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A Medinan Tale from Yaser Birjas

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uthaymeen.gif  story of our beloved Sheikh Yaser Birjas, first revealed on the AlMaghrib Forums from the Heavenly Hues class in San Fransisco.

A Tale of Two Shaykhs: Yaser Birjas in Madinah

(Special Question asked by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi)
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

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Shaykh Yasir Qadhi had a special question to Shaykh Yaser Birjas, which was broadcasted in our Heavenly Hues class:

“Fellow Haadians, I welcome you all to this beautiful class being taught by our beloved Sheikh and brother, Sheikh Yaser Birjas. Believe me, it gives me great jealousy that you are attending this class right now, I wish that I could be sitting in your seat right here and now to benefit from the prose and wisdom that our dearly beloved Sheikh and brother in Islam, Sh. Yaser Birjas is giving all of you.

My question to you my dear Sheikh is: Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and about your path and journey to Islam, and how you ended up studying Islam and going to the University of Medina? What are the major scholars you studied with and your favorite subject that you took, some of the anecdotes of your personal life, especially the time you spent with our dear Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih al Uthaymeen, do you have any stories that truly inspires you?

My request to my fellow Haadians is, because I won’t be there to take the answer from our Sh. Yasir Birjas, can you please post the answers on the forums so that all of us can benefit from what he has to say.

Lastly, I advise all of you to “milk” as much as you can out of Sh. Yaser Birjas and benefit from his wisdom. Really and truly, he is one of the greatest source of inspiration and blessings that I, personally, have in this country. May Allah azza wa jal increase him and all of us in their benefit, barakah and knowledge.”

Below is a quick transcription of what he said… please forgive me for the mistakes and for what I couldn’t take down.

We ask Allah ‘Azza wa Jal to accept from our scholars.

AlhamdullahiRabilalameen

As you know, subhanAllah, every individual has his own moment is life that directed towards this path. I personally remember being in the masajid since I was around 11/12 years old. I joined the masajid in such an early age. Masajid in Muslim countries always full with activities. My coming to the dawah field was during the month of Ramadan. Such a blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala….we were going to masjid just like the Ramadan kids..so on getting into the masjid, we saw on the side there was a library, all kids jumping, enjoying their time…as kids, we were so curious. All of a sudden one brother came out, with ea beautiful smile and said, would you like to come in?

We felt kind of shy so he said come on in…so we got in. Alhamdulliah I never got out out of that.
We got in there and joined those kids, and we never got out. they were learning about seerah….we start coming everyday, Ramadan finished, just like anybody else, we went back to our old habits for a few days. At some point, one brother came in and he said to me, they’re missing you in the masjid. subhanAllah at that time it hit me, why should we stop? We started joining again…since then, became active in the dawah way.

I learned many dawah techniques the hard way. Being a child…growing up teenager…learned a lot of techniques how to deal with older people, harsh situations, … however, studying Islam was never my idea of being a profession, it was just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle, not a profession…

Therefore I continued with my own passions for engineering. Started with electronic engineering after graduation. Studied for 1.5 years, I lived in Kuwait, taking many classes…Alhamdullilah I was very good in sciences in general .

In 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, everything came to a stop. I was unable to continue my studies…. It was a time for contemplation, looking for an idea in what we need to do… things change suddenly… that developed another passion in my heart. That’s when I started thinking seriously as studying shariah…increasing my eman and knowledge about the deen. After the war in 1991, I got a chance Alhamdullilah to go for Umrah, apply for Madinah, and I didn’t expect to be accepted…but Alhamudllilah we were accepted…

Studying in Madinah… Alhamdulilah in madinah there are an abundance of mashaiekh. It is up to you to go and benefit, or to leave and gain nothing. Alhamdulilah we had opportunity to benefit from mashaiekh.

One thing I learned from this, and I want you also to consider that. When you hear an opportunity that there is a shaykh coming to give a lecture, seminar…whatever activity, don’t let people discourage you. Wallahi you will regret that for the rest of your life.

After we finished the first year in Madinah, Shaykh Uthamin rahimahullah lived about 400 mil from Madinah. After, we asked our senior students who were about to graduate, we think he lives over there… [the seniors told them to go back to their countires to make dawah] for me, it was a disaster. Didn’t benefit as much this summer [for listening to the seniors and not going to study with the Shaykh]

He made decisions no matter how difficult will go to Unayza with Shaykh Uthamin rahimahullah. They went, group fo students about 4-5 of us, and as we went there we asked for accommodations. The Shaykh and two buildings at that time, like dorm for students who live there, but we asked permission to get in there and they said no, sorry, we don’t have space for you. so you stay in the masjid, but the food, you’re welcome. We learned later that that was a technique to filter the students. if you cannot endure the hardships, go home. So we stayed in the masjid for almost a week, eating with the mosquitoes. During that week we used to attend all the programs, and we learned the technique with the Shaykh. During Hajj, Ramadhan and so on, we learned so much from the personal interaction than the academic learning we had in university of Madinah. The shaykh had a lifestyle that is completely amazing. Never seen a shaykh so active, always busy teaching subhanAllah, almost all the moments of his life.

