Sunday, 14 March 2010
Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.)
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is extracted from Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.). It is based on the recollections of Shaykh Hasan ‘Abdullah al-Khathib (r.a.), the then caretaker of Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) mausoleum.
Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.) came from Kedah, Malaysia. Not much was known about his early life. He came from a family of four brothers. His other three brothers were ‘Arifin and Zayn, both of whom passed away in Penang; and the youngest, Salikin, who passed away in Daik, Indonesia. From his marriage with Anchik Hamidah who came from Wellesley Province, Penang, they were blessed with only one daughter, Sharifah Badaniah. Sharifah Badaniah later married Sayyid Muhammad ibn Hasan ash-Shathri at Jelutong, Penang. The couple then gave Habib Nuh (q.s.) his only grandchild, a girl named Sharifah Ruqayyah (q.s.). She married Sayyid Alwi ibn ‘Ali al-Junayd and they had five children, two boys and three girls: Sayyid ‘Abd ar-Rahman, Sayyid ‘Abdullah, Sharifah Muzhnah, Sharifah Zaynah and Sharifah Zubaydah.
By most accounts, Habib Nuh (q.s.) arrived in Singapore shortly after Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the island. He was then in his thirties. Although he spent the rest of his life in Singapore, and passed away there, he travelled around, mostly to Johor Bahru and to other states of peninsular Malaysia, preaching Islam. He was a pious man and his nights were spent in prayer until dawn. And he was a constant visitor of the graveyards, often praying for the souls of the departed. He always moved around with his closest friends except when he specifically requested to be alone.
He was well loved by people from all walks of life, especially children. He would often buy sweets and give money to children, the poor and destitute. Thus it was without surprise people recalled his karamah. He possessed the ability to literally disappear, and be seen at far-away places. It was reported that he was ever seen performing swalah in the Grand Mosque of Makkah without actually making the journey there physically. Once he even told a departing pilgrim that they would meet in Makkah. When the person arrived there, it was Habib Nuh (q.s.) himself who greeted him.
Habib Nuh (q.s.) was also well known as a great healer, especially for children whom he loved very much. There was one occasion when he healed a child with an injured leg, by simply putting his hands over the wound and reciting some prayers. Within moments, the child was able to run again as though nothing had happened to him. The father of the child was so happy; he donated shillings to Habib Nuh (q.s.), who in turn gave the money away to the needy.
Habib Nuh (q.s.) would brave even thunderstorms to tend to any sick child. He once walked to Paya Lebar from his home at Telok Blangah in heavy rain to heal a child. When he arrived at the child’s home, to the astonishment of the parents, Habib Nuh (q.s.) was not drenched in the slightest.
In another incident, Habib Nuh (q.s.) was awakened by the continuous crying of his neighbour’s child. When he went over, he found that the family was too poor to buy food for the hungry child. With tears in his eyes upon hearing the story, Habib Nuh (q.s.) took a coconut kernel, poured some water in it and recited some prayers. By Allah’s (s.w.t.) Will, the water turned into milk for the child.
Habib Nuh (q.s.) is also remembered for his powerful and accurate premonitions. He seemed to know if people were in need, or were sick or had intentions meant for him. Once there was an Indian Muslim man who travelled back by sea to India to visit his family. He made a sacred pact with Allah (s.w.t.) that if he were to return to Singapore safely, he would present Habib Nuh (q.s.) with a gift. Upon returning, he was shocked when Habib Nuh (q.s.) was already waiting for him at the shore. Habib Nuh (q.s.) called out to him, “I believe you have made a promise to give something to me.”
Surprised, the man said, “Speak, O wise one, what you wish for and I will gladly present it to you.”
Habib Noh replied, “I would like to have rolls of yellow cloth to donate to the poor, the destitute and children.”
Hugging Habib Nuh (q.s.), the man cried, “By Allah, I will be most willing to present it to a man who is exalted in the Sight of Allah for his kindness towards mankind. Please give me three days to present them to you.” And he did.
After 78 years of life devoted to Islam, Habib Nuh (q.s.) passed away peacefully on Friday, 27th July 1866 corresponding to 14th Rabi’ al-Awwal 1283. A few days before passed away, he gave a great deal of advice to his beloved friends. Amongst his treasured words were, “Don’t be greedy for worldly materials nor have any ill-feelings towards anyone throughout your life.”
Habib Nuh (q.s.) breathed his last breath in Telok Blangah, at the residence of Johor’s Temenggong Abu Bakar. When news spread, many people from all walks of life, including Englishmen who converted to Islam through Habib Nuh (q.s.), and those from the neighbouring islands came to pay their last respects. All horse-drawn carriages in Singapore came to a halt from their daily activities, to ferry the old folks, women and children to the funeral for free. But just before the cortege left the Temenggong’s house for the burial ground, a strange phenomenon occurred.
Before his passing, Habib Nuh (q.s.) had already instructed his friends to bury him at the top of Mount Palmer, which in that time was a small burial ground. Somehow on that fateful day, everyone had forgotten about it and they were all preparing to go to the Bidadari Muslim cemetery. When the time came to carry the body, it could not be raised from the ground. Nobody could lift it. People began to panic. Fortunately, someone finally remembered the late Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) instructions. They immediately decided to proceed to Mount Palmer instead. Through the Will of Allah (s.w.t.), the cortege was able to move at much ease amid cries of the takbir. Habib Nuh (q.s.) is buried at Mount Palmer.
His karamah did not end there. During World War 2, when Telok Blangah was extensively bombed by the Japanese, not a single bomb touched Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) maqam. And when the Singapore government wanted to build an elevated highway along Tanjung Pagar, the roadway was designed to curve around it, the height almost on the same level as Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) mausoleum. It is almost impossible for any driver not to notice it. Now everyone can visit him without going up the 49 steps to the top of the hill that houses his grave.