The Habits and Daily Routine of As-Sa’dee
Extracted from Mawaaqif Ijtimaa’iyyah min Hayaat ash-Shaykh al-‘Allaamah ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Naasir as-Sa’dee, by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Naasir as-Sa‘dee (p. 33-39)
Translated by Aboo Shaybah
This is a translation of a passage from a book containing biographical information about the scholar ‘Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sa’dee (1307-1376 A.H.). The portion of the book containing this passage was authored by one of his sons, and it outlines the daily routine of the Shaykh at a point in his life where he had passed well beyond the stage of preliminary studies and was already an accomplished scholar.
Perhaps speaking about what we may call the daily routine of the Shaykh is one of the most important aspects which must be considered by anyone who composes a biography of him or reads about him. Thus, we begin with the Shaykh as he rises from sleep in order to spend the night in remembrance of Allaah and praying to Him. He made it a habit of his to spend the last portion of the night awake in prayer and remembrance of Allaah, as such is the Sunnah. He would pray as much as Allaah decreed, and he was keen to perform the night prayer while at home and while traveling as well. He would also take the necessary measures which assisted him in doing so. Those included using an alarm clock, and having a small coffee kettle which he would heat in order to drink from it in between the units of prayer so as to remain strong and energetic.
At the athaan for Fajr, he would go to the main masjid of ‘Unayzah to lead the congregation in Fajr prayer, and after that he would head to the home of his lifelong friend ash-Shaykh Yoosuf al-‘Abdul-‘Azeez ash-Shibl where they would drink just coffee and milk, and they would review the Qur’aan and recite it to each other. A number of contemporaries and students would also be present, including ash-Shaykh Ibraaheem al-Ghareer, to take part in reviewing the Qur’aan. The gathering would conclude half-an-hour after sunrise, so they would leave the home of ash-Shaykh Yoosuf ash-Shibl and my father would leave with them. If he was invited for coffee he would go to the home of the host and then return to his own home where he would offer the greeting of salaam to whoever was present and sit to speak with them.
Afterwards, the Shaykh would go to the main masjid to teach and he would return home for breakfast at the time of duhaa, which was between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. If any of his sons was in ‘Unayzah at the time, he would wait to eat with him. After the meal, he would go to the masjid once again to teach and then return home to read, write, and reply to correspondence which reached him from all parts of the Kingdom (i.e. Saudi Arabia) and outside as well. At home, the Shaykh was not a recluse. On the contrary, he was at the service of his family and he would carry out certain errands on his own, such as washing his clothes and tending to the animals.
Forty five minutes prior to the athaan for Thuhr, he would take a nap and awaken at the athaan, then perform wudoo’ and head to the masjid to lead Thuhr prayer. One of his habits was to reserve the time immediately after Thuhr prayer for accepting the invitations of those who held him in high esteem. He would go to the host for coffee and sit with him for about half-an-hour, and if the sitting extended beyond that, it would not be longer than forty-five minutes.
He would subsequently return home, perform wudoo’, and proceed to the masjid to teach until the athaan for the ‘Asr prayer. After concluding the prayer, one of his friends and students, ash-Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez al-Muhammad as-Sulaymaan al-Bassaam (1322-1413 A.H.), would begin to read some selected books to him. Most of the reading would be from books of hadeeth, and then the Shaykh (i.e. as-Sa’dee) would make comments and give further explanation. This sitting would not last more than fifteen minutes.
After that, he would return home and sit by himself. He had a place in the house by the stairs where he would sit. Its dimensions were approximately 1.5 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. Light and air could enter and it had a small carpet as well as a stiff cushion on which he would recline.
He would sit there to read and write, and that part of the house was private and quiet. Yet, while there, he was still able to hear the door if anyone knocked on it to ask a question or seek an edict. The Shaykh would sit to study, research, write, and reply to mail he received until he was called for dinner, which was from about 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Before Maghrib prayer I would call my father from the bottom of the staircase and say, “Yibah yibah…al-‘ashaa jaahiz (i.e. Dinner is ready dad!)” in the Qaseem dialect. Part of his kindness and humility was that he would reply to me in the same dialect saying “Samm…samm” which means “Na’m (i.e. Yes)” to the people of Najd. In fact, it is an even gentler word than “yes” in its meaning. He would have a light dinner of traditional food from Qaseem, simple and without any extravagance.
Half an hour prior to sunset he would go by himself – or sometimes his friend ash-Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez al-Muhammad al-Bassaam would pass by, and they would go together – to the al-Mansoor farm, which was close to the masjid, and perform wudoo’ there. He would then head to the masjid and lead the congregation in the Maghrib prayer. He had a pleasant voice with which he would recite the Qur’aan during prayer and at other times as well.
After Maghrib prayer he taught tafseer of the Qur’aan, and this lesson was attended by a large number of people from the general public – men and women – as well as students of various levels, and many others. His lesson would continue up until the athaan for ‘Ishaa’ and the style he used for that class was simple and understood by all who attended. At times, he would even speak to them in the local dialect, and then answer questions posed to him in an intellectual, yet simple, way which could be comprehended by all. Afterwards, he would lead the congregation in the ‘Ishaa’ prayer and he would give consideration to the circumstances of people, such as the ill or weak, and he would not burdensomely lengthen the prayer. I recall that one member of the congregation used to suffer from anuria and could not endure a lengthy prayer. If its symptoms affected him and intensified, he would cough several times, and my father would realize that while in prayer. As a result, he would shorten the prayer out of kindness to that individual.
One of his habits during the summertime, if one of his sons was in ‘Unayzah, was that he would remove his bisht (i.e. overcoat) after offering the Maghrib prayer, fold it so his son could take it home, and then he would teach and pray ‘Ishaa’ without that overcoat. After the ‘Ishaa’ prayer, he would attend gatherings, as was the custom of the people in ‘Unayzah, responding to the offer of whoever invited him to have coffee. He would sit for half-an-hour, not spending a very long time there, and then return home.
Between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. my father, the Shaykh, would head to bed as a sort of preparation; in order to sleep for a while and later awaken to spend some of the night in worship.
Thus, all of his time was occupied with reading, researching, authoring works - and he had considerable endurance and skill when it came to authoring, rewriting, and reviewing – and writing in newspapers and Islaamic journals; replying to letters and questions which reached him from near and far; teaching, educating and guiding others; solving problems, reconciling between people and interceding for others; attending gatherings and helping others; keeping in touch with family and relatives; assisting the members of his household in even the most menial of chores like laundry, maintaining the house, and tending to the animals.
May Allaah bestow immense mercy upon him.