Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.
Shock overtook me upon hearing this news from a sister on Friday. Yet it later morphed into an uncertainty (of the validity of the news). I sought to confirm it – I thought perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps it was a miscommunication — or perhaps it was I, who didn’t want to accept such saddening news. And when the confirmation arrived, the inevitable reality set in: Dr Saleh As Saleh did indeed pass away.
Muhammad Al Jibaly stated as much (through his yahoo group) on Friday:
“I did not believe the news at first, but just called his phone, and his wife confirmed it to me, and said he was too exhausted, and this was the main cause of his death (at the young age of about 50). She said his body is now in al-Ansar hospital, and will be buried tomorrow morning in al-Baqee’.
His passing on Jumu’ah, and in the Prophet’s Masjid while performing ‘ibaadah, are indeed very good indicators. May Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) forgive him, augment his good deeds tremendously, and admit him to Jannah in the company of the prophets and the most righteous.”
He was a service to the ummah, the embodiment of humility and sincere dedication. SubhaanAllah, the time he gave to his students was awe-inspiring, both teaching the lessons and entertaining any questions we may have afterwards. It was easy to forget the time difference, subhaanAllah, but he would teach very late into the night, even in the event that he had to teach a class the very next morning. This alone, the consistency and dedication in conducting these classes, was itself enough for us to hold him in the highest esteem and make him one of the most influential of people in our lives, but by Allah, there was more, more that we benfitted from.
The classes were not such a far-removed experience, for it was not solely the words that were written that one took from the class, but the manner in which they were delivered and the circumstances by which they arrived. The humility and dedication, the sabr and the modesty, the beautiful akhlaaq and hikmah – this is what resonates for me when I think of him. SubhaanAllah, in the past, scholars would give lessons, and there would be those in the congregation that were diligently taking notes and others who were not, the latter were observers of the Shaykh’s mannerisms, etiquettes and akhlaaq. And while this benefit many say come from learning at ‘the feet of the Shaykh’, I can attest that even while his students weren’t physically in his presence, walhamdulillah, they benefitted greatly by way of observing his akhlaaq. That in itself has left an imprint on us all, subhaanAllah. But, by Allah, there was more, more that we benfitted from.
The precedence he gave to the NonMuslims was also admirable, sometimes interrupting the lesson to embark on yet another da’wah oppurtunity. And how many NonMuslims came to Islam because of the propagation of Islam in the room, I cannot say, but those who were given the opportunity to witness it, both the da’wah and the subsequent shahadah that followed know of the heart-softening experiences those opportunities provided, mashaAllah.
When you entered the room it was as if you were transported to a different reality, a congregation of knowledge, students eager for this ‘ilm, warm welcomes abound, this all, in the presence of one who had garnered immense respect from his students, rahimuhullah. It was as if a web of tranquilty and calm descended, but also a feeling of hope and bliss (for the larger Ummah, that is, that extended beyond these PalTalk room walls – for the students’ consistency and their love for their teacher, infused such happiness in those who witnessed it, and gave light to a new wave of the Muslimeen, eager to attain this knowledge, and inshaaAllah bring it to action). Undoubtedly this happiness too came from the personality of the Shaykh, his humor many a time brought a smile and laughter to our faces. But, by Allah, there was more that we benefitted from.
The in-depth nature of the ‘ilm distinguished the classes right away, subhaanAllah, how many ‘points of benefit’ we could derive from just one ayah, or just one hadeeth. I remember this very feeling of amazement upon my very first class, Tafseer Surah Yaseen, Ayah 23. Perhaps I was expecting a more general lesson on the surah itself, but when we finished I realized how many beneficial points were to be extracted from that one ayah alone, subhaanAllah. But, by Allah, there was more we benefitted from.
The accessibility of the Shaykh, mashaaAllah, was a familiar and constant reality. When Islaamic questions arose during the day, we knew we’d have the opportunity to ask them during the Q&A sessions after class (which were alhamdulillah, like another lesson in themselves). Yet, he did not only make himself available via his PalTalk classes, but would entertain questions via email as well. I received an answer to my question in a mere matter of hours, subhaanAllah. It’s a wonder he, rahimuhullah, had the time and effort to undertake all these responsibilites, but truly Allah ta’ala puts barakah in the time of those who are immersed in his worship and its propagation to the masses.
Yet while we may write of him, recounting our beautiful and fondest memories, the ultimate tribute does not lie in words, but in actions. That is, benefitting from his works, so that the ‘ilm remains even after his demise; so that his beneficial advice will not fall on deaf ears but that the ‘ilm translates to action – such that the naseeha that he presented, the wisdom that he exuded and the akhlaaq that he displayed is not lost, but that it resonates with the Muslimeen who truly loved him for the sake of Allaah ta’ala and those who will come to know of him for generations to come.
May Allah ta’ala engulf him in His Mercy, forgive his sins, accept his deeds, and admit him into the highest level of Jannah. Ameen.