His Name and Lineage:
He is the prominent scholar of ḥadīth, famous linguist, distinguished writer, prodigious poet and the well-travelled man from Morocco, the Salafī Shaykh Dr. Muḥammad at-Taqī better known as Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn who is also known by the moniker Abū Shakīb [the father of Shakīb] since he named his firstborn child after his friend the prince Shakīb Arsalān. So he is the son of ʿAbdul-Qādir ibn aṭ- Ṭayyib ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd an-Nūr ibn ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Hilāl ibn Muḥammad ibn Hilāl ibn Idrīs ibn Ghālib ibn Muḥammad al-Makkī ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Abū al-Qāsim ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿAbd al-Qawī ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn Idrīs ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Sulaymān ibn Mūsá al-Kāẓim ibn Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq ibn Muḥammad al-Bāqir ibn ʿAlī Zayn al-ʿĀbidayn ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and Fāṭimah the daughter of the Prophet ﷺ. And this lineage was confirmed by Sulṭān al-Ḥasan the first when he visited Sijilmasa (in Morocco) in the year 1311 AH [which corresponds with 1893 of the Christian calendar].
The Shaykh was born in the year 1311 AH[1893 CE] in a village called al-Farkh which is also referred to as al-Fayḍah al-Qadīmah which is located just a few miles away from Rissani which is from the desert cities of Sijilmasa in what is known today as Tafilalet which is located in the south of the Kingdom of Morocco. And he grew up in a household of knowledge and understanding since his father and grandfather were from the jurists of that region.
His Journey in Pursuit of Knowledge and in Service of the Call to Islam:
He recited the Qurʾān upon his father and memorized it when he was twelve years old. Then he perfected its recitation with the Shaykh and reciter of the Qurʾān Aḥmad ibn Ṣāliḥ. Then he studied extensively with Shaykh Muḥammad Sayyidī ibn Ḥabīb Allāh at-Tandaghī ash-Shinqīṭī and began his studies with him with the memorization of [the Mālikī text on Islamic jurisprudence called] ‘Mukhtaṣir Khalīl’. And he also read upon him in the sciences of Arabic language and Mālikī jurisprudence until the shaykh began to allow him to teach for him in his absence.
After the death of his teacher, he focused upon the pursuit of knowledge from the scholars of Oujda and Fez at the time until he attained a degree from the University of al-Qarawiyyīn [in Fez, Morocco]. Then he travelled to Cairo to pursue the sunnah of the purified Prophet ﷺ and there he met with some of the scholars from the likes of Shaykh ʿAbduẓ-Ẓāhir Abū as-Samḥ and Shaykh Rashīd Riḍā and Shaykh Muḥammad ar-Ramālī as well as other than them. He similarly attended the lessons of the higher studies department at al-Azhar University and he remained in Egypt one year calling to the creed of the salaf and battling polytheism and heresy.
Then after performing the Ḥajj, he travelled to India in order to satisfy his desire for the science of ḥadīth and there he met with the prominent scholars there and he benefited them just as they benefitted him. And from the most prominent of the scholars who he met there was the prodigious ḥadīth scholar Shaykh ʿAbdur-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbdur-Raḥīm al-Mubārakfūrī the author of ‘Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī bi Sharḥ Jāmiʿ at-Tirmidhī’. He took knowledge of ḥadīth from him and received an ijāzah1 from him and a commendation in the form of a poem in which calls for students of knowledge to adhere to the ḥadīth and benefit from the previously mentioned explanation. This poem has been published in the fourth volume of the Indian print [of ‘Tuḥfah alAḥwadhī bi Sharḥ Jāmiʿ at-Tirmidhī’]. He also stayed with Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ḥusayn ibn Muḥsin al-Ḥudaydī al-Anṣārī al-Yamānī who settled in India at that time and he read upon him portions of the six books and he received an ijāzah from him as well.
And from India he travelled to az-Zubayr (al-Baṣrah) in Iraq where he met the discerning salafī Mauritanian scholar Shaykh Muḥammad al-Amīn ash-Shinqīṭī the founder of an-Najāh foundation private school in az-Zubayr who should not be confused with the distinguished scholar and explainer of the Qurʾān who wrote ‘Aḍwāʾ al-Bayyān’. He benefitted from the knowledge of the Shaykh and remained1 in Iraq for approximately three years before travelling to Saudi Arabia after passing through Egypt where the respected Shaykh Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā gave him a letter of introduction and recommendation to be presented to the King ʿAbdul-ʿAzīz Āl Saʿūd in which he wrote: “Certainly, Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī al-Maghrabī is from the most superior of those to visit you from the scholars of the various lands so I would hope that you benefit from his knowledge.” Then he remained a guest of King ʿAbdul-ʿAzīz for a few months until he was appointed as the supervisor of lessons in the Prophetic Mosque in Medinah where he remained for two years. Then he transferred to the Grand Mosque and the Saudi Educational Institute in Mecca where he stayed for a year. After this, he received letters from Indonesia and India requesting for him to teach in their respective educational Institutions.
