On Tuesday 2 Ramadan 1429 (September 2 2008), the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects sadly announced the death of Shaykh ^Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Harariyy, the great scholar in Tafsir, Hadith and Fiqh. The passing of Shaykh ^Abdullah was an enormous loss to the Muslim nation and to humanity at large. A righteous scholar and master of the religious sciences, he was a man of piety and humility who had given his whole life to the studying and teaching of Islam.
Shaykh ^Abdullah, also known as Abu ^Abdur-Rahman ^Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Yusuf al-Harariyy ash-Shaybiyy al-^Abdariyy, was the Mufti of Somalia. He was born in Harar in Ethiopia. Shaykh ^Abdullah was related to Banu Shaybah, the clan within the Quraysh that was in charge of the Ka^bah and to ^Abd-ud-Dar, the clan of Qusayy ibn Kilab, the fourth grandfather of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam.
Shaykh ^Abdullah was born around 1327 (1910) and grew up in a humble household where he learned to love Islamic knowledge. By ten years of age he had memorised the Qur'an by heart, diligently practising the rules of Tajwid, and other religious texts too. He gave a great deal of attention to the knowledge of Hadith and memorised the six books by al-Bukhariyy, Muslim, at-Tirmidhiyy, Abu Dawud, ibn Majah and an-Nasa’iyy and other texts of Hadith, including the full details of the narrators and their biographies.
The scholars authorised Shaykh ^Abdullah to pass religious edicts and to transmit the Hadith when he was less than eighteen years old. During his early life, he travelled to many places in Ethiopia and Somalia in order to seek religious knowledge and its people. During these journeys, he encountered many hardships and difficulties but would not allow this to discourage him from his efforts to study the religion.
Shaykh ^Abdullah’s great intelligence and exceptional memory enabled him to attain a rare mastery of Shafi^iyy, Malikiyy, Hanafiyy and Hanbaliyy law. People from all over Ethiopia and Somalia would travel to meet him and benefit from his knowledge. He later became the Mufti of Somalia, the highest religious authority in passing Islamic judgements.
Shaykh ^Abdullah learned Arabic grammar and the science of inferring religious judgements from a number of scholarly authorities and studied many important books in the fields of the Islamic sciences. He also studied the explanation of the Qur’an and the Hadith from many notable teachers.
Among other religious personalities, Shaykh ^Abdullah met Ahmad ibn ^Abdul-Muttalib, the scholar in Hadith and recitation of the Qur’an and head of the reciters at the Great Mosque in Makkah, from whom he learned the fourteen ways of recitation. By this time, he had earned a remarkable reputation for his religious expertise.
In Makkah Shaykh ^Abdullah met many great scholars and attended their circles. He later went to Madinah and stayed near the Mosque of the Prophet for around a year as he spent time with the learned and studied manuscripts at the ^Arif Hikmat and Mahmudiyyah libraries.
In the 1940s Shaykh ^Abdullah went to Jerusalem, and later in Damascus he was welcomed by its people, especially after the death of the Muhaddith Badr-ud-Din Al-Hasaniyy. He also travelled to Homs, Hama, Aleppo and other cities. The scholars and students of Sham, the area that includes Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, sought his knowledge and guidance. He soon attained a great reputation and became known as the Muhaddith of Sham.
In 1950 Shaykh ^Abdullah arrived in Beirut where he continued to cultivate relationships with the people of knowledge and teach the Islamic sciences. In 1969, at the request of the director of the Azhar in Lebanon, he began to lecture students in Islamic belief and remained a resident of Beirut until his passing in 2008.
For the course of his life Shaykh ^Abdullah al-Harariyy spent his time teaching knowledge and worshipping Allah. Despite his fame and reputation, he did not care for worldly pleasures and lived an austere and ascetic existence; he occupied himself with acts of piety, diligently performing dhikr, reciting the Qur’an and guiding the Muslims.
Shaykh ^Abdullah maintained a strict adherence to the Qur’an and Sunnah. Alongside his formidable religious education, he had an excellent memory and keen intellect. He was among the most conscientious in urging the people to perform the obligations and avoid sins and he was renowned for his steadfastness in obeying the commandments of Allah, the Exalted. All who knew his merit mourned his passing.