Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dr. Nūr al-Din ʿItr, Muḥaddith al-Shām ❧ (1937-2020) - Shaykh Jihad Hashim Brown

Dr. Nūr al-Din ʿItr, Muḥaddith al-Shām ❧ (1937-2020)

‎لِّتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ. وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ. وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا
That you believe in Allah and His Messenger. That you support his cause and respect his rank ﷺ. That you glorify Him ﷻ, by morning and evening.
[Q.48:09; al-Qurṭubī]
On Wednesday 23 September, 2020, we said farewell to another mountain. Al-Shaykh Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr (al-Ḥasanī al-Ḥusaynī) will be remembered as one of the foremost Ḥadīth scholars of our time. To his students he was “Doctor Nūr”. Majestic, courageous, and serious from a distance—stoicly kind and mild-mannered up close. An Aleppan scholar, cut from from the finest of classical cloth, he was the nephew and son-in-law of the pre-eminent muḥaddith, Abdullah Sirāj al-Dīn [d. 2002]. This makes his grandfather, al-Shaykh Muḥammad Najīb Sirāj al-Dīn [1857-1953], the senior scholar and close compatriot and lifelong friend of Muḥaddith al-Shām, Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī [1850-1935].
Doctor Nūr would divide his time between Aleppo and Damascus where he maintained a home on the Qāsiyūn Mountain. We studied his course analysing the legal narrations supporting the Ḥanafī School of law in the MA program at the University of Damascus, where he was a long time professor in both the College of Sharīʿah and the Law School. On Friday nights we would read with him from his critical edition of the ʿIlal al-Tirmidhī, in the tiny Dhubyān Mosque near his home, high up on the mountain. Students would pack themselves in, some in the doorway, others on the steps and the narrow street outside. About his multi-volume work, Iʿlām al-Anām [A Commentary on the Bulūgh al-Marām, of Ibn Ḥajar], he would say, “I began this project as an alternative to the Subul al-Salām we had to suffer through at al-Azhar.” The text, by the modernist, al-Ṣanʿānī [d. 1768], had been popularised in the 1950s—it was deemed by many scholars to be less rigorous than might be preferred. A number of Dr. Nūr al-Dīn's works are now part of the required curriculum at Azhar and other universities. The author of more than fifty books, both academic and popular, the Shaykh was unimpressed with the management styles of the existing publishing houses. He published and distributed the greater portion of his catalogue himself. His 1972, Manhaj al-Naqd, is a detailed tour de force in advanced Narrative Criticism. His critical editions of Nuzhat al-Naẓar and Irshād Ṭullāb al-Ḥaqāʾiq remain the preferred choice of instructors and students alike.
The scion of two well-known pious houses in Aleppan society, the lay-people of his family were models of Islamic culture in their own right. He was a resolute champion of the Prophetic Sunnah, Ḥanafī Law, Arabic language, and classical learning, in his 60s he stood almost six feet, in his burgundy tarboosh, white cotton wrap, and Ottoman frock coat. Wherever he went, he was an inspiring vision to behold. Years later, my own family had the honour to host Doctor Nūr and his wife (the daughter of his mentor), at our home in the U.A.E. for a week. Ever the generous scholar, he was keen to return the favour during one of our Summers in al-Shām, the birthplace of my children. In the evenings, on his picturesque balcony overlooking the Old District of Ḥalab, my two eldest daughters would read Riyāḍ al-Sālihīn with our Shaykh, culminating with his granting them his ijāzah ʿāmmah. To his credit, he began regular private sessions for a group of advanced female students. They began by memorising Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn. So inspired by the opportunity, they went on to memorise the complete compendia of al-Bukhārī and Muslim under his tutelage. As far as I’m aware, they never stopped their progression through the remaining four works of the Critical Narrative Canon.
During his final years, Our Shaykh developed Parkinson’s which severely affected his ability to speak, though his mind remained nimble and quick as a whip. This did not stop the international demands for his expertise. Accompanied by a family member, his most intimate student, Dr. Maḥmūd Aḥmad al-Miṣrī (a student also of his illustrious uncle before him), would meet him at Azhar, Istanbul, Libya, or Beirut to “translate” his barely decipherable intonations. Much to the joy of students and professors abroad, they were abundantly aware of the novel opportunity to actively participate in the life and career of a scholar of this magnitude.
Born in 1937, Dr. Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr first graduated from the Khusrāwiyyah—in Ḥalab al-Shahbāʾ (1954). From there he would go directly to Azhār for his university and graduate studies. Before his final return to Syria, he spent the years between 1965-1967 as a professor in al-Madīnat al-Munawwara. Dr. Nūr al-Dīn was in the 82nd year of his affiliation with the Sunnah of Allah’s Beloved Messenger ﷺ when he passed this week. One of the diminutive booklets, highlighting the most accessible narratives of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ, that he published in his later years—and loved to liberally distribute by hand wherever he would go, was recently rendered into English as; Loving the Messenger of Allah [Heritage Press: London (2014)]. Two others being his, How to Perform Hajj and Umrah According to the Four Sunni Schools of Law (2013) and Muhammad ﷺ Messenger To Mankind (2019). Allah Bless his repose, give him comfort, accept his years of indefatigable service, and unite him with his Beloved ﷺ on the mountain tops of Your highest Farādīs.
‫ ‬
‫∴‬ ‫غَرَامِي (صَحِيحٌ) والرَّجا فِيكَ (مُعْضَلُ)‬ ‫✯ وَحُزْنِي وَدَمْعِي (مُرْسَلٌ) وَ(مُسَلْسَلُ)‬ ‫∴‬
“My love is sound (ṣaḥīḥ); but my hopes in you are obstructed (muʿḍal); ☆ my sadness and my tears, released (mursal) and continuous (musalsal);”
‫∴‬ ‫وَصَبْرِي عَنْكُمْ (يَشْهَدُ) الْعَقْلُ أَنَّهُ‬ ‫✯ (ضَعِيفٌ) وَ(مَتْرُوكٌ) وَذُلِّيَ أَجْمَلُ‬ ‫∴‬
“The slightest of intelligence would bear witness (shāhid), that my patience for our reunion; ☆ is weak (ḍaʿīf), abandoned (matrūk); and yet my humbled state is more elegant still.
‫∴‬ ‫وَلاَ (حَسَنٌ) إِلاَّ (سَمَاعُ) حَدِيثِكُمْ‬ ‫✯ (مُشَافَهَةً) (يُمْلَى) عَلَيَّ فَـ(أَنْقُلُ)‬ ‫∴‬
“Goodness (ḥasan) lies only in hearing (samāʿ) your narrative (ḥadīth); ☆ directly (mushāfaha) dictated (imlāʾ) to me, that I might convey it (manqūl);”
‫✽ ✽ ✽‬
‫ ‬
‫∴ رأيتُ ظبياً على كثيبٍ؛‬ ‫✯ شبيهُ بدرٍ، إذا تَلالا؛‬ ‫∴‬
“I saw a gazelle (dhabyan) upon the dunes; ☆ as if it were the full moon, when it glimmers;”
‫∴‬ ‫قلتُ ما اسْمُك قالتْ نورٌ؛‬ ‫✯‬ ‫قلتُ صِلْني؛ قالتْ تعالى؛‬ ‫∴‬
“I called out: ‘your name is what;’ she said: ‘light’ (nūrun); ☆ ‘take me,’ I cried; she said: ‘come;’”


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home