accolade of “the second Muhammad in Islam”.”

Never do I think of Imam Ghazāli except that I think of Shaykh Seraj. This, I am sure, all of you reading will agree with. Some of you may recall the Ghazāli conference held at Old Mutual in Pinelands about 10 years ago, which was brought together by Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, Desert Rose, some of the murīds of the Zawia including Abdurahman Jacobs and others. Near the end of the conference one of the local Imam’s got up and scolded Shaykh Seraj in front of the entire audience. He did so while pointing his finger in the Shaykh’s face. How did Seraj respond? He said absolutely nothing but rather taught us how to implement the Quranic verse, “Repel the bad deed with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a bossom friend.” Quran 41:34

He did exactly what Imam Ghazāli did when he returned home to teach at his Zawia after an absence of ten years. When he spoke they threw him with tomatoes and insulted him. When they were done with their belligerence, Imam Ghazāli simply extended his arm and said, “Are you done?” He would then carry on with his discourse.

When he taught us the book of Knowledge from the Ihyā, he stressed for some time on theoretical knowledge and experiential knowledge. In summary, he said, “There is a huge difference between theoretical knowledge and experiential knowledge. You see, the first is like someone reading 100 books on charity then giving a discourse on the topic. But the second is where one actually gives from their hard earned savings to the needy. This person, when he speaks, does so from experience. The two are just oceans apart.”

Shaykh Seraj taught Ghazāli from beyond theory, he did so from the angle of experience. I can still hear his voice uttering the words, “Imam Ghazāli would be upset with you if you did not differ with him. Differ people! But do so with adab!”

𝐋𝐄𝐂𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄𝐒 The first book I heard from him was the end of the Qawā’id al-Sasiyyah fil Usūl al-Fiqh -an abridgment of the core principles of Usūl al-Fiqh by the late Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Māliki. He was reading the chain of transmission (sanad) which the noble author placed at the very beginning of his work.

Let me briefly share some of the books he read to us over the years,

2004 – 2005, Qawā’id al-Sāsiyyah fi Usūl al-Fiqh, Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi;

2006 – 2007, Fridays, International relations, Imam Muhammad Abū Zahra;

2007 – 2009, Tuesdays, Qawā’id al-Sāsiyyah fi ‘Ulūm al-Quran, Sayyid Muhammad Alawi;

2010 – Sundays, Tafsīr Āyatul Kursi, Sūrah al-Wāqi’a;

2011 – 2013, Tuesdays, The Book of Knowledge, Imam Ghazāli;

2012 – 2014, Fridays, Al-Targhīb wa Tarhīb (Encouragement and Warning), Sayyid ‘Alawi al-Māliki;

2015 – Tuesdays, Tafsīr Sūrah Fātiha, Sūrah ‘Alaq and Sūrah Yāsīn;

2015 – Fridays, Lives of the Awliya;

2015 – 2016, Tuesdays, Tafsīr Sūrah Yāsīn, Sūrah Hujurāt,

2019 – 2020, Tuesdays, The Waraqāt of Imam Juwayni as well as the Book of Nikāh.

Thursdays, Shāfi’ī Fiqh.

The foundations of Knowledge and Wisdom of Imam Haddad was read over two weeks at IPSA. Sidi Husain Dramat would pick me up for this class. While driving to class one day, the Shaykh called me and asked if we could give him a lift to the lecture. Luckily we were just approaching the off ramp that takes one back to Walmer Estate. We turned around, picked up the Shaykh and headed straight to IPSA. These sessions lasted approximately 2 hours and was described by the Rector, Sh. Ihsaan, as “pure gold.” At the end of the course we exited IPSA and Shaykh Seraj was stopped by a Qari who had one of the most melodious voices I have ever heard in my life, ‘Abdur Rashid Brown, may Allah’s mercy be upon him. They spoke for a few minutes after which the Shaykh made his way to the car. Before getting into the car, he said, “Now I feel lost!” He meant that he wished the class wasn’t so short (2 hours).

