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Book Review 2: Madarij al Salikeen by Ibn al Qayim

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Anwar Al-Awlaki

Madarij al Salikeen by Ibn al Qayim:

This is a three Volume book which represents one of the greatest works produced on the topic of spirituality. I had already read the book along time ago and was fascinated by it. When I was in jail and was thinking about what books to order when I would be allowed to do so, this book seemed to be the right thing to read in my present circumstances. Steadfastness was what was needed now, and steadfastness was a deed of the heart, so it was the heart that I should focus on.

When the opportunity arrived and I was allowed to order books it was on the top of my reading list.

The author starts by giving tafsir of surat al Fatiha. The rest of the book are the stages that the traveller moves through in “إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين” “You do we worship and You do we seek help from” [Fatiha, v5]

The book is based on a book written by Abu Ismail al-Ansari al-Harawi al-Sufi who was a Hanbali scholar from Hirat in modern day Afghanistan. The name of his book is Manazil al-Sa’ireen (the Stations of the Travellers). Imam Abu Ismail named one hundred stations that the traveller during his journey to Allah passes through.

The first station is “al-Yaqadhah” “The Waking up” This is when the heart wakes up from the slumber of unawareness. The next station is the station of “Azm” “The Resolve,” after the heart has woken up it decides to embark on its journey towards Allah.

Some of the stations that he mentions: The station of Fear, Repentance, Observation, Hope, Sincerity, Purification, Trust, Submission, Fortitude, Gratitude, Will, Certainty, Trust, Knowledge, Wisdom, Tranquillity, Purity, Drowning, Absence, Life, and Love.

The language of ibn al Qayim in his books is eloquent. But in this book his language is so high class that it represents the peak of his writing. This book is simply untranslatable. The terminology that he uses and the fascinating way of putting the concepts together would make any translation lose a portion of its beauty during the process. Now I don’t mean here by eloquence the beauty of the words and the use of a flowery style of writing but I mean the ability of the author to express complicated thoughts and sophisticated concepts, and what would otherwise be difficult to express, into readable words that not only are understood by the reader but captivate him and make him feel that the author is reading his inner thoughts and is seeing through into the depths of his heart to see his ailment and prescribe the cure.

Ibn al Qayim after mentioning the verses of Quran and hadiths blends his words with the words of Abu Ismail al-Ansari , whom he would refer to as shaykh-ul-Islam, along with the sayings of the great scholars of the heart such as: al Junaid, AbdulQadir al Jaylaani, al Tasturi, and al Fudhail bin Iyadh.

There are so many words of wisdom and valuable teachings in this book that are waiting to be observed and lived by.

May Allah bless us all and provide us with wisdom and guide us to righteous acts. We ask Allah to shower his mercy upon our great scholars whom Allah has made the instruments of teaching us the truth and guiding us towards the straight path. Ameen

  • Extracts from 'Madarij al Salikeen' by Ibn al QayimPDF Format - Opens in New Window
  • Courtesy of Anwar Al Awlaki . Com

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