Posted by: seekerofthesacred | February 5, 2011

Notes on Safinat an-Naja — Part 1

BismiLlah . . .

as-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatuLlah . . .

I will, in sha Allah, be typing up notes to the various lessons I listen to, in order to benefit myself and others — may Allah make my intention sincere! Topics include Hanafi and Shafi’i Fiqh, ‘Aqidah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Grammar in sha Allah.

I will be keeping an archive of them and sorting them out on the ‘Notes from Lessons‘ page, so please keep checking on that page!

Safinat an-Naja

For the PDF version of the Notes: Click here

Explanation of ‘Safinat an-Naja’

All praise is due to Allah, and may the salat and salam of Allah be upon the beloved, our master Muhammad, as well as upon his noble and pure descendants and family, and upon his righteous companions. As for that which follows:

Introduction to the Series

The book ‘safinat an-naja’ (the Ship of Salvation) is the second book taught within the traditional fiqh curriculum, as used by Dar al-Mustafa, Ribat Tarim and, in general, the Shafi’i community. Authored by ash-Shaykh Salim b. ‘AbduLlah b. Sa’d b. Sumayr al-Hadrami, it serves as an introductory primer to the topic; being a matn, it was designed to be taught. As such, we will be relying on the lessons of Shaykh Jamal ad-Din Hysaw hafizahuLlah, available here, who studied at the feet of eminent Shafi’i fuqaha (jurists) and awliya’ (saints)  in the city, the centre of learning, Tarim in Hadramawt.

We highly recommend that your purchase the extremely qualified and well-versed Shaykh Fa’iz al-Qurashi’s translation of the book, which can be done here. Moreover, naturally we may miss some of Shaykh Jamal’s commentary, as this is not a verbatim transcription. We thus highly recommend you to listen to the freely available lessons yourself, and utilise these notes merely as an aid to study. Please note that Shaykh Jamal has an extremely important introduction where intention is discussed, that must be listened to prior to studying the texts, if one wishes to derive full benefit.

May Allah make our intentions sincere and fruitful, and may he allow this to be a cause of benefit for al-ummah al-Muhammadiyyah, the Muhammadan  nation, sallaLlahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam.

The Author’s Introduction, and its Explanation

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

By uttering the basmalah (as the statement above is known as), we are beginning our action with the name of Allah, for example our learning of this text. We are seeking help and blessing from Allah.

‘Ar-Rahman’ and ‘Ar-Rahim’ signify different types of mercy. As for the former, it is a more general type, which encompasses both Muslims and non-Muslims, and indeed the entire creation of Allah. The latter, however, signifies a unique mercy specifically shown to the believers – those who accept Allah’s revelation to his prophets, ending with al-Habib al-Mustafa, sayyiduna Muhammad sallaLlahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam.

In the science of fiqh (jurisprudence), there is a hukm (legal ruling) for everything, including the very utterance of the basmalah. It is fard to recite in al-Fatihah (during prayer), sunnah for actions of significance, mubah for actions of non-siginificance, makruh for actions which are themselves makruh and haram for actions which are themselves haram, as ‘being content with sin is worse than the sin’.

In order for the above to make complete sense, it is necessary to outline the definitions of each of the possible rulings an action can take, and their definitions:

1.      Fard: that which, if performed, one is rewarded, and if left, one is punished.

2.      Sunnah: that which, if performed, one is rewarded, but if left, there is no punishment.

3.      Mubah: that which is permissible, and it is thus the same whether this is performed or left.

4.      Makruh: that which, if performed, one is not punished, but if left, one is rewarded.

5.      Haram: that which, if performed, one is punished, and if left, one is rewarded.

Note: Allah forgives that which he wills, and our duty is to make tawbah. Mubah actions can be conjoined with good intentions and be rewarded. Sunnah actions should not be left, as they are our shield from the devil, guarding our obligations (fara’id, plural of fard).

