Category Archives: Biographies

Zubaydah, the Empress

Umm Ja’far, Zubaydah was the darling queen of fifth Abbasid Caliph Harun ar-Rashid (170H, 786 A.D to 193H, 809 A.D). Her name was Amatul Aziz but she came to be known as Zubaydah. Her grandfather Abu Ja’far Mansur who had endearly named her Zubaydah, made very special arrangements for her education. Very competent and highly qualified teachers and scholars were hired. Zubaydah, herself was very intelligent and right-minded. She obtained education with great interest and developed an attachment with the Quran and Hadith, which persisted for the entire of her life. She excelled in Arabic literature as well as other fields of learning. Her erudition could be compared with those of the celebrated scholars of her days.

Zubaydah was a very graceful lady. She was kind hearted, generous and literary minded. Though her living was regal and her magnificence and splendour was unparalleled in the precincts of the royalties. On the one hand thousands of dinars were spent on her single dress, her footwears were studded with diamonds and pearls and her palaces were lighted with candles of amber. Her kitchen expenditures were more than ten thousand dirhams daily. Hundreds of people would live on her kitchen.

On the other hand her life was a decent example of a devout Muslim woman. She had engaged one hundred slave girls who would recite the Holy Quran constantly. Her palaces perpetually echoed with the voices of the recitation. She was very respectful to the literate. Some of them were granted regular stipends. She was very punctual in prayers and the fastings. She went on Hajj a number of times. Once she made the journey to the holy land on foot.

She took great interest in the projects of public welfare and would spend on them generously. She built inns and lodges on the way from Iraq to Makkah and dug the wells for pilgrims and travellers. The road was lost from time to time as the storms and strong winds would often carry along the sand and dust and spread all around, leaving all the area a vast desert and the travellers wandered about, unable to find the road. The queen, Zubaydah cost hundreds of thousands of dinars to erect the stonewall along both sides of the road to block the winds carrying sand. She built a number of grand mosques, as well.

She also dug a big canal from the mount of Lebanon to Beirut to provide water for the people of the area. But her monumental work which would become a legend in the days to come was the construction of the Zubaydah Canal a landmark in the history of hydro engineering. It is stated that years before the Caliphate of Harun ar-Rashid was established, there was acute shortage of water in Makkah. Local inhabitants and the pilgrims were equally in great distress. Sometimes a small waterskin would cost up to ten dirhams and big one for a gold coin. A time came when the scarcity of water endangered the lives of people and the livestock and it was taken very seriously, if the proper arrangements were not made, hundreds of thousands lives would be lost.

The officials reported the gravity of the situation to the empress. She resolved to solve the problem by ensuring persistent supply of water to Makkans and the pilgrims. She summoned the hydro engineers and the master architects and ordered them to find out some springs in the mountainous suburbs of Makkah.

After months of maneuvering and surveying they succeeded, at last, to find two springs, one on the way to Taif at the distance of 25 kilometers from Makkah and the other in the hills of Kara in the valley of Noman. But to bring water to Makkah was an uphill task. Ranges of mountains were a real hurdle. But the ambitious empress ordered the project to be implemented and assured the men that she was ready to pay a gold coin for every stroke of the pick.

The work started and with tireless efforts of three years, thousands of workers and warders made possible, which once seemed impossible. They maneuvered the canal through the hilly valleys by cutting open the hearts of the imposing mountains. The bill of the gigantic project rose to seventy Lacs gold dinars. When the documents of accounts were produced to the empress, she was seated in her palace, at the bank of the river Tigris. She did not even cast an eye at the documents and directed the papers to be thrown in to the Tigris and said, “I have left these accounts to be settled on the Accountability Day, as, all I have done, is to seek favours from Allah. If any amount is owing on my account, I am ready to pay and if anyone else owes to me, I write it off.”

In addition to all emoluments and dues, empress Zubaydah gave away prizes and bestowals generously to all the people of the project and ordered the event to be celebrated.

As for the Zubaydah Canal, actually two separate canals were dug from both the fountains, which were merged somewhere in the hills into a single Canal, which runs up to Arafat and Mina. Along the banks of the canal, tanks were made at proper places to store the water of rains, whichever to supplement the canal water. The base of the canal was concreted to prevent the sepage of water. A considerable part of the canal was covered to keep the water unpolluted from the sand-storms which was a frequented event of the area.

In the beginning the canal came to be named ‘Aynal Mashash but later it was attributed to Zubaydah. The 33 kilometers long canal flowing by the Mount of Arafat, made its tail end at Chah Znbaydah. a site, at few kilometers from Makkah. The empress intended to extend it to Makkah, but some unconquerable hurdles blocked the way. But still the water came in to the reach of the Makkans.
(Mashahir Niswan).

