Wednesday 10 October 2012

Ibn Nahwi and Qasidah al-Munfarijah

About Sufi Master Sidi Ibn al-Nahwi famous for Qasidah al-Munfarijah
The Poem of Relief -recited against Oppressors

Sidi Abul Fadl ibn Nahwi (d. 513/1098)
The great Sufi Shaykh Sidi Ibn Nahwi keep good company with young Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim-(Ghazalian in tariqah) Later Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim become the Sufi master of Sidi Abu Madyan Ghawth-(Sidi Abu Maydan was the Sufi master of the Great Qutb Sidi Ibn Mashish, Sidi Ibn Mashish was the Sufi master of the greatest Qutb Imam Shadhili). 

The grandson of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim, The Sufi master Sidi Mohammed ibn Harazem, was the Sufi master that educated the young Imam Shadhili and started his journey sufi to seek the 'Spiritual Pole of the Time-'Qutb az-Zaman' who was Imam Shadhili's Master, the Great Al-Qutb Sidi Ibn Mashish

Qasidah Munfarijah- is sung along side the other Famous Dua 'The Prayer of the Oppressed'-al-Du’a al-Nasiri by Sidi Ibn Nasir.

An important associate of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1164) in Fez was a legist and a teacher of usul al-fiqh named Sidi Abul Fadl Yusuf ibn Mohammed ibn Yusuf at-Tutri at-Tilimsani, know with Ibn Nahwi. Originally from the tribe of Tutra near al- Qayrawan, Ibn Nahwi lived for a time in the caravan centre of Sijilmasa and then moved to Fez, from which he was eventually expelled by the city's Almoravid governor. After being exiled from his adopted home, he settled Qal'at Bani Hammad, where he died in 513/1098. 

His main teachers are Sidi Abul Hassan Ali al-Lakhmi, Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed al-Maziri, Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed Ibn ar-Rammama, Sidi Abu Zakariyya Shaqratisi, and Sidi Abdelljalil ar-Rab'i. Ibn Nahwi advocated an usul-based prioritisation of the texts that formed the basis that for juridical decision-making. According to this method, each mujtahid, an interpreter if Islamic law, had to search for the answer of a juridical problem (mas'ala) in the Quran or the hadith. If these sources were not sufficient, he could then consult the traditions of the Prophet's Companions and others among as-salaf salih. Only when these primary sources failed to provide guidance could the mujtahid resort to the traditional guidance of his legal school or his own reasoning.

Because of his fondness for the usul method, Ibn Nahwi shared with Ibn Harzihim a preference for al-Ghazali's Ihya' ulum ad-din. His devotion to this work was so great that he had it copied in thirty sections of equal length, so that he could read a section each evening in the month of Ramadan. He particularly agreed with al-Ghazali's emphasis on the Quranic verse commanding Muslims to "enjoy the good and forbid the bad" (amr bil ma'ruf wa nahy 'ani al-munkar), an attitude that allied him with the Almohad Sidi Mohammed al-Mahdi ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130), who was similarly expelled from Fez for preaching his doctrine. 

At-Tadili reports that Ibn Nahwi even went so far to write a letter to the Sultan disputing the order to burn the Ihya'. When sympathetic jurists in Fez informed him that Ali ibn Yusuf had ordered the Sufis to publicly swear that they did not possess any copies of the condemned book, he issued a fatwa in which he claimed that the Sultan's command was not legally binding. By asserting that Ali ibn Yusuf's order did not reflect the unanimous opinion (ijma') of the ulama, he was treading on a dangerous ground, for his fatwa implied that the Sultan's decree was fasid, illegitimate. 

This isolation felt by Ibn Nahwi as the proponent of an innovative doctrine is unreceptive environment is poignantly evoked in the following lines of poetry,
I Have fallen among those who have religion without manners,
And those who have manners [but are] devoid of religion
I have fallen among them—an isolated species—alone,
Like the verse of Hassan in the compendium of Sahnoun

Ibn Nahwi was not content, however, with writing bitter lines of poetry. He actively promoted the teaching of usul throughout Morocco and spoke out against the injustices that, in his opinion, arose from a lack of concern for the Prophetic Sunna. Even his opponents accorded him a reluctant respect for his persistence and stubbornly held convictions. A common saying in the twelfth-century Fez was: "I seek refuge in God from the curse of Ibn Nahwi!" to illustrate the truth of this saying, at-Tadili reports that when Ibn Nahwi lived in Sijilmasa he stayed at a certain mosque, where he taught usul al-fiqh. 

One day an official notary ('adil) passed by the door to the mosque and asked, "What is the discipline that this person is teaching?" When told that Ibn Nahwi was conducting lessons on the scripturally passed sources of jurisprudence, the notary, who followed only the early unreformed-Maliki tradition, replied derisively, "How is this one allowed to teach us subjects we do not know of?" and ordered the Shaykh to be thrown out of the mosque. Before leaving, Ibn Nahwi rose to his feet and said to his tormentor, "You killed knowledge. Now God will kill you in this very place!" The next day, when the man went to the mosque in order to notarise a marriage contract, he was killed by a tribesman whose clan was feuding with his own.

Ibn Nahwi is best remembered for his poem named al-Munfarija, a quite popular supplication in verse (jimiyya), which substituted the Munfarija of al-Ghazali and defeated the one of the Qadiri master Sidi Mohammed Ibn Yajbash at-Tazi (d. 920/1505). Al-Munfarija was welcomed by the masses as well as by the Sufis of Morocco who turned it a piece of supplication and invocation in their lodgings. Many ulama and Sufis in the Arab world wrote commentaries on al-Munfarija, from whom we mention Sidi Abul Abbas Naqwasi, Sidi Zakariyya al-Ansari, and Sidi Ahmed ibn Ajiba Hassani (d. 1224/1809).

most of the text taken from

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