Praise for “A Sublime Way”
Jointly published by Fons Vitae & Dar al-Turath al-Islami
As Shaykh Afeefuddin al-Jailani notes in his foreword, ‘The Sublime Way’ has “collected the Makkan teachings in spiritual calling to God, and prophetic teachings by way of al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, may God have mercy on him” – Shaykh Muhammad al-Ninowy goes on to note in his own writing how this book is “book about our shaykhs, the scholars and nobles of the honoured city of Makka; and on their ṭarīqa (Sufi path) on the path of self-purification (tazkiya), inner excellence (iḥsān) and the path (sayr) to Allah Most High”. Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki is one of the foremost exemplars of that particular ṭarīqa, who was known as a scholar’s scholar during his lifetime, producing scores of sages from around the world, who studied at his hands in Makka. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, Ustādh Dr H.A. Hellyer, and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, joined hands in producing this work, which they seek to describe the Sufi path of the way of the scholars of Makka – Ṭarīqa ʿUlamā Makka – who originally came from around the globe, and engaged with each other in that holy city. The book contains a description of the path, via the inheritance of the South African absorption of that tariqa, which is where the Hendricks brothers returned to following their time in Makka with Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki; alongside an essay on pluralism; and a discussion of some of the practices of the tariqa.
Shaykh Seraj Hendricks and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks are the Resident Shaykhs at the Zawiya Institute of Cape Town, and khulafa’ of Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, having studied in the Holy City of Makka for more than a decade at his hands and those of other ‘ulama in the Hijaz. Ustādh Dr H.A. Hellyer, a public intellectual and academic of politics, international studies and religion, is a Senior Scholar at the Zawiya Institute of Cape Town, and affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Royal United Services Institute.
“This is a book that I believe, Allah Willing, would please the souls of the noble scholar, al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, and that of his forefathers, for it shows how united the scholars of Makka were in their Sufism. Indeed, it’s a very good explanation of the different facets of the path of Sufism, the way of the scholars of Makka – Ṭarīqa ʿUlamā Makka – who came from around the globe and engaged with each other in such a beautiful way in Makka. May Allah bless the authors for their efforts, and may He allow us to benefit.”
Syed Hasan b. Muhammad bin Salem al-Attas, Imam, Masjid Ba’Alawīe, Singapore
“… this book about our shaykhs, the scholars and nobles of the honoured city of Makka; and on their ṭarīqa on the path of self-purification (tazkiya), inner excellence (iḥsān) and the path (sayr) to Allah Most High… I found therein much benefit, and majestic usefulness…it is rich in meaning and abundant in spiritual and intellectual benefit. It will be especially of benefit to one seeking a succinct yet rich in-depth book.”
Shaykh Dr. Sayyid Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy, Dean & Founder, Madina Institutes and Seminaries
“Praise be to Allah ﷻ Who has assembled a beautiful group for the writing of this book. They have collected the Makkan teachings in spiritual calling to Allah, and prophetic teachings by way of al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, may Allah ﷻ have mercy on him. May Allah ﷻ bless the brethren, the virtuous shaykhs, the judicious Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the noble Ustādh, Dr. H.A. Hellyer and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks.”
Shaykh al-Sayyid Afeefuddin al-Jailani, Founder and Chairman, Al-Wariseen Trust
“The Middle East has suffered significant intellectual and moral damage….it is a source of great reassurance to see that the authentic and indigenous spirituality of the Holy Cities has survived…and is now attracting many of the younger people who are seeking a merciful and authentic alternative to the fundamentalist project. This book is a very welcome indication of that timely change.”
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Dean, Cambridge Muslim College/Dr Timothy J. Winter, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University
“Simply put, this is one of the best roads to Mecca: a simple yet authoritative Sufi guide in English transmitting the teachings of the great sage of our age from the Holy City of Makka, Shaykh al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī (d. 2004). This Meccan tradition represents one of the true inheritors of the Ghazālīan legacy in the modern age as reflected throughout the pages of this guide, and inflected through the timeless lessons of Imam al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) in balancing gratitude (shukr) and wayfaring (mujahada), and indeed, theory and practice. May Allah ennoble the sage, the transmitters and those who benefit from it! “
Dato’ Dr Afifi al-Akiti, Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University and Orang Besar 8 of Perak, Malaysia
“A Sublime Way provides rare and valuable insights in the English language on traversing the spiritual path laid out by one of the most prominent Muslim sages of the late twentieth century, Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, who inherited and transmitted the scholarship of Makka.”
Dr. Mona Hassan, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies & History, Duke University
“The most important aspect of this book, in my opinion, is the presentation of major universal concepts in Sufism (taṣawwuf) …although all these universal concepts were elaborated within a specific spiritual path, but the message is universal. Therefore, it benefits both the traveller (sālik) as well as the general reader.”
