Farewelling Murabit Al Hajj

Farewelling Murabit Al Hajj

One of the greatest scholars of the modern era has just passed away in Mauritania.

Muhammad bin Salek Bin Fahfu also was known as Murabit Al-Hajj, has passed away at 111 years old. He was a master of the Maliki school of thought and a leading teacher in many Islamic sciences. Teachers and students from around the world would often travel to study under his guidance.

Yet despite his excellence in the various Islamic sciences, above all, he was a master of disciplining his soul. He was well known for his piety and his strong connection with Allah.

In the early 1920’s as a young man, he traveled on foot to complete the Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah. Upon his return, also by foot, he dedicated his life to worship, solitude and teaching. He was in fact rarely seen outside of the tent in which he taught or the local Masjid in which he prayed in.

He nevertheless spent most of his time teaching with little time for sleep and basic necessities. He would teach late into the night and would never refuse a student who came for a lesson.

He was listed as one of the top 500 influential Muslims this year.

One of his close students, Salek Bin Siddina commented on his passing “I challenge anyone by Allah, to find a day in his life that he did not use it in his preparation to meet Allah.”

His passing is a striking reminder of the narration of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

“Allah does not take away the knowledge by taking it away from the people, but rather He takes it away by the death of the scholars.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

We ask Allah to have mercy on him and grant him the highest stations of Paradise. May Allah make the knowledge he left behind a continuous charity for him and a beacon of light for him on the Day of Resurrection.

As we came into Tuwamirat, I was completely overwhelmed by its ethereal quality. It was the quintessential place that time forgot. The entire scene reminded me of something out of the Old Testament. Many of the people had never seen a white person before and the younger people had only heard about the French occupation, but never seen French people or other foreigners for that matter. I entered the tent of Murabit al-Hajj. My eyes fell upon the most noble and majestic person I have ever seen in my life. He called me over, put his hand on my shoulder, welcomed me warmly, and then asked me, “Is it like the dream?” I burst into a flood of tears. I had indeed experienced a dream with him that was very similar to our actual meeting. #murabitalhajj

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This is how France won the World Cup.

Does France respect its own winning team?

In one of the most widely acclaimed finals in recent decades, the French national team has won the 2018 FIFA world cup, beating out the best teams from around the world.

However, when one looks at the makeup of the team, something becomes undeniably apparent. The team is composed primarily of people of African descent, with the majority identifying as Muslims.

In most cases, this would be a cause for celebration, as it would point to a tolerance and acceptance of diversity in the nation’s wider society. This is not, however, a typical case. France has one of the most gruesome colonial histories of any European nation, a legacy which continues on until today.

France’s history in Africa can be seen clearly in the makeup of its soccer team, with 15 players hailing from an African descent. The nation is infamous for its struggles with immigration from the continent and has been heavily criticised for its Banlieues, suburbs which surround Paris and are home to many disenfranchised and impoverished migrants.

Muslims in particular have been the target of discriminatory policies and rhetoric in recent decades, with the banning of hijabs, niqabs and burkinis in different sectors of French society, a concerted push to “change the way Islam is organised in France” by the current President, and a recent election in which the main opposing party ran on a heavily anti-Muslim platform, and almost won.

This may seem very strange in contrast to the recent images of the French team being welcomed back home to enormous crowds of cheering supports. The President, Emmanuelle Macron, hugging Muslim players from the national team, and the Arc de Triumphe, one of the most iconic symbols of Paris, projecting images of the Muslim players, sit uncomfortably with the rhetoric that was apparent only months ago during the election.

This is a chance for France to identify this inconsistency, and to embrace its immigrant and Muslim populations in a way it never has before.