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Sufi Sage of Arabia: Imam Abdallah Al-Haddad (Fons Vitae Imam Al-Haddad Spiritual Masters) Paperback – 1 Apr 2005
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A complete and wonderfully detailed biography of a saint brought to life and enriched by photography of relevant sites from his lifetime. This extraordinary account takes the reader into the fascinating world and spiritual life found in seventeenth and early eighteenth century Yemen. Entering a timeless realm that in fact endures until this day, we are taken through the life of one of the great spiritual masters whose teachings, and personal example continue to this day to influence lives the world over.
About the Author
Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi is a disciple in the Sufi order of Imam al-Haddad. He is the author of the Fons Vitae Imam al-Haddad Spiritual Masters series. Imam Abdallah al-Haddad was a Sufi master in Yemen in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
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Readers looking for more information on the reality of realisation would be the correct target audience, though if you are looking for a strict biography, you may be disappointed as there is little in the way of family relationships and a detailed account of his life from birth up.
Credit to Dr Al Badawi, though, as Imam al Haddad would have preferred to be remembered for his teachings rather than for himself and his family relations and so on. This is what comes through very well - a snapshot view and context of his teachings.
Perhaps the book would have done better to have been marketed differently as a summary of writings rather than a comprehensive biography. Still, for anyone interested in the Imam, it is a useful purchase and a relevant addition.
my first reading of the life of Imam Haddad
This is really not a biography but rather the author traces the life of Imam al-Haddad while addressing issues relating to Sufism. While this may be of great interest to the follower of the particular Sufi order to which Imam al-Haddad belonged or to someone wanting say an introduction to Sufism or a Muslim reading up a bit more on the subject I found myself very quickly skipping pages as a large amount of this books topics have been covered in numerous other books. It would appear that Mr al-Badawi has attempted to adopt the style of Martin Lings in his excellent biography of Shaykh al-Alawi in that he attempts to tie in historical and social events that went on during the Imams life however where I think this fails is that Shaykh al-Alawi is a contemporary scholar (Living through much of the last century) Whereas Imam al-Haddad lived over 2 centuries ago so the reader requires much more historical detail to put events into context.
There are numerous photographs contained in this book which do make a fine addition to it including the zawiya, various Mosques where he taught, his historical homes etc. The introduction gives a brief history of the Imam arriving in Yemen from the Iraq area to very briefly covering his teachers. The book then goes on to discuss issues such as Sufism, Sainthood, the Imam as a teacher etc as well as his position on Islamic doctrine (Which may have been a contentious issue where he lived as Yemen was and is now divided between Shafi Sunni Muslims and Zaydi Shia) Unfortunately the problem with all of this as I have pointed out above is that this is covered in numerous other books (Martin Lings, Sufi saint being one of them and Imam al-Haddad's own books translated into English being others)
For the reasons above I only give this 3 stars. Not because this is a particularly poor book, far from it. Simply that many of the topics in the book have been covered by numerous others and therefore for the reader Muslim or non Muslim they would find very little else in this book to discover.
Perhaps the author would have been better to have written a simple biography of Imam al-Haddad. I feel it would have been much more appreciated and much more beneficial in our contribution to Islamic studies in the west.