O son, they say opportunity only knocks once. That is so true, especially in my meeting with the fragrance of the land of al-Haram, as-Sayyid Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maaliki al-Hasani rahimallahu ta'ala (1944 - 2004).
I am too insignificant to write anything close to an obituary for this great man, I was not his student, I did not even know much about him prior to meeting him, what I wish to record here is just my gratitude to Allah for having met him at least once. I am not even sure if 'meeting' is the right word to use. Anyhow, what I hope to impress upon you is that when an opportunity comes knocking on your door, be sure to grab it and be thankful.
Below is an excerpt from the obituary written by his student Fakhruddin Owaisi al-Madani.
"Al-Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki was one of the foremost traditional Islamic scholars of contemporary times and without doubt, the most highly respected and loved scholar of the holy city of Makkah. He was a grandson of the Prophet s.a.w, leader of the Ahlul-Bayt, the Imam of Hadith in our age, an authority of the four Madhabs, a spiritual leader of the highest caliber, caller to Allah, and unparalleled in his standing in the world of traditional Islamic scholarship. A visit to him was one of the musts for the Ulama who visit Makkah. The Sayyid descends from a noble family that is directly connected to the blessed Prophet s.a.w himself. He is a scion of the famous Al-Maliki Al-Hasani family of Makkah, who are descendants of the Prophet s.a.w through his grandson, Imam al-Hasan bin Ali, may Allah be pleased with him. The Maliki family is one of the most respected families in Makkah and has produced great scholars, who have taught in the Haram of Makkah for centuries. He received his Ph.D. from the Azhar at the age of 25, making him the first and youngest Saudi to earn a Ph.D. from there.
He hosts a large number of students at his own residence, providing them with food, drink, shelter, clothes, books and everything else they need. In return, they are only required to follow the rules and etiquette of students of sacred knowledge. These students usually stay with him for many years, learning the various branches of Islamic knowledge, then return to their lands. Hundreds of students have learnt at his feet and have become savants of Islamic knowledge and spirituality in their countries, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and Dubai."
Al-Maaliki had close links with one family in Kuala Lumpur, they are family of a friend of mine. At that time I had only started befriending this friend on the path. She may be thankful to me for introducing her to her guru (according to her niece) but I am forever indebted to her for being the cause of my meeting with as-Sayyid Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maaliki al-Hasani, Alhamdulillah.
This friend had already cautioned me to stand by as her family was busy preparing to welcome al-Maaliki's visit to their house. Apparently that was not his first visit to their house and of all the nights it happened on the night when I had a function to attend. It was a gathering at a grand hotel which I had to go to and someone even bought me a pretty dress just for that occassion. I was on my way driving to the hotel when I got a phone call saying that al-Maaliki was going to come now and she meant just now! Alhamdulillah! Surprisingly without much hesitation I made a U-turn and headed back to my apartment. I had to change my clothes, you see. I must be properly and decently dressed to meet a pious man let alone al-Maaliki. Although I didn't know much about him then, I had the impression that he was a very very important person. When I finally reached the house I saw people frantically making last minute preparations in the kitchen. They were cooking the best meal they could for al-Maaliki. I felt awkward at first but just kept quiet and observed the family who had kindly invited several of their friends that night and I was lucky to be counted as one. Alhamdulillah. While waiting and looking very blurred not knowing what to expect, I was asked to peel some rambutans for the honorable guest and before long the entourage arrived. The noise suddenly died down and everybody sat down wherever there was space. I sat in the kitchen. I recalled seeing al-Maaliki sitting on the sofa in the living room and a group of his aides looked busy speaking to him, in Arabic of course. Then I saw him making du'a and blessing some water and food. I don't really remember anything much about him giving any lessons that night as I was overwhelmed by the whole event. Then it was time for him to have dinner. He ate one or two pieces of fruits and asked his aide to let people eat the leftovers. So plates of fruits were seen circulating the living room and people were rushing to grab a piece. One fruit plate finally arrived in the kitchen where I was sitting, the plate was almost empty by then and suddenly there was only one slice of starfruit left! I remember feeling dejected, thinking how unworthy I was that I didn't even deserve to gain whatever little barakah from this great sheikh, until someone suddenly offered me to take that last piece of starfruit! Alhamdulillah indeed!
O son, that's how desperate I was, desperate for barakah from one as distinguished a scholar as Sayyid Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maaliki al-Hasani. Later, when he was leaving the house, I remember standing near the door to watch him leave in a car and that was the only time al-Maaliki had glanced at me, while I incessantly prayed in my heart so that Allah would grant whatever little good from this meeting with this blessed man. A man whom I knew so little about yet I so believed that he was capable to transform me in one way or another.
It turned out that that was the first and the last time I saw him. Not long after his next trip to Kuala Lumpur a couple of years later, he passed away in his homeland Makkah, in the blessed month of Ramadhan, in October 2004.
Some five years after his passing, this faqir stands to benefit from two gifts from al-Maaliki: a du'a with ijazah given via one of his Indonesian student and a zikir from another on whom he bestowed his family name al-Maaliki. Alhamdulillah, for a novice and an unworthy admirer of Sayyid Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maaliki al-Hasani, these should suffice bi-iznillah.
Today, the family that was so kind to welcome me at their home on that fateful night, continues to play host to great scholars from near and far. May Allah s.w.t bless the family of Ben & Ina and fulfill their noble intention in making their beautiful home, a heaven's garden - a place where people of barakah gather to impart blessings and knowledge to hungry souls.
Ameen Ya Allah Ya Rahman Ya Raheem.
# Full text obituary by Fakhruddin Owaisi al-Madani.