الحمد لله رب العالمين

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds

‘All praise’ is a translation of ‘al-hamdu’. Literally, however, ‘hamd’ simply means praise, and the ‘al’ makes this definite. However, if we examine the noble science of balaghah or rhetoric, we come to realize that the ‘al’ adds the connotation of ‘all’. This is in a similar fashion to statements such as ‘I have THE car’, which would emphasise the greatness of this car. Similarly, ‘THE praise’ emphasized the encompassing nature of the praise, which is owed to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

وبه نستعين على امور الدنيا والدين

And from Him do we seek help, in terms of religious and worldly affairs

A point somewhat relevant to this passage which we must understand is the issue of the ‘dunya’ and ‘din’, and their mutual inseparability. In other words, it is not possible for the issues of the world to be separate from the issues of religion, if we were to give religion its due. True religion is precisely about how we live our lives, and this goes down to the smallest of details. It is thus absurd for us to say, for example, that we do not wear our hats/kufis because that is from worldly matters.

وصلى الله وسلم على سيدنا محمد خاتم النبيين

And may the salat and salutations of Allah be upon our Master Muhammad, the seal [last] of the prophets

When we send salat upon our Master Muhammad sallaLlahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, this has multiple meanings depending on which context we refer to. With regards to Allah, ‘salat’ refers to sending down mercy (rahmah). With regards to the angels, ‘salat’ refers to seeking forgiveness. With regards to humanity, ‘salat’ refers to asking for dua. Note: The messenger sallaLlahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam is sinless, as are all prophets for that matter (see ar-Razi’s ‘Ismat al-Ambiya’ for detailed reasoning). Seeking forgiveness is an elevation in rank. Salam refers to salutation.

Sayyiduna refers to ‘our master’, and is the full, grammatically sound version of the North African and Levantine vernacular of ‘Sidi’ which seems to be commonly used in the West.

Khatam refers to seal, which signifies that he is the last prophet. As for prophets and messengers, all messengers are prophets but the reverse does not hold true. There are varying definitions for the two terms: Prophets are those who receive revelation, whereas messengers receive revelation but are also commanded to convey it. Another is that prophets follow the shari’ah of a previous prophet, whereas messengers bring new shari’ah. There are 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an, which we ought to at least be able to recognize, if not memorize them.

وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين

And upon his Family and companions, together

The ‘aal’ or family of the messenger sallaLlahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, according to Imam ash-Shafi’i are the Banu Hashim and Banu al-Muttalib. Imam Malik considered only the Banu Hashim to be the aal, though ash-Shafi’is reasoning was based on the fact that al-Imam ‘Ali [karram Allah wajhah, may Allah ennoble his blessed face] was from Banu al-Muttalib, while we know for a fact that he was from aal, due to the hadith al-kisa’ (hadith of the mantle, where the messenger declares Imam ‘Ali, Imam al-Hasan, Imam al-Husayn and Sayyidah Fatimah, under the cloak, to be from his aal).

The ‘sahb’ are the companions, and they are defined as those who [1] met the messenger; [2] while a Muslim; and [3] died a Muslim e.g. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, Sayyiduna ‘Umar, Sayyiduna ‘Uthman and Sayyiduna ‘Ali radhiy Allah ‘anhum. If, for example, an individual meets the messenger while a disbeliever and embraces Islam after his transition to the next world, he would not be a companion. Similarly, if he embraces Islam and sees the messenger, but apostates and later converts back to Islam after the transition, he will likewise not be a companion.

ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم

And there is no power or might besides with Allah, the exalted, the high.



  1. Marhaban.

    I pray this reaches you in the best of states.

    The URL for Ustadh Jamal’s site has changed. Please not that the classes for Safinat al Najah are here: or in MP3 here:

    The introduction to the text is in lesson one:

    Not all of the lessons have MP3s. We are working on getting the rest of the MP3s up, bi ithni llah.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.
    -Jessica Rugg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: