Chapter 31: Stopover in Jordan

In 1989 – 1993 Zul was in Medina. In 1994, Zul begins his journey for knowledge of Syria. Once again, Telaga Batin Airport and Subang International Airport is left behind as he headed to Jordan a transit place before he continues his journey and enter Syria. Zul thinks back to his first memory of seeing the Subang International Airport. He was amazed and bewildered. Excited by the enormous size. What’s funnier was his excitement when he first saw a double-decker bus, for, throughout his life in Terengganu, he only knows of the modest school buses of Pokcik Ripin and Deraman bus.

SUB – AMM. May Allah SWT ease, insya-Allah.” Zul prayed by himself while scrutinizing his flight ticket. He then looked at his side and saw Azli Khalid and Hazman Hashim. Both were smartly dressed in checkered shirts and black slacks. The approximately 12-hour flight to Amman, Jordan including transits starts with the recitation of the supplication of getting on the plane. The time he had during the flight, he used to draft his proposal for his Master’s thesis. He considers it as a time well spent, for if his proposal is completed early, Zul could at least have more time to discuss with his future supervisor on the topic later.

Zul, Azli Khalid and Hazman Hasyim’s arrival at Queen Alia International Airport were greeted by students from Malaysia who were studying in Jordan. Although they didn’t know or didn’t know much about each other, they were always very helpful, a typical Malaysian culture, they were a great help in easing Zul’s affairs overseas. Such has always been how Zul has experienced since his stay in Medina.

Outside the airport, a car has been parked waiting for them. “Where are we going?” Zul asked one of the students greeting them. “Insya-Allah, we’ll be headed to Sweileh. The three of you will be staying temporarily at Ustaz Din and Ustaz Misbah’s house.” He replied simply. Zul just agreed to all the itineraries planned for him. Jordan is a completely new place for him. If it’s Medina, surely Zul could go anywhere he wishes. It is like how the proverb goes when in Rome, do as the Romans do.


In the book Safahat min Sabr al-Ulama’ ‘ala Syada’id al-‘Ilm wa al-Tahsil written by Syeikh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, there are various valuable pearls of knowledge and stories regarding the sacrifices of the salafussoleh in their quest of seeking knowledge. Among the stories that fascinate Zul is the story of Baqi bin Makhlad bin Yazid al-Andalusi. Baqi bin Makhlad bin Yazid was born in the month of Ramadhan in the year 201 Hijrah. [1] He travelled far away from his country to the city of Baghdad on foot. He was eager and enthusiastic to meet the scholar of whom he greatly admired Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal to learn from the scholar.

He narrated: “When I was near the city of Baghdad, I heard of the news that Ahmad bin Hanbal was faced with a tribulation where he is under house arrest and he was banned from teaching anyone. I was devastated and saddened by the news. Afterwards, I tried to look for a place to stay. After depositing my belongings in a small room that I’ve rented, I quickly went to a huge mosque nearby. I really wanted to sit together with other students and knowledge seekers in the halaqah held there and listen to the discussion that they are having together.

I attended a distinguished class. There’s a man who was discussing the status of narrators. He ruled some of them dhaif while others were strong. I asked a person near me, “Who is he?” The person answered, “That’s Yahya bin Ma’in.” As I looked around, I notice an empty space near him. I immediately go there and said to him, “O Abu Zakariya, may Allah bless you. I’m a traveller from a faraway country. I want to ask you a question, please don’t belittle me.” He then replied, “Please, do so,” Hence, I asked him about some of the hadith experts that I’ve met. He then praises some of them and stated the flaws of others.

At the end of my question, I asked regarding Hisyam bin Ammar, from whom I’ve taken much knowledge. Yahya said, “Abu al-Walid Hisyam bin Ammar, is a person who always prays and worships from the city of Damascus. A thiqah and more than thiqah. And even if there’s a hint of arrogance or vanity on his clothes, surely, he will fight to eradicate the arrogance. The reason is, it couldn’t affect him due to his goodness and honour.” Other people in the halaqah called out, “That’s enough from you, may Allah bless you. Let other people ask their questions too.” As I was standing up, I asked one last question, “Can I know of a man named Ahmad bin Hanbal?” Yahya bin Ma’in looked at me in bewilderment, “People like us want to talk about Ahmad bin Hanbal? He is the Imam of the Muslims. The best and most honoured among them.”

I then proceeded to find the location of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal’s house. I found a person who led me to his house. I knocked on his door. He opened the door and saw a person he had never met in his life. I said, “O Abu Abdillah, I’m a traveller from a foreign faraway country. This is my first time coming to this country. I am a student of hadith and collector of sunnah. I didn’t come all the way here except to see you.” He then said, “Go to that alley and don’t let anyone see you.”

