This text, `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen wa’l-Muhtarifeen by Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye`, may Allah engulf him in his mercy, is one of the most concise books composed dealing with the essential knowledge which is obligatory upon every responsible person to know and act upon.
For the common Muslim who has not attained the station of scholar or student of knowledge, this text provides those necessary elements of the religion for which the servants will be questioned about on th e Day of Judgment. For the student of knowledge, this text provides the sources from which the scholars derive their legal judgments: the Book and the Sunna. For the scholar, this text gives him the verses and prophetic traditions which when examined from the perspective of their legal rulings give the foundations for legal extractions of the four schools of thought in Islam. For the spiritual wayfarer, the spiritual disciple and the Knower of Allah, this text provides the foundation and spring well of their spiritual purification, spiritual journey and direct Gnosis of their Lord.
The `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen comprises three sections or chapters: The first chapter concerns the Foundation of the Religion (usuul’d-deen), which deals with the fundamentals of tawheed and belief. The Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him divides this science into three divisions:  divinity (ilaahiyaat);  prophetic (nabawiyaat); and  the after-life (sami`yaat). In the section on divinity, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides 14 Qur’anic verses which establish what is incumbent for every Muslim to know and believe regarding Allah ta`ala. In the section on prophecy, he provides 8 Qur’anic verses which establish what is incumbent for every Muslim to know and believe regardibg the Messengers, upon them be blessings and peace. In the section on the after-life, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides 14 Qur’anic verses which establish what is incumbent for every Muslim to know and believe regarding death and what comes after it. Thus, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him utilizes 36 Qur’anic ver ses in order to establish the beliefs of the Foundations of the Religion. Subsequently, when a person memorizes these 36 verses and comprehends their meanings, legal rulings, causative factors, interpolations, and inner meanings; he/she will have attained the station of scholar in the fundamentals of the Foundations of Religion, and will have the basic key for unlocking the details and problematic issues of this science and what branches from it in the area of scholastic theology.
The second chapter of the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen concerns the Outward Branch of the Religion (furuu` ‘d-dhaahir), which deals with the fundamentals of jurisprudence and the outward obligations of the shari`a. The Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him divides this science in to 15 subjects, which although is not an exhausted and detail explanation of what is incumbent upon every Muslim to act upon, but it provides what is essential for them to know. These subjects are:  pure water;  ritual bath;  ablution;  purification with earth;  menstruation and its period;  the times of prayer;  the conditions of prayer;  the prayer;  making up missed prayers;  the prostration of forgetfulness;  the Juma`a prayer;  the alms tax;  the zakat’l-fitr;  fasting; and  pilgrimage. In each of these subjects the Shehu provides 1 Qur’anic verse and 1 prophetic tradition establishing the obligation of these outward acts of worship and gives the legal judgments which can be extracted from them in jurisprudence. In the subjects of the ritual bath, menstruation, the prostration of forgetfulness, the alms tax, and pilgrimage the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides 2 prophetic traditions. While in the subject of the conditions of the prayer he provided no prophetic traditions, but further divided them into four conditions: purification; facing the qibla; covering the private parts; and avoiding speech. For each of these four conditions of the prayer the Shehu cited a Qur’anic verse which establishes their legality, legal rulings and understanding. Subsequently, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides in the chapter on the Outward Branch of the Religion 18 Qur’anic verses and 19 prophetic traditions, which establish the obligation, and legal ruling of the fundamental outward acts of worship which every Muslim is responsible for knowing and performing. When the Muslim memorizes these verses and prophetic traditions and comprehend their meanings in accordance with the legal opinions of the jurists, then he/she has become a scholar in the fundamental obligations of the shari`a; and will have the key to unlocking the other branches and details of this science.
The third chapter of the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen concerns the Inward Branch of the Religion (furu`’l-baatin) which deals with the purification of the hearts or the fundamental science of tasawwuf. The Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him divides this science into 2 divisions:  destructive traits; and  redemptive traits. The Shehu cites 10 root destructive traits of the heart, which bar the Muslim from all good in this life and the Next. They are:  conceit;  arrogance;  false hope;  unwarranted anger;  envy;  showing-off;  greed;  love of rank;  love of wealth; and  having an evil opinion of Muslims. For each of these 10 destructive traits, the Shehu cites at least 1 Qur’anic verse which establishes their prohibition and legal ruling. The only exception to this is when he cited 2 verses along with 1 prophetic tradition which establishes the science of tasawwuf at the beginning of the chapter, as well as in the sections on envy and love for wealth, the Shehu cites 2 Qur’anic verses for each. Thus, in the destructive traits of the heart, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides 14 Qur’anic verses and 1 prophetic tradition which delineate the prohibited destructive traits of the heart. The Shehu also cites 11 redemptive traits of the heart, which are the key to all good in this life and the Next. They are:  repentance;  fearful awareness;  patience;  austerity;  reliance upon Allah;  leaving matters over to Allah;  contentment;  fear;  hope;  extolling the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace; and  having compassion for his Umma. For each of these redemptive traits of the heart, the Shehu cites at least 1 Qur’anic verse, with the exception of patience in which he cited 2 Qur’anic verses; and extolling the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace where he cited 3 Qur’anic verses. Thus, in the redemptive traits of the heart, the Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him provides 14 Qur’anic verses which delineate the obligatory redemptive traits of the heart. Subsequently, these 28 Qur’anic verses and 1 prophetic tradition when memorized and understood from the perspective of the purification of the heart and acted upon, will allow the Muslim to arrive at station with Allah and will open the door to direct Gnosis of Allah ta`ala.
