One of the maraji` of Sham
He is Hasan ibn `Umar ibn Ma`ruf ibn `Abdullah ibn Mustafa Al-Karkhi ash-Shatti al-Baghdadi, then ad-Dimashqi. Born in the year 1206 AH, he is the direct descendant of the great wali of Allah (and student of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him) Ma`ruf al-Karkhi.
The Shatti Family
The Shatti family is originally from Baghdad, in today’s Iraq. The grandfather, `Umar ibn Ma`ruf al-Baghdadi, was an accomplished scholar of his legal school and a great figure amongst the people in Baghdad. Other notables include his brother, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ma`ruf, and his son, Shaikh `Abdullah al-Baghdadi.
These great people were also contemporaries of scholars such as Shaikh Muhammad ibn Kamal ud-Din al-Bakri as-Siddiqi and his friend, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ahmad, both of whom being students of the Grand Imam, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abul Muwahib ad-Dimashqi.
As a child Shaikh `Umar was surrounded by people of knowledge. Such righteousness was brought to fruition when he married a noble daughter from the az-Zubair county of the city of Basrah, a stronghold of Hanbali fiqh and also female scholars. The result of this union was a number of children, the most well known being a child by the name of Hasan.
Birth and upbringing
Shaikh Hasan came from a house of scholarship and in his early years studied with his father, Shaikh `Umar ibn Ma`ruf ash-Shatti (d. 1218 AH) while a youth in Damascus. In the year 1226 AH, Shaikh Hasan ash-Shatti visited Baghdad to take further knowledge and get authorisations in a number of texts.
After his return, he took a chain of transmission from Shaikh Muhammad Tahir al-Kawrani and then went on hajj in 1232 AH. The soon to be Shaikh Hasan proved himself capable when he memorised the Qur’an and some 18 books, one in each science of Islam, while still in his pre-teens.
He studied with close relatives and others. He started by learning from his father, then subsequently gained knowledge from one of the seminal scholars of his time, Shaikh Mustafa ibn Sa`d ar-Ruhaibani, studying the science of hadith, commentary, fiqh, the principles of creed and fiqh, and also inheritance.
Learning and Authority
Shaikh Hasan ash-Shatti quickly showed an aptitude for learning, delving into and mastering the sciences of Islam, including, of course, grammar, syntax and their subcategories. He visited numerous masjids and received legal authorisations from his teachers in institutions such as Umayyah Family Central Masjid, Al-Badara’ii Seminary in Iraq and others. He was known to constantly be researching, and left his house when necessary.
He wrote numerous books, more than 50 in number, on various subjects. They include books on such topics as the Birth of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and celebrating it, and the Commentary of Bringing Things to Be, a book on Arabic grammar.
He also wrote Summation of the Pearl a commentary on the theological work of Shaikh ul-Islam Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Saffarini, the great Damascene and master of heresiography as well as two books on geometry and algebra (one of the formulas that is being used by scientists today but took them years to solve).
He travelled to Baghdad in his twenties and met great scholars such as Shaikh Muhammad al-Bukairi and Shaikh Dawud ibn Sulaiman al-Khalidi. Upon completion of his learning, he returned to Damascus and continued his teaching, at which time he reached the post of expounder, then jurist and not long thereafter, judge.
People from far and wide came to take all that could be learned from this towering figure of knowledge and gaze at him to see his wisdom. In his life he also wrote documents and offered material and physical aid for the preparation and execution of continued resistance against the French led by the great Shaikh Amir `Abdul Qadir, the great warrior of Algeria and hero to the Muslims.
The Amir had travelled far and wide to Baghdad, Damascus and other areas seeking the help of the Muslims. He found Shaikh Hasan ash-Shatti willing to help. Shaikh Hasan was known for his easy smile, good manners and righteous demeanour towards all people, Muslim and unbeliever.
He was also an accomplished scholar of theology, and witnessed many difficulties and tribulations that would affect his life and the life of so many other Muslims. When the Salafi Call rose to prominence, it set itself out as the only true way of knowing the truth, and made good on its word by killing those who would not accept its ideas.
A measure of his bravery was the fact that he resisted this subversive and violent influence, when he received a letter from Abdullah Ala Shaikh, the successor to the movement’s founder and messianic figure with prophetic pretensions, Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab.
Scholars were assassinated and threatened throughout the Muslim world in places as far afield as Baghdad, where his teacher, Shaikh Dawud ibn Sulaiman al-Khalidi, had dodged the assassin’s sword, and in Najd and Makkah in Arabia, where towns and villages, beginning with teachers and high ranking figures, were put to the sword.
Imam Hasan ash-Shatti had never met or known the founder of the movement as other scholars who preceded him (many of whom were murdered), but it was no less risky in his own time.
The Imam stated forcefully in one of his many works, “Muslim Orthodoxy is three groups: 1) The People of Athar, their Imam being Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him, 2) The Ash`aris, their Imam being Abul Hasan al-Ash`ari may Allah have mercy upon him and 3) The Maturidis, their Imam being Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, may Allah have mercy upon him.
As for the astray cults, then they were many groups and subgroups indeed.One of the People of Knowledge said that all cults have their origin in their first five cults.” Mukhtasar ud-Durrat il-Mudiyyah, Muqaddimah, pp. 19-21.