When we were alone, he asked, “Where are you from?” I answered, “In a Magrib district far away.” He asked again, “Africa?” I answered, “Further than that. I have to cross the ocean to arrive in Africa. My country is Andalusia.” He then responded, “It is indeed a far country. There’s none of whom I’d rather help, than those like you in fulfilling their wishes. The problem is, at the moment I’m under a tribulation of which you may have heard.” I then replied, “True, I’ve heard of your predicament when I was walking and nearly arrived here.”

I continue to ask him, “O Abu Abdillah, this is my first visit here. I’m an unknown person here. If Syeikh agrees, I’ll come here every day and disguise myself as a beggar. At your front door, I’ll call out to you like a beggar. Then, Syeikh could come out of your house and teach me just one hadith, then it would be enough for me.” He answered, “I agree, on the condition that you must never attend other halaqah nor go to other hadith experts.” I replied, “You have my word.”

On the following day, I took a branch in my hand, then cover my head with a cloth. I hide my paper and ink in the sleeves of my shirt. Then, I went in front of his house and called out, “Rewards, may Allah bless you!” Such is the call of the beggars there. Thusly, he came out and closes the door behind him. He then taught me two, three or more hadiths.

I continue learning this way from him the person who sentences him with the ban and house arrest passes away. Afterwards, the leadership was passed on to a person who holds on to the madhhab of ahlussunnah. The name Ahmad bin Hanbal grew famous once again. He was respected and admired and become well-known. A multitude of people came to learn from him. If I attended his halaqah, he will make way for me so that I can sit near him. He will tell other hadith experts, “This is the right person to be called as a true knowledge seeker.” Then, he would narrate my story to others with him. He continues to teach me hadith and I’ll recite it back to him.

There was a time when I fell ill. I tried to get better quickly. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal look for me because I stopped attending his classes. He asked about me, then, he was informed that I was sick. Promptly, he went to visit me with a lot of people coming along with him. At the time, I was laid up in my rented room on a mat, covered in a blanket and books were scattered near my head.

I heard a commotion outside my room. I heard them saying, “Look, there. The Imam of the Muslims has come.” The landlord rushed towards me and said, “O Abu Abd al-Rahman. This is Abu Abdillah Ahmad bin Hanbal, the imam of the Muslims who has come to visit you.”

Imam Ahmad immediately came in. He sat by my head. The room was then crowded with people and some even have to stand outside, with their pens and notebooks in their hands. Imam Ahmad just said the following words to me, “O Abu Abd Rahman. Rejoice for the rewards of Allah. You have been blessed with days of there are no sickness in them. And now, you’re going through days of which there is no health in them. May Allah elevate you towards safety and grant you a cure.” I could see and hear the scribbles of pens writing each word uttered by Imam Ahmad.

 Then, he left me. All the other residents came and crowded me, take care of me and treat me on the basis of religion and seeking the rewards of Allah SWT. Someone brought me a mattress. Some brought me blankets and delicious food. They treat me while I was sick carefully, with more care than my family did. All of this came after I was visited by the pious Syeikh.”

Imam Baqi bin Makhlad has written several great books before he passed. Among them is a musnad of hadiths. Ibn Hazm said, “Baqi’s musnad is a collection of hadiths narrated by more than 1300 companions, of which he has the hadiths by the companions arranged accordingly to the fiqh chapters, it is a musnad but also a musannaf. I’ve never known of other books with such arrangements before his.” [2]

He also composed several tafsir books. Imam al-Suyuti in his book Tabaqat al-Mufassirin mentioned Tafsir Baqi Ibn Makhlad. He narrated from Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri which states Tafsir baqi Ibn Makhlad has an advantage over other tafsirs such as Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Ibn Hazm said, “He is a mufassir and none of other islamic tafsir is similar to Tafsir Baqi. Not Tafsir Muhammad bin Jarir (Tafsir al-Tabari) nor other tafsirs.” [3]

Numerous scholars praise him. Among the praise given to Baqi bin Makhlad is as stated by Imam Ibn Abd al-Bar, he said, “Baqi is an honourable man with taqwa, loves to fast and worship and during his time, none can be compared with him and his uniqueness.” [4]

While Imam al-Zahabi said, “Baqi bin Mkhlad ibn Yazid; An Imam, a qudwah (example), with the title Syeikh al-Islam, Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Andalusi al-Qurtubi. An al-Hafiz as well as the author of the book Tafsir and al-Musnad of which both are incomparable.” He further states, “Baqi bin Makhlad is a Mujtahid Imam, pious, Rabbani, honest, sincere, and the source of knowledge and worship, he’s incomparable, rarely socializes (due to knowledge and worship), issues fatwa according to athar, and didn’t taqlid to anyone.