Thus, the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen is arguably one of the best books on the fundamentals of the religion, due to its conciseness, and reliance purely upon the Book and the Sunna, which are the Two Infallible Sources which if adhered to will never cause the adherent to go astray. In this blessed text the Shehu cites 82 Qur’anic verses and 20 sound prophetic traditions which establish the fundamentals of the entire aspects of Iman, Islam, and Ihsan. When these verses and prophetic traditions are examined from the perspective of their causative factor, legal rulings, interpolations and from what the scholars, jurist and realized ones have said about them, then the efficacy of the text emerges where the differences among the jurist, the scholars of theology and the people of purification can all find the ir proofs and evidence. Thus, the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen is a handbook for the common Muslim as well as the spiritually and erudite elite among them.
It is enough for either of them to merely recite the text from beginning to end in order to attain the baraka and secrets hidden within it. My teacher and spiritual guide, Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin ibn Adam recited the text to me in 30 minutes; and I in turn took 45 minutes to recite the text back to him, given his correction of my pronunciation. Thus, not only does the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen provide the fundamentals of the religion, but it can also be recited as a spiritual litany designed to provide the spiritual aspirant with a means to remembrance of Allah, as well as memorization of the sciences of the religion. I suggest that the beginner in knowledge recite the text in Arabic (without the commentary) at least once a day, either after the fajr prayer or after the `asr prayer; or whenever it is convenient. For those who wish to complete the text in a week, combining with that a reading of its commentary; you should begin by reading, studying, or reciting (with a teacher or by oneself or in Jama`at) the `Umdat ‘l-Muta`abideen wa’l-Muhtarifeen of Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye` from the beginning of the text until the section regarding the ‘after life’ (as-sami`yaat) on Monday. Then read, recite, or study from the section on the After-life until the chapter on the science of the outward branch on Tuesday. Then recite, study or read from the beginning of the chapter on the sciences of the outward branch until the section on the times of prayer on Wednesday. Then read, study or recite from the section of t he times of prayer until the section on zakat on Thursday. Then read, study or recite the section of Zakat until the chapter on the sciences of the inward branch on Friday. Then read, study or recite from the beginning of the chapter on the sciences of the inward branch until the section regarding behaving with redemptive traits on Saturday. Then read, study or recite from the section regarding behaving with redemptive traits until the end of the text on Sunday. In this way, you can combine remembrance of Allah with seeking knowledge, both which are obligatory.
I have, with the help of Allah, provided commentary upon the text, citing the differences among the mujtahid Imams, and scholars in order to extract from the text its leg al gems and theological secrets. I made it as a commentary in footnotes in order to clarify to the Jama`at of the Shehu who truly follow him, and to acquaint the students from the rest of the Muslims regarding the meanings and secrets of this book: the `Umdat’l-Muta`abideen wa’l-Muhtarifeen. I named it: `Uddat ‘l-Muta’ahibeen wa’l-Mukhlaseen Fee Sharhi `Ala `Umdat ‘l-Muta`abideen wa’l-Muhtarifeen (The Equipment of the Combat-Ready and the Sincerely Loyal Regarding the Commentary Upon the Support of the Dedicated Worshippers and Skilled Professionals) My objective is to clarify some of the legal rulings of the individual obligations, outwardly and inwardly; and to extract the secrets that have been concealed in the text for the People of the Path to Allah, those alert and ready, those faithful to their solemn o ath to the Shehu, the Amir’l-Mu’mineen Uthman ibn Fuduye`; and those whom Allah wills from His sincere servants; in order that benefit can be gained from the baraka of the sciences of the Shehu after his death as an on going charity from him to us. The Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him said: “When a person dies all of his actions or cut off except three: an on going charity; knowledge which brings benefit; or a righteous child who supplicates for him.” I have also given the ijaaza for the text along with my chain of authority back to its author, my spiritual master, Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye`, may Allah be merciful to him. I am grateful to Allah ta`ala for opening the meanings and secrets of this text to me during a period of majestic hardship and difficulty. Allah ta`ala gave me tremendous openings within this text as a proof of His Infallible Words: “Verily with difficulty there is eas e. Verily with difficulty there is ease.”
I pray that you will benefit, as I did from this text and that Allah ta`ala will make it a proof for us and not against us on the Day of Judgment, by the rank of our master, Muhammad, upon him be the best blessings and most perfect peace. And the last of our supplication is: “All praises are due to Allah the Lord of the worlds.”
Shaykh Muhammad Shareef
Wednesday, Muharram 25, 1430 /January 21, 2009