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Rady Allahu 'Anhu

An Appreciation by Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad

All praise is for Allah and may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon Habib u'l A'zam Sayyidina wa Mawlana Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu 'alaihi wa 'alaa aalihi wa as'haabihi wa Sallam.

Sayyiduna'l Imam al-Habib 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Attas (passed away 1072 A.H) is popularly known as Qutb al-Anfaas (the pillar who breathed only for the sake of Allah). He was the Shaykh of Sayyiduna'l Imam al-Habib 'Abdallah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad (1044-1132 A.H) who is popularly known as Qutb u'l Irshad (the pillar of religious guidance). Qutb u'l Irshad al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad versified on his Shaykh in al-'Ayniyyah, a qasida (eulogy) which contains 140 verses all rhyming in the letter 'ain. The verse on Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas which is exactly the hundredth verse is as follows:

Wa Abi Husayn 'Umar al 'Attas man

Qad saara min ahli'l yaqeeni bimawdi'i

The father of Husain, 'Umar Al-'Attas is one

Who is ranked among the people of Certainty

(Translated by Professor Sayyid Muhammad Naqib al-'Attas in 'Aziz u'l Manaal, p. 3).

Then, one of the disciples of Qutb u'l Irshad al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad, Sayyiduna'l Imam al-Habib Ahmad bin Zayn al-Habshi (1069-1145 A.H), wrote a sharh (commentary) on the 'Ayniyyah titled An-Nafahaat as-Sirriyyah, and when he came to comment on the hundredth verse, he naturally gave us the biography of Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas.

Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Attas is best known for his Ratib, known after him as Ratib al-'Attas. A Ratib is a compilation of regular voluntary invocations from the Holy Qur'an Kareem and the teachings in the blessed Hadith Shareef, each to be recited a certain number of times. It can be recited individually or in a majlis (assembly) of zikr.

The mashaayikh (spiritual masters) really love this Ratib. And when they publish it, they inevitably include a biographical sketch of Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas. One such kitab (book) was compiled by Sayyid Muhammad bin Salim bin Ahmad bin Hasan al-'Attas titled 'Aziz u'l Manaal (The Rare Gift). It has been translated into English by Sayyid Muhammad Naqib al-'Attas and published by the Ba 'Alawi Mosque in Singapore. This article draws most of its material from this book.

When we reference this work, we learn that Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib 'Umar bin 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Attas is the blessed descendant of our beloved Prophet Sayyidina wa Mawlana Muhammad al-Mustafa Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam. He traces his ancestry to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, son of Imam 'Ali Zayn al-'Abideen, son of Sayyid ush-Shuhadaa Imam Husayn, son of Amir u'l Mu'mineen Sayyidina 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was married to Sayyidatin-nisaa Fatima -tuz-Zahra, the blessed daughter of Sayyidina Muhammad Allahumma Salli wa Sallim wa Baarik 'alaih.

Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas is one of the greatest luminaries of Islam in the Ba 'Alawi tradition from Hadramaut, a Shafi'i and an Ash'ari. Just as Qutb u'l Irshad al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad is famous for having compiled Ratib al-Haddad, his illustrious shaykh is famous for having compiled Ratib al-'Attas. A saalik (spiritual traveller) is restless until he cools his heart from this pure fount.

Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas was born in the town of Lisik near 'Inat in Hadramaut. He was educated by Shaykh al-Husayn bin al-Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim and went on to teach and spread Islam in Hadramaut.

Some of the titles which the mashaayikh (spiritual masters) shower upon him in recognition of his spiritual stature are:

1. Qutb u'l gawth (the pillar of spiritual succour),

2. Qutb al-Anfaas (the pillar, all of whose breaths contain the Declaration: Laa Ilaaha Illallah (No one is worthy of worship but Allah),

3. Tayyib al-Anfaas (the pillar, all of whose breaths are good and pleasant, taken only for the sake of Allah),

4. Sahib u'l Anfaas (the one who breathes for the sake of Allah alone), and

5. Sahib u'r Ratib (the possessor of the Ratib).

All this has been explained in great detail by Sayyid Muhammad Naqib al-'Attas in his translation of 'Aziz u'l Manaal (The Rare Gift).

He passed away on 21st Jumada al-Awwal 1072. His last resting place is in Huraydah, Hadramaut.

His biography has been written, among others, by

1. Sayyid Ahmad bin Zayn al-Habshi Baa 'Alawi, the commentator of al-'Ayniyyah of al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad,

2. Sayyid Muhammad bin Zayn bin Sumayt, the author of al-Bahjat al-Fu'ad,

3. Sayyid 'Aydarus bin 'Umar bin 'Aydarus al-Habshi, the author of al-'Iqd al-Yawaqit al-Jawhariyyah,

4. Shaykh 'AbdAllah bin Ahmad Baa Sudan, the author of Kitab Dhakhirat al-Ma'ad bi Sharh Ratib al-Haddad, and Fayd al-Asrar, and

5. Sayyid 'Ali bin Hasan al-'Attas, al-Shafi'i, a Hadrami, in the kitab (book) titled al-Qirtas.

And al-Habib Sayyid 'AbdAllah bin 'Alawi bin Hasan al-'Attas wrote about him in 'Alam al-Nibras fi al-Tanbih 'ala Manhaj al-Akyas, translated as The Way of Bani 'Alawi, by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi.

His greatest gift to Muslims is Ratib al-'Attas. The mashaayikh (spiritual masters) recommend to recite Ratib al-'Attas regularly, once during the day and once at night and to recite it 41 times if one is in need. It takes about 15 minutes to recite.

