Imam Abu Muhammad Abdullah Al-Salimi
(1286 AH/1869 AD-1332 AH/1914 AD)
Imam Abu Muhammad Abdullah Al-Salimi is one of the most important, productive and influential scholars in contemporary Omani history. His works delve deeply into many topics and disciplines. He was also a social reformer of his time not only at the level of Oman but also at the Islamic world level. He called on all Muslims to unite and cease sectarian exclusivism. He dedicated his life to proclaim the ideals of the Ibadhi State and Imamate. As a disciple, he gained the admiration of his teachers for his eagerness for knowledge and for his sharp intelligence and exceptionally remarkable memory. And as a teacher, his influence was unsurpassed. The Algerian scholar, Abu Is'haq Ibrahim Attafayyish, said of him in the 1920′s, “It is no exaggeration to say that all the men of learning in Oman today are his students.”
Birth, Descent and Upbringing
His name is Abdullah ibn Humaid ibn Soloom ibn Obeid ibn Khalfan ibn Khamis Al-Salimi, may Allah have mercy on him.
He is from Bani Dhabba and belongs to Al-Sawallim Tribe; since "Al-Salimi" is ascribed to Salim ibn Dhabba ibn Ad ibn Tabikha (Umr) ibn Ilyas ibn Mudhr ibn Nizar ibn Ma'ad ibn Adnan.
Sheikh Humaid ibn Soloom, the father of Imam Al-Salimi, was a pious and righteous man. He was the first of the teachers from whom Imam Noor Al-Deen took knowledge, whereas he studied the Holy Quran at his hand. He died in 1316 A.H., on his way to Makkah to perform Hajj (pilgrimage).
The mother of Imam Al-Salimi was a woman from Bani Kasib. Her name was Moazah. She died when the Imam was about five years old. She left him and his eldest sister, Zuwainah.
Imam Al-Salimi became known by the epithet "Noor Al-Deen", as it is found in his books. The first person who called him by this epithet was "Qutb Al-A'immah", i.e. Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yusuf Attafayyish.
He was nicknamed "Abu Muhammad" (father of Muhammad) on account of his oldest son. He was also nicknamed "Abu Shaybah", because Shaybat Al-Humd was an epithet for his son, Muhammad.
According to many narrations, Imam Al-Salimi was born in 1286 A.H (1869 A.D) in Al-Hoqain Village, in Al-Rustaq Province. He grew up and flourished therein under his father's care, may Allah have mercy on him. And when he attained twelve years of age, he lost his sight due to trachoma. But Allah compensated him with sharp intelligence and an extraordinary memory, and this is evident in his narrations and writings that have wide references.
Imam Al-Salimi, may Allah be pleased with him, was a man of strong protective jealousy concerning Allah's Essence. He did not let the fear of blame stop him from carrying out the command of Allah Almighty. He would always say what was right and speak the truth, and refute the opponents of Islam. His was greatly concerned about his nation; he was happy with what could benefit it, and sad with what could harm it.
He was an eloquent speaker, who improvised long speeches in congregations and assemblies. He was also a bountiful, generous man who rarely ate his food alone, and was often inspecting and seeking out the needs of his brothers and disciples to help and console them. And he was a man of great dignity; no one would dare to speak in his session unless he was a questioner, or a learner, or one in an urgent need.
Devotion to Seeking Knowledge
Imam Noor Al-Deen grew up in an honorable family, and his father was excessively rich. At the beginning, he studied the Holy Quran from his father, but did not finish memorizing it. When he was 12 years old, he moved from Al-Hoqain to seek knowledge in Al-Rustaq, which was packed with scholars at that time, and so he studied under Sheikh Majid ibn Khamis Al-Abri, Sheikh Rashid ibn Saif Al-Lamki, and Sheikh Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Hashmi.
During his study in Al-Rustaq, he dictated his first book, "Buloogh Al-Amal", in 1301 A.H., and his age was 17 years.
In 1306 A.H., he left Al-Rustaq heading for Nizwa in the journey of knowledge. There, he studied at the hand of Sheikh Muhammad bin khamis Al-Saifi. He then left Nizwa and headed for Al-Faiqain village (near Manah), where he studied at the hand of Sheikh Muhammad bin Masoud Al-Busaidi.
He then settled for a period of time in Al-Mudaybi Village to teach its children in compliance with the request of Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Habsi. He went in the company of Sheikh Sultan to Al-Qabil to visit the notable scholar Sheikh Saleh bin Ali Al-Harthi, but this visit turned into a long stay in the following years.
