Sheikh Muhammad Bin Saif Bin Hamad Al-Ateeqi (Al-Atiqi)
Muhammad Bin Saif Bin Hamad Bin Muhammad Al-Ateeqi. This is how Muhammad Bin Saif recorded his name (and thus his lineage) in his own handwriting on 20 Dhul Qi’dah 1212 in an ownership deed for the purchase of a manuscript of Siraj Al-Qari’ Al-Mubtadi’ wa-Tadhkar Al-Muqri’ Al-Muntahi, by ‘Ala’ al-Din Ali Bin Uthman Al-Qasih Al-Udhri Al-Baghdadi (1) (Document No. 4).
The name Al-Ateeqi can be traced back to Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, who was known as “Al-Ateeq” (which has various meanings, including “noble” or “one who is saved”) (2) (3). Muhammad, the subject of this biography, has had many biographies written about him in the past, the oldest of which was authored by his contemporary, Uthman Bin Sanad, in the book Saba’ik Al-‘Asjad (4), followed by a biography authored by Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid in Al-Suhub Al-Wabilah ‘ala Tabaqat Al-Hanabilah (5), and a biography authored by Abdullah Al-Bassam in ‘Ulama’ Najd fi Thamaniat Quroun (6). We subsequently penned another biography of him, which we included in our research paper, “‘Ulama’ Al-Ateeqi fi Thalathat Quroun,” which was published in Al-Darah Journal (7). Here we have compiled the information contained in these biographies along with information available to us from other reliable sources.
Muhammad Bin Saif was born in the year 1175 AH (8) in his family’s hometown of Harmah, which is a village in Najd in the Sudair region, where his family also lived. He grew up in an intellectual environment, as his father was the imam of Ibn Salim Mosque in the town of Harmah as well as the founder of a school and one of the oldest scholarly libraries in Najd at the time. His family was well-to-do, and his father owned various properties and palm trees, some of which he endowed to charity (9). Muhammad had several brothers. The ones we know about are Hamad, Sheikh Saleh, Abdullah,AbdulAziz, Ibrahim, and Abdel-Rahman (10).
Muhammad traveled to Al-Ahsa for the purpose of seeking knowledge and was educated there by Hanbali scholars. One of his friends, Uthman Bin Sanad, said regarding him: “He was born in Najd and wore the cloak of glory (meaning that he was a person of honor). He traveled with his father to Hajar and recited the Qur’an starting in childhood, busying himself with it day and night, and acting upon it hoping to win in the Hereafter. The blessings of it descended upon him, and he was favored with its grace, earning him the companionship of the righteous, [as he advanced in other ways, came to be recognized as a person of honor, and was treated accordingly, with great esteem and respect], remaining steadfast on the path of the honorable and the prominent.” This short paragraph indicates the great attachment Muhammad Bin Saif had for the Qur’an and its study, and shows that he reached the highest intellectual ranks of his time.
The available biographies of Sheikh Muhammad indicate that he initially received education under the tutelage of his father (whose name was Saif) in Harmah. Al-Bassam mentions that he received knowledge from the scholars of Sudair but does not name them. The most well-known scholars of his time in that area were Ahmed Al-Tuwaijri, Abdullah Al-Muwais, and Abdullah Bin Suhaim. Since he traveled to Al-Ahsa, it is also possible that he received knowledge from the scholars with whom his brother, Saleh, studied before him, such as Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Fairouz, Esa Bin Mutliq, and Abdul-Wahhab Al-Zawawi. His biographies, along with the books given to him by his father as gifts, indicate that he learned from the students of Ibn Fairouz, including Abdul-Muhsin Bin Ali Al-Sharkhi, Abdul-Aziz Bin ‘Adwan, and his brother, Saleh Bin Saif (11). It is also possible that he received knowledge from the scholars of the Holy Sanctuaries of Makkah and Madinah, as it has been established that he resided in these locations.
Muhammad Bin Saif was a friend of Ahmed Bin Rizq, the famous pearl merchant, and a frequent guest of his during his gatherings in Basra. Ibn Sanad mentioned some of Sheikh Muhammad’s characteristics, saying (12): “Perhaps the reason Ahmed liked him so much was due to what he observed of his piety, righteousness, honesty in (business) dealings, loyalty, good conscience, kindness, sincere friendship, and the purity of his heart and soul. He always enjoyed a good reputation and acted with pure intentions and a clean heart, maintaining the ties of kinship as he remained conscious of the permissible and the forbidden, staying away from corrupt contracts whilst seeking out all relationships of honor. He had a generous nature and would not reject anyone seeking his assistance, even if he happened to be one of his enemies. What I have mentioned about him here are some traits he shared in common with his father.”