The emphasis in Ratib al-'Attas is on

  • A'udhu Billah (I seek refuge in Allah),

  • Bismillah (In the Name of Allah),

  • Sub'hanAllah (Glory be to Allah),

  • Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billah
    (There is no power and no strength save in Allah),

  • Yaa Lateef (O One Who Is Most Kind),

  • The Declaration: Laa Ilaha Illallah Muhammad u'r Rasulullah
    (No one is worthy of worship but Allah
    Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah),

  • Hasbunallah (Allah is Sufficient for us),

  • Salat 'ala'r Rasul (Invocation of blessings on our beloved Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him),

  • Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allah),

  • Du'a' for Husn u'l Khaatimah (Invocation for a felicitous end), and various other supplications.

The translation of the complete Ratib by Sayyid Muhammad Naqib al-'Attas is given as an Annex to this article.

Whoever reads it regularly once during the day and and once at night will InshaAllah live a long life and gain husn u'l khaatimah (a felicitous end).

Sayyid Muhammad bin Salim bin Ahmad bin Hasan al-'Attas reports in Aziz u'l Manaal that a man came to al-Habib Mawlana al-Haddad and complained to him about his sickness. He said to him: "You have only a few days of life left, but you must persevere in reciting the Ratib of al-'Attas that it may perhaps lengthen your life". He did that and Allah Ta'ala granted him children and he lived a long life as Allah desired.

The recitation of Ratib al-'Attas was popularised in Kenya by Shaykh 'AbdAllah Zabidi with the blessings of Sayyidi wa Murshidi al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad. It is recited every week in Nairobi in majlis u'z zikr (spiritual gathering of zikr) together with Qasida tu'l Burda and Qasida tu'l Mudariyyah of Imam al-Buseeri. It is also recited in Makkah, Madina, Jeddah, Yemen, Egypt, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Burma, England, Canada, indeed the world over.

Ratib al-'Attas is also referred to as

1. Zubdatu'l Azkaar (The Cream of Invocations),

2. Maghnaateesu'l Asraar (The Magnet of Mysteries),

3. Hisnu'l Haseen (The Invulnerable Citadel),

4. 'Aziz u'l Manaal (The Rare Gift), and

5. Kibrit i'l Ahmar (Red Sulphur or the Philosopher's Stone, something very rare to get).

Those who have written a sharh (commentary) on the Ratib are:

1. Shaykh 'Ali ibn 'AbdAllah Baa Raas, who was one of his disciples, and

2. Sayyid 'Ali ibn Hasan al-'Attas (passed away in Mash-had, Hadramaut, 1172 A.H), his great-great grandson who came about a hundred years later. His sharh (commentary) is given in his book Al-Qirtas. He added the Fatihah before the Ratib and after the Ratib. These Fatihah are among the most memorable and leave a deep impression in your mind and heart, and a smile on your face.

The Fatihah in the Ratib are for:

1. Rasulullah, Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam, his family, companions, consorts and descendants,

2. Al-Faqih al-Muqaddam Muhammad ibn 'Ali Baa 'Alawi (passed away 653 A.H/1255 C.E), the gawth (spiritual helper) of the tariqa (spiritual path),

3. Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Attas, the compiler of the Ratib,

4. Shaykh 'Ali bin 'AbdAllah Baa Raas, a commentator of the Ratib,

5. Al-Habib Ahmad bin Hasan bin 'AbdAllah al-'Attas of Hadramaut (passed away 1333 A.H/1913 C.E) (This Fatihah has obviously been added more recently),

6. All the awliya Allah (friends of Allah) and mashaayikh (spiritual masters), and

7. All our parents and Muslims in general.

Some of the kutub (books) that contain the Ratib al-'Attas are:

1. 'Aziz u'l Manaal, translated from the Arabic with notes and explanatory remarks by Sayyid Muhammad Naqib al-'Attas (born 1931), The Ba 'Alawi Mosque, Singapore, 1999.

2. 'Aziz u'l Manaal, in Rasaailu Haammah fi'l Ad'iyah, (gives the Ratib al-'Attas together with the biography of Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib al-'Attas in Arabic), p. 265-289, n.p.

3. 'Aziz u'l Manaal, (with an introduction in Malay), Singapore, 1417/1996, p. 3-14.

4. Adhkaar wa'l Awraad (Regular Voluntary Invocations), compiled by Shaykh Muhyiddin bin 'Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad Zanzibari, Haji Muhammad and Sons, Mombasa, p. 24-29.

5. Khulasa Shawaariq u'l Anwaar Min Ad'iya ti's Saadati'l Akhyaar, compiled by As-Sayyid Muhammad Bin 'Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani, p. 13-14, n.d.

6. Mukhkhul 'Ibada li Ahl i's Suluk wa'l Irada, compiled by al-Habib as-Sayyid 'Abdallah bin Mustafa bin Hasan al-'Aydarus, p. 211-216, n.d.

Naf'an Allahu bihim
May Allah Ta'ala make us benefit from all the mashaayikh (spiritual masters) mentioned in this article.

And may Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala give us the hidaya (guidance) to tread in the footsteps of Muslim luminaries such as Qutb al-Anfaas al-Habib 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Attas, as he is a shining example of someone who lived according to the life-style of the beloved of Allah, Muhammad u'r Rasulullah, Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam.

Aameen Yaa Rabba'l 'Aalameen.

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