Shaykh Abdulfattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah ta`ala) (1917 - 1997)
Shaykh Abu Ghuddah was one of the few best Islamic Scholars known in this era. He is known all over the world from Brunei to North America for his outstanding achievements in Hadith and Islamic Law (Shari'ah).
Shaykh Abdul Fattah bin Muhammad bin Bashir bin Hasan Abu Ghuddah (ra) was born in the city of Aleppo in the north of Syria in the year 1917 (CE). His father, Muhammad, was well known for his piety and adherence to Islam. He was in textile business, something that he had inherited from his father, Bashir, one of the biggest traders of textiles in Aleppo. The lineage of the Shaykh goes back to the great Sahabi, Khalid bin Walid RA).
His Search for Knowledge
The Shaykh studied at the Islamic Arab Institue in Aleppo, and then at the Khesrevia Madrassah (now known as Shari'ah Secondary school). He graduated in 1942. He continued his pursuit of knowledge at Al-Azhar, in Cairo, in the school of Shari'ah between 1944 and 1948 in psychology and principles of education, faculty of Arabic language, and graduated from Al-Azhar in 1950.
Among the most prominent of his teachers, were: Shaykh Raghib Al-Tabakh, Shaykh Ahmad Al-Zarqa, Shaykh Eisa Bayanuni, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Hakeem, Shaykh Asad Abji Shaykh Ahmad Kurdi, Shaykh Najib Sirajuddin and Shaykh Mustafa Al-Zarqa.
Shaykh Muhammad Al-Khidr Husayn, Shaykh Abdul Majid Daraz, Shaykh Abdul Halim Mahmud, Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut [all Shaykhs of al-Azhar at one time]. He also met Shaykh Mustafa Sabri (Shaykh of the Ottoman Khilafa), Shaykh Muhammad Zahid Al-Kawthari, and Imam Hasan Al-Banna greatly benefiting and learning from them.
Shaykh Abu Ghuddah travelled to most Arab countries and to Turkey, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, meeting and learning from scholars of these countries, as well as they benefiting from his knowledge.
As a result of his numerous visits to India and Pakistan, he was able to bring much of the knowledge of the Indian subcontinent to Arabia. He produced numerous tracts and books and was responsible for spreading these among scholars. Among the prominent scholars that he met in those countries were: Shaykh Muhammad Shafi' Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Atiqur Rahman of Delhi, Shaykh Mohammad Zakaria Kandahlawi, Shaykh Muhammad Elias Kandahlawi, Shaykh Mohammad Yusuf Banwori, Shaykh Muhammad Latif, Shaykh Abul Wafa Al-Afghani, Shaykh Abul A'la Maududi and Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi.
His Academic work
After he had completed his studies in Egypt, Shaykh Abu Ghuddah returned to Syria in 1951 where he was chosen as the leading teacher in Islamic Education, winning first prize. He taught Islamic Studies for eleven years in Aleppo, wrote text books in this field and also taught in Madrassah Sha'baniyah, a Shari'ah school specializing in producing scholars and orators. He then transferred to the College of Shari'ah in the University of Damascus, where he taught Usul Al-Fiqh, Hanafi Fiqh and Comparative Fiqh for three years.
After that he directed the production of an Encyclopaedia on Islamic Fiqh in the College of Shari'ah in Damascus for about two years, during which he also completed a Dictionary of Fiqh Al-Muhalla of Ibn Hazm which had been started by some of his colleagues. This was produced by the University of Damascus in two large volumes.
In 1962, the Shaykh was elected as a member of Parliament for Aleppo City, despite the fierce opposition he faced from other contenders. He used this position to help and promote the interests of Islam and Muslims in Syria. The Shaykh was imprisoned in 1966 and spent eleven months in prison with other scholars before being released in June 1967.
Shaykh Abu Ghuddah at Oxford with other ulama.
The Shaykh with His Highness the Sultan of Brunei at Oxford
Move to Saudi
After his release, he returned to Aleppo, but eventually moved to Saudi Arabia. There he taught at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh during the years 1965-1988. He also helped to develop and plan courses and programs at the University.
He was invited as a visiting Professor at Um Durman Islamic University in Sudan. He also participated in many seminars and conferences and also worked for a period in King Saud University in Riyadh.
In recognition of his scholarly achivement, Muslim scholars nominated the Shaykh in 1995 for the Prize of Sultan Brunei for Islamic Studies. The prize was offered to the Shaykh by the Oxford Centre for Islamic studies, in a ceremony in London attended personally by the Sultan and other dignilaries and scholars.
The Shaykh exemplified a distinct, noble character, the character of a Scholar and a Mujahid. His knowledge and intelligence were vast. His love and concern for the Muslim Ummah and humanity was great. He showed great insight in his grasp of the problems afflicting Muslims. He was polite and gentle in his speech and touched the hearts of those whom he communicated with. He was smart, and quick witted in his response and people's hearts would turn towards him with love, respect and trust. He was far from extremism and would not be reactive or easily provoked. He would always judge matters in the light of the Shari'ah and taught his students to do the same.
Shaykh Abu Ghuddah with Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Shaykh Adnan Kabbani and other delegate scholars at the Grand Reopening of the Imam Bukhari Madarasa in Bukhara.
In the 1940's the Shaykh met with Hasan Al-Banna, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. When he returned to Syria he was very active in the work of da'wah both generally and with the brotherhood, as his character was highly trusted and he possessed distinctive leadership qualities.
He became a leader and guide for Islamic work in Syria and was eventually chosen to be in-charge of the Syrian group of activists. During his stay in Syria, he was like a living, moving school that taught more than three generations of du'at and activists, all of whom were proud to benefit from his vast sea of knowledge. Apart from the weekly Jumu'ah khutbas that he used to deliver, he also had three lessons per week as follows:
1) Questions and Answers session: held after Jumu'ah, dealing with everyday matters. He would give his fatwas with evidences and with full consideration of the contemporary situation in which people lived.
2) Fiqh classes on Mondays: In which he would follow a comparative approach to Fiqh.
3) Hadith classes on Thursdays.
In the mid 1960s the Shaykh worked to rally scholars and bring unity among Muslims, to show their strength and stand up for their concerns. Despite the weakness of Muslims, he persevered in his efforts, undeterred by the sometimes lukewarm response of the Muslims, buried in their worldly concerns. In Kheservia Mosque, where thousands of people would gather every week, the Shaykh would raise contemporary issues and used to speak against the tide of secularism. For this he was often threatened from every direction, but stood firm in the face of this, replying with his famous couplet: "I do not care when I am killed as a Muslim, whichever side of me takes the mortal wound for Allah."
The Shaykh passed away in the early hours of Sunday 9th Shawwal 1417 / 16th February 1997. He was buried in Jannat al-Baqi` in Madinat al-munawwara. May Allah shower his mercy on Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah. May He reward him abundantly, widen his grave and make it a part of the gardens of Paradise. May He assign him with the Prophets and righteous people. May Allah grant him the best rewards. Surely our Lord is the one Who listens and Answers prayers and All praise is due to Him.
List of the Shaykh's scholarly works