Last summer’s newsletter from the Ibn Arabi Society described what appears to be the oldest surviving copy of one of Shaikh-e Akbar Ibn `Arabi’s works – the `Anqa Mughrib – in the Berlin State Library and now in the Society’s digital archives. The copy has a date in Shaikh-e Akbar’s (قدّس سرّه) own hand of Jumada al-Ula, 597, which will be 832 (hijri) years ago next month. It also includes two pages of “coded” writing in the masters own hand, one of which is shown here.Page from `Anqa Mughrib manuscript in Ibn `Arabi\'s writing.

A remarkable document – the earliest known Ibn ‘Arabi manuscript

Stephen Hirtenstein writes: I can confirm his findings, and add that the remains of the cover page (only the right-hand bottom corner survives) has some fragmentary lines in Ibn ‘Arabi’s own distinctive hand, mentioning al-Habashi, his own name, and the town of Fez in the month of Jumada al-Ula [59]7H (= Feb 1201). Below this is a barely legible and rather tantalising sama’ certificate in a different hand, mentioning a reading of the whole work in front of at least four people (some of the names are too faint to be identified or are missing).

Two of these, Isma’il b. Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Ansari and ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Lawati, are known to have also been present at the Cairo reading of the Ruh al-quds in 603H, and so could be counted as part of the original group of disciples and companions who came with Ibn ‘Arabi from the Maghrib. In both cases the association was close and long-lasting: al-Ansari recited the Taj al-rasa’il in 613H in Ibn ‘Arabi’s house (probably in Malatya) while al-Lawati heard the K. al-Isra’ in the author’s house in Damascus in 633H.

If you’re interested in the subject of quasi-historical, secret and mystical (for lack of a better word) alphabets, this is an interesting online find: an apparently 18th century collection of alphabets purchased in Beirut in the ’20s and now at Princeton. Each alphabet is presented first as pronunced, and then as written.

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Bari Gyarhwin Sharif Mubarak

فصل بہارآٔی شکل نگار آٔی
گلزار ہے زمانہ صبح شب ولادت

جبریل سر جھکأے قدسی پرے جمأے
ہیں سر و قد ستادہ صبح شب ولادت

کس داب کس ادب سے کس جوش کس طرب سے
پڑھتے ہیں ان کا کلمہ صبح شب ولادت

ہاں دین والو اُٹھو تعظیم والو اُٹھو
آیا تمہارا مولےٰ صبح شب ولادت

تیری چمک دمک سے عالم جھلک رہا ہے
میرے بھی بخت چمکا صبح شب ولادت

بانٹا ہے دو جہاں میں تو نے ضیا کا باڑہ
دیدے حسن کا حصّہ صبح شب ولادت

از حسان ھند، حضرت مولانا حسن رضا خان قدّس سرّہ

My Mother-in-Law just ‘returned’ from her first `umra. In spite of her brothers living in KSA for more than 30 years and her son for more than a decade, she had never been able to visit until this month, when for various reasons it became ‘the time.’ She went first to my Brother-in-Law’s place, then to the Haramain, and just returned to her brother’s place. Insha’ Allah they’re going to make one more trip at the end of Ramadan and spend Eid there, before she returns to India. May Allah accept it from her, and from her children and relatives who helped her get there.

There are two categories of Hajj story which are far more moving than the others. The first is that of the `ushshaq from amongst the `ulama. The second is that of the `awwam for whom there entire lives have been building up to that moment when there eyes first fall on the Holy Ka`ba. The former can be captured in the written word, and live on for centuries. The latter has to be experienced directly. All of the meaning is in the feeling.

Inevitably hearing about her experiences has my wife and I plotting an `umra or hajj. “Milad Sharif is corresponding with spring break this year.” “Are any of our ulama going for hajj?” And so on.

For a few years I’ve wondered about the Hajj and `Umra travel industry here in the US and worldwide. I’m surprised at how backwards and underdeveloped it seems. There seem to be so many little improvements which the travel agencies could make which would – could – transform their business.

I’m also surprised at how little practical information is available to the public. Generally there are people in every community who are in the know – I know some who go from here, others from India, and others from within the Gulf. If you manage to collect your own thoughts before hand, you get the inside information from people like this while getting the fiqh details from your local ulama. The vast majority of people do neither, and at some point I think most of them regret it. Most masjids and organizations offer some sort of training classes – as do the hajj groups, for better or worse. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an organized effort to share the practical side of hajj or `umra with those who’ve never been before. I’m also surprised that in spite of the existence of a large and growing body of young Muslims with hajj experience, there is hardly any of this discussion on the web. Nor has anyone – to the best of my knowledge – ever bothered to put out a travel book.