The Imam held the position that circumcision for mails is absolutely crucial and that to knowingly leave it is a major sin when one is able. In this case, one is also excused from any duties as Imam as the dirt that will occur is more difficult to cleanse. Hashiyat ul-Lubadi, pp. 83-84
Imam Hasan ash-Shatti, may Allah be pleased with him, also made easy rulings for the people who bought and sold in advance, making necessary dispensations possible for the time when the internet and other advances would appear. Hashiyat ul-Lubadi, pp. 170-172.
In the time of the Imam, some of the people of Sham took divorce very lightly using expressions that were dubious against their wives, such as, “Against me is haram. Haram has come against me.”
This would be done by a man to his wife. The husband would end the marriage but still keep the wife, who was unsuspecting and unknowing, while getting married again. This created a type of bigamy in effect. To clarify the situation, the Imam gave the edict to the women that this does indeed count as divorce and thus this statement, although used only in Sham, would count as the speaker of the dialect in that locale would know the meaning.
This edict lead to false pronouncements of divorce ceasing but also freed women from this grey area being utilised by men who wanted to keep the wealth from rich wives in the family. Hashiyat ul-Lubadi, pp. 322-323
Later life and Death
While lying in bed and very ill, he received a letter from `Abdullah Ala Shaikh, inviting him to the organisation and to preach this particular doctrine to the people and allow their missionaries to have free rein in his jurisdiction.
Although dying and in great pain, he refuted them on the last page of the letter they had sent, with all the bravery that a scholar of his calibre would be expected to do in times of turmoil.
The words of Shaikh Hasan ash-Shatti were the following:
I have read this general message with regard to the matter of Revealed Law as it relates to some doubts that were raised by some ignorant people, who do not necessitate kufr in principle, while some of it may be beneficial in consideration.
Ibn `Abdul Wahhab has declared them to be kafir due to this action as stated in this letter, in addition to his declaring their blood and wealth licit for spilling and seizure.
This belief was reached due to what appeared to their people by the outward import of the explicitly worded texts of Revealed Law built upon their founder’s ignorance, hatred and bad thoughts about the believers.
May Allah curse whoever has this creed, for indeed, whoever declared a believer to be a kafir has already committed kufr. (cf. The Divine Texts: Answering Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab’s Movement, pp. 37-38)
His death came in the year 1274 AH (AD 1858), being buried in his city; a huge funeral procession following. As with every great tree of knowledge, seeds were left behind.
His students include the following Imams:
1. Muhammad Afandi ash-Shatti (d. 1307 AH), who was the eldest son of Shaikh Hasan ash-Shatti. Shaikh Muhammad also had two sons who later became scholars in the own right, namely Shaikhs `Umar Afandi Ash-Shatti (d. 1337 AH) and Ma`ruf ash-Shatti (d. 1317 AH).
2. Ahmad ash-Shatti (d. 1317 AH), the second son of the Shaikh. Shaikh Ahmad was also blessed with the following sons, who were also maraji`: Mustafa Afandi (d. 1348 AH), Tahir (d. 1356 AH), Sa`id (d. 1315 AH) and also `Abdul Latif (d. 1367 AH).
3. `Abdullah Sufan al-Qaddumi (d. 1331 AH).This is the great marja`, the Reviver of the Religion in his age and the chief teacher of Shaikh Mustafa ash-Shatti (d. 1348 AH), both of whom fought the Khawarij of their time, the Salafi cult.
4. Yusuf al-Barqawi (d. 1321 AH). Grand marja` of Sham and visiting scholar at the porch of Al-Azhar. One of the greatest scholars of his time but also one of the most humble. He is quoted in most latter day literature and is the teacher of the great marja`, Shaikh `Abdul Ghani al-Lubadi (d. 1319 AH).
5. Ahmad ibn `Ubaid al-Qaddumi (d. 1314 AH). A marja` of Nablus who migrated to Damascus and trainer of many scholars of fiqh, he is one of the sources of knowledge for Imam Musa al-Qaddumi (d. 1336 AH).
6. Muhammad ibn `Ubaid al-Qaddumi (d. 1318 AH). A marja` of Nablus who migrated to Damascus and one of the sources of knowledge for Imam Musa al-Qaddumi (d. 1336 AH).
7. Ahmad ibn Hussain al-Qaddumi (d. 1320 AH). A marja` of Nablus who also taught in Damascus and was one of the those who fought against extermination pogroms in Sham perpetrated by the British Mandate.
Due to this, Imam Hasan ash-Shatti, in most literature, is referred to as Shaikhu Mashaikhina (“the Shaikh of our Shaikhs”). The reason for this is that there is no one today among the scholars that are from or have studied in Sham that has not studied from him directly or someone who studied from him.
A`yan Dimashq (printed by Muhammad Jamil ash-Shatti, Dimashq, 1972)
`Ulama’ Dimashq (printed by Nizar Abadhah, Dimashq, 1412 AH), vol.2, pp. 560-564
Mukhtasar Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah (printed Dar ul-Kitab al-`Arabi, Beirut, 1427 AH), pp. 188,193,197, 206, 211 and 216
As-Suhub ul-Wabilah `ala Dara’ih ul-Hanabilah (printed by Mu’assasat ur-Risalah, Beirut, 1416 AH), vol.1, pp. 359-363