From Tahir bin Abd al-Aziz al-Andalusi, he said, “He is a person with immense knowledge as vast as the sea and I was impressed by it.” [5]


Assalamualaikum Ustaz Zul, Ustaz Azli, Ustaz Hazman. It’s good to meet you. Beside me is Ustaz Mizbah. I’m Din, Din Takiri. I’m from Seberang Takir. Hehe…” Din holds out his hand smiling and Zul quickly shook hands with him. Their 35 minutes journey from the airport to Sweileh gave the opportunity for Zul and two of his friends to take a nap. However, they are still pretty jet-lagged from their long flight.

I could see all of you are still pretty jet-lagged. You look tired from the long trip here. Go on to continue resting in the living room. Make yourself at home. I and Din will prepare the food.” Misbah said as he helped them with their luggage. Zul placed his luggage in a corner of the living room and lay down to rest. It’s hard for him to fall asleep for he still can’t believe that he has arrived in Jordan. Just a step further for him to be in Syria.

Half an hour later, Din called them from the kitchen, “Ustaz Zul, Ustaz Azli, Ustaz Hazman, come and eat! The food is served…!” After all of them seated and finally enjoying their meal together, they talked and discussed the education system in the universities in Jordan.

For Islamic Studies students, there are several universities in Jordan such as the University of Jordan, Mu’tah University and Yarmouk University. There’s a new university here which is the University of Aal al-Bayt, Mafraq. It was just established last year. But it is a bit further out. It will take about an hour from the city of Amman to go there. Usually, Malaysians will take either Usuluddin, Fiqh or Arabic courses as I do here.” Din shared at length. Zul, Azli Khalid and Hazman Hasyim were happily munching their lunch.

If there’s time, Ustaz Din, Ustaz Misbah, I hope you could bring me to visit Syeikh Dr Solah ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Khalidi. I’ve heard about him since I was in Medina but, didn’t get the chance to meet him.” Zul requested, smiling at his hosts. “Insya-Allah, sure. You’ll be staying here for two weeks, right? We’ll show you around Jordan,” Ustaz Misbah replied cheerfully.

The wisdom behind Zul’s two weeks stay in Jordan led to him getting to know a lot more people. Most of them are brilliant and intelligent students who are active in attending classes as well as association activities. “Assalamualaikum Ustaz Zul. Happy to meet you. I’m Hasrizal. This is my friend Fazdi. Since Ustaz Zul is in Jordan, I was hoping we could talk for a while. We want to ask you to share your knowledge and maybe we can benefit from you who studied in Medina.” Hasrizal was friendly when he greeted Zul. Zul laughed nervously, saying, “I’m just a common student like you. I was hoping I could share the blessing from you here.” Hasrizal brought several al-Sabil newspapers and al-Mujtama’ magazine as light reading materials for Zul and his friends.

For your information, Hasrizal is actually a celebrity. He’s in the Usrah al-Firdaus band. He has a hit song titled, “Merah Senja” (Crimson Dusk). You could request him to sing a song or two, a duet with Erfino.” Fazdi interjected Zul and Hasrizal’s conversation. Hasrizal turned and signals Fazdi to stop talking. He was shy. Zul just chuckles at them both as they continue to tease each other. “Sure. I’d love to have an album of Usrah al-Firdaus. I can listen to it when I go to Syria.” Zul said looking at Hasrizal.

Actually, I want to introduce you to other Malaysian students here. We’ll go and meet Imran, Zulkifli Sulong, Abdul Manan, Safiyuddin, Ustaz Zulkifli Yusof and Ustaz Sabri Haron who is pursuing his PhD here, Ahmad Shah, Asri Zainul Abidin, Erfino, Maszlee,” Din lists out one by one of his friends who live nearby.

Din…our friends here actually are going to Syria. They are just staying here for two weeks. And yet you have everything planned as if they are staying here for a month…!” Misbah slapped Din’s thigh, which was followed by laughter from everyone.


[1] Tarikh Ulama’ al-Andalus, 2/93; al-Manhaj al-Ahmad fi Tarajim Ashab al-Imam Ahmad, 1/177; Ikhtisar al-Nablusi li Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, p. 79

[2] Tarikh al-Islam wa Wafayat al-Masyahir wa al-A’lam, 7/139

[3] Tabaqat al-Mufassirin, p. 40; Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, 12/287; Tarikh Ulama’ al-Andalus, 2/93

[4] Tarikh al-Islam wa Wafayat al-Masyahir wa al-A’lam, 20/315

[5] Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, 13/286

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