The Beloved

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.  Here, he speaks about his shaykh, Habib Mashhur al-Haddad (q.s.).

“In Jeddah, he met his disciples and visitors in a small anteroom off the entrance to the large family home his eldest son, ‘Ali built in the early 1980s in the Bani Malek district.  The room was lined with books and furnished unpretentiously with Belgian carpets and plush floor cushions and bolsters.

He would descend from his living quarters in the morning and sit with visitors until the noon prayers, after which he would share the noonday meal, ghada’, with whoever was present and retire for an afternoon rest, qaylulah.  He would return for the afternoon prayer and sit with visitors through the sunset and night prayers and the evening meal, ‘asha’, after which he would retire.  He kept to this taxing schedule into his late 80s, until his health drastically weakened.

Visitors from around the world would come to call.  Day after day he would minister to a parade of ordinary and extraordinary people, hearing their problems, patiently giving good counsel and always remembering God.  Conversation in his presence flowed from the mundane to the divine.  Every gathering was organic and natural yet infused with Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) transcendent presence.

I remember sitting beside him as one of his disciples went over in excruciating detail his problem of finding another flat in Jeddah.  Habib al-Haddad (q.s.) listened to him patiently, giving him sincere advice on where to go and what to do.  I kept thinking to myself, ‘What a waste of this great saint’s time!’  How little I understood.  On another occasion, toward the end of an evening after the night prayer, one of Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) Hadhrami disciples turned up suddenly and Habib (q.s.) upbraided him sharply.  ‘What’s the matter with you?  It’s late.  You shouldn’t come here so late.’  I looked on in reproachful silence.  The next day, I saw the same man sitting before Habib (q.s.), who was holding his head between his hands speaking to him with great love and compassion.

One day, I was sitting in Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) house with Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.).  We were in a room adjacent to Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) anteroom where he was meeting one of his disciples.  I thought how exhausting it must be for him to have to interact with the usual assortment of self-involved, worldly people like me and feeling more than a little guilty for taking up his time.  I said to Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.), “I don’t understand how someone like Habib can stand being around someone like me.’

Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.) turned to me and said, ‘Someone like Habib only wants to be alive because of someone like you.’  He was silent for a moment.  ‘Otherwise, he would rather be with his Lord.’  This reminded me of a Sufi saying that the Friend of God, wali’ullah, is ‘the one who lives for his neighbour.’”


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