It was in 1308 A.H. when Imam Al-Salimi moved to settle in al-Qabil Village in order to study under the supervision of Sheikh Salih ibn Ali Al-Harthi. So he devoted his time to taking knowledge. He also spent his time in teaching and authoring, and was a support for his teacher in establishing a scientific school for teaching different branches of science. He taught Arabic language sciences, Tafsir (exegesis), Hadith (Prophetic traditions), Fiqh (jurisprudence) and its principles, Aqeedah (creed), and Kalam (theology).
Imam Al-Salimi was greatly influenced by the martyrdom of his teacher, Sheikh Salih ibn Ali Al-Harthi in 1314 A.H. The weight increased upon his shoulder but he continued his mission of spreading knowledge. So he was learning, teaching, authoring, providing guidance, and issuing fatwas (legal opinions). At the same time, the reputation of his school was increasing day by day. The important event during that period of his life was his famous journey to pilgrimage in 1323 A.H. He brought with him an abundant number of books that belonged to other Islamic sects for the purpose of learning about them and benefiting from them in composing his own books and treatises.
Imam Noor Al-Deen Al-Salimi received knowledge from great scholars, who were known by their virtues and wide knowledge, and among them were:
1- Sheikh Salih ibn Ali Al-Harthi, Imam Al-Salimi's greatest teacher. He was one of the people who attended the pledge of allegiance to Imam Azzan ibn Qais. He received knowledge from the great scholar, Said ibn Khalfan Al-Khalili. He was among the most knowledgeable people of his time in regard to Halal (lawful) and Haram (unlawful). He went out as a warrior and was shot with a bullet in his left leg. He was martyred in 1314 A.H.
2- Sheikh Majid bin Khamis Al-Abri, who was among the great scholars and jurists. He took knowledge from Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Hashmi and other scholars of Al-Rustaq Province. He was governor of Bahla for Imam Azzan bin Qais. He died at the age of 94, in Al-Hamraa in 1346 A.H.
3- Sheikh Rashid ibn Saif Al-Lamki, who was one of the well-known scholars in his time and people would refer to him for legal opinions (fatwas). He was accompanied by Sheikh Faisal ibn Hamood ibn Azzan and Sheikh Majid ibn Khamis Al-Abri, and he received from the later much Islamic knowledge. He was a caller to Islam and the chief of judges. He died in Al-Rustaq in 1333 A.H.
4- Sheikh Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Hashmi, who was one of the Imam's teachers. He was a contemporary of Sheikh Rashid ibn Saif Al-Lamki. He was one of the great scholars and judges of Al-Rustaq.
5- Sheikh Muhammad ibn khamis Al-Saifi, who was one of the unique scholars. Judiciary in Nizwa was centered around him.
6- Sheikh Muhammad ibn Masoud Al-Busaidi, who was one of the great scholars who lived in Al-Faiqain village near Manah.
Sheikh Abu Is'haq Ibrahim Atfayyish said: "His students are numerous, and we would not exaggerate if we said that Today's scholars are all his students..."
Graduates and students of Imam Al-Salimi's School were imams, judges, governors, teachers, and scholars. Examples of some of those who graduated at his hand are:
1- Imam Salim ibn Rashid Al-Kharusi, the first Imam after the Imamate revival in Oman in 1331 A.H. He was given the pledge of allegiance by Imam Al-Salimi and other scholars, after being forced by Imam Al-Salimi to accept the role of Imam on pain of death.
2- Imam Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khalili, who was elected to the Imamate after the martyrdom of Imam Salim Al-Kharusi in 1338 A.H. He ruled according to the conduct of the righteous caliphs till his death in 1373 A.H.
3- Sheikh Abu Zaid Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Ruzaiq Al-Riyami, who was appointed as a judge and a governor for the two previously mentioned imams.
4- Sheikh Abu Malik Aamer ibn Khamis Al-Lamki, who assumed judiciary and Muslims matters.
5- Sheikh Nasser ibn Rashid Al-Kharusi
6- Sheikh Issa ibn Salih ibn Ali Al-Harthi, the son of Sheikh Salih Al-Harthi, the teacher of Noor Al-Deen Al-Salimi.
7- Sheikh Abu Obeid Hamad ibn Obeid Al-Sulimi, who worked for the two Imams, Al-Kharusi and Al-Khalili, and was appointed as a judge for Sama'il, Bidbid, and Funja.
8- Sheikh Saif ibn Hamad Al-Aghbari, who worked for the two Imams upon Manah, Izki, and Dima and Al-Tayeen.
9- Sheikh Qusor ibn Humood Al-Rashdi
10- Sheikh Abu Al-Waleed Saoud ibn Humaid ibn Khalifin.
11- Sheikh Muhammad ibn Sheikhan Al-Salimi, the eloquent poet, and the cousin of Imam Al-Salimi.
