Shaykh ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Rahman Hassan Sufi

The Reviver of Tajwid & Musnad of Qira’at in Somalia;
Shaykh Ali Abd al-Rahman Hassan Sufi.
He is the reviver of Qira’at science in Somalia, the Jurist, the Caller to Allah, the Ascetic, the ever gentle and humble servant of Allah; al-Allamah Ali Abd al-Rahman Hassan Nuur, also popularly known as, Shaykh Ali Sufi, the father of the world renown Quran reciter Shaykh Abd al-Rashid Shaykh Ali Sufi.
He was born in Fiiq (Ogadania), the Somali inhabited lands located in Ethiopia round about 1890. He initially studied with his father then moved on to Mogadishu to further his learning at the age of 19.
He lived in the era of anti-colonial struggle lead by Sayyid Mohammed Abdille Hassan, and much of Somalia was then in turmoil as the battle fronts shifted between three well equipped enemies, namely the Italians, the Brits and the Ethiopians. Nonetheless he managed to traverse the land and acquire knowledge where he could.
One of the issues he was confronted with in Mogadishu was the laxity in religious studies. Because much of the society was delved in chasing after ever modernising Western lifestyle. Social thing then was to watch a sort of cinema, a projection system projected on walls (usually Masajid walls) to watch latest silent movies!
To redirect the masses, he became active in his society organising talks and historical narratives about those that preceded us, be they prophets, male/female luminaries, Somali Scholars, poets and other such entertainment that drove people away from those alien pastime activities to a more commonly known social sphere. He was ever innovative in capturing audience after which he would turn these activities to a more Qur’an orientated.l sessions.
He has studied with many of Somali scholars amongst whom;
– Shaykh Muhyidin Mu’allim; Taken from him Fiqh, Usul and Hadith. Apparently Shaykh Ali Sufi is the one who said about his Shaykh Muhyidin; “If it wasn’t for his non-Arabic tongue he would’ve been better Jurist than Ibn Hajar al-Haytami.” Indeed a lavish compliment considering the position Ibn Hajar holds amongst the Shafi’i scholars.
– Shaykh Qasim Al-Barawe; Lughah and Nahw books.
– Shaykh Adam Yusuf; Tafsir and Fiqh.
After having taken all he could from Mogadishu, he headed Bosaso, spent there sometime and moved on to Yemen. He initially had several fellow seekers of knowledge as companions on the road to Yemen. Amongst them was the Hadith expert of Hijaz (Muhadith al-Hijaz) Muhammad Abd Allah as-Somal (1910-1999), who would later settle in the Holy city of Makkah, teaching hadith in the Haram and producing scholars the like of the Yemeni Hadith scholar Muqbil bin Hadi al-Wadi’i, the Mufti of Saudi Bin Baz, Uthaymin and many others. (His entrance will follow)
Shaykh Ali Sufi, after studying Fiqh and Hadith in the Northern parts of Yemen, continued towards his original destination of Tarim, Hadramawt. He was regular and a steadfast student at the Ribat. I (Mohammed Artan following the description given to me by his son, Shaykh Abd al-Hakim Ali Sufi) visited the corner he used to sit for his Fiqh Qira’at sessions with as-Shaykh Habib Umar ash-Shatiri (father of Habib Ahmed Umar Shatiri, who authored several beneficial books such as Nayl al-Raja, Yaqut al-Nafis, and others).
After having spent some time in Tarim, Shaykh Ali Sufi moved on to Makkah wherein he collated chains of transmissions for Hadith and Qira’at. However his heart and passion was solely in studying the words of Allah and he excelled at the science of recitation.
After having completed his studies he felt the need to return home and spread the science of Tajweed and Quranic recitations. For this reason he founded a Masjid in 1968 which became popularly known as Masjid Shaykh Ali Sufi in Mogadishu. From it so many scholars and studies alike came to collect from him these chains of transmissions who in turn went further inland to establish their own Madaris in Tajwid and Qirat.
Indeed Shaykh Ali Sufi was dubbed as the father of Tajwid and Qira’at in Somalia. Although an exaggeration non the less the truth of the matter is that there was no Madaris system specialising in Tajwid and Qira’at transmission the way he did let alone with the success rate he had.
It was such a success that soon after the simple Halaqas outgrew the space the Masjid had to offer and as a consequence roads would be closed on a regular basis.
Today his fame is so widespread that there is no Somali, east or west that does not know his name, and even more Muslims around the globe know of his son, the Quran reciter; al-Qari Abd al-Rashid Shaykh Ali Sufi.
During the civil war he moved to Nairobi, Kenya and after struggling with terminal ailment for decades he succumbed to it on the 6th of June 1991. He was prayed over by extreme multitude of people in Nairobi and was buried there.
May Allah grant him Jannah and make those that benefit from him.
Compiled and written by Mohammed Abdullah Artan

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