Shaykh Adib al-Kallas

Question:

As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah Shaykh Gibril,

I pray you and yours are well, in sha Allah.

I was wondering if you could tell us a little about Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (rahimahullah ta’ala), especially how he was as a teacher? We have benefited so much from him in our studies, and would love to know more about him.

May Allah bless Damascus and its people!

In need of your duas,
Jazakum Allahu khayran.

Answer:

`Alaykum Salam,

Shaykh Muhammad Adib Kallas (1921-2009) (Allah have mercy on him) was a living embodiment of the Sunnah and even his casual talk was filled with its light and teachings. He had the highest energy and would teach different individuals or groups of people, men and women, from up to a dozen different books daily, all year round, in a small room in his
house at the top of the Muhajirin district of Damascus on Mount Qasyoun starting after sunrise. The late Shaykh Abd al-Ghani al-Daqr (1916-2002) (Allah have mercy on him) lived in the same building.

Shaykh Adib cut a striking old-Hanafi figure but was the gentlest of all their authorities in Damascus and, although guarded, neither forbidding nor flamboyant. He was patient and soft-spoken, gave each person the benefit of good opinion and was not much given to praise in his personal interaction nor to spectacular statements although I once heard him
praise Dr. Samer al-Nass to the skies. He was humble and once declared in the middle of reading the Risala Qushayriyya that he felt unqualified to read such a lofty book, echoing a similar statement by Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani (Allah sanctify his secret) in Cyprus. His phone rang constantly but he disliked to give fatwa on divorce matters and
preferred to defer that task to others. His teaching style and reading manner reflected the keenest awareness of the Arabic language and grammar which he had thoroughly mastered. He had a predilection for arithmetic and logic and at times put on a display of mental gymnastics before his auditors. He was young at heart and I once saw him climb up a stairwell two by two not long before his first stroke, on a post-Jumuah visit to a sick person.

Many of Shaykh Adib’s du`as, for example his introductory and closing Jumuah du`as, were Sunni-`aqida lessons in themselves for whoever took notice. He loved to ask for firmness on belief “in life and at the time of death” and would say: O Allah, make us of those who “did not change in the least” (33:23 wa-ma baddalu tabdila). He was light-hearted and close to the people, often using deadpan humor as a means of conveyance
of knowledge, even at times making vernacular jokes that are quite untranslatable. He often cited the comparative example of the Hanafi and Shafi`i madhhabs in the obligation of wiping a quarter of one’s head with one’s wet hand, or simply one bare hair with a single finger, which finger he would hold up and say: “Let’s say I am Shafi`i and I have single hair on my head…”

Shaykh Adib was a trenchant sword against heterodoxy. I heard him say upon one of his returns from Hajj that he was making wudu’ at Muzdalifa and wiped his neck, whereupon one of those in charge of spying on Muslims cried out “Ya Shaykh! Ya Haajj! Ittaqillah! Hadha bid`a!” in reference to wiping the neck. Shaykh Adib said he replied to him: “My
good brother, it is clear to me that you all who say such a thing are completely deprived of fiqh (la ghawtha lakum fi ‘l-fiqh). I reject your understanding and follow that of Imam Abu Hanifa, whose School showed the evidence that wiping the neck in wudu‘ is meritorious and desirable. I advise you to reflect upon the saying of Allah Most High, {And speak not, concerning that which your own tongues qualify (as clean or unclean), the falsehood: ‘This is lawful, and this is forbidden,’ so that you invent a lie against Allah. Lo! those who invent a lie against Allah will not succeed!} (16:116).” Another time he said that he always signed and described himself as “al-Maturidi al-Ash`ari” i.e. as a mainstream Sunni as opposed to pseudo-Salafis and other extremists. He considered Abd Allah al-Harari the leader of the Lebanese Habashis as an innovator and anathemizer for declaring it wajib to deem Mu`tazilis as unbelievers.

I received from Shaykh Adib Kallas’s faithful student Dr. Amin al-Kasm ten 90-minute audio cassettes of Shaykh Adib’s talks which I passed on to a brother in South Africa on the condition he would return them to me either as is or in the form of CDs but they were never returned.

Others of Shaykh Adib’s students I benefited from are Shaykh `Abd al-Hadi Kharsa and Dr. Samer al-Nass in Damascus, and Sayyid Salah Fakhri and Sayyid Bassem Itani in Beirut.

May Allah have mercy on Shaykh Adib and grant him the highest Paradise!

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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