Nasir ibn Salem ibn ‘Udayyim ibn Salih ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Bahlani al-Rawahi, Omani national who is known as Abu Muslim and Hassan Oman1. He is the Imam of Science and Literature, the famous divine scholar, the poet of scholars and the scholar of poets. “Al-Rawahi” refers to his belonging to the well-known tribe of Banu Rawaha from the the Banu ‘Abs, descendants of ‘Abs ibn Baghid ibn Rayth ibn Ghatafan ibn Saad ibn Qays ibn Aylan ibn Mudhar ibn Nizar ibn Maad ibn Adnan. “Abu Muslim,” “the father of Muslim,” was an appellation that did not refer to his son’s name, but was favoured by al-Bahlani as a symbolic representation of his attachment to Islam.
He descended from an authentic origin and from an ancient branch. His father Salem ibn ‘Udayyim al-Rawahi was one of the scholars at that time, and he was a judge for Imam Azzan ibn Qais who was recognized as the imamate in Oman (1285 AH-1287 AH). After the end of the state of the aforementioned Imam, he became a judge for Sultan Turki Ibn Saeed ibn Sultan, the grandfather of the current ruling family of Oman. Sheikh Muhammad ibn Rajeh was his colleague in the judiciary work. He descended from a house that has fortune in knowledge which is a great honor. It is said that his grandfather Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Bahlani was a judge in the days of the Ya'ariba state in the Wadi Mahram (the Mahram Valley).
Birth and Upbringing
Sheikh Abu Muslim was born in a house of knowledge in the town of Mahram, the dearest country of Bani Rawaha in Oman. The village of Mahram is the home of his fathers and grandfathers since his grandfather, Judge Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Bahlani, moved to it. Abu Muslim was born in Wadi Mahram, which was added to this village where he grew up and spent his innocent childhood among its valleys and reefs, and the shadows of its groves and palms.
He was born in 1273, and it is also said that he was born in 1277 AH, which is prevailed by Sheikh Ahmad al-Khalili (the current Grand Mufti of Oman) for the supporting evidences.
His Study and Sheikhs
Sheikh Abu Muslim al-Bahlani was blessed by Allah. He was a clever, intelligent, and smart, and he is one of the geniuses of the Omani nation through its civilization path based on solid foundations, of great men and strong thought. He is one of the prides of the Arab nation in terms of language and thought, as he is the creative poet, the author, auditor, and investigator jurist.
There is no doubt that Abu Muslim reached this amount of knowledge, since he learned from the source of knowledge, learned its roots and grew up in the bosom of knowledge and righteousness. His family is a generous family, with high morals.
Sheikh Abu Muslim studied his elementary sciences by his father, Salem ibn ‘Udayyim. He memorized the Qur’an and contemplated its meanings, which had a clear effect on building his personality in terms of knowledge, literature and behavior.
He moved to the town of (al-Saih) in the Wadi Mahram. He accompanied Sheikh Hamad ibn Sulayem al-Rawahi and learned from his rich knowledge and pure spring. He studied Sharia and linguistic sciences. The environment and age were helpful to the upgrading of Abu Muslim. Literature spread in that era and poetry flourished. More poets and writers including Khamis ibn Sulayem in the city of Samail, “the master of eloquence” Ibn Sheikhan al-Salimi and others.
During his school days and his youth, Sheikh Ahmed ibn Saeed ibn Khalfan al-Khalili was his classmate and his loyal friend. They studied by Sheikh Hamad ibn Sulayem al-Rawahi. They were colleagues in the spiritual retreat, which they both chose for the purity of the soul, purity of conscience, purity of the heart, transparency of conscience, and to strengthen their relationship with Allah Almighty.
His Trip to Zanzibar
It seems that the ambition and openness of Abu Muslim has been driven him to travel far from his homeland, however, the exact reasons are unknown for us, but what is certain is that a person like Abu Muslim cannot stay in narrow areas and suffocated environments. He is ambitious so he would not be satisfied with what he achieved in terms of knowledge. Sheikh Abu Muslim was, by Allah’s will, to move to Zanzibar, the country of the Diaspora, Andalus of the East, and the destination of the Omanis in the year 1295 AH, when he was at the end of his second decade.
