(1910 – 2/11/1999)
89 years of age
Al-Habib Syed Abdullah bin Hasan bin Husin bin Abdullah Assyatrie was born in the town of Dammun in Hadramawt, Yemen, in 1910 CE (1328 AH). His mother was the daughter of al-Habib Hasan bin Ahmad bin Husin bin Abdullah al-Idrus. He was taught by his parents from the time when he was young and was enrolled in Maktab Ta’lim Al Quran when he was four years old.
He managed to finish reciting the whole of Al-Quran before he was six, and was then sent to Madrasah al-Haq at Tarim, Hadramawt. He then pursued his studies at Rubat Tarim. He also received religious instructions at Qubah Abdullah bin Shaikh al-Idrus, Zawiyah al-Syeikh Ali and religious classes (roha) conducted by Habib Abdullah bin Umar Assyatri, Habib Abdullah Idrus al-Idrus and Habib Ali bin Abdul Rahman al-Mashor. He also made it a point to attend religious classes at the house of Habib Alwi bin Abdullah bin Shahab.
Among his teachers at Hadramawt were:
- Habib Abdullah bin Umar al-Syatrie
- Habib Alwi bin Abdullah bin Shahab
- Habib Ali bin Husin bin Shahab
- Habib Abdullah bin Idrus al-Idrus
- Habib Abdul Bari bin Syeikh al-Idrus
- Habib Abu Bakar Asree
- Habib Muhammad bin Hashim Bin Tahir
- Syeikh Abdullah bin Said Hassan
- Syeikh Salam bin Said Bakir
- Syeikh Umar al-Dawilah
In 1932 CE (1350 AH), when he was 22 years old, he went to Mecca to perform the Haj and stayed there for about three years, learning at the feet of many Meccan scholars. He worked in the morning to cover his expenses.
Among his teachers at Mecca:
- Habib Idrus bin Salim Albar
- Habib Abu Bakar bin Salim Albar
- Habib Abu Bakar bin Ahmad Alhabsyi
- Habib Alwi bin Abbas Al Maliki
- Habib Muhammad Amin Al Kutbi
- Syeikh Umar Bejenaid
- Syeikh Umar Hamdan
- Syeikh Khalifah Al Bahani
In 1936 CE (1355 AH), on the advice of his father, he migrated to South East Asia. This was the start of the second phase of his life, travelling first to Malaya, Singapore and Brunei. He continued his education in Johor, Malaya. Among his teachers there Johor were Habib Alwi bin Tahir al-Haddad and Habib Muhammad bin Hasan Bin Shahab.
Habib Abdullah spent his entire life in education and reseach. For 26 years he worked at several Islamic schools – among them, Madrasah Al-Saggoff Al-Arabiah and Madrasah Al-Khairiah Al-Islamiah in Singapore. He was also one of the five founders of Al-Wehdah Al-Arabiah Association in Singapore.
After many years in Singapore, in 1967 CE (1387 AH) he was asked to teach at Madrasah Hasan Al-Bolkiah Arabiah in Brunei. Subsequently, he was made researcher and translator for Arabic at Brunei History Centre. He retired in 1989 (1410 AH) after 22 years of service and was awarded the ‘Pingat Kebesaran Negara Brunei Darussalam’ before he returned to Singapore.
Thousands have benefited from his knowledge. Among his students were:
- Dato’ Ahmad Awang (Ex-Mufti of Johor)
- Dato’ Ahmad Alwi Adnan (Mufti of Sabah)
- Syed Isa Bensemait (Mufti of Singapore)
- Pehin Dato’ Muhammad Zain (Religious Minister of Brunei)
- Pehin Dato’ Yahya Ibrahim (Vice Religious Minister of Brunei)
- Ustaz Abu Bakar Hashim (President of Syariah Court, Singapore)
- Awangpun Awangsibun (Chief Syariah Judge, Sarawak)
- Dato’ Anis Abut (Head, Islamic Religious Council of Sarawak)
- Ustaz Abdillah Aljufri
- Ustaz Ahmad Sonhadji Muhammad
- Dr Burhanuddin Helmi
- Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Albar
- Usman Said (ex Chief Minister of Johor)
Habib Abdullah led a modest life and disliked promoting himself. When he was small, his father used to take him along when performing ‘ibadah’. Hence, his lips were always moving in remembrance of Allah. His would usually start his day at 3 am, performing nawafil prayers, followed by reciting the al-Quran and then special munajat prayers for 20 minutes before Fajr. After performing his qabliah and Subuh prayer, he would continue with his wirid. After that, he would take a short nap before performing his Dhuha prayer. He continued keeping this routine even when he was warded in the hospital.
His breakfast would be seven pieces of Ajwa date and zamzam water, while his dinner would be just two or three slices of bread with gravy mixed with red carrots. His leisure time would be spent reading books, writing and teaching.
Even though he worked for more than half a century, Habib Abdullah did not amass any great fortune. What he had, he used to secretly give bursaries to religious students, and to print out his books and distribute them for free.
Some of his books were:
- Ringkasan sejarah Islam
- Huraian Pada Masalah Perselisihan Empat Mazhab
- Risalah Addin Nasihah
- Kisah Al Isra’ dan Al Mi’raj
- Rahsia-rahsia Ratib Al Haddada
- Hukum Haidh dan Istihadhah
- Ad Durus Fardiah fil Mirats
- Manzumah Tashil Ifadah bima lil Ibadah
- Jadual fi I’rab “la” annafiah almukarrarah
- Al Irshad Fi Asrar Wa Fawaid Ratib
Habib Abdullah passed away in Singapore on Tuesday, 2 November 1999, corresponding to 23 Rejab 1420. Thousands of people prayed for him, including those in Malaysia, Brunei, Palembang, Southern Philippines and Jeddah.
May Allah bless his soul.
(Source: Mustapha bin Idros bin Sagaff bin Hasyim Aljufri, Habib Abdullah’s grandson from his daugther)