Scholars Biographies: Haafidh Al-Hakamee

Haafidh Ibn Ahmed ‘Alee Al-Hakamee [d.1377H] rahimahullaah

His Birth and Early childhood

Sheikh Haafidh Ibn Ahmed ‘Alee Al-Hakamee (rahimahullaah ta’aala) was one of the scholars from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and one of the most famous of those who lived in the 14th century of Hijrah to come from the southern region of the country.

Sheikh Haafidh was born on the 24th of Ramadaan, 1342H (1924) in a coastal village called as-Salaam which lies south of the city of Jaazaan. When he was still just a small boy he moved with his family to the village of Al-Jaadi’, which lies about 6 kilometres east of the city of Saamitah because his father found that farmland and pastures were better there. However, his immediate family continued to commute between the two cities due to extenuating circumstances.

The young Haafidh was raised under the good and righteous guardianship of his father who taught him modesty, purity and good character. Before reaching the age of maturity, he worked as a shepherd herding his fathers’ sheep, which were the most important form of wealth to his family as well as the rest of the people in the society in those days. However, Haafidh differed from the other boys in his village because of his intelligence and his ability to memorize and understand quickly. He learned to write while he still a small boy and he memorized the entire Qur’an by the time he was twelve years old.

Seeking Knowledge and Religious Studies

When the young Haafidh reached the age of seven years, his father put both him and his older brother Muhammad into Qur’an memorization school in Al-Jaadi’. There he read the 30th and 29th parts of the Qur’an to the teacher and afterwards he and his brother finished learning to read the entire Qur’an with the proper rules of recitation in just a few months. Shortly thereafter, he completed memorizing the Qur’an in its entirety.

Next he concentrated on his writing skills until he perfected them and was able to copy the Qur’an with excellent handwriting. At the same time, he and his brother were busy reading and memorizing books of fiqh, inheritance law, hadeeth, tafseer, and Tawheed under the tutelage of their father since there was no one else suitable or trustworthy enough to teach them.

In the year 1358H (1940) the renowned reformer and great scholar, Sheikh ‘Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Hamd Al-Qar’aawee, traveled all the way from Najd to the city of Tihaamah in the southern part of the Kingdom after he heard about the level of ignorance and the spread of innovation in the region. Sheikh Qar’awee’s journey to the south had been in conjunction with the consultation of the Grand Muftee of Saudi Arabia at that time, Sheikh Muhammad Ibraheem Aala-Sheikh (rahimahullaah ta’aala). Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee vowed to shoulder the responsibility of calling to the true religion (of Islam) and correcting the beliefs in ‘Aqeedah (the Islamic belief) and the superstitions that were stuck in the minds of the ignorant people in the region.

In 1359H (1941) Haafidh’s older brother Muhammad went to Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee with a letter from the both of them requesting some books on Tawheed and expressing their regret at being unable to come (and study with him) because they were busy serving and seeing to their parents needs. They also requested that the Sheikh visit their village so that they might listen to some of his lessons. Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee accepted their invitation and went to their village where he met the young Haafidh and got to know him very well and saw in him promising signs of excellence and intelligence – which turned out to be a very accurate evaluation.

Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee remained in Al-Jaadi’ (their village) for a number of days teaching, and a group of elders as well as some youth from the local people attended the lectures. Amongst them was the young Haafidh who was the youngest of them in age, yet the fastest of them in memorizing and understanding the information given.

Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee said about him:

‘And thus it was that I stayed a number of days in Al-Jaadi’. Haafidh attended the lessons and if he missed anything then he would get it from his classmates. He is like his name Haafidh (which means: one who memorizes), he preserves things (accurately) by heart as well as with his note taking. I used to dictate to all of the students and then explain the lesson and the older students used to ask him if they had trouble understanding something or (if they missed) writing something in their notes.’

When Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee was ready to return to the city of Saamitah – which by this time he had already made his dwelling place and the centre for his da’wah activities – he asked the young Haafidh’s parents to permit him to employ someone to herd their sheep on Haafidh’s behalf in exchange for their permission that Haafidh and his older brother return with him to Saamitah so that they might seek knowledge there underneath his tutelage. But Haafidh’s parents refused the Sheikh’s request at first, insisting that their youngest son remain with them because of their great need for him. However, Allah decreed the life of Haafidh’s mother would end during the month of Rajab in the year 1360H (1942), so Haafidh’s father then allowed him and his brother Muhammad to study with the Sheikh two or three days a week and then return to him.

Haafidh began to study in Saamitah with the Sheikh who would dictate lessons to him after which he would return to his village. Haafidh was an inspired student who understood and memorized everything that he read or heard.