There is no doubt that the shortage of living and the cost of living in Oman and the lack of money have driven Omanis flock to Zanzibar in droves, especially that Zanzibar was then in its Omani Islamic golden era, the era of Sultan Barghash ibn Saeed, who cared for the Omanis. This Sultan looked forward to benefiting from the Omani expertise in all fields, inciting them to emigrate to him and live under his state, and his concern was to bring the elite people in Oman to Zanzibar to be its Arab beauty and to show the luxury of the people of Oman in front of the people of Africa. Thanks to him and his gratitude, they would visit Oman and settle in Zanzibar.
His father, Sheikh Salem ibn ‘Udayyim al-Rawahi, was among those who immigrated to Zanzibar where he assumed the position of judge for Sayyid Barghash ibn Saeed. Accordingly, Sheikh Abu Muslim joined his father and migrated to Zanzibar and stayed there for five years. His work during these five years was unknown to us.
In 1300 AH, he returned to Oman for the increased longing for his original homeland. He remembered his brothers, so he stayed in Oman for five years as well until he felt satisfied, then he returned again to Zanzibar because everyone left Zanzibar yearned for the care of the Sultan. The Sultan was able to attract them to it for his emotions. When he returned to Zanzibar, he travelled, landed and settled in it. He spent his life there, where he lived in the confinement of its rulers who provided him with complete care, especially during the reign of the sultans Hamad ibn Thuwaini and Hamood ibn Muhammad ibn Saeed, followed by the Sultans of Zanzibar. He assumed the position of a judge in Zanzibar and then was assigned with the position of the president of the judges. This atmosphere that prevailed in a climate of appreciation and respect among the sultans and the environment where he lived in the districts of Zanzibar, had an effect on the soul of Sheikh Abu Muslim. He kept reading the precious books of jurisprudence and literature of all kinds. He excelled in Arabic, literature, poetry, and Sharia sciences such as jurisprudence and the fundamentals of creed. He gained a high position in Zanzibar among the rulers and the ruled, in recognition of his literacy and poetics, until he was called the Arab poet and poet of the era.
He is the Arab poet and he is a strong perceptive scholar. He is also an eminent jurist and a strong linguist, and these are the gifts of Allah to his servant. It should be known that his deep poetic knowledge is not greater than his profound knowledge of Sharia, and this can be realized by whoever read his loyal messages.
Specifications and Morals
Abu Muslim was characterized by his gentleness and good manners. He was a gentle man with a good sense of humour and used humour in his literature. He was smiling when he meets his brothers and companions, dispelling their worries and revealing their gloom. He was characterized by the aspect of chastity and morals in his poetry. He respected his status as the jurist and honest judge, jealous Muslim, ascetic worshiper and the affectionate expatriate.
He was a generous man. Sheikh Salem ibn Hamood al-Siyabi said about him “… I was told about his Hatim2-like generosity by those who lived close to him. This is the moral of scholars who deserve to be attributed to science. “Excessive love of the Dunya (the life of this world) is a root to all evil.” Only those who are crazy of it love it and Allah forbid. "
Despite Sheikh Abu Muslim was very busy and preoccupied with Muslim affairs, he considered the matters of judgment, and worked on writing. However, all these works and deeds, didn’t prevent him to transfer his knowledge to many people including:
- Sheikh: Salem ibn Muhammad al-Rawahi.
- Sheikh: Abdulrahman ibn Muhammad al-Rawahi.
- Sheikh: Burhan ibn Mokla al-Qamari
- Sheikh: Salem ibn Suleiman al-Bahlani (his nephew).
- Sheikh: Muhanna ibn Nasir ibn Salem al-Bahlani (his son).
Abu Muslim left us a huge scientific wealth, indicating his knowledge and his broad reading. This is known only by those who have read his books and writings and dive into their depths. These books include for example the following:
1) An-Nur al-Muhammadi (Light of Muhammed).