The last book he read to us in his Tuesday evening dars was the Waraqāt of Imam Juwayni as well as the Book of Nikāh. Thursday evenings was a small private class. I’ll touch on this shortly.

𝐇𝐔𝐌𝐎𝐑 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐇𝐎𝐍𝐎𝐑 He was not someone who tried to control everything but rather one who tied his camel then flowed with the divine current. We would often shop at Timbuktu books when it was still run by Saliegh Salaam and his wife, Fatima. Once, when I treated him to some books, he insisted on treating me to lunch. He bought us salomies and in his style of expressing things with some dry humor “I’ve seen better salomie days, I tell you.” That’s how bad the salomies were :). I, like most of you, could speak to him about anything. He never judged me nor anyone else. This was a man who reminded us to “pick up the cross” if it fell, in honor of the next person’s faith. While he walked this earth I promoted myself as his student and shunned the title of shaykh, for I was well aware that the Shaykh was Present.

The poet said,

ayā ghā’iban hādiran fil fu’ādi;
salāmun ‘ala l-ghā’ibi l-hādiri.

‘O you who is absent but present in my heart; Peace be on the absent-present one.’

𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐂𝐀𝐋𝐋 I visited the Zawia after I received the call, advising me of his passing, it was words that I never wanted to hear but had to acknowledge. I was warmly welcomed by his siblings, including Fadiel, Saliem, Ghalied and Hayaat. I stayed by his side all through his funeral proceeding and assisted where I could. I watched as he was lowered into the grave, face at the feet of his uncle, Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks. So often did he remind us of how Sayyidnua Abū Bakr requested to be buried with his head at the blessed shoulders of the Prophet Muhammad. This is what we witnessed at the janāza, our teacher still teaching us about adab and humility even after leaving this mortal world. It was a reminder to all present of how those who sit at the feet of the awliyā during their lifetime are blessed to be buried at their feet in the next life.

𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐒𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 During our last conversation we discussed many things and he mentioned particular people. I will mention only two people he spoke of and leave out the rest out of respect for the Shaykh as he was a very private person. He reminded me of Shaykh Ahmad’s bluntness as well as his high spiritual state. He praised his eldest brother Ghalied Hendricks, saying, “You can say what you want about him, but that bru fetched me at 2am in the morning when I was stuck without petrol far out of town. That is a brother I can count on.”

We then spoke about various topics including cigarettes, hemp oil, music, clubs and the old jama of Walmer Estate and how neatly they dressed. We agreed on the term “mafia” for them 🙂

He then encouraged me to do some lessons on the Beginning of Guidance and also to add his name to the document I drew up on ‘Eid al-Fitr 2020. The adab of the Zawia is to verify with both Shaykhs before doing something in their name. So, if Shaykh Seraj, for example, gave some permission to do something, the adab would be to check with Shaykh Ahmad and visa versa. Shaykh Seraj said to me during the call, “We should write some articles together, but add our names on the one’s you write.” Still, I was never comfortable adding their names until I verified the contents of what I wrote with both of them.

He spoke about his young days and how sometimes he felt that back then was a bit arrogant. Our conversation ended with the words, “but you know ya Sidi, I regret nothing I did in life.”

Sometimes we were mad at each other (well I think he was at me :)) but never did we miss those monthly calls.

We spoke about reciting the Quran and artwork and how every person has different talents. He mentioned the Chinese method of trying to excavate the innate talent within the student as opposed to every child being expected to read the letters accurately. This was the ocean of tolerance that was his light (sirājahū).

𝐈𝐉𝐀̄𝐙𝐀 Shaykh Seraj always uplifted a person and would naturally fill one’s heart with hope. Our school hosted a function and little did I know that Shaykh Seraj was honoring me with an ijāza ceremony. It was supposed to be a surprise but Rashid slipped up when he entered, saying, “you get the ijāza yet?”
Safiyyah Surtee another dearly beloved student flew down from JHB for the event and this made it all the more special, having most of our students, murids of the Zawia, family and friends experiencing this with me. After the ceremony, he told my wife that it was very emotional for him and that he had to contain his tears whilst performing the ceremony.