Of course, I could just try to start an online community. Maybe one does exist and I don’t know about it. Or maybe it’s just that Muslims – even younger, Western-born ones – travel differently. Maybe it’s not inevitable that Muslim travel would take on the trappings of Western travel – you know, like informed travelers and all.

What I’m really drawing on here, though, is two old fantasies of mine. One of leading a round-the-world educational tour of the mazarat of the awlia, and the other of getting to write a Lonely Planet guide for hajj and `umra (the current Gulf one is pretty useless.)

As the Rihla and other programs have ventured out, they seem to be coming closer and closer to the first of these. (Which makes it all the less likely tat I’ll ever lead one – not that I could anyway.) I fully expect that LP has teams working on my book as we speak. Or maybe a pair of Muslim Harvard students pitched it to Let’s Go.

So, I see three basic open markets. One is for general practical advice on how to successfully perform the pilgrimages. The next is for a place to present, and possibly swap, detailed information and recommendations. And the last is for improved marketing and information sharing nation-wide on the part of tour operators. The last two could be served by a well-targeted online community. I’d start it tomorrow on almost no budget if I had a few partners to keep up with maintenance. The first is something that I wish local masajid would do and which I think SunniPath could also do really well. Maybe they have in the past and I just missed it. They could do a whole series on the practical aspects of Muslim travel, with the fiqh woven in.

Just some ideas…
What really matters is:
Mera dil tarap raha hai
mera jal raha hai sina
ke dawa wahin milegi
mujhe le chalo Madina!

Bluetooth-enabled Mutawwa

September 17, 2007

The head of the Riyadh Branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice inaugurated the test launch of what it called the “Awareness Messaging System via Bluetooth” at one of the Riyadhs large shopping centers.

The service, aims to send a number of awareness messages to youths visiting the shopping center from both genders.

Since the introduction of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones in 2004, The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has made several attempts to curb what it considers “the negative and immoral utilization of Bluetooth technology in violation of the Islamic Shariaa.” However, these attempts have failed in preventing the technology from finding its way into the hands of Saudi Arabia youths.

Dr Abdullah al-Shithri, head of the Riyadh Branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, does not consider this step a consequence of his organizations failure to fight what he regards as “the drawbacks that have emerged as a result of using Bluetooth technology.”

Al-Shithri told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Embarking on this course does not mean that our other efforts to fight the bad manifestations of this technology have failed. However, we do want to make use of modern technology.” He stressed his decisive rejection of the rumors that are being circulated that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is opposed to this technology. He said, “We are not against Bluetooth technology. Rather, we are against the misuse of any kind of technology.”

Although still in its testing stage, the “Awareness Messaging System via Bluetooth” according to Al-Shithri will be utilized in all of Riyadhs shopping centers and family parks.

Al-Shithri would not elaborate on the exact number of Bluetooth crimes that have been detected by his commissions fieldworkers, but did say that that “these crimes are in the hundreds.”

A study conducted in the Al-Qasim region northeast of Riyadh reveals that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has intercepted 500 Bluetooth messages. The study adds that 90 percent of these messages were sexual in nature.

Asharq Alawsat Newspaper English

The interesting part is that this really shows how far behind the US is on the technology adoption curve. Our government is still intercepting landlines, and the Saudis are over intercepting Bluetooth and on to spamming it. I don’t even know anyone who uses Bluetooth peer-to-peer connections (as opposed to printer/headphone/etc. connections) for legitimate purposes here, let alone for moral iniquities.

What does it take to send broadcast Bluetooth messages? Is the technology such that someone on, say, Umra could broadcast random aya-translations from Kanz al-Iman and salawat and tawassul-infused du`as to everyone about to enter Masjid Nabawwi or Masjid al-Haram? Sweet sufi subversion.

A review of Shaikh Gibril’s Hajjnama, From the Two Holy Sanctuaries.

It is interesting to read this thumbnail sketch of the channels of “disinformation” that are open for Wahhabi teaching: short pep talks in the mosque, hour long talks after evening prayer, audio cassettes, and free handbooks. It is a list of the kinds of informal methods of mass communication that pass under our radar screens.. literature that does not make it into any library and speeches that are not recorded or broadcast anywhere.

I imagine Shaikh Gibril might appreciate the blog’s name:

The name Old Roads came from Jeremiah 6.16:

Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the old roads,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.

DalailFund :: Sponsor a Dalail al Khayrat, Earn Continuous Rewards

Masha’ Allah. We need a project like this for masjids in the West. Maybe one already exists?

(Found through al-Kashif al-Saghir. The link there needs fixing.)