2) Al-Nash’atu al-Muhammadiyah (The Upbringing of Muhammed): A Prophetic Birth - A Brief about An-Nur al-Muhammadi with Commentary by Abu Ishaq Atfayish.
3) Al-Nafas al-Rahmani (The Breath (or Sigh) of Divine Compassion) by Abu Muslim al-Bahlani – In Athkaar (Supplicatory poems).
4) Kitab al-Su’aalat fe al-Fiqh (The Book of Questions on Jurisprudence).
5) Al-Aqeedah al-Wahbiyah (The Wahbiyah Creed) - a book on monotheism - a dialogue between a teacher and his student.
6) Nithaar al-Jawhar (The Prose Poem of the Jewel)- An explanation of the book Jawhar al-Nidham (The Jewel of Verse), a wide poem by Sheikh Nur al-Din al-Salimi. Abu Muslim wrote three parts of his book Nithaar al-Jawhar by his own handwriting. The book is photocopied in the same condition the author left, where he passed away. The author intended to write twenty-two parts of this book. This book cannot be ignored by the researchers in comparative jurisprudence.
7) Diwan Shi’ar (Collection of Poems).
8) Al-Lwame’ al-Barquia (The Lightning Shines): The Journey of Mr. Hamood Ibn Muhammad ibn Saeed, Sultan of Zanzibar, to East Africa regions.
9) Alwah al-Anawar wa Arwah al-Asrar (Papers of Lights and Souls of Secrets).
10) Al-Knouz al-Samadia (Everlasting Treasures).
11) Al-Nour al-Waqqad fe Ilm al-Ea’tiqaad (The Glowing Light in the Science of Belief) – Incomplete rajaz poem.
12) With Nasir ibn Suleiman al-Lamki, he founded al-Najah (the Success) Newspaper in Zanzibar, which dealt with literature, Islamic issues and international events, with Abu Muslim as its editor-in-chief.
Sheikh Abu Muslim started to write poetry when he was fifteen years old. His poetry is described as a harmonious eloquent, clear of linguistic complexity, morphological disagreement, strangeness, ambiguity, or repulsive dissonance at the origin of the situation, because he is still able to formulate his wisdom so that he can be recognized by the literary people in terms of his good workmanship, strength of construction and the ability to write. He is an expert in these fields and in eloquence.
His poetry was in the utmost sobriety. It can be understood quickly and it attracts the hearts in all respects and those are the gifts of Allah Almighty. There is no doubt that his poetry is distinguished from the poetry of others as he is distinguished from other poets in jurisprudence, and that his poetry has an effect on conscious persons.
Abu Muslim is still struggling on his way forward, the path of education, work and diligence for the religion of Allah. He has been burdened by the work entrusted to him, so he was very consumed. The misfortunes and pains of Muslims in the east and west of the earth disturbed him, and the application of Allah’s law occupied his mind. He strove with his tongue and took care of it, commanding good and forbidding evil, taking advantage of what Allah had given him of the blessing of eloquence to mobilize his Muslim brothers wherever they were, so that they would be united and their word unified to spread justice in the corners of the earth, so that Islam spread everywhere. He was struggling for the Ibadhi doctrine. He called for raising his belief with his doctrine among the most prominent of the sects, and he continued this way until his death in Safar 1339 AH after he spent sixty-two years in the service of knowledge and literature and the adherence to obeying Allah and defending Islam. He died in Zanzibar, East Africa, and may Allah have mercy on him and brought him into paradise.
1 Hassan, referring to Hassan ibn Thabit, the poet of the Prophet (PBUH).
2 Hatim, referring to Hatim al-Tai, the famous pre-Islamic Arabian philanthropist and poet, who is known for his legendary generosity.
Compiled and prepared by: Basma Said Al-Ghammari.
ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED
- Al-Aqeedah al-Wahbiyah, by: Sheikh Nasir ibn Salem ibn ‘Udayyim al-Bahlani, investigated by: Salih al-Qannobi and Abdullah al-Qannobi
- The Essentials of Ibadi Islam, by Valerie J. Hoffman