Fatimah bint Abdul Malik

Fatimah bint Abdul Malik was a highly placed woman of first century Hijrah. She was wife of the great Banu Umayyad Caliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz and daughter of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan. She was raised in palatial atmosphere like princesses and she was familiar with the royal culture.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, himself a man of great beauty was regarded one of the few who greatly were mindful of their get-up. His diet and dress were equally worthy of royalty. But after he had to take over the charge of the Caliphate, he gave up all princely practices. He turned his mouth away from the superb and delicious cuisine. The pulses were started to be cooked daily and all the people of his household were sick with the pulses.

One day a servant complained his matron that he was fed up with the pulses. She silenced him to tell that his master, the Commander of the Faithful, too ate the same and they themselves, as well.

Once the Caliph praised the taste of Lebanon-honey before her. She sent word to ruler of Lebanon, Ibn Ma’di Karb. He immediately sent the honey. When it was served before the Caliph, he questioned his wife if she had ordered for that. She answered in affirmative and the Caliph sold out the honey and deposited the price in Baytal Mal (state exchequer).

Once a woman came from Iraq to get approved the allowance for her orphan daughters. She saw the first lady baking bread herself and sat near her. She was looking at the house and then said regretfully that she had come to find some favours from that house but it, itself is in the worst. The Caliph’s wife said, “your homes are cared for, at the cost of ours.”  Then she inquired about her problems and put her case before the Caliph who approved the allowance forthwith.

When ‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz fell ill with mortal disease, his brother in law Muslima ibn Abdul Malik came to inquire about his health. He saw the Commander of the Faithful wearing a worn Kameez (long shirt). He took aside his sister and asked her to change the Kameez of the Commander of the Faithful. She told her astonished brother that the ruler of the greatest empire of the time had only that shirt.

Fatimah was a woman who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and was bred with royal manners. But she withdrew from that sort of life to the will and wish of her husband and lived her life poorly. She lived long after her husband but she persisted to live simply. The noted Turk writer Dhehni Afindi writes, “Fatimah bint Abdul Malik ibn Marwan was known Dhatid Khimar (the woman of shawl).

She was a lady of great piety and reverence. Her tomb is in Busra (Syria) where her devotees pay visits frequently.
(Serah ‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, Taha’in Tarikh Islam).

Shaykh Zahir Mahmood

Shaykh Zahir Mahmood, the erudite scholar was born in England and has gained licenses to teach (ijaazas) in many Islamic sciences including Qur’an, Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and Traditions (Hadith) of The Prophet (SAW) from various Shyukh.

Following the completion of his secular studies at the age of 16, Shaykh Zahir Mahmood enrolled at Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyya al-Islamiyya, Bury (a satellite college to al- Azhar University), where he initiated his studies of the Alimiya course. Thereafter, he studied 3 years in the presitigious seat of learning al-Jamia al-Islamiyya Karachi, Pakistan.

Shaykh Zahir Mahmood went on to complete his Alimiya course at the pioneering Dar al-Uloom Newcastle, South Africa which has since been used as a template for other seats of learning in the region. Here, the Shaykh studies included a detailed analysis of Sahih al-Bukhari with the renowned scholar Shaykh Qasim Seema.

Returning back to the UK, he gained a BA in Applied Theological Studies from the University of Birmingham and taught the Alimiya course at Madina al-Uloom Kidderminster for a subsequent 2 years. He also translated to English part of the classical Hanafi text on Fiqh, al-Shurunbulali’s Nur al-Idah.

For the past four years Shaykh Zahir Mahmood has been an khateeb (preacher) at one of Birmingham’s largest mosques, Jame Masjid. From this base, he has taught many workshops including Arabic at various levels and Seerah (the Life of The Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him). He has endeavoured to reach out to the local youth as well as spanning the country to deliver the message of Islam in the English language.

In 2004, he committed himself to delivering a weekly study circle (dars) from Birmingham Jame Masjid covering many Islamic aspects ranging from the detailed study of the lives of the Prophets (AS), the Companions (RA), the Last Messenger of Allah (SWT) Muhammad (SAW) and most recently Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) …etc. In this same year, he founded the as-Suffa Institute of Learning in Birmingham where he is one of the resident scholars.


Some of the talks given by Shaykh Zahir Mahmood can be heard on Darul Islam website. May Allah swt give good health and long life to Shaykh Zahir Mahmood in order that the ummah continue to benefit from his lessons and knowledge. Ameen.

Shaykh Ahmad Ali

Born in Azad Kashmir in 1971 Shaykh Ahmad Ali came to the U.K. at the tender age of 6. Coming from a moderately practicing family, the odds were always stacked against him, but even as a young boy Shaykh displayed a yearning for deen.

