Aynat – Hadhramaut, Yemen
Coordinates: 16.074502, 49.149811
- Tarim, city of Prophets and Saints 15.53 Km W (263°)
- Qasr al-‘Ishshah 16.16 Km W (262°)
- Al-Muhdhar Mosque 16.27 Km W (262°)
Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه was born in Tarīm in 919 (1513). His father took him to the Imam of Tarim at the time, Shaykh Shihab al-Din, Ahmad bin Abd al-Rahman, complaining that his son was having difficulty in memorising the Qur’an. The Shaykh said to his father: “Leave him and do not burden him. He will devote himself to it of his own accord and he will have a great affair.” It was as the Shaykh said: Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه devoted himself to the Qur’an and memorised it in around four months. Then he applied himself to learning the inner and outer sciences.
In his youth, he lived in the village of al-Lisk, East of Tarim, and he would walk several miles by night to Tarim to pray in its mosques and visit its graves. He would fill up the tanks used for ablutions in the mosques and fill up troughs for animals to drink before returning to pray the Fajr prayer in al-Lisk. He later moved to Tarim but decided while still in his mid-twenties to move to the village of Aynat in search of the territory where he could spread the call to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. He built a mosque and house there and began teaching and giving spiritual instruction. His fame spread and students started coming from different parts of Yemen and as far afield as India and North Africa. As a result, a new town grew up distinct from the old village of Aynat. He would send his students out to different regions to call people to Allah and educate them in the Sacred Law.
Visiting the tomb of Prophet Hud عليه السلام
He had great concern, like his predecessors, for the visit of the Prophet Hud (peace be upon him). The leadership of the visit had passed from father to son since the time of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam until it reached Shaykh Shihab al-Din, who saw Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه as being the most worthy of leadership. He duly passed it to him, and that leadership has remained in the descendants of Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه until this day. It was Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه who first established the great annual visit in Sha`ban, it being previously arranged according to the date harvest. In his old age, he would be carried to the visit, and when he was asked to compile a work on the merits of the visit, he said that the fact that he was still making an effort to visit in his old age was sufficient proof of its merit.
Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه was immensely generous. He would supervise the affairs of his famous kitchen and distribute food with his own hands. He would bake a thousand loaves of bread for the poor every day – five hundred for lunch and five hundred for dinner. This was not including food prepared for his numerous guests. A poor dishevelled woman once came to give a small amount of food to the Shaykh. His servant turned her away saying: “Caravans are bringing goods to the Shaykh from far off places and he is not in need of what you have brought.” The Shaykh, however, was listening and he welcomed the woman, graciously accepted her offering and gave her a big reward in exchange. He then chastised his servant, saying: “The one who does not show gratitude for small things will not show gratitude for great things. The one who does not show gratitude to people does not show gratitude to Allah.” Out of his humility in front of his Lord in the last fifteen years of his life, he would continuously sit as one sits in the prayer (tawarruk) even when with his family.
He would fast the three hottest months of the year and for fifteen years consumed nothing but milk and coffee. He never left praying the eight rakat of the duha prayer and the eleven rakat of the Witr prayer, even while travelling.
He was the author of several works, amongst them Miftah al-Sara’ir, a book which every seeker of Allah needs on his path. Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه authored it at the age of 17. He expounded on some of his vast knowledge of spiritual realities in Mir`raj al-Arwah and Fath Bab al-Mawahib. He also composed several prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ, the most famous of which is Salat al-Taj (the Prayer of the Crown) which is widely read in the Indian Subcontinent. One of his supplications was:
اللّهُمَّ إنِّي أَسألُك العِلْمَ اللَّدُنِّي والمَشْرَبَ الصَّافِي الهَني ياوهَّابُ ياغَنِي
“O Allah, I ask You for knowledge direct from Your presence and a pure spring to drink from, O Bestower, O Free of all want!”
He said: “If you look upon your own self with the eye of discontentment, Allah looks upon you with the eye of contentment; if you look upon your own self with the eye of contentment, Allah looks upon you with the eye of discontentment.”
“The dunya (this worldly life) is the daughter of the akhirah (the next life). If someone marries the daughter, the mother becomes forbidden for him.”
He had thirteen sons and four daughters. Ali died before him and was the first to be buried in the cemetery which Shaykh Abu Bakr established in ‘Aynat. Imam Husayn was Shaykh Abu Bakr’s spiritual heir. Other sons included al-Hamid and Umar al-Mihdar. Through them, Shaykh Abu Bakr’s رحمة الله عليه progeny spread far and wide, and great imams emerged in each generation.
Amongst his students was Imam Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Habashi رحمة الله عليه, whose grave lies beneath the tomb of Imam al-Muhajir رحمة الله عليه, at al-husayyisah. Imam Ahmad bin Muhammad رحمة الله عليه would come every day from al- husayyisah to Aynat to attend Shaykh Abu Bakr’s رحمة الله عليه lesson. He is the ancestor of many great imams from the Habashi tribe, amongst them Habib Ahmad bin Zayn and Habib Ali bin Muhammad. Shaykh Abu Bakr’s رحمة الله عليه other students included Sayyid Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad al-Jifri, Shaykh Hasan bin Ahmad Ba ShuAyb and Sayyid Yusuf bin Abid al-Hasani whose arrival from Fes in the Maghrib was foretold by Shaykh Abu Bakr رحمة الله عليه.
His Passing away
A year before his death, Shaykh Abu Bakr led the visit to the Prophet Hud (peace be upon him), and thousands crowded around him, almost fighting to kiss and touch him. When he saw this, he wept profusely and repeated Allah’s words: He is but a slave upon whom We have bestowed Our blessings.1
Shaykh Abu Bakr finally breathed his last in Dhu’l-hijjah 992 (1583). He was buried in his cemetery in Aynat, and a dome was erected over him. He said during his life that he would place secrets in the sand dune in which he is buried, and its blessed sand has been used time and again for healing purposes. Visitors on the way to the Prophet Hud traditionally stop to pay their respects to Shaykh Abu Bakr, who contributed so much to the visit. He said:
Do you not know that we are people of honour and that the one who loves us will always be under our banner?
We are generous people so whoever comes to us seeking will attain felicity when he meets.