Ibn Sanad continued his description of Muhammad Bin Saif with several verses of poetry. He first praised his generous demeanor, saying:
Don’t think that generosity was something new to him;
Rather it was something old and established,
Because before he even existed, his father was already a very giving man,
So how could the son of such a generous person ever be stingy?
He then engaged in word-play, saying that although Muhammad was the son of Saif (an Arabic name meaning “sword” in English), he would become his father in times of conflict or war—meaning that he would turn into a saif, or sword (a symbol of courage, bravery, and strong will).
In another verse, Ibn Sanad said that Muhammad would become Hatem Al-Ta’i (a 6th-century Arab poet renowned for his generosity) if he encountered a guest and “greet him with a face full of generosity and smiles.”
As for Muhammad’s sense of humor, wit, and outgoing personality, Ibn Sanad described them as “gentler than a breeze” and “more delicate than the dew on the petals of a daisy,” also saying that “he enriches his companions with his (good) conversation.”
Muhammad Bin Saif was passionate about knowledge and deeply captivated by beneficial books. One such holding is Ibn Al-Qasih’s book on the methods of Qur’anic recitation. There was also a poetry collection in praise of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), by Yahya Bin Yusuf Al-Sarsari Al-Baghdadi Al-Hanbali, which contained an ownership deed dated in 1204 indicating that it belonged to Sheikh Muhammad (Document No. 1 ), as well as Tafsir Lubab Al-Ta’wil fi Ma’ani Al-Tanzil, by Ibn Al-Khazin, which Muhammad’s father, Saif, endowed to his children (Document No. 2 ). There was also a collection of jurisprudence, history, and beneficial gems that his father, Saif, appears to have gifted him with at the end of his life. The gift deed stated: “I have gifted this noble book to my son (may Allah guide him), Muhammad Bin Saif, as a legal gift while I am in a state of good health. Woe be to he who disputes him over it. He who alters [the bequest] after having heard it, the sin is only upon those who have altered it. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. This was in Rajab of the year one thousand, one hundred and […]” (13). (See Document No. 3 on the Al-Ateeqi family website.)
Despite the many biographies written about Muhammad Bin Saif, we were unable to find much information regarding his work. In Al-Suhub Al-Wabilah, however, it was mentioned that he compsed a famous poetry piece, which we shall describe later (14). Bin Humaid (cited above) mentioned that he heared the praise of Muhammad bin Saif from his predecessor in Judiciary service in Mecca: Mohammad bin Yahya bin Faez bin Thaheerah (Al-Makhzumi). In this light it is likely that Ibn Thaheera sought advice from him in some cases. It is also likely that he would teach in the haram of Mecca and Medina during his stay there. Al-Bassam also mentioned that he taught and issued fatwas in the town of Al-Zubayr near Basra, where he settled after leaving Al-Ahsa, and that many people benefitted from his knowledge (15). It is likely that he left Al-Ahsa around the year 1206, the same year in which his teacher, Muhammad Bin Fairouz, accompanied by some of his friends, moved when they thought that Ibn Saud would conquer it, as this group of individuals did not agree with the ideology of the Saud family. Ibn Fairouz used to send letters to the Ottoman sultan to appeal against him, but his efforts were in vain (16).
Muhammad Bin Saif composed poetry about different virtues. Among the poems he authored is one cited by Al-Bassam in which he praises the virtues of knowledge and those who seek it (17). The poem can be understood as follows:
To those who seek the worldly life and whose sole concern is with
Amassing their short-lived wealth night after night:
Seek knowledge, for knowledge protects against destruction!
Seek knowledge, for knowledge is the best ammunition!
When the brothers are exchanging knowledge amongst themselves,
That’s a station of honor, an honorable deed that no one can deny!
Verily, they are the preservers of Muhammad’s religion,
Those who protect it from every innovator.
Don’t you see that knowledge increases with effort,
While money is completely the opposite?
Besides, knowledge safeguards its keepers,
Protecting them from every deviation.
Be a person of knowledge,
For the Lord will question those with money, knowledge, and wisdom,
Asking whether you have revealed your knowledge to others—or concealed it,
Just as He will ask whether you have paid what is due of your wealth.
Muhammad Bin Saif’s best-known work of all-time, however, was the poem Nathm Al-Jawaher fi Al-Nahi wa Al-Awamer (Gems on Prohibitions and Commands), which is about religious morals. It was mentioned by Ibn Humaid and Sheikh Ibrahim Bin Saleh Bin Esa (18), both of whom attributed its authorship to Muhammad Bin Saif, as did Al-Bassam. Several copies of the manuscript are available at the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives and other libraries in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Nathm Al-Jawaher begins with the following verses:
I view glory as difficult, not so easy to achieve—
Tough, sublime, miraculous for he who attempts it—
A distant aspiration that is rare for someone to acquire.
