Farewell Reception for Shaykh Muhammad Khatry

May 11, 1997 - Santa Clara Mosque, California.

On Saturday evening, between salat al-Maghrib and salat al-'Isha, a farewell function was held to honor Shaykh Muhammad Khatry of Mauritania. An scholar of Ahl as-Sunna belief, Shaykh Khatry has spent the last nine months in the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching Maliki fiqh and Ash`ari `aqida to numerous students from the many mosques in the area. Shaykh Khatry is one of the teachers of Imam Hamza Yusuf of the Muslim Community Association of Santa Clara. Shaykh Khatry travelled to the US at the request of Shaykh Hamza, when the latter was spending a lengthy sojourn in Mauritania with his shaykh. During his stay in the Bay Area, Muslims took advantage of both his knowledge and his light, spending time in private association with him as well as in classes and listening to his Jumu`ah sermons. As-Sunna Foundation of America was pleased that Shaykh Khatry was able to deliver Jumu`ah khutba at Masjid at-Tawheed and hopes that Shaykh Khatry will return soon to the area.

ASFA Chairman Shaykh Hisham Kabbani talks with Shaykh Muhammad Khatry of Mauritania, at the farewell event in Santa Clara Mosque.
Imam Hamza Yusuf of the Santa Clara mosque, talks with Shaykh Khatry. On his left is br. Basil, who also traveled to Mauritania to spend time with Imam Hamza's shaykh.

At the farewell function, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Chairman of As-Sunna Foundation, spent a considerable time discussing with Shaykh Khatry the situation in Mauritania. The two-hundred or so attendees were treated to a slide-show by Shaykh Hamza, detailing his extensive travel and sojourn in the desert of Mauritania. Shown was the very simple lifestyle of these Beduin scholars. Shaykh Hamza's shaykh, photogaphed for the first time in his life, is a clear examplar of the Sunna, displaying an obvious nur (spiritual light) in his visage of 80 years of age. An 'encyclopedia' of Islamic knowledge, the shaykh has spent his entire life in the Mauritanian desert, teaching all who come to attend his majlis [lit. 'sitting'].

Displayed in the slide-show were the students, mostly young men, and occasionally a woman, who come to the desert to focus and prepare themselves for lives of scholarship, da`wah and devotion to Allah. Dressed in light blue robes and wrapping their heads with huge turbans, these young men and their elderly shaykhs are clear examples of the Sunnah of the Prophet (s). Their "dormitories" consist of simple tents and their mosque is simply a swept piece of earth with an awning for shade. They have no books whatsoever. The land they live in is harsh in the extreme, with no tree or even hill to shade them. Transportation is by foot, donkey or camel. Water must be sought--every day.

The students, who come from all around Africa, write their lessons on a tablet of wood, known as a lawha, in humble imitation of the Preserved Tablets in the Divine Presence. The lesson is memorized by repetition, the count being kept on a simple tasbih, as adept students know how the precise number of repetitions it takes to memorize the lawha. After having memorized it, counting either 33 or 50 or 100 repetitions, the students erase the tablet, to begin the next lesson. Thus, the lessons are memorized perfectly, in much the manner of Imam Malik's students, and following the identical manner of transmission from teacher to student, who in turn will pass on the teaching to his students when he has received the 'ijaza to teach.

Shaykh Hisham bids Shaykh Khatry
a fond farewell.

It is such schools, of devoted and sincere students, practicing what they learn and purifying themselves of this worldly life, from whence Islam was spread--in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa, Central Asia, India, all of southeast Asia, China, southern Europe and finally now, in the Americas. This is the tradition of the Prophet (s) and his Companions, the Tabi'een, the Tabi' at-Tabi'een and the salaf as-salih after them.

Shaykh Khatry gave a brief closing talk, in which he advised the attendees to keep the fear of Allah, avoid delving into politics which are of no one's concern and he asked the forgiveness of all for any offense he may have made as a Beduin among "civilized" people. His humility and decorum were so impressive, many felt a great sadness at saying goodbye to this exemplar of true Islam.

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani and
Imam Hamza Yusuf discuss one of the
shaykh's recent books.