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Sheikh Rifae: Way Of Living And Propagation Of Islam

By Muhammed Abdul Bari

Sheikh Ahmed Al kabeer Rifae was one among four veteran scholars, who canvassed the holy religion of Islam in wider spheres, after the mission of prophet Muhammad PBUH. Thousands embarrassed Islam attracted towards his chastity and way of living. He was one among four Arifeen , by whose names present Sufi orders exists. He rose as a shining star in the world.

He was born to Abdul Hasan Ali (r) reputed scholar and Quari( one who recites Quran well in different styles and methods) and Ummul Hasan FAthima Ansari(r), in Hasan in the state of Iraq in Hijra 512 during the Abbasiya caliphate. Certain divine messages were reveled to his contemporary scholars regarding the birth of Sheikh. Likewise happened during prophetic birth certain good things were also happened while sheikh was born.

Childhood and Education

Ummul Hasan witnessed certain miraculous events in the breasting period. Sheikh during his infant period preferred right breast of his mother than the left one and dint had milk during the compulsory fasting periods. She also heard occasional speaking of her son and frequent chanting of supplications from cradle itself. While he grown he showed utmost interest to spent time with veteran scholars and pious people in around his locality. He verily concentrated on supplications and religious matters instead spending time with children playing outside. His father was dead while he was seven and by his uncle Mansoor Bataihi, was educated primarily.

During this time he collected various pearls of knowledge from different scholars and Sufi saints. He completely get rid out of all sorts of material wishes and deployed his mind and soul in divinity and eternity of Allah. At the age of twenty he conquered the apex of Shareea and Thareeqa. Then his major scholar Sheikh Aliyul Wasithi, honored him with girkha( a special reputation). For a long time of twelve years he accompanied Hazrath Kilr (a) hearing his spiritual advices and directions.

Sheikh Rifaei1He paid a visit to his spiritual sheikh Ghartubi (R) every year and sought blessings from him. At Hijra 537, Mansoor Bataihi called Sheikh to Ummu Abeeda and honored him by bestowing the khilafath. While he kept solitude in search of knowledge, prophet (S) blessed him giving all kinds of knowledge and motivated him to concentrate of public. Considering no difference, all kinds of people approached Sheikh and sought blessings from him.

Life and Character

Islamic teachings and perspectives are widely misunderstood and wrongly deviated in the present scenario. The true knowledge about Islam showed by prophet must be traced through the teachings and life of personalities like Shiekh rifae. His life was completely based upon the prophetic traditions. Sheikh Makkiyul Wasiti quotes “ while I accompanied Sheikh one night, I saw about forty prophetic Sunnas he did”. His life was of politeness and sacrifice. He held tightly the quality of peace and commitment.

Even to non human creature he showed kindness and respect. He showed us the importance of respecting all creatures of God. The difference is that God has blessed the mankind with brain. He added the questioning of God if one did not consider other creatures. Once there lived a dog with healing wounds in Abeeda. People hated it due to its bad odour and thrown out from their doorsteps. When Sheikh came to know about it he felt sad and took it to neighboring outskirt and made a shelter to it. He cared it for forty days feeding meals and medicines. After curing the wounds, he took it back to Abeeda. While people stared at him he replied” I feared the questioning of Allah tomorrow”.

His preference was to spend time with alienated community, manly those affected by leprosy and vitiligo. He cared them and prayed for them to the god almighty. He frequently said” Caring them is not a recommended deed instead its mandatory on us”. He uses to address every one, elder or younger by “Ya Sayyidi”.

He never attempted to pass any second without divinity in his mind. This quality is mentioned in the Rifae Mala (panegyric song about Sheikh Rifae widely read throughout Mappilas of Kerala) authored by Nalakath Kunju Moideen Mulsiyar( Kerala based veteran scholar). Sheikh used to say “I am the servant and I am not in need of a servant”. He also helped his spouse while he kept himself in the home at household chores. He hated all things that deviated him from divinity.

Teachings and works

He flew over horizon collecting knowledge and teaching it others. He was regarded as king of shareeath and Haqiqath discourses. The appellate ‘Kabeer’ is itself to know his depth of knowledge. After the knowledge hunt he went to Abeeda and set up his medrassa and taqya. This was the primary steps of Rifae order. Thousands including locals and professionals accepted his disciplinity. He taught the lessons of shareeath to those who admitted in his medrassa. Accommodating thousands and feeding them daily is regarded as his supernatural power.

His teachings invoked the insights. Such a scientific blending of religion and spirituality was his technique. He provided several evidences to boost his legal answers of religion. Within a short span of time he moulded a large tome of disciples who are enough to question the faults of people and guide them to the right.

Apart from a teacher and orator, he was an author. He authored books in many subjects like exegesis, prophetic teachings, jurisprudence, philosophy and literature etc. its estimated that about 650 books are authored by him, but during the invasion of ‘Tartars’ who targeted the Islamic heritages and cultures.’ Alhikamurrifaiya’ is one of his major work were he explained his Sufi order in the light of Quran and Hadith. His book explaining the relation between a teacher and student is translated to many international languages.


Shiekh answered the call of Allah on 12 th Thursday, Jumadul Ula in Hijra 578. Before his demise he contributed endless bliss of knowledge and spirituality. He developed severe abdomen pain, during his last days. But he dint went back in his worships and advices. He said” I am the torch bearer of one who doesn’t know the path , I am the saver of one who gone fix in this worldly life.”. Then he took ablution and prayed two rakaths and recited shahadas loudly and accepted Allahs call. His cremation works were preceded by seven white dressed people, whom his neither family nor students know before. He was buried near grave of Sheikh Yahyal Bukhari. While the body was about to enter the grave, a flock of green birds appeared and spread over four corners of the grave. Post mortal miracles of Sheikh made about thousands Christians and seven hundred Jews embrace Islam.

[Muhammed Abdul Bari is based in Kerala. He is doing graduation in Classical Islamic Studies and Economics from Markaz Garden. He can be contacted at [email protected]]

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