The Shaykh had various Ijāzāt that he would issue on request. Here is a summary of the types of these ijāzāt. The first, a more general one, is for blessings (barakah) and referred to as Ijāzah Tabarruk. This ijāza contains some of the litanies and supplications of the Shaykh and his Shaykhs. He would issue students with this ijāza via a green booklet called the Shawāriq al-Anwār of the late Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Māliki. The second is also a general one which connects the murīd to the basic chains of transmission of the late Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Māliki. This ijāza is given out in the form of small booklet called Al-‘Iqd al-Farīd. It is an abridgement of the greater books of ijāza known as the athbāt (s. thabat). A thabat is like a CV of the Shaykh in which he or his student documents the names of all his teachers, the books he heard or read to them, his chains of transmission and pieces of advice called the wasiyyāt. The thabat may consist of 20 pages to 500 pages. The ‘iqd al-Farīd, being an abridgement, contains the chains of transmission to Imam Bukhāri, Imam Muslim bin Hajjāj, the hadīth of mercy and love, then connects the student to the athabāt of many other Shaykhs. After this Ijāza comes a certified document stamped by the Zawia Mosque with signatures from the Shaykhs, certifying one as competent to narrate from them. It is referred to as Ijāza Ta’allum, meaning, Licence to Teach and is best given in public so that people are aware that such an Ijāza was issued. It is issued after the student spent many years in the company of the Shaykh, learning the various subjects like Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Tasawwuf, ‘Aqidah and so forth. Additionally, the student would have imbibed the style and adab of the Shaykh. After this comes more specific Ijāzāt like the thabat of Habīb ‘Abdul Qādir al-Saqqāf and Habīb Ahmad Mash’hūr al-Haddād. These are issued upon request by senior ‘ulamā. I was privy to have been in a small gathering where such an ijāza was issued to Shaykh Ahmad Qat’āni al-Māliki many years ago. This man was a giant of a hadīth scholar yet travelled to meet Shaykh Seraj and refused to leave the Zawia without the Ijāza. Before he accepted it, he said to all of us in the room, “I just passed by a drunkard outside and requested him to supplicate for me.” Shaykh Seraj responded, “This is the spirit of these great people. They don’t look down upon anyone.” He reminded me of Bishr al-Hafi, the drunkard of Baghdād who picked up a piece of paper from the ground containing the words “Bismillahi Rahmāni Rahīm.” He kissed it and placed it on his mantle before going to sleep. That night he dreamt that he was told, “O Bishr, You perfumed My name -I will now perfume your soul.” Shaykh Seraj gave Shaykh Ahmad Qat’āni two gift bags after issuing him the Ijāza to which he responded, “What are you doing? The Ijāza is my gift. I need nothing more.” There are a number for additional forms ijāza like the Shaykh preparing and handing over a thabat to his student. Receiving the bigger athbāt directly from the Shaykh is indeed a great honour for the student. In 2013 I had a discussion with Shaykh Ahmad about Shaykh ‘Ali Jumu’a. His response was brief and straight forward, “Sidi ‘Ali Jumu’a is the ‘Allāma of our time. You need to go get an ijāzah from him. Not tabarruk but a proper ‘ta’limi ijazah.” Meeting Shaykh ‘Ali Jumu’a was not easy but it happened and the ijāzāt were issued. Shaykh ‘Ali signed three 8 page documents with three names, Seraj, Ahmad and Allie. I handed the first over to Shaykh Ahmad and we decided to read it out publically one Monday evening at the Zawia. When I handed the second one to Shaykh Seraj, he placed it on his forehead and eyes out of respect and appreciation. The third is with me and together, these solidify our connection and relationship with our Shaykhs in Cairo.