For fajr for instance, he doesn’t allow students to walk with him from his house to the masjid, he walks by himself and barefoot. Why? This is sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam that sometimes you do so so that you’ll get a little bit ruff…… for dhur, asr maghrib and ishaa, students would go and wait for him by his door. Once he walks out, the halaqaat begins. Students will be walking, carrying with them recording, for each of them 2-3 minutes they’ll read from the book, shaykh explains that, shaykh answers, next, next next…by the time get to masjid, probably interact with 20 people. Same thing on the way back. Questions, answers, programs, halaqaat. He’s seen people studying books with the shaykh going back and forth with him.

After asr explains Riyad as Saliheenm

After maghirb from sahih Muslim. Between adhan and iqama sahih Bukhari.

During summer: first session: 35 min, second and third 25…last session 10 minutes. There are always some types of beeping when you hear the shaykh giving lecture for the alarm, class end. …..

Makes it easier for the students. once you say 35 minutes…etc…it makes it easier for you to stay until the end of the program. Had a very sophisticated well organized program, rahmatAllahe alayhe. Whenever you get an opportunity and chance to go attend these programs, don’t let someone discourage you. don’t let them say, you don’t have to attend it. If you think you can benefit, Bismillah, go ahead and join.

That second year, he felt so guilty about the previous year. Allahu mustaan..why did we even ask them the question? We should have gone immediately. Since then, every year we go and interact with the Shaykh, meet him … had a lot of experiences in that locale.

One thing also I learned from that experience is that you learn from his manners and etiquette before his knowledge…the way he is with awwam, with students of knowledge, dignitaries…dealing with all these people…one time there was a janaza. While he walks, everyone in town knows him. even the bakers, mechanics, everyone says as salamu alaykum, all the way to the cemetery just giving salamu alaykum.

Even sometimes the shakykh will repeat his salams twice if someone is not paying attention.

Unfortunately, in America we miss that. We don’t have resident scholars who live with us…you make sure you benefit from Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo (Note: Alhamdullilah the Shaykh moved here recently). Don’t let this opportunity slip from your hand.

My message: please, don’t let anyone discourage you from seeking knowledge. Always aspire to go further in you’re education and increase your eman and if you learn something that you practice what you learn. Wa Allahu ta’ala ‘alam

Q and A with the Shaykh:

Since Shaykh Uthamin rahimahullah did not live in the west, should we still follow his fatawa since some people say he was not familiar with this area? (the question was something like that)?

The shaykh would know about things going around… students would inform him about what is going on. In the middle of class, the Shaykh would bring information about all around the world…always being informed.
Sometimes he would call some students who were from specific areas to talk to his students. one time we were there and the Shaykh realized that here were no students coming from certain areas and he wanted some of them to inform the students about the condition of the students in his location so he asked one of them to talk and he spoke for about 25 minutes, and the Shaykh commented about what he heard, how students should make duaa for each other, etc.

Which is better? Finish formal degree here and then go and study shariah, or leave studies, go study shariah and then come back?

Depends on circumstances… he explained that both situations may work.
Wa Allahu ‘alam

Let me tell you one thing about Shaykh Uthamieen: he liked to laugh so much. He would laugh so much, if there wasn’t a wall, he would fall over on his back, rahmatAllahe alayhe.

The shaykh personally has adapted his style… saying “ya jam’aa”—that’s his style rahimahullah. Ya jamaa! Ojeebo!
The style of standing is from Shaykh Al Shinqeeti hafidahullah… students would tell him to sit down when teaching. No. I feel it is not even halal for me to sit down while I am teaching.

Amazing, these ulema moving around, teaching you the deen.

May Allah subhanahu wat a’ala reward them for teaching us the deen. And I am carrying their message to you, so that you may carry it to others bi’idhnillah subhanahu wa ta’ala.”

April 2008: Qabeelat Haadi (SF Bay Area, California AlMaghrib Student Tribe)

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Ibnkhalil

    July 24, 2008 at 2:47 AM

    Haadi Rules!

  2. Brahim

    July 24, 2008 at 9:17 AM

    May Allah (‘azza wa jal) reward you!
    What does he mean by “Haadians”??

  3. ibnabeeomar

    July 24, 2008 at 10:10 AM

    haadians = almaghrib students in San Fransisco (which is qabeelah ‘haadi’)

  4. Yus from the Nati

    July 24, 2008 at 12:47 PM

    I love this interview mA.

