My Experience in Mauritania!
– Asadullah Aryobi
“I remember watching, “Interview with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (1999)” on YouTube and reading his experiences in Mauritania. What struck me the most was a quote that he mentioned, “They actually walked upright, they were walking with human dignity, they were proud that they were Muslims. Then I’m finding out these people grow up in tents in the middle of the Sahara deserts with goats, sheep and camels.” This is when I told myself I have to travel to Mauritania because I might never have the opportunity to see a lifestyle that was similar to the Sahabs in the 21st century. I was very fortunate by the Mercy of Allah to have the experience of traveling with Sheikh Saleck to Mauritania and being able to see righteous scholars and students of knowledge. Before arriving in Mauritania, I never experienced anything like what I had seen in the Madrasa of Murabit Al Hajj, Murabit Ahmad Fal and Sheikh Saleck’s. For example, Dr. Musa, his wife and I traveled to visit Murabit Al-Hajj and we arrived back to Sheikh Saleck’s school at 1 A.M. and Rabiya hears noises and she asked me “what is that noise that I am hearing?” I smiled, laughed and said “students reciting Quran.” Rabiya’s reaction was lost in words. Kids, teenagers and adults were waking up every morning before fajr at 4 a.m to recite: Quran, Fiqh, Poetry and Hadith. Not one second will pass by where you don’t hear recitation of the Quran. Now imagine the impact it can have on an individual’s heart. Many people know and understand the definition of “Islam” but until they travel to these Madrasa’s similar to the one in Mauritania, they will never see in their lives people who actually live by Islam. I am giving this advice to myself as well as to others.
Please donate as if you’re leaving this world and have a chance to make a last good deed.
May Allah give us tawfeeq."
A Rare Opportunity for Everyone
– Philip Snow
“The Blessings that flow from Shaykh Saleck are apparent to all who have kept his company. Merely having a cup of tea with him is a learning experience. My family has experienced the benefit’s of his school directly, through our son Daniels participation and we have witnessed the transformationial impact it has had upon his character and development as a human being. This is a rare opportunity for us all to contribute to, and support traditional, life changing scholarship. The small amount required to sustain a student for one year is minuscule in comparison to money we squander in other area’s of our lives. I enthusiastically encourage everyone to participate in supporting this noble cause with the intention of establishing Sadaqah Jariah (On going Charity). Which is one of the few things that will benefit us after our death. Imagine your generosity being rewarded by the One whose Generosity is limitless!
Please spend as much as you can and inspire others as well by sharing this post with everyone you know. May the Bounty and Blessings of Allah (God Almighty) continue to rain down upon us and may we all be counted among His grateful servants, Ameen."
An Opportunity of a Lifetime
– Bilal Iddinn
“Anyone that knew me personally knew that I had developed a strong desire and will to visit Mauritania and specifically Shaykh Murabitul Hajj (May Allah Preserve Him) for a long time. After hearing descriptions of Shaykh Murabitul Hajj from his former students such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Rami Nsour, and Shaykh Hamza Maqbul, I longed for the desire to be in the presence of this great Wali of Allah. In the past few years I had had several dreams about meeting the Shaykh but it didn’t seem like a realistic option as I knew the journey to his village if you were able to get into Mauritania was a very difficult task. My younger brother attended a program in New Jersey in December where Shaykh Salek bin Siddina (May Allah Preserve Him) of Mauritania was teaching. I was very familiar with Shaykh Salek, a major scholar in his own right, who was a top student of Shaykh Murabitul Hajj in the past. I had never had the opportunity to meet Shaykh Salek but my brother Ali found out that Shaykh Salek was headed to Mauritania in January and would take any American with him if they wanted to go. Ali called me and put me in touch with the organizers of this trip and I immediately purchased a ticket. An acquaintance of mine (now a close friend) named Yusuf heard that I was traveling to Mauritania and wanted to travel there as well. By Allah’s permission we both traveled to Mauritania and met two American students of Shaykh Salek’s on the airplane. As we landed in Nouakchott we were greeted by Shaykh Salek’s nephew as we exited the airport. He had a feast prepared for us in his apartment and arranged a driver for us to make the 10 hour drive to the village and school of Shaykh Salek the next day.
Once we arrived at Dar Us Salaam (the school) we were greeted by Shaykh Salek’s brother and several students and were given the traditional Mauritanian thobes and an incredible dinner. The village and school were so peaceful and tranquil and there wasn’t a time of day or night where the Qur’an wasn’t being recited. I had never felt in such a state of peace and tranquility in my entire life. The skyline was amazing, beautifully lit by the bright moon and piercingly bright starts. The name Dar Us Salaam (the home of peace) is completely befitting of the school. The students were amazing; extremely humble and generous and dedicated to learning the Deen. Students as young as 5 years old served as our Qur’an teachers during our stay. We are able to witness the students going over their daily lessons with Shaykh Salek and his brother Shaykh Faqeeh. The students had their daily lessons written on the traditional Mauritanian wooden tablets and would recite from memory to the Shuyukh for correction and explanation. It is part of the traditional curriculum at the Mauritanian schools (Madhara) to memorize every text that is being studied. Shaykh Salek facilitated my travel to the village of Shaykh Murabitul Hajj. I was able to spend 2 days at his village and school and met and talked to several members of his family. I was able to hold Shaykh Murabitul Hajj’s hand and ask him for his Dua. My dreams of meeting the great Shaykh had been fulfilled. Classical Islamic knowledge and transmission has been preserved in Mauritania and assistance is needed to sponsor the students at the Dar Us Salaam School so that they can continue to study and benefit from this sacred knowledge.
