Sunday, July 19, 2009

A giant of our era: Memories with Sheikh Jibreen

I WAS really moved when I heard about the death of our beloved Sheikh, Dr. Abdullah Bin Jibreen on Monday. A brother from Jordan called me and informed me of the sad news while I was playing with the baby. I couldn’t help but put her down and contemplate on the great loss the Ummah had just faced.

I first met Sheikh Jibreen in 2003, when I took a week off from school to go and visit Riyadh. Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to meet one of the greatest scholars of our era. My first encounter was a rather funny one. We walked with the sheikh from his masjid to his house after Asr prayers. This was the first opportunity I had to actually get close to the sheikh and see him in person. It was customary for students to kiss their teachers on foreheads, so I thought this was expected of me. I never thought I would almost be thrown down to the floor for that! As I approached to kiss his forehead, the then 75-year-old man, no taller than 5’8”, pushed me and I went 10 feet away as if I were just a fly! The sheikh, as small as he was, was built like a tank, Masha Allah. I was later informed that due to his humility he disliked being treated as a ‘sheikh’. He considered himself only a student of knowledge, may Allah have mercy on him.

Another amazing incident during this visit was when we attended his Thursday morning class. After Fajr prayers till about 10 A.M., he would go through nearly 12 different books. The books I remember specifically going through with him at that time were: Tafsir Al-Tabari, Tafsir Shawkani, Kitab Al-Tawhid, Usool Al-Thalathah, Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith, Sharh Al-Sunnah of Al-Muzani, and the Mandhoomah of Al-Ajrumiyyah.

If you thought going through so many books was a great accomplishment, listen to this. When we reached Tafsir Al-Tabari, the sheikh started falling asleep (we could hear him snoring gently). At that point, may Allah forgive me, I thought to myself, “wow, some sheikh he is. He falls asleep on his students.” But as the brother continued reading the book out loud the sheikh was able to point out places where he didn’t pause, or places where there should be a comma and their wasn’t, and even the typographical errors in the book while his eyes were closed and his head leaned forward on his chest! That really was a site to be seen. A man so proficient and expert in what he taught that he could do it in his sleep! May Allah have mercy on him. For more read here.

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