Dr. Wan Suhaimi Wan Abdullah, Associate Professor, Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation, University of Technology in Malaysia (UTM)
“Dr. Hellyer, Shaykh Seraj and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks are to be commended for their work in making the methods and understandings of those who take on the path of many of the sages of Makka accessible to a Western audience. This book is highly recommended for those interested in Sufi philosophies of spiritual ascent and their influence on spiritual networks on a global level.”
Dr. Feryal Salem, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Director of the Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies and Muslim Chaplaincy Program, American Islamic College
“It was a pleasure reading this book. It is a remarkable “tract of practical Sufism” (to use the words of Shaykh Seraj in the preface). It provides a depth of historical tradition in synthesis with contemporary modern articulation of what is involved in following the Sufi path. The presentation of the diverse dimensions of Sufi practice provides important insights into how diversity is shaped by tawḥīd unity.”
Dr. John O’Voll, Professor Emeritus of Islamic History, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding, Georgetown University
“This important book is a welcome addition to contemporary, Muslim-authored works on Sufism, a genre that offers a much-needed insiders’ look at the history, practices, and–most critically–the continuing relevance of the time-honoured traditions of Sufism for today’s Muslim communities. Too often Sufism, especially when presented in academic works on Islam, comes across as an esoteric mysticism, best suited for a bygone age. This book remedies that approach by demonstrating the dynamism of Sufism–how it is both rooted in the Islamic tradition but is also practiced, developed, and refined by scholars and worshipers living in modern times and addressing the concerns of modern Muslim communities…it is my belief that the continuing relevance of the Sufi way, particularly the way of the ʿulamā, lies in its ability to speak to the heart of the believer and illuminate the foundations of faith in an increasingly bewildering world.”
Shaykha Zaynab Ansari, Core Faculty, Tayseer Seminary
Errata can be found at the end of this page.
Ustādh Dr. Hisham A. Hellyer (Biography from ‘A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Makkan Sages’)
A noted scholar and author focusing on politics, international affairs, and religion, Dr Hisham A. Hellyer was born to an English father and to an Egyptian mother of Sudanese & Moroccan heritage and Ḥasanī & ʿAbbāsī lineage. He was raised between London, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, before receiving degrees in law and international political economy from the University of Sheffield, and a doctorate from the University of Warwick. He began researching Islamic law, theology and spirituality in his teens, keeping the company of and studying under a number of classically trained-scholars in the UK, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and elsewhere. They include the likes of Professor Naquib al-Attas, the Malaysian polymath, and Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the khalifa of the Makkan sage, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki. Alongside his professional capacities (see www.hahellyer.com/about), Dr. Hellyer was appointed by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks as a Senior Scholar of the Zawiya Institute in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr. Hellyer’s career has included positions at and affiliations with the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the American University in Cairo, Cambridge Muslim College, and the Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (CASIS).He is a frequent commentator and columnist in various media in the United States, Europe and the Arab world, and is included in the annual global list of ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ in the world (‘The Muslim 500’). Among his written works are ‘Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans’ (Edinburgh University Press), ‘A Revolution Undone: Egypt’s Road Beyond Revolt’ (Oxford University Press) and “The Islamic Tradition, Muslim Communities and the Human Rights Discourse” (editor)(Atlantic Council). Dr Hellyer works between London, Washington DC, and Cairo, where he continues to research, teach, and study. @hahellyer
For booksellers beyond North America and the UK, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for private distributors in South Africa, Egypt, and elsewhere.
Book Events and bookings
Book events have been held in Cape Town (Dar al-Turath al-Islami, November 2018), Cambridge (Cambridge Muslim College, March 2019), Beirut (Almakan, March 2019), the Bradford Literary Festival (July 2019), Malaysia (November 2019) with possible events in Singapore and Egypt later in the year. Please write to email@example.com for further information or bookings.
The book launch at Cambridge Muslim College, with Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and Sidi Ma’an al-Dabbagh, can be seen here:
The below includes a few online video links on Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī. More suggestions, or requests for information, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Life of Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī
Teaching in Masjid al-Haram on Ramadan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toWM7z8LuZ8
Lecture on the Prophetic Biography
A talk in Oman at the turn of the 21st century
Meeting with many of the scholars of Syria in a small gathering
The importance of Shaʿbān, and the month of the Mawlid
Poems and songs recited by Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, which also include many pictures of him with other scholars of the time
The Blessed Cloak
My Heart’s Trust in Allah
Oh Allah a Look from the Merciful Gaze
The Muhammadan Ode
Talks and gatherings during visits to Cape Town with Shaykh Seraj Hendricks and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks
The funeral prayer of Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī
- On page 86 and thereafter, there are a few unfortunate places where the tahlil is rendered in English as ‘There is no Allah but Allah’ – this should be ‘There is no divinity but Allah’. This was due to an editing error.
- Page 87, Footnote 109: “Witr is prayed at night after Isha or Fajr Prayer.” should read as “Witr is prayed at night after Isha or before Fajr Prayer.”