He is the notable sheikh of Islam, Abdul Rahman al-Aydarus who was nicknamed Abu l-Marahem. His lineage goes up to Imam al-Husayn.
al-Aydarus grew up in righteousness in the care of his father and grandfather in the town of Tarim in Hadhramaut, Yemen. In 1153 AH when he was 18 years old, he accompanied his father and grandfather to India where he met with many of his kinsmen who were men of religion and scholars and whose ancestry went back to the Aydarusians. They completely took him under their wing. He then moved from one Indian city to another in search of and to expand his knowledge and out of his desire to visit the pious friends of Allah. Through him, Allah converted many cities and guided many people. His karamat (miracles of Divine favor) were manifest and his blessings widespread. He returned to Tarim after which he headed to Mecca al-Mukarrama where he studied under the tutelage of its sheikhs and jurists. He then went to al-Ta`if and visited the religious authority of the community, Abdullah Ibn Abbas. In 1161 AH he set for Egypt, sailing from Jeddah to al-Suez where he visited Sidi Abdullah al-Gharieb and lauded him in a poem. From al-Suez, he went to Cairo and visited al-Shafi’i and other pious friends of Allah. He wrote an ode to each of them commensurate with their status. He collected these poems in his known book of collection of poetry known as Rihlat al-‘Aydarus (The Journey of al-‘Aydarus).
In Egypt, scholars, jurists, and prominent men flocked to meet him as did the leaders of sufi orders. He delivered exhaustive speeches and revelations all of which are mentioned in his book Rihlat al-‘Aydarus.
After spending eight years in Egypt, he went to al-Hijaz in 1169 AH where he married his maternal cousin and settled in al-Ta`if. In 1172 AH, he took a second wife, Ruqayya, who was a member of the Ashraf. In 1174, Ruqayya bore him a son al-Sayed al-Mustafa. He returned to Egypt with his family with the intention to settle there.
Through his knowledge and virtues, he became the most notable and influential person of his time. He was mentioned by the pious and scholars alike. Princes of different ranks obeyed him; his messages were not rejected and those who sought his help were never turned back.
He did not remain in Cairo but moved between the cities of Upper Egypt. He journey to Tanta where he visited al-Sayed al-Badawi; Dusuq where he visited al-Sayed Ibrahim al-Dusuqi, Alexandria where he visited al-Sayed Abu ‘Abbas al-Mursi, and many other walis (pious friends of Allah).
He died in 1192 AH and was buried next to his grandmother, Lady Zaynab (may Allah be pleased with her) where he still lies.
He is Syed Abdullah al-‘Aydarus, son of Syed Abu Bakr al-Saqqaf, son of Syed Abdul Rahman al-Saqqaf, son of Syed Muhammed, son of Syed ‘Ali, son of Syed ‘Alawi, son of Syed Muhammed al-Faqih al-Muqaddam, son of Syed ‘Ali, son of Syed Muhammed, son of Syed ‘Ali, son of Syed ‘Alawi, son of Syed Muhammed, son of Imam ‘Alawi, son of Imam Abdullah, son of Imam Ahmed al-Muhajir, son of Imam Isa al-Rumi, son of Imam Muhammed al-Naqib, son of Imam ‘Ali al-Uraidhi, son of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, son of Imam Muhammed al-Baqir, son of Imam ‘Ali Zain ul-‘Abidin, son of Imam Hussain al-Sibt, son of Ameer ul-Mu’mineen Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and Syeda Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of our Master Muhammed (SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam), the Seal of the Prophets.
Imam Bahraq (Rahimahullah) said that it is probable that the name “Aydarus” is derived from the word “Aytarus,” one of the names given to a lion in the Arabic language, and just as the lion is “the king of the jungle,” likewise Imam al-‘Aydarus rose above his peers to become the greatest of the Awliya’ of his time.