The Shaykh decided that it was best to accept the invitation of Sulaymān an-Nadawī in hopes that he would also be able to pursue further University education in India. He became the head of the professors of Arabic literature in the College Nadwah al-ʿUlamāʾ in the city of Lucknow, India where he remained for three years studying the English language but he was unable to pursue further University studies there. And he published the magazine ‘aḍ-Ḍayāʾ’ at the suggestion of Sulaymān an-Nadawī with the assistance of his student Masʿūd ʿĀlim an-Nadawī.
Then he returned to az-Zubayr (al-Baṣrah) where he remained for three years as a teacher in an-Najāh private school which was previously mentioned. After that, he travelled to Geneva, Switzerland where he stayed with his friend ‘Amīr al-Bayyān’ [literally the prince of eloquence] Shakīb Arsalān. At the time he wanted to study in one of the British Universities but was unable to do so. So ‘the prince’ Shakīb wrote a letter to one of his friends in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which he said: “There is a young Moroccan literary figure the likes of which has never entered into Germany before and who desires to study one of the Universities. So perhaps you might be able to find a place for him to teach Arabic literature with a wage that would enable him to also study.” And the response to this inquiry quickly came in the form of acceptance such that Shaykh al-Hilālī travelled to Germany and was appointed as a lecturer in the University of Bonn. There he also embarked upon learning German and acquired a certificate in the language after one year. Then he enrolled in the University while he remained a lecturer and it would be during this time that he translated much to and from the German language. And after three years at the University of Bonn, he transferred to Humboldt University of Berlin as a student, lecturer and supervisor of the Arabic radio station.
In the year 1940 he presented his doctoral thesis in which he addressed many of the claims of the orientalists like: Martin Hartmann and Carl Brockelmann and the topic of his doctoral thesis was ‘The translation of the introduction to the book al-Jamāhir fī Maʿrifah al-Jawāhir2 accompanied by commentary of it.’ And the academic committee was comprised of a panel of ten scholars who unanimously approved granting him a doctorate degree in Arabic literature. And during the second world war, the Shaykh travelled to Morocco and in 1947 he travelled to Iraq and began teaching in Queen ʿĀliyyah women’s college in Baghdad until the military coup occurred in Iraq at which time he left for Morocco in the year 1959. And during his stay in Morocco, his ancestral home, he began to call to the monotheistic worship of Allāh (tawḥīd) and forsaking polytheism and following the methodology of the best generations. And during this year (1959) he was appointed as a professor at Muḥammad V University in Rabat and then he taught at the branch of the same University in Fez. And in the year 1968, he received an invitation from his eminence Shaykh ʿAbdul-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz the President of the Islamic University of Medinah at the time, to work as a professor at the University and that he would be commissioned as such from Morocco. So Shaykh al-Hilālī accepted the offer and continued to work in that position until 1974 at which time he left the University and returned to Meknes in Morocco in order to free himself for the duty of calling to Allāh. So he continued to give lessons in the Mosques and traveled to the various regions of Morocco to spread the call of the righteous salaf. And he also was from the regular contributors to the magazine ‘al-Fatḥ’ by Muḥib ad-Dīn al-Khaṭīb and the magazine ‘al-Manār’ by Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā and May Allāh have mercy upon all of them.
His Teachers and Written Works:
From his teachers were the following: –
- Shaykh Muḥammad Sayyidī ibn Ḥabīb Allāh ash-Shinqīṭī
- Shaykh ʿAbdur-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥīm al-Mubārakfūrī
- Shaykh Muḥammad al-ʿArabī al-ʿAlawī
- Shaykh al-Fāṭimī ash-Sharādī
- Shaykh Aḥmad Sakīraj
- Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ḥusayn ibn Muḥsin al-Ḥudaydī al-Anṣārī al-Yamānī
- Shaykh Muḥammad al-Amīn ash-Shinqīṭī (not the distinguished explainer of the Qurʾān who wrote ‘Aḍwāʾ al-Bayyān’)
- Shaykh Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā2
- Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm,
- and some of the scholars of the University of al-Qarawiyyīn and al-Azhar.