  5. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    July 24, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    What was the shaykh’s opinion regarding digital photos? If he forbade it, out of respect for him, it might be a good idea to remove his picture.

    P.S. If anyone would like to get a reward for defending the honour of one of the greatest ‘ulamâ’ of our time in his absence, this ignoramus pretty much called him an enemy of Allâh: http://www.yursil.com/blog/2008/07/holy-cave-of-hira-is-full-of-trash/ . I would myself, but I am very busy at the moment.

  6. Ahmad AlFarsi

    July 24, 2008 at 2:22 PM

    I thought Sh. ibn al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) actually even allowed printed photos (on paper), with certain conditions (that they not be put up on a wall, etc. or something similar that could lead to idolatry)…

  7. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    July 24, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    Just so it’s clear, I wasn’t at all trying to imply anything about what the Shaykh’s opinion was (raḥmatullâh ‘alayhi). It was purely a question because I don’t know.

  8. Taqwa_Ash

    July 24, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    Subhanllah…I’ve read Sh. Yaser Birjas bio several times but, it’s overwhelming to actually hear the story. I feel so fortunate to have been able to study with him due to Al Maghrib and Allah Subhana Watala of course.

    Obviously we can’t follow him around like the brothers does but, I felt the same way studying with him as he described about Sh. Uthaymine rahimahullah.

    May Allah be pleased with all our Ulema who takes the time to teach us our deen. Ameen

  9. Dawud Israel

    July 24, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    :D

    Isn’t there something so reassuring and soothing in hearing these stories of the pious–especially one (rahimullah) so recent?
    :)

    Jazaka Allahu khayran !

  10. Amad

    July 24, 2008 at 4:03 PM

    Abu Musa: Scholars are like stars, when the ignorant and arrogant laymen try to throw dust at them, it will only fall down on them to cover their dark faces. I have stopped worrying about the marginal haters, let them be in their little cults.

  11. ahmed usman

    July 24, 2008 at 5:17 PM

    salam, please how will one living in a remote and islamically backward country like nigeria be in a place and take the advantages of staying with a great sheiks? kindly advice me.thanks

  12. AnonyMouse

    July 24, 2008 at 5:45 PM

    SubhanAllah, I absolutely love hearing and reading stories about the scholars and students of knowledge, especially of the time when they themselves were studying and learning… it’s a huge emaan rush, and makes you wish that you could be in a similar position one day, insha’Allah!

  13. Ibrahim

    July 24, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    May Allah reward the person who transcribed this, but it’s somewhat confusing. Not sure who is being talked about sometimes. Did Shaykh Yasir adopted the manners of ash-Shanqeeti or ibn Uthaymeen or did ibn Uthaymeen used to stand and teach following ash-Shanqeeti? Also, I want somebody to clarify what was ibn Uthaymeen’s program? A session for 35 minutes, then 25, etc. Does Shaykh Yasir mean that between each prayer he would go through the whole cycle: 35 min. down to 10 min.?

    What’s also striking is that Yasir Qadhi asked Yasir Birjas to tell people mostly about him. But, what he does is that he explains how he started to become interested in knowledge and then he mostly talks about ibn Uthaymeen and his virtues, while Yasir Birjas had the opportunity to be self serving. This is what is inspiring in this whole story. I kept thinking that at some point he will start talking again about himself but he didn’t.

    Lastly, it is very interesting to know that people would try to learn from Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen while he was walking to the masjid. In secular studies, people are taught to study with concentration and when one is at ease and in comfortable/familiar surroundings, etc. But, I’ve heard many times how scholars from past and present would study with at any time whether they might be sitting on a camel or traveling or sick, etc.

  14. HaadiMuslimah

    July 28, 2008 at 3:49 AM

    Asalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatulah

    This is THE all time favortie moment in ALL of my classes, walahi it was so touching to see the video Sh. Qadhi left for Sh. Birjas and his reply after! The way Sh. Yaser Birjas talked about Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen and how Sh. Yaser Birjas said for us to never let an opportunity to seek knowledge and raise our eman slip by you has stuck to me!
    Br. Ibrahim i would elaborate on what you asked about Sh. Ibn Utaymeens program but i have to apologize my notes are not doing me or you any justice. All i can understand from the scribles and unfinished notes is that his programs were so sophiscated that it made the students want to stay longer. Which is EXACTLY i how i and my of my fellow Haadians feel like when we have a class with Sh. Yaser Birjas and Sh. Yasir Qadhi for that matter.. WE DONT WANT TO LEAVE!

    May Allah preserve Sh. Uthaymeens knowledge thru his students and make it a means of sadaqa jariya thru them and us inshAllah!

    Wassalam

  15. Pingback: Shaykh Bin Baz - “This man did not belong to this century!” « Gems of the Traveler

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