The expenses (shelter, food, healthcare, supplies) for a single student for an entire year are approximately 300 USD. Please consider sponsoring at least one student of knowledge for an entire year. If you aren’t able to please donate as much as you can and encourage others to do the same. Insha’Allah the one that facilitates acquisition of sacred knowledge for the seeker gets the same reward as the seeker. May Allah preserve Shaykh Salek, Dar Us Salaam, and the students of knowledge treading down the path of obtaining religious knowledge."
Traveling Through a Mauritanian Winter
– Fadhila I Bux
“ I’ve wanted to visit Mauritania ever since I was a teenager, when like so many others, I first heard Shaykh Hamza Yusuf talk about his time there. His account of Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj in particular was incredibly inspiring, and it made me hope for a day that I would be able to go.
That day came some fifteen years later whilst my husband, Siddiq, and I were studying in Jordan. We decided to visit Mauritania to learn more about the studying opportunities there, and also to visit the scholars. We left Jordan around 10th December 2015, intending to go via Morocco, and it was a trip that tested our determination right from the on-set. From delays with visas to flight cancellations, we finally made it to Nouackchott on the 15th of December.
We were picked up from the airport by Shaykh Salek's nephew and were taken to Ghayda Hotel where we stayed overnight before leaving for Dar Us Salaam the next morning. Everything was taken care of by Shaykh Salek’s family and we had nothing to worry about.
We left for Dar Us Salaam the next morning and it was an eight-hour journey. We pretty much dozed through the bus-ride as it was quite warm and arrived at Dar Us Salaam around sunset. First impressions were: lots of orangey-yellow sand, cows, students milling around and a nice room with pillows! We fell asleep that night to the sound of students reciting Quran.
We had a lot of opportunities to sit with Shaykh Faqih, Salek’s younger brother. He looks a lot like Shaykh Salek, and was very humble, saying that his brother was his guide and teacher. He has students following him around reading lessons to him if he needs to sort other things out! Everyone was very comfortable and at home there.
There is very little electricity there at night, and the students use little torches and their phones. One upside of that was the sky at night; it was a wonderfully glorious sight. The last time I saw a sky like that was probably in the western deserts of Egypt! You can see all the usual stars, and then so many more in between that we are usually deprived of in urban setups. The term 'jewel-studded' for the night sky is really given life in such places.
On the second day, I sat with Shaykh Salek's wife for a while, and his young daughters were always about too. His eldest sister also visited us, as well as his numerous nieces and it was a blessing to meet them all. One of his nieces dressed me in Mauritanian clothing; they are wonderful people, and it was really easy to feel at home there.
A couple of days later we left Dar Us Salaam for Geru which is just half an hour away. We were on our way to Tuamaret to visit Shaykh Murabit al Haaj. We got there after approximately three hours. It was a rough track which was sandy, and then dry with hay-like growth and then really rocky. The car had to climb bits of mountains. There was a gorgeous tree dotted around the otherwise barren landscape which was blooming with pink flowers.
We were honoured with visiting Shaykh Murabit al Haaj not long after we arrived in Tuamaret. He was resting and awoke briefly. He made dua and I gave him Salams from my father. I couldn't believe I was there. There was a lot of peace there, I feel very touched by the simple way of life. People are good and kind and they love to serve you and help you even though you feel you don't deserve it, and all the time are thinking about how to repay them. The fact is, you really can't, because the vastness with which they receive you is really a state of the heart.
Later, when I went to get water from a well, there were three cows trying to drink from it! It felt so nice to be so close to animals. A lot of the constriction I felt sometimes in Amman and generally in busy city life was gone, and I felt just happy to be. If one can feel like this in a few days then I can only imagine what kind of clarity of heart and mind you might achieve in years and even months. The desert to us is a harsh environment, with the rocky, sandy terrain, little vegetation, miles and miles of flat land, gusty winds and a sun that continuously beats down. And yet for many it is their day to day life, their norm and what is their home. And the human ability to make home anywhere, despite our doubts, is really quite fascinating.
We met a couple of young brothers from Canada in Tuamaret who had really taken to the life there. I also met a lot of the local women and girls who had an incredible sense of humour! At one point I couldn’t find my husband so they all decided to merrily come along and hunt him down! (Which we did!)
We stayed overnight and left Tuamaret for Dar Us Salaam the next morning. Shaykh Salek’s family were so wonderful and hospitable the whole time. We were incredibly well-fed and looked after. We also met some of the young students who spoke to us about their studies and how much they benefitted from the mahdara. We left Dar Us Salaam that evening on a night bus to head back to the capital. The night desert air was surprisingly cold, and it finally felt like it we were in the middle of winter!
I feel like our visit to Mauritania made us better people and far richer in our knowledge of the world and its people. Though we were there mere days, there were moments of utter stillness and peace that I have not felt in a long time. We were deeply inspired by the commitment of the students, and their desire to learn despite the gruelling environment. In a world were tradition is fast dying, supporting the students of Dar Us Salaam is a must for the Muslims of the world. Our brothers and sisters should not be forgotten in a world where the media fails to put Africa on the map, over and over again. It is from the deep parts of the earth and the hidden parts of the oceans that diamonds and pearls are found, and we must invest in this lost potential, and support the students and people of Mauritania."