Coordinates: 12.771722, 45.036889
Wali of Aden
Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه , also known as Sayyid Abu Bakr al-Adani ibn Abdullah al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه (1447–1508) was a Hadhrami religious scholar of Sufism and a poet of wrote several Arab poems in the Humayni vernacular style.
Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه led most of his adult life in Aden, where he was well respected for his societal contributions to the well-being of the city’s residents. After his death in 1508, he was mourned by the city’s residents and was later venerated as the wali or “patron saint” of Aden.
Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه was born in Tarim in 1447. In his youth, Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه studied the teachings of Al-Ghazali. In his early adulthood, he was sent to Aden to undertake missionary duties there. Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه oversaw the construction of the city’s mosque and its Sufi school and later settled down in the city. Nevertheless, he made occasional return trips to his family in Tarim, many of whom relied on monetary endowment given by charitable traders in the region.
Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه was eventually made the Mansab (religious leader) of Aden. He was highly respected by the city’s residents, who described him as a very brilliant and kind man with an excellent sense of justice. Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه was also respected by members of the local Jewish community, who provided refuge to the Jews who suffer from occasional harassment from the desert bandits. Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه also travelled to Harar after settling in Aden and introduced the Qadiriyyah Tariqa among the Ethiopian natives.
Introduction of coffee to South Arabia
At least three Arab texts, mention Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه’s role in the introduction of coffee to the Hadhramaut. According to the Ta’rikh of an-Najm al-Ghazzi, Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه became impressed with the strong stimulating effect of the coffee fruit after he ate the berries of a coffee tree during his wanderings. He praised the effects of the coffee fruit, took the coffee berries and introduced them to his disciples. The other two sources, Jami karamat al-awliya and the Istifa’ al-Safwa li-Tashyat al-Qahwa mentioned of Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه’s fondness of coffee. They accredited him for the introduction of coffee to South Arabia.
His Great Concern for people
He had great concern for the ordinary people, especially those not on the straight path. He said: “If I see a believer who Allah has given the ability to perform that which is incumbent upon him and to avoid enormities, then I am content. What troubles me is when I see a believer who has fallen into disobedience of Allah and into the traps of the Devil, so I expend my efforts to save him.” Knowing that the night is the time when most acts of disobedience are committed, he would gather the people together every night to remember Allah. The gathering would continue until Fajr, at which point he would lead the people in prayer and then give them a day’s wages and tell them to go home and sleep. Their souls thus became accustomed to obeying Allah, and they had no time to disobey Him.
He was famous for his noble character and immense generosity, which led him to accumulate significant debts in order to help the needy. One of his companions rebuked him for accumulating these debts, to which he retorted: “Do not come between me and my Lord, for I have only spent this money seeking His pleasure, and He has promised me that He will pay back these debts before I leave this life.” Every year he set aside money for students of knowledge and visitors. He contributed to many charitable projects, such as the repair of the mosques of Tarim and the construction of drainage channels to prevent flooding in Aden and several areas of Hadhramaut.
His Diwan and Sayings
His Diwan of poetry and the letters are filled with wisdom and guidance. To this day, his poems are often recited in gatherings of knowledge and remembrance. He counselled people to have a good opinion of Allah, which he called ‘the greatest treasure’ and ‘Allah’s greatest name,’ and to have a good opinion of Allah’s slaves. He said: “The one who has a good opinion of someone will not lose out even if his opinion proves to be wrong; the one who has a bad opinion of someone will not benefit even if his opinion proves to be correct.” He gave the following counsels:
“Anyone who does not prevent himself from following his caprice will experience abasement;” “Two things cause the foolish person the most trouble: greed and getting involved in that which does not concern him.”
His advice of Visiting Awliya Allah
He said: “You must visit the awliya and come to know them. Your intention must be correct and your belief must be firm, for the spiritual and physical realms are linked just like the spirit and the body are linked. No blessings come from the spiritual realm except by means of movement in the physical realm. The evidence for this is in Allah saying to Maryam: Shake towards yourself the trunk of the palm tree1 and saying to Musa: Strike the sea with your staff. Allah thus made the shaking and the movement of the staff in the physical realm a cause for the receiving of blessings from the spiritual realm.”
Death and legacy
The Adenis greatly mourned Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus’s رحمة الله عليه death in 1508 (although some source suggested that he died in 1503). The city residents published copies of obituaries commemorating the life of Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه, and an account of Hz.’s birthplace, Tarim was also published. His grave has since been visited by thousands of Muslim pilgrims every year who continue to pay their respects.
After relocating to Aden, Hz. Abu Bakr al-Aydarus رحمة الله عليه raised a family of his own and started a new lineage. The al-Aydarus clan was an offshoot of the Ba ‘Alawiyya as-Saqqaf clan of Tarim, Yemen.
Many of his descendants established trading links with the Bedouins and the Qu’aiti sultans and took up prominent political positions. Other descendants migrated to India, Southeast Asia and East Africa from the late 14th century onwards and established new Islamic schools or Muslim ruling houses; among the first descendants to migrate was a grandson, Abdallah al-Aydarus and another descendant, Abdallah ibn Shaykh al-Aydarus. The latter emigrated to India and Aceh, respectively, and established new diaspora communities.