The Benefits of the Benefactor

rahman raheemThe Manan’l-Manaan is an excellent poem composed by Shaykh Abdullahi ibn Fuduye` and constitutes one of the earliest of his poetic works. He composed it in the year 1201 A.H. (1785 C.E.) when he was twenty-two years old. The complete name of the text is Manan’l-Manaan Li Man Arada Shu`b ‘l-Imaan (The Benefits of the Benefactor for the One Who Desires the Branches of Faith).

It is a versification of the renowned an-Niqaaya of the reformer of the 9th century A.H. Imam Jalaal’d-Deen Abd’r-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr as-Suyuti (d. 911 A.H.) in which he delineated the fourteen essential sciences of Islam. Later, as-Suyuti composed a commentary on the an-Niqaaya called Itmaam ‘d-Diraaya. Shaykh Abdullahi composed his versification of the an-Niqaaya and its commentary after having studied the two texts exhaustively along with his teacher the master linguist and ascetic Shaykh Ahmad ibn Abu Bakr ibn Ghari.

He read the an-Niqaaya with him and received license to transmit the text along with licenses in the other texts he studied with him, such as the at-Talkhees, its commentaries, the Alfiyat’l-Ma`ani, its commentaries and the al-Jawhar’l-Mahnuun, its commentaries and other books of rhetoric.

On completion of the an-Niqaaya and its commentary Itmaan’d-Diraaya, Shaykh Abdullahi demonstrated his mastery of the sciences transmitted therein by composing this excellent poetic abridgement of these texts in one hundred and seven poetic verses.

Shaykh Abdullahi arranged the Manan’l-Manaan into three sections after a brief preface of eight verses. The first section is an introduction on the boundaries of the science of spiritual purification (tasawwuf), its basic tenets and foundations. In thirty-one verses he explains the essential elements of tasawwuf in the simplest language where the common person, young students and beginners can comprehend what is required of them fundamentals of the inward branch of the religion.

The second section is an abridgement of the famous prophetic traditions regarding the ‘branches of belief’ (shu`b’l-imaan) in which the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace is reported to have said:

“Belief has sixty something branches, and modesty is a branch of belief”;

as it was related by al-Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurayra.

In another narration from Muslim, Abu Dawud, an-Nisaai’ and Ibn Maja on the authority of Abu Hurayra:

“Belief is seventy something branches, and the most superior of these is the saying: Laa ilaha illa Allah, and the least of these is removing harm from the road. Modesty is also a branch of belief.”

In thirty-nine verses Shaykh Abdullahi ibn Fuduye` delineates all the seventy and more branches of belief starting with belief in Allah ta`ala and ending with removing harmful things from the road. He then concludes this excellent poem by discussing in twenty-nine verses the benefits of knowledge and acting in accordance with it; and which sciences should be learned foremost over others.

The Manan’l-Manaan demonstrated Shaykh Abdullahi’s superb linguistic skills and his mastery of grammar, linguistics and poetry at the young age of twenty-two. The Manan’l-Manaan contains everything a Muslim is required to know, behave in accordance with, act upon and avoid in order to attain the perfection of belief and spiritual certainty. It is arranged in such a simple manner that the beginner, the student and youth can memorize it as a fundamental texts in their education and spiritual training.

What demonstrated the importance of the text, is that some forty three years after first composing it, and hundreds of other texts on every single science in Islam; he returned back to it in 1244 at the age of 65 and composed a profound commentary called Shukr ‘l-Ihsaan `Ala Minan ‘l-Manaan Liman Araada Shu`b ‘l-Imaan (The Gratitude of Spiritual Excellence for the Minan ‘l-Manaan Liman Araada Shu`b ‘l-Imaan).

In it he said:

“…since Allah privileged me during the yearly years of my life to produce a versification of the last of the sciences (meaning the science of spiritual purification) taken from the sciences of the an-Niqaayat of as-Suyuti. It then occurred to my mind after forty-three years of the original composition to make a commentary upon it in order that Allah would make it beneficial to the Muslims. I then made istikhara with Allah ta`ala in that and sought His assistance in making it easy…”

Shaykh Muhammad Shareef ibn Farid

Thursday, 19th Rabi’’l- Awwal, 1431 A.H. (March 4, 2010)

Zunyi, People’s Republic of China

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