Sadly his father did not live long after that as he died on his way back from Hajj in the same year 1360H (1942). After that, Haafidh was able to study and gain knowledge (full time) so he went to his Sheikh and stayed with him, always learning and benefitting from him. Haafidh proved to be an exceptionally gifted student who learned very quickly. He was also very good at poetry and prose and he (eventually) authored many books in the major categories of Islamic knowledge.

When Haafidh was only nineteen years old, Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee asked him to write a book about Tawheed and the ‘Aqeedah of the Salaf-us-Saalih (The Pious Predecessors), that would be easy for students to memorize, and that would also demonstrate just how much he has benefited from his reading and studying. The young Haafidh responded by writing a treatise in didactic prose entitled Sullam-al-Wusool ilaa ‘Ilm-il-Usool fee At-Tawheed (The means of arriving at the knowledge of the fundamentals of Tawheed) which he completed in the year 1362H (1944), and which met with the avid approval of his teacher as well as the other prominent scholars of his time.

He followed this work other writings also in didactic prose on Tawheed, hadeeth terminology, fiqh, principles of fiqh, inheritance law, the biography of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and others, all o fwhich were originally published with the help of King Sa’ood Ibn ‘Abdul-’Azeez (rahimahullaah ta’aala).

It becomes clear for us through what Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee left behind for us from his writings that he was profoundly affected by reading books that were written by the scholars of the Salaf about tafseer, hadeeth, fiqh, principles of fiqh, Islamic manners, Arabic language and grammar. As for ‘Aqeedah, then he was obviously very influenced by the writings of Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymeeyah and his famous student Ibn-ul-Qayyim.

Some of His Other Achievements

When Sheikh ‘Abdullah Al-Qar’aawee realized the superiority of his student Haafidh, he appointed him as a teacher for the other students and they benefitted greatly from his lessons.

In 1363H (1945) Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee selected Haafidh to be the director of the Madrassa-tus-Salafiyyah institute in Saamitah, which was the first and the largest of all the schools that Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee established for the students of knowledge in the southern region of the kingdom. Haafidh was also made regional superintendent for all the schools in the neighboring villages and townships.

Sheikh Al-Qar’awee went on to enlarge the schools in Tihaamah and ‘Aseer and he eventually established at least one school in every village in the south that taught Islamic studies. He appointed his students as teachers and administrators for these schools. However, when Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee had established literally hundreds of schools in the southern region he took his first student. Haafidh al-Hakamee, as his assistant while traveling and supervising the schools.

Sheikh Haafidh traveled to many places in order to fulfill his responsibilities with Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee including As-Salaama-tul-’Ulya, the city of Beesh and Umm-ul-Khashab in northern Jaazaan. Afterwards, he returned to Saamitah again as director of the schools, in the region in order to help his Sheikh administer the many schools that he had established so taht the important improvements brought about by thsi da’wah might continue.

Such was the high opinion that Sheikh ‘Abdullah Al-Qar’aawee held of Haafidh, that he is known to have said about him:

‘Indeed, he is one of my students, but he has surpassed me in knowledge with a far-aspiring ambition.’

One of Sheikh Haafidh’s three wives was also the daughter of his noble Sheikh, Sheikh Al-Qar’aawee.

Most of Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee’s time was spent trying to uplift the youth in his area and benefit them with his knowledge as much as he could. Some of his students are now renowned scholars in their own right having taken position as judges, teachers, and preachers everywhere in the southern region of the kingdom and elsewhere.

In 1373H (1955) a high school was opened in Jaazaan, the capital city of the southern region, and Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee was chosen to be its first director in the same year. Then in 1374H (1956) a scholastic institute was opened in Saamitah by the General Directorate of Colleges and Institutes and Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee was chosen to be its director as well. Sheikh Haafidh performed his administrative duties extremely well in addition to teaching some classes where he was known to give the students knowledge above and beyond the limited curriculum of the institute either himself or through some of the others in the institute.

His Death

Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee remained as the director of the scholastic institute in Saamitah until he performed Hajj in the year 1377H (1958). After completing the rights of Hajj, Sheikh Haafidh died in the city of Makkah from a sudden illness on the 18th of Dhul Hijjah, 1377H (1958) while he was still a young man of only 35 years and three months. It is there where he lies buried. May Allah, the Exalted, have mercy upon him.

Source: From the English Book  “The Signposts of the Propagated Sunnah for the Creed of the Saved and Aided Group, Volume One”, by Sheikh Haafidh Al-Hakamee, Published by Invitation to Islam.