There are numerous written works attributed to Shaykh Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī and listing them is no easy matter because they were written in different time periods and while in different lands but from among them are the following:
- ‘Az-Zand al-Wārī wa al-Badr as-Sārī fī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī’ only the first volume.
- ‘Al-Ilhām wa al-Inʿām fī Tafsīr al-Anʿām’
- ‘Mukhtaṣir Hadī al-Khalīl fī al-ʿAqāʾid wa ʿIbādah al-Jalīl’
- ‘Al-Hadiyyah al-Hādiyah li aṭ-Ṭāʾifah at-Tijāniyyah’
- ‘Al-Qāḍī al-ʿAdl fī Ḥukm al-Bināʾ ʿalá al-Qubūr’
- ‘Al-ʿIlm al-Maʾthūr wa al-ʿIlm al-Mashhūr wa al-Liwāʾ al-Manshūr fī Bidaʿ al-Qubūr’
- ‘Āl al-Bayt mā lahum wa mā ʿalayhim’
- ‘Ḥāshiyah ʿalá Kitāb at-Tawīd li Shaykh al-Islām Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’
- ‘Ḥāshiyah ʿalá Kashf ash-Shubuhāt li Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdul-Wahhāb’
- ‘Al-Ḥusām al-Māḥiq likulli Mushrik wa Munāfiq’
- ‘Dawāʾ ash-Shākkīn wa Qāmiʿ al-Mushakikīn fī ar-Radd ʿalá al-Mulḥidīn’
- ‘Al-Barāhīn al-Injlīliyyah ʿalá anna ʿĪsá Dākhil fī al-ʿUbūdiyyah wa Barīʾ min al-Ulūhiyyah’
- ‘Fakkāk al-Asīr al-ʿĀnī al-Makbūl bi al-Kabl at-Tijānī’
- ‘Faḍl al-Kabīr al-Mutaʿālī’ which is a compilation of poetry.
- ‘Asmāʾ Allāh al-Ḥusná’ (a poem) – ‘Aṣ-Ṣubḥ as-Sāfir fī Ḥukm Ṣalāh al-Musāfir’
- ‘Al-ʿUqūd ad-Duriyyah fī Manʿ Taḥdīd adh-Dhuriyyah’
- ‘Ath-Thiqāfah allatī Naḥtāj ilayhā’ (an article)
- ‘Taʿlīm al-Ināth wa Tarbiyyatihinna’ (an article)
- ‘Mā Waqaʿ fī al-Qurʾān bi Ghayri Lughah al-ʿArab’ (an article)
- ‘Akhlāq ash-Shabbāb al-Muslim’ (an article)
- ‘Min Waḥī al-Andalus’ (a poem)
On Monday the twenty fifth of Shawwāl 1407 AH which corresponds with the 22nd of June in 1987 the Muslim world was hit with a tragedy and endured a calamity which is difficult to describe with the pen.
This calamity was the death of Shaykh Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī which occurred in his home in the city of Casablanca in Morocco. It became known that his funeral rites attracted a very large number of people staring with the scholars, educated people and politicians. And certainly, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said: “Allah does not take away knowledge by removing it directly from the servants, but instead he removes knowledge through the removal of the scholars until it is such that no scholar remains and the people will take ignorant people as their leaders and so they will be questioned and they will offer their verdict without knowledge and thus they will themselves stray and they will lead others astray.” 3
So we ask Allāh the Ever Generous to show His expansive mercy to the Shaykh and enter him into the most spacious section of His Paradise. And this was the end of Shaykh Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī: We have been informed by a man who was from those who were sitting with Shaykh Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī and those who visited the Shaykh in his home and whose name is as-Sayyid ʿAbdu al-Ilāh ash-Sharqāwī ar-Rabāṭī (and he is presently living in Morocco) that the paternal cousin of the Shaykh who is well-known in Morocco and is referred to as ‘al-Hilālī’ informed him of the following:
Shaykh Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn al-Hilālī during the last days of his life was sick and confined to his bed and he was unable to perform ablutions and thus performed waterless ritual purification (taymmum). It was his opinion that waterless ritual purification (taymmum) should not be performed with rock. Instead, pure earth should be used if there was a bag to be found in his home which could be filled with it for that reason. And if it were said to him, perform waterless ritual purification (taymmum) with rock he would say no, this was what was known by the Messenger of Allāh3 Narrated by al-Bukhārī [meaning waterless ritual purification (taymmum) with pure earth. And that day, he said to the people of his household bring me a container of water. They said to him but you are unable to perform ablution so you should perform waterless ritual purification (taymmum) instead. But he was firm about performing ablution so they brought him a basin full of water. So he performed ablution and offered two units of prayer to Allah and then laid back into bed and said to those in his household which of you is good in your recitation of the Qurʾān? So one of them recited Sūrah Yā Sīn over him and he was silent and attentive until the recitation was complete. The Shaykh said to the reciter repeat the recitation of the statement of Allah ﷻ:
وَآيَةٌ لَّهُمُ اللَّيْلُ نَسْلَخُ مِنْهُ النَّهَارَ فَإِذَا هُم مُّظْلِمُونَ
“Can man not see that We have certainly created him from a drop of fluid? Yet behold; he is an open enemy.” [Q 36:77]
So the reciter continued his recitation until he completed the statement of Allāh ﷻ:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ ۖ قَالَ مَن يُحْيِي الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ
“And he offers an example for Us, forgetting his own creation. He says: ‘Who can give life to bones once they are dust?’” [Q 36:78]
Then the Shaykh raised his index finger to the sky (as if to say Allāh is He who gives life to bones once they have become dust) and then his soul poured out of his body and so may Allāh show him immense mercy and grant us and you with a good end.