His mother was Maryam bint Al-Shaykh al-Wali Ahmed bin Muhammed Ba Rushayd (Radi Allahu Anha)
He was born on the 10th of Dhul Hijah in Tarim, Yemen in 811 A.H (Hijri Year). When his grandfather Syed Abdul Rahman al-Saqqaf (Radi Allahu Anhu) was given the good news of his birth he said: “He is the Sufi of his time.” He was blessed with the nurturing of his grandfather for the first eight years of his life, and of his father Syed Abu Bakr al-Sakran (Radi Allahu Anhu) for the first ten. During these early years he took the path of spiritual struggle and study, memorising the Holy Qur’an and delving into the inward and outward sciences. When his father died his uncle, Syed Umar al-Muhdar (Radi Allahu Anhu), took him under his wing and closely monitored his every step on the path to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, marrying to him his daughter, Syeda ‘Aisha (Radi Allahu Anha). She was known for her piety and closeness to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and was described as being “the daughter of a Qutb (Shaykh Umar al-Muhdar), the wife of a Qutb (Imam Abdullah al-‘Aydarus) and the mother of a Qutb (Imam Abu Bakr al-‘Aydarus).”
Shaykh Umar al-Muhdar (Radi Allahu Anhu) passed away when Imam Abdullah al-‘Aydarus (Radi Allahu Anhu) was around 25 years old, and the Ba’Alawi scholars of Tarim unanimously recognised him, as their leader. From this role he expended great efforts in calling to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and rectifying the society, often mediating with the tribal rulers of the time to prevent bloodshed. He generously received guests, helped the needy and built several masjids, the most famous of which is Masjid al-‘Aydarus, in the heart of the city of Tarim, Yemen. In it can still be found his khalwa, where he would seclude himself underground with his Creator.
He along with his brother were amongst the first of the Ba’Alawi scholars to author books. Their predecessors had not done so as their primary concern was nurturing their students. Imam Abdullah al-‘Aydarus’s most famous work is Al-Kibrit al-Ahmar (The Red Sulphur), an explanation of the path to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. He played a fundamental role in laying down the foundations of the Ba’Alawiya Tariqa. He had the utmost admiration for the works of Imam al-Ghazali, especially Ihya Ulum al-Din, on the greatness of which he wrote a treatise. He said of the Ihya: “In it is the explanation of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. The one who reads it and acts upon it is guaranteed the love of Allah, the Prophets, the Angels and the Awliya”. His daily wird was La ilaha ill’Allah, Allah Allah and Hu Hu (“He”) twelve thousand times each. This is the Zikr Al-‘Aydarus mentioned by his son Syed Abu Bakr al-‘Aydarus (Radi Allahu Anhu) in his famous poem.
The remembrance of Syed Abdullah al-‘Aydarus, the Qutb, polishes rust from the hearts of the sincere.
Upon taking the path, the seeker is usually given this remembrance to complete. La ilaha ill’Allah is the remembrance of the heart, the seat of knowledge of Allah (ma’rifa), Allah Allah is the remembrance of the spirit, the seat of the love of Allah (Mahabba) and Hu Hu is the remembrance of the sirr (The inner secret), the seat of the witnessing of Allah (mushahada).
Syed Abdullah al-‘Aydarus said: “Whoever desires divine purity must be in a state of brokenness in the depths of the night”. “Squeeze your body with spiritual struggle until you extract from it the oil of purity”.
The Imam died while returning to Tarim from the city of Shihr on 12th Ramadan 865 A.H (Hijri year) and was carried back to Tarim, Yemen and buried in the Zanbal Cemetery. A dome was later erected over his grave. He left behind four sons – Syed Abu Bakr (al-‘Aydarus), Syed ‘Alawi, Syed Hussain and Syed Shaykh (Radi Allahu Anhum) – and four daughters – Syeda Ruqaiyya, Syeda Khadija, Syeda Umm Kulsum and Syeda Bahiyya (Radi Allahu Anhum). He became known as “Al- ‘Aydarus al-Akbar,” as he was the first and the greatest to be known as Al-‘Aydarus.
It was only since the early 18th Century, that the descendants of Syed Abdullah al-‘Aydarus (Rahmatullahi Ta’ala Alaih) began to migrate in large numbers out of Hadhramawt Province, Yemen, across all over the globe, often to practice Da’wah (Islamic Missionary Work). Among their areas of destination include Nizam Shahi Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Delhi and many other cities around the world.
“Allahumma Salli Alaa Sayyidina Muhammed Wa Alaa Aali Sayyidina Muhammed”
(O Allah Send Salutations Upon Our Master Muhammed And Upon His Descendants)