His stubborn determination resulted in him completing the memorisation of the Holy Quran at the age of 14 under the supervision and guidance of his teachers at the local mosque, Masjid Quba. Having completed this great feat, the thirst for furthering his Islamic knowledge could no longer be quenched in the confines of the local mosque. Searching for more in 1986 Shaykh enrolled at Darul Uloom Al Arabiya Al Islamiya, Bury, the main nucleus of Islamic study in Europe at the time.

During his time in Darul Uloom, Shaykh excelled in his studies undertaking an intensive study of many Islamic sciences including Arabic, Quranic Tafseer, Hadeeth, Fiqh and Aqeedah under the supervision of Hadhrat Yusuf Motala Sahib.

After graduating from Darul Uloom Al Arabiya Al Islamiya in 1993 realising that the there was much more to be gained from the beauty of the Quran and Hadeeth, his insatiable hunger for knowledge still not satisfied, Shaykh left the confined borders of the United Kingdom and headed towards the Middle East, Madina. Here he studied at Al Jamiiyah al Islamiyah.

Following this 1n 1994 Shaykh moved on to the world famous Azhar University in Egypt, specialising in Hadeeth.�Having journeyed through many lands in order to substantiate this zeal for knowledge, Shaykh returned to the U.K. in 1996. A chapter closed.

Now were the beginnings of many new chapters. In 1999 he was appointed second Imam at his local mosque, Masjid Bilal. From here Shaykh devoted almost all of his time and efforts to the work of dawah, initially to his immediate community, and then further afield nationally and internationally.

In the field of Dawah for Shaykh Ahmad Ali there have been no boundaries. His desire to build on his dawah work has always been foremost and was the main tool that instigated the establishing of Al Ma� hadul Islami (The Islamic Academy) in Bradford, England. This institution to this day has been providing Islamic counseling, education and guidance to the youth and elders alike.

A combination of his vast knowledge and an unreal talent of capturing the hearts of listeners with his effervescent words took Shaykh Ahmad Ali across four continents to convey the teachings of Allah (swt) and his Beloved Prophet (saw).

Apart from his international work touring various countries delivering dynamic lectures and speeches, by the grace of the Almightly, Shaykh continued to work from his base Al Ma�hadul Islami to establish further institutes that would inshallah benefit the community and ummah on a whole.� 2003 saw the beginnings of a Muslim Secondary school for girls, The Fountain where students benefit from the alimiya classes as well as secular studies.

Throwing aside any barriers that were placed before him, Shaykh’s determination to inculcate deen in our young then led him to purchase and renovate a building in order to set up Crystal Gardens Primary School in 2005, catering for Muslim children from the ages of 5 to 11.

Shaykh begins to work selflessly and has only just completed the renovation of his new school building purchased in 2007. Eternal Light Secondary School for Boys currently has 40 boys on the register and will inshallah expand gradually. Boys undertake the hifz (memorization of the Holy Quran and Alim classes as well as their secular education.

Over the years Shaykh Ahmad Ali has worked very closely with the charity organization, Lifecare U.K. Products of his work with the charity have been helping to build an orphanage, hospital and school, for the under privileged, close to his birth town in Azad Kashmir.

Shaykh Ahmad Ali�s listed speeches found on audio tapes and c.d,s currently number in the region of 80. He has also authored many books; Major Signs of The Day of Judgement, The Prophet Jesus, Imam Bukhari, The Wisdom of Imam Abu Hanifa, Stories of the Pious to list just a few.

A selection of Shaykh Ahmad Ali�s beneficial lectures and lessons will be available for downloading in the near future(website currently under construction) from the website. Some other talks can be heard online using Real player via the Inter Islam website.

No doubt Shaykh Ahmad Ali will, Allah willing, continue to strive towards his purpose in life, a mission to serve his Creator. May Allah (swt) always grant him and those associated with him the ability to do this selflessly. The Ummah can only benefit from the work of such auspicious people.

May Allah (swt) grant Shaykh a long prosperous life so that we may continue to benefit from his lessons and knowledge, and may Allah (swt) accept all his efforts and make them a means of salvation for him and his loved ones. Ameen.

Shaykh Sulaiman Moola

Shaykh Sulaiman Moola [may Allah preserve him] began studying the sacred sciences at an early age. After having completed the memorization of the Quran at the age of 14 in 1989, for the next seven years he went on to study the Islamic sciences which include Arabic [and all its related sciences becoming especially fluent in Arabic poetry], Tafsir, Hadith, Aqidah and Fiqh [specializing in the Hanafi School].

Having studied under senior ulama from South Africa and the Indian Subcontinent and receiving ijazah from them, he went on to teach at various Madaris in South Africa including Dar al-Uloom Zakariyya.