What Has Been Said About Him:
Shaykh Ibn Bāz said in his compilation of biographies (Tuḥfah al-Ikhwān) which he compiled after the news of the passing of Shaykh al-Hilālī reached him; he wrote: “The Shaykh and prodigious scholar Dr. Muḥammad Taqī ad-Dīn ibn ʿAbdul-Qādir al-Hilālī al-Ḥasanī passed away in Casablanca at sunset on Tuesday night the 27th of Shawwāl in 1407AH . So may Allāh show him extensive mercy and increase him in rank amongst those who are guided and multiply his good deeds and expiate for him his evil deeds. His birth occurred in Muḥarram of the year 1311H . He informed me of that himself. And with that he most certainly lived ninety seven years except for two months and a few days. He was truly a superior scholar and someone who exerted himself in order to call to Allāh the Glorified wherever he was. And he certainly journeyed to many lands and established the call to Allāh the Glorified in Europe for some time as well as India and the Arabian Peninsula. He taught at the Islamic University of Medinah and has many written works like ‘Al-Hadiyyah al-Hādiyah li aṭ-Ṭāʾifah at-Tijāniyyah’ and in the first part of his life he was from the Tijānī sect4, but then Allāh freed him of them and then he refuted them and exposed their ways. And from the last of his works was ‘Sabīl arRashād5 ’. And certainly, he left behind two sons and two or three daughters –may Allāh grant them success and rectify their situation and make their hardship easier-. And a very large collection of people prayed over him and he was buried in the graveyard of Casablanca and may Allāh unite us with him in His everlasting and wonderful abode and may Allāh leave a successor after him that is best for the Muslims; certainly He is the Bestower of goodness and Ever Generous.”
1 Translator’s note: “The term ijāzah is derived from the expression jawwāz al-māʾ which means to grant access to water in order for grazing sheep to drink from it. And it is said I sought permission from him for water and he gave it to me (astajaztuhu fa ajāzanī) if you are given water for your flock or land. And in this way the student of knowledge seeks the ijāzah of the scholar regarding his knowledge and in this way it is granted to him. [See Ibn Fāris] It is also said that the ijāzah is permission. [See Ibn Jamāʿah] And the example of this is when the scholar says to one of his students: ‘I have given you permission (an ijāzah) to narrate from me such & such.’ [See Tadrīb ar-Rāwī]” [Qāmūs Muṣṭalaḥāt al-Ḥadīth an-Nabawī page 16]
2 Translator’s note: By Abū ar-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (died 439H).
4 Translator’s note: The term Tijāniyyah is defined by the Brill Encyclopaedia as: “…a Ṣūfī ṭarīḳa which was founded by Aḥmad al-Tidjānī [q.v.] in the oasis of Abī Samghūn in Algeria in 1196/1781-2. Aḥmad al-Tidjānī settled in Fas in 1789, where he developed a local following and initiated into his ṭarīḳa Muslims from other parts of the Maghrib and West Africa, through whom it spread in these regions.” [The Brill Encyclopaedia of Islam volume 10 page 464]
5 Translator’s note: The full title of this book is ‘Sabīl ar-Rashād fī Hadī Khayr al-ʿIbād.’
6 Tuḥfah al-Ikhwān bi Tarājim Baʿḍ al-Aʿyān page 69-71.