Subsequent verses state:
The way to achieve [glory] is by fearing the Lord,
For this is what gives one the highest ranks in Paradise.
It rescues a person on the Day of Judgement,
Saving him from Hellfire, the abode of humiliation, a place of shackles.
But no one can achieve piety—
Until he abandons the forbidden,
And fulfills the commandments of Allah.
Ibn Humaid and Al-Bassam both said that Muhammad Bin Saif died around 1200 AH, but that is unlikely for many reasons, including the fact that there exist ownership deeds (dated in 1204 and 1212) written in his own hand that we have mentioned above. Also, Ibn Sanad stated that Muhammad Bin Saif was alive when he wrote Saba’ik Al-‘Asjad, which was between 1224 and 1239, and he is known to have been in Basra when Ibn Sanad referred to him as Al-Najdi Al-Basri. Finally, since he settled in Al-Zubayr, teaching and issuing fatwas there for a period of time, this indicates that his death was two years after 1224. We also have in our possession a copy of his will that was authenticated in 1233 (A.H.). This will is a documentary witness of his religous charachter, generosity and passion for knowledge which he wanted to transfer to his descendents.
Ibn Humaid mentioned that Muhammad Bin Saif settled in Madinah Al-Munawarah towards the end of his life after performing the Hajj Pilgrimage, which was definitely a while after his residence in Al-Zubayr. Related to that, Ibn Humaid related a miracle that took place, the essence of which was that Sheikh Muhammad performed Hajj and then visited the Prophet’s grave (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in his mosque. Then when the caravan had left Madinah with him intending to leave with it to his homeland, he saw the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in a dream in which he told him:
“O Muhammad, how could you leave us while you are a neighbor of ours?”
When morning came, he decided not to travel and instead returned to Madinah, where he stayed for just a few days before Almighty Allah took his soul and he passed away.
Muhammad’s son, Saif Bin Muhammad, was a scholar whose handwriting was exceptionally beautiful, as can be seen in his endowment deed for the book Hidayat Al-Raghib li-Sharh ‘Umdat Al-Taleb, by Sheikh Uthman Bin Ahmed Al-Najdi Al-Hanbali, dated 7 Dhul Hijjah 1236 (19) (Document No. 5, Alateeqi website).
1 – Manuscript No. 59 at the Manuscripts Department Library at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Awqaf.
2 – This lineage has been narrated in a continuous chain on the authority of the family’s leaders, and we have established its correctness in the Al-Ateeqi family tree book that we published in 2002 AD.
3 – http://alateeqi.com/manuscript_desc.php?id=42 Document (38) Al-Ateeqi Lineage.
4 – Uthman Bin Sanad Al-Basri “Saba’ik Al-‘Asjad fi Ahkbar Ahmed Najl Rizq Al-As’ad” (d. 1242) Al-Bayan Press, Bombay 1315.
5 – Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid “Al-Suhub Al-Wabilah ‘ala Dhara’ih Al-Hanabilah” (d. 1295). Edited by Bakr Abdullah Abu Zaid and Dr. Abdel-Rahman Bin Sulaiman Al-Uthaymeen. Al-Resala Institute, 1416 Beirut.
6 – Abdullah Abdel-Rahman Al-Bassam “’Ulama’ Najd Khilal Thamanyat Quroun” Dar Al-‘Asema, Riyadh 1998 AD.
8 – Imad Bin Muhammad Al-Ateeqi, Ibid.
9 – Imad Bin Muhammad Al-Ateeqi, Ibid.
10 – Al-Ateeqi family tree, Ibid.
11 – Manuscript No. 155, Manuscript Library at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Awqaf, Untitled.
12 – Uthman Bin Sanad, Ibid.
13 – Manuscript No. 155, Ibid.
14 – Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Hamid, Ibid.
15 – Abdullah Bin Abdel-Rahman Al-Bassam, Ibid.
16 – Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Hamid, Ibid.
17 – Abdullah Bin Abdel-Rahman Al-Bassam, Ibid.
18 – Ibrahim Bin Saleh Bin Esa, Manuscript Collection. ق 82.
19 – Manuscript No. 49 at the Manuscript Library at the Ministry of Awqaf.
Prepared by: Dr. Imad Muhammad Al-Ateeqi
Updated: Ramadhan 1439- June 2018