12- His son, Sheikh Abu Bashir Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Salimi.
Imam Al-Salimi was an erudite and prolific writer. He dictated his first book "Buloogh Al-Amal", when he was only 17 years old. He dictated a large number of books on different subjects. Some of the books are widely published, others remain in manuscript form. Every work of the Imam is a masterwork and a treasure of knowledge. Hundreds and thousands of people benefit from these works. Amongst the most popular books of Imam Al-Salimi are the following:
1- Buloogh Al-Amal (The Reaching of Hope), which is a poem about Arabic grammar. He dictated it in 1301 A.H., and revised it in 1315 A.H. He also explained it in "Sharh Buloogh Al-Amal" at the request of his teacher, Sheikh Rashid ibn Saif Al-Lamki.
2- Ghayat Al-Murad (The Utmost Purpose), which is a poem that contains about 76 verses on the science of Aqeedah (creed). He dictated it before the poem "Anwar Al-Uqool".
3- Anwar Al-Uqool (The Lights of Minds), which is a poem on Aqeedah that contains about 300 verses.
4- Bahjat Al-Anwar (The Lights of Minds), which is a brief explanation of the poem "Anwar Al-Uqool".
5- Mashariq Anwar Al-Uqool (The Risings of the Lights of Minds), which is an elaborated explanation of the poem "Anwar Al-Uqool".
6- Shams Al-Usul (The Sun of the Principles), which is a poem on Usul Al-Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) that contains about 1000 verses.
7- Tal'at Al-Shams (The Rising of the Sun), which is a moderate explanation of the poem of "Shams Al-Usul".
8- Madarij Al-Kamaal (The Paths of Perfection), which is a prolonged poem on jurisprudence and contains about 2000 verses.
9- Ma'arij Al-Aamaal (The ascensions of Hopes), which is an elaborated explanation of the poem "Madarij Al-Kamaal". He started it in 1319 A.H., and dictated eight volumes, but died before finishing the book.
10- Talqin Al-Subyan (Instructing Children), which is a Juristic treatise directed mainly to children. He completed it in 1318 A.H.
11- Jawhar Al-Nizam (The Jewel of Verse), which is a wide poem on creed, jurisprudence, and morals. It contains about 14 thousands verses. He started composing it during his journey to pilgrimage in 1323 A.H. and completed it in 1329 A.H.
12- Fatih Al-Arudh wa Al-Qawafi (The Opener of Prosody and Rhymes), which is a moderate poem on the science of Arudh (prosody) and Qawafi (rhymes) and contains about 300 verses.
13- Al-Manhal Al-Safi (The Clear Source), which is an explanation of the poem "Fatih Al-Arudh wa Al-Qawafi".
14- Kashf Al-Haqiqa (Revealing the Truth), which is a poem about the principles of the Ibadhi sect. It contains 300 verses.
15- Tuhfat Al-A'ayaan (The Masterpiece of the Notables), which is a book in two volumes about Omani history.
16- Al-Lam'ah Al-Murdhiyah (The Pleasant Shine), which is a small treatise comprising an Introduction to Ibadhism.
17- Sharh Musnad Al-Rabee', which is a commentary on the book of Hadiths, known as "Al-Jami' Al-Sahih" or "Musnad Al-Rabee'", and was compiled by Imam Al-Rabee' ibn Habib Al-Farahidi. Imam Al-Salimi dictated his commentary in three volumes.
Besides these works, Imam Al-Salimi also dictated many treatises, poems, and fatwas (legal opinions).
The death of Imam Al-Salimi was for the sake of knowledge and its employment. The reason was that a disagreement occurred between him and his teacher Sheikh Majid ibn Khamis Al-Abri about the issue of graves endowments. So the Imam decided to travel to Hamraa Al-Abriyeen for the purpose of convincing his teacher with his point of view. On 18th of the month of Safar in the year 1332, he headed for the homeland of his teacher. On his way, he entered the Village of Bani Subh, where he got hit by a tree branch, which caused him to fall down from his she-camel. He was then carried to his teacher, where he succeeded to convince him of his point of view. After that, he was carried on shoulders to Tanuf Village. He stayed for a short period and then passed to the Mercy of Allah Almighty on the fifth night of the month of Rabee' Al-Awal in 1332 A.H. (21st of January 1914 A.D.). He was buried in Tanuf and his tomb is well-known to its people. May Allah shower him with His great Mercy.
Basma Said Al-Ghammari,
Instructing Children in what is required of Human, by Noor Al-deen Abdullah ibn Humaid Al-Salimi; translation revised by: Al-Ifta Office.