One of the Maraji` of Sham
He is Mustafa ibn Ahmad ibn Hasan ibn `Umar ash-Shatti ad-Dumi ad-Dimishqi al-Hanbali was born in the year 1273 AH in the city of Damascus, being the recipient of the legacy of one of the most famous Hanbali families in the Middle East.
His father, Shaikh Ahmad ash-Shatti, had gathered countless books together and was an avid researcher in the fiqh and theology of the Hanbali School and teacher of` Shaikh `Abdul Qadir al-Badran ad-Dumi.
Shaikh Ahmad ash-Shatti, the second of two sons by the legal authority for Hanbalis in his time, and his father, Shaikh Hasan ibn `Umar ash-Shatti, who was a dedicated war hero and heresiographer, exposed and refuted the rise of the Salafi movement in their area. The Shatti family was one of righteousness and bravery, fighting deviation wherever it appeared in addition to propagating the love of Allah and His Messenger in every lecture they gave.
As a youth, Mustafa studied with his father, uncle and other Hanbali authorities of the time, including `Abdullah ibn Sufan al-Qaddumi, Ahmad ibn `Ubaid al-Qaddumi, Muhammad ibn `Ubaid al-Qaddumiand Muhammad ibn `Uthman ad-Dumi. He quickly became distinguished among the students for his quick memory, love for hadith and strength in creed, his favourite subject.
As he came from a family of Hanbali theologians, it would seem that he would follow in their footsteps, reading the foundational texts such as The Splendid Pearl with its commentaries by his grandfather and the Grand Imam, Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Saffarini, The Brilliance of Belief by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din with its commentaries, along with The Essence and the Letter of Faith by Imam Abdul Qadir al-Hanbali al-Ba`li, and numerous other texts.
He followed the route of all Orthodox scholars in that he was made to spend time memorising these texts before he could discuss them and receive a legal authorisation to teach them. He attended the Dar al-Hadith Academy and gave his all until being authorised in the six books, the musnad and other literature.
As a young adult, Imam Mustafa became an expositor, then a jurist, and not long after was promoted to be a judge. However, the age in which he lived was very different to that of his grandfather. Previously, Salafiyyah and other dangerous aberrations were merely deviations from the norm, but now these ‘johnny-come-latelys’ of falsehood in the local area had grown to hold sway over a large portion of the laity, and what’s more, they were violent.
When confronted by the Shaikh, who at this time was based in the hamlet of Dumah, they threatened his life and attempted to exact violence, but through nothing but the Providence of Allah, the Shaikh was never severely injured, and continued to teach and preach. He wrote some 20 books on various subjects, but was forced to shine in the area of heresiography, as he was surrounded by those who would take Muslims from the truth into the darkness.
His most well-remembered document on theology was the text An-Nuqul ash-Shar`iyyah fir-Radd `Al al-Wahhabiyyah (tr. The Divine Texts in Answering Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab and his followers). What the Imam did was remarkable, in that he took all the literature that was extent from Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab’s time, processed it and wrote this tiny book, a sort of a summary of more than 60 books.
The book was read in masjids, in homes and posted on doors. He spoke the truth and stood for everything that it commanded. He died in the year 1348 AH (AD 1929) and was buried in the family graveyard.
Imam Mustafa ibn Ahmad ash-Shatti, may Allah have mercy on him, was one of the great Imams of the past. I will quote his biography written by a relative, Muhammad Jamil ash-Shatti:
The birth of my cousin Shaikh Mustafa Afandi-who I mentioned previously with his brothers-was in the year 1272. He grew up in the house of his father and uncle, reciting the Grand Qur’an to Shaikh Ahmad al-Qaddumi, whose biography we will mention shortly.
He learned handwriting from Salim Afandi, who came from the Badrara’iyyah and joined the lectures of his father and uncle in the subjects of fiqh, inheritance and other sciences. Shaikh Mustafa read on the topic of grammar, syntax and subsciences to the two noble scholars of great knowledge, Shaikh Salim al-`Attar, Shaikh Bakri Al-`Attar, showing promise and excelling.
In the year 1294 he was given the position of preacher and expounder of law at the Madrasah al-Badra’iyyah, holding that post even un to this day. Once the year 1300 came, he wrote and taught law at the Court of Bazuriyyah for a short time before he made his two hajj trips, one in 1305 and another in 1308. In the year 1305, he attended a gathering of Shaikh Muhammad ad-Dandarawi, successor to the teacher, Ibrahim ar-Rashid, who was the successor to the noble master, Ahmad ibn Idris.
Shaikh Mustafa learned Tasawwuf from Shaikh ad-Dandarawi and would eventually become one of his successors in Sham. After that he would hold gatherings of dhikr in our Badra’iyyah Madrasah up until the year 1319 AH, as Shaikh ad-Dandarawi, who was in Makkah, ordered that the dhikr should not take place in the madrasah any longer once he was informed this was happening.
After this time, Shaikh Mustafa attended the gatherings of Shaikh Badr ud-Din al-Maghribi with great enthusiasm and both the laymen and scholars were active in attendance of his classes.
Imam Mustafa was given at that time a great love for the Sufis, the People of Sole Existence, Direct Experience by their speech, and their way so that this became for him a methodology that he made use of, called to and taught this in the Madrasah. Students benefited from him in fiqh, grammar and other sciences.
In the year 1316 AH he was given the responsibility of giving rulings in the land as his father had died and he was not long in that position before it was given to those that do not deserve it and what was meant to happen took place.
Once he went on his way, the Ottoman government in 1337 AH gave him the post of teaching and giving rulings as a Qadi in the city of Duma and he went into that position and remains so up until today and this is not anything new for the people of knowledge and virtue.
He is a faqih, genius, noble, benevolent, even when having heated discussions and arguments into the night. He authored a book in refutation of the Wahhabi group and at the last part of it he wrote a research point on Tasawwuf that was printed in Beirut in the year 1330 and made some poetry as well. Some of this was sent to men in the Ottoman government, including statements like:
From you my hand his been planted in the tree of ihsan and this has led to the most majestic flowing of means
It is by your virtue and due to you that it grows, which is why gatherings are to be made.
Without this, the tree of faith becomes dry and not moist
Please see Mukhtasar Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, pp. 207-209