𝐀 𝐊𝐈𝐒𝐒 𝐎𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐄𝐇𝐄𝐀𝐃 I recall once spotting a set of children’s books on The Golden Age of Islam in JHB. I sent him a pic and he sent back a glowing reply hoping I could get a set for him. I did my best, returned to CT and finally made it to the Zawia to place them in his soft palms, (palms I can still feel the softness of, but which I won’t have the opportunity to feel again) was how my uncle Sabir Hoosain felt and how I feel as well. I miss kissing his hand so much right now. When I showed him the books it was the first time he grabbed my face and kissed my forehead saying, “I love you Sidi.”

𝐌𝐄𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐒 Just like you, I miss him so much and am fighting to keep these tears from rolling down my cheeks while writing these words. This is what one feels when a saintly figure, a wali of Allah returns to his Lord. I have many fond memories popping up right now. I recall the day he called me aside many years ago and placed the green booklet (Shawāriq al-Anwār) of Sayyid Muhammad in my hands. I recall our last class we had before Ramadan. This was a private class of about 6 people on Thursday evenings in the lounge at the Zawia on the complicated topic of endowments (waqf). Yes, it was on the technicalities of fiqh but he naturally brought out the subtle spiritual elements on every point. I recall the re-launch of my book “The honor and status of the Human Being” which was held at Kelvin Grove in Claremont. The event was pack to capacity. When Shaykh Seraj arrived and saw the huge crowed, he whispered in my ear with a smile, “Mabrūk Sidi.” He would stay until the very end of a function and was often the last person to leave. On that night the last person he spoke to for nearly 30 minutes was Qari Muhtar Ahmed, one of Cape Town’s senior Quran reciters.

𝐍𝐀𝐐𝐒𝐇𝐀𝐁𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐈 Allow me to share something special that happened a year or so before the Naqashbandi Master, Dr @Yusuf Da Costa passed away. He invited me to his home and we spoke for a while on various topics. Our talk culminated with him whispering into my ears, “Let me tell you my boy, there is no one in this world whom I love more at this moment than those two brothers at the Zawia.” Dr Yusuf was a man whom Shaykh Seraj respected tremendously. Even during his old age he would travel to the Zawia to attend the Thursday evening classes in the hall downstairs with his students. When Shaykh Seraj noticed Dr Yusuf in class one evening, he requested a chair be placed right next him the following week so that Dr Yusuf could sit as a Shaykh next to him and not amongst the students. Dr Yusuf refused and remained sitting amongst the students for as long as he attended these classes. When the Dr. passed away, Shaykh Seraj gave a talk before a packed mosque in Kengsington expressing his admiration and love for him. It is this kind of love that I believe forms the very foundation of those mentioned in the Quran as “The bondsman of God” (‘Ibādur Rahmān).

𝐁𝐄𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐇𝐔𝐌𝐀𝐍 He came to remind us of what it means to be human (insān). He reminded us of the root of the word insān, which is both nisyān (to forget) and uns (intimacy), and that whenever we find ourselves in that human state of forgetting (nisyān), that we should hold fast the spiritual bridge of the remembrance of God (dhikru Allah), which will take us to that elevated human state of intimacy (uns) with Allah. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks had the community in the palm of his hand yet preferred patience (sabr) and reliance on God (tawakkul) rather than to rush after the vanities of this world. He embodied justice (‘adāla), was an inheritor of the prophetic character (adab) and a manifestation of mercy (rahma) to God’s creation.

𝐃𝐄𝐀𝐓𝐇 Those who sat in his classes may recall the detailed commentary he did on Sūrah Tabārak, particularly the second verse, “He, who created death and life as a test for you –to see whom of you responds to these tests with excellence.” That was how he interpreted the verse. He reminded us that “death is not the end. Rather, it is a separation of body and soul.” He reminded is that “it is a doorway to the next phase of life. Allah mentioned death before life in this verse because death is the doorway to the life to come. Here (in this abode) we will always be tested. It is those who respond to these test with excellence (ihsān) who rightfully earn immortality in paradise.” I can still here these words echoing from his blessed mouth. He would go on to remind us on countless occasions that “we strive to see ourselves, not just as a body possessing a soul, but rather, as a soul possessing a body, thereby foregrounding the spiritual and allowing the material to take a back step.”

𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐀𝐃𝐈𝐒𝐄 16 𝐅𝐄𝐁𝐑𝐔𝐀𝐑𝐘 2016 I captured the following when he did his Tafsīr on Sūrah Yāsīn (55-57). I will cite two of these along with his commentary,

55: “Verily the companions of the Garden shall that Day delight in all that they do (fī shughulin fākihūn).”

Commentary: “The companions of paradise will reap the fruits of what they have done. It’s beautiful and almost impossible to translate literally. Literally it means that they will be busy with fruit. Shughl means “work” and fākiha means “fruit”. It means that they will be reaping the fruits of what they have done.

56: “They and their spouses will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones (of dignity).”

Commentary: Shaykh Seraj laughed here for nearly a minute and said, “Wow! We will be with our spouses over there. It is absolute rubbish to believe that we won’t see our family over there. And don’t come and tell me that you do not argue with your partner, please. If you don’t argue then something is wrong with your marriage. I mentioned something at a nikāh once, “A good friend is someone who knows all your best stories. A best friend is someone who lived those stories with you.” A successful marriage is one in which you lived your stories with each other and you have survived them and overcome them. You see, in marriage, two egos are brought together and your test revolves around how you live with one of Allah’s creation. Remember that. We quickly forget that. Shaykh Mahdi often said, “Julle skree met julle vrouens (you yell at your wives) at the kitchen tables because there is either too little sugar in the food or too little salt and so on, then you get into bed with them and remain upset, not knowing that you may very well be lying next to a wali of Allah. How many times didn’t he say that? Ebrahim, “You can testify to this.”

55 – 56 “If we translate “Jannah” literally, we get “Garden”. What does the word garden refer to? In this world we know what it refers to but we need a paradigm shift with respect to how we enjoy it and re-connect with it and extend that understanding to what lies in the next world. If one look at a garden, it appeals to all of ours sense. The trees that grow, the flowers that blooms, the insects and the butterflies that move around, the singing of the birds and the sounds you listen, all of these appeals to the ears. The freshness of the garden and the grass and the smell of the rose, appeals to the sense of smell. When you touch the rose and drag your hand across the lawn, it appeals to the sense of touch. When you take a bite of its fruits, it appeals to the sense of taste. The call here is to the higher sense which we are capable of experiencing. The problem is that we often fail to spiritualize these experiences. We can socialize these things, presenting the best of foods designed to give pleasure and to welcome guests. But the images, allegories, and so forth in the Quran cannot be socialized, they have to spiritualized.

It is through spiritualization that we find a window that allows us to discover our own spirituality. These huge beautiful gardens are meant to expanding our horizons, they are designed to open our hearts. There is no doubt symbolic meanings in the Quran which we need to connect with. We need to activate these understandings and build our personalities according to these guidelines set by the Quran. It is through this cultivation that we find our heaven or our hell or more pertinently, how we find ourselves, our distance or closeness to Allah. Then we will realize that we won’t ever want to do business with Allah, not for his heaven or hell, but rather for Him alone.”

𝐋𝐀𝐒𝐓 𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 I can write on and on but will end this post with the last narration I heard from Shaykh Seraj before putting down the phone on the 24th May 2020, 11:40am, “Give your heart a rest at regular intervals, else, if pushed too hard, it grows blind.”

“روحوا القلوب ساعة بعد ساعة فإن القلب إذا أكره عمي”
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐀̄𝐉𝐈𝐀𝐍 𝐋𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓 In conclusion I wish to remind myself and you that as long as we do not forget our humanity and strive to treat each and every human being with the dignity they deserve, then the spirit of the Serājian light will forever shine bright in all our hearts. The importance of human dignity was beaten into our hearts every single Friday by this incredible and compassionate human being for as long as I can remember. We remain true to his legacy by living with the same adab we displayed before him while he was alive and also by remaining in service of our Shaykh, his loving brother, Ahmad Hendricks, thereby serving the sacred Zawia and the legacy of its saintly Shaykhs that have passed.

Photo credit, Omar Suleman 7.10.2013
Allie Khalfe

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