Shaykh Sulaiman Moola currently lives in South Africa and has travelled extensively throughout the Muslim world and the West for the purpose of Dawah and teaching. Some of the countries he has visited include various Central African nations, the Middle East, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, West Indies and the U.S. His travels and lectures have been a means of great inspiration to many across the globe.

Shaykh’s lessons and lectures can be heard/ downloaded from the Sulaiman Moola website.

We pray and make du’aa that Allah accept Shaykh’s efforts and allow us to take benefit from his dedication to the deen, Ameen.

Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknawi

Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknawi [1264 – 1304 A.H.]

He was born in Banda, India, on Tuesday 26 Zul Qada 1264 A.H, author of many famous works and a great scholar of his time. He was a descendant Sayyidina Abu Ayyub Ansari (R.A).

His predecessors emigrated from Madinah Munawwarah to Hirat, then to Lahore, Delhi and finally to Sihala and Firangi Mahal near Lucknow. Pious and noble scholars always inhabited this locality.

Maulana Abdul Hayy began memorising the Noble Qur’an at the age of five. He was endowed with an outstanding memory from childhood to the extent that in his own words, he remembers the time when he was beaten at the age of three.

He initially learnt the Quran by Hafiz Qasim Ali. Subsequently his parents relocated to Jaunpur where he continued his by Hafiz Ibraheem. He completed memorising the Quran at the age of ten. During the period of his hifz, he also studied some Persian books under his learned father.

When he turned eleven, he began his Islamic studies under his father who was at that time teaching in Jaunpur. He learnt all the books from Mizanus Sarf (Arabic Morphology) till tafsir Baydawi, qualifying at the age of seventeen. After the demise of his father, he studied some books in mathematics under his fathers tutor, Maulana Muhammad Ni’matullah. (1290 A.H)

Allah Ta’ala endowed Maulana Abdul Hayy from childhood with the love of teaching and writing. Any book that he learnt, he taught it thereafter. As a consequence, he developed uncanny ability in every subject. No textbook on any subject remained difficult for him to the extent that he was able to teach books he had not previously studied by any tutor like Al Isharat of Tusi, Al ufuqul Mubin and Qanunut Tibb etc.

He taught for a while in Hyderabad. Subsequently he left for Lucknow where he remained for the rest of his life serving Deen. Maulana Abdul Hayy ibn Fakhruddin Nadwi (1896 – 1923), the father of Maulana Abul Hasan Nadwi and the author of Nuzhatul Khawatir, narrates that he attended Maulana Abdul Hayy’s Majlis (lecture) several times and found him to be extremely intelligent, erudite, an ocean of knowledge, well acquainted with the intricacies Shariah to the extent that he became an internationally recognised scholar. Whenever there was any discussion with scholars, Maulana Abdul Hayy would remain silent until all the scholars had spoken and they would eventually turn to him of a decisive statement. Everyone would unanimously accept his verdict. He was one of the wonders of India and none disputed his matchless virtue.

His students were completely satisfied with his methodology. Maulana Ni’matullah, his teacher, used to extol his praises generously. Due to intense love for writing, he wrote more than a hundred books on many subjects like Arabic grammar, morphology, logic, Jurisprudence and Hadith etc.

He was offered the post of Justice after his father’s demise but refused, considering the dangers of the occupation and being content with the little possessions he had. He felt that had he accepted the offer, it would have impeded his teaching and writing career.

One of the great bounties of Allah Ta’ala upon him was his excellence and compatibility with the science of Hadith and Jurisprudence of Hadith. He always chose a moderate, accepting the view of the Jurists as long as there was adequate proof from Quran and Hadith.

Allah Ta’ala also granted him the ability to see true dreams in which he would be given some indications. He saw Sayyidina Abu Bakr, Umar, ibn Abbas, Fathima. Aisha, Umme Habibah and Muawiyah (radiyallahu anhum ajmaeen). In his dreams and he also met Imam Malik (rah), Shamasud Deen Sakhawi, Imam Suyuti and other scholars, from whom he benefited as mentioned in a separate book on this on this topic.

The Mufti of Makkah, Sheikh Ahmad Ibn Zain Dahlan granted him permission for all isnad (chain of narration) from Al Hidayah of Marghinanai as well as what he had learnt from all his teachers. Mufti Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Hanbali of Makkah, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al- Gharbi and Sheikh Abdul Ghani Dehlwi also granted him permission for various isnad.

He passed away in Rabi ul Awwal 1304 A.H. at the young age of 39 and was buried in the graveyard of his ancestors.
An Nasihah – February 2003
source: Jamiatul Ulama (KwaZulu-Natal)

May Allah swt forgive him, grant him mercy, and elevate his status. May Allah also give us the ability to benefit from the written works of the Maulana.