Abdur-Rahman Ibn Nasir as-Sa'di


His name is Abu ‘Abdillah ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Nasir ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Nasir as-Sa’di from as-Sa’di, the Shaykh, descended of the Tamim tribe. He was born in the town of ʿUnaizah in al-Qasim on the 12th of Muharram in the year 1307H. His mother died when he was four years old, and his father died when he was seven. As a result, he grew up an orphan but he had a stable upbringing.

He had already attracted attention at a young age with his intelligence and his strong enthusiasm for learning. After the death of his father, he had read the Qurʾan, then thoroughly memorised it by the time he was eleven years old. Then he began learning from the learned men of his town and those who visited it. He worked hard until he acquired a respectable amount of knowledge in every field. When he reached the age of twenty-three, he began teaching. Like that, he used to both learn and teach, and the entirety of his time was spent doing that. It was like that until in the year 1351H, he was placed in charge of education in his town, and became a mentor for all the students.

His Teachers

He studied under Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Hamd ibn Jasir. He was the first person he read to. He used give descriptions about his teacher’s recollection of hadith, and he would talk at length about his fear of Allah and his love of sharing with the poor despite his lack of means. Often, a poor person would come to him on a cold winter’s day and he would strip himself of one of his pair of garments from his own poverty and dress him in it – despite his own needs.

Another one of the author’s teachers is Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim ash-Shibl. With him, he studied Fiqh, Arabic sciences and other subjects. From amongst his teachers was also Salih ibn ʿUthman, the judge of ʿUnaizah, with whom he studied Tawhid, Tafsir, the principles of Fiqh as well as its various branches, and Arabic sciences. It was with him that the author studied most, and he stuck with him earnestly until his death.

Other teachers include Shaykh ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAyidh, Shaykh Saʿid at-Tuwaijiri, Shaykh ʿAli ibn as-Sinani, Shaykh ʿAli Nasir, Shaykh Abu Wadi – with whom he studied hadith, the six major books and others, and who gave him a teaching endorsement for them. Mentioned amongst his teachers is also Muhammad, the son of Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAziz al-Muhammad al-Mani, KSA Director of education at the time – the author studied with him in ʿUnaizah. Shaykh Muhammad al-Mukhtar ash-Shinqiti – resident of al-hijaz back in the day and afterwards, Zubayr – was also one of his teachers. He came to ʿUnaizah and remained there in order to teach. At that time, the author learnt from him Tafsir, hadith, and Arabic sciences such as Grammar, Morphology, and the like.

His Character

He possessed many exceptional virtues. He was humble to the young and the old, the rich and the poor. He used to spend his time meeting the people who desired his company. His gatherings were circles of knowledge for the reason that his endeavour was to make them consist of congregational study and research, and bring huge benefits through these useful and time-consuming studies to the people who attended the sessions. Normal get-togethers would turn into study sessions and worship. He would converse with each individual according to his needs, and together they would look at his religious and material interests. He would often settle disputes that ended with both of the parties being satisfied with his fair mediation.

He used to have compassion for the poor, the needy and the outsider, lending them a helping hand whenever he could. Whenever the opportunity arose, he would appeal to those whom he knew loved to support a good cause.

He used to be a man of exceptional etiquette, modesty, integrity and determination in all of his duties. He was the best of instructors and the most effective of people in clarifying a matter. He organised the class schedules and he would arrange debates between his accomplished students in order to stimulate their minds; he would offer a prize to whoever could memorise some of the textbooks, and he would give the prize to everyone who managed to memorise them without leaving anyone out.

He used to consult with his students over the most helpful books to study, consenting to the wishes of the majority or making the choice himself if there was no clear favourite. The students never tired of his long lectures – whenever they were long – because of how much they enjoyed his company, which is why he had and still has so many accomplished students. I pray that Allah  gives him a gratifying life and blesses us all with abundance in our time and furnishes us with good deeds that will serve us forever.

His Academic Calibre

He had extensive knowledge of Fiqh, both its theoretical and practical aspects. In the beginning, following in the footsteps of his teachers, he adhered to the hanbali school of thought and memorised some of its textbooks. Around the time, he authored a book on the subject of Fiqh consisting of about 400 verses of poetry based on the Rajz poetic metre and concisely explained it. However, he did not wish for it to be published because it was based on his views from his first days as a student.

His greatest preoccupation was with the books of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah and his student, Ibn al-Qayyim, which were also his greatest influences. They did him a lot of good in terms of learning fundamental principles, Tawhid, Tafsir, Fiqh, as well as other useful subjects. Due to the insight he gained from the two aforementioned scholars, he became unattached to any particular school of thought. Instead, what he considered the strongest opinion on a matter would be the one supported by legitimate proof. Yet he would not speak ill against the scholars of the various schools the way some confused people do, may Allah ﷻ guide them along with us to the proper path.

He was highly accomplished in the field of Tafsir, having read many works of various scholars. He excelled in it and himself authored an important book of Tafsir consisting of many volumes. He wrote it spontaneously, without there being a single book of Tafsir or any other book present with him at the time. Consistently, he would read the Qurʾan with the students and explain it offhand without prior preparation. He would branch into different topics and clarify some of the meanings of the Qurʾan and mention some of its lessons. He would deduce its inimitable benefits and important concepts, to such an extent that his listener would wish for him to prolong because of his eloquence, the wealth of his vocabulary and his elaborate discussion of evidences and stories. Whoever shared his company, read to him and researched with him realised his high academic calibre. The same goes for anyone who reads his books and legal verdicts.

His Works

  1. An exegesis of the Noble Qurʾan titled Taysir al-Karim al-Mannan (A Facilitation from the Generous, the Gracious), in eight volumes. He completed it in 1344H. It was never published.
  2. Irshadu li al-Basaʾir wa al-Bab li-Maʿrifati al-Fiqh bi Aqrabi at-Turuq wa Aisar il-Asbab (A Guide to Understanding Fiqh for the Insightful and Intelligent in the Shortest Time and Easiest Steps), arranged in question & answer format and printed by a Turkish printing house in Damascus in 1365H, paid for by the author and distributed for free.
  3. Ad-Durrah al-Mukhtasarah fi-Mahasin ad-Din al-Islami printed by Ansar al-Sunnah Press in 1366H.
  4. Al-Khutub al-‘Asriyyah al-Qayyimah (A Priceless Collection of Sermons on Contemporary Issues); when he became responsible for giving sermons in his town, he endeavoured to give, every ʿEid and Jumuʿah, sermons on important topics that were relevant to the season and necessary to the people. Afterwards, paying for it himself, he compiled them, and together with ad-Durra al-Mukhtasarah, they were printed by Ansar al-Sunnah Press and distributed for free.
  5. Al-Qawaʿid al-hisan li-Tafsir al-Qurʾan (Excellent Principles for Explaining the Qurʾan), printed by Ansar al-Sunnah Press in 1366H and distributed for free.
  6. Wujud al-Taʿawun bayn al-Muslimin wa al-adhu al-Jihad ad-Din (Cooperation Amongst Muslims as a Duty, and the Subject of Religious Campaign). The last three books above were printed by al-Salafiyyah printing press in Cairo with the author’s funding and distributed for free.
  7. Al-Qawl ad-Sadid fi-Maqasid at-Tawhid (The Truth About the Objectives of Tawhid), 1367H – printed in Egypt by al-Imam Printing Press press and paid for by ʿAbd al-Muhsin Abu Batin.
  8. Taysir al-Latif al-Mannan fi-Khulasat Tafsir al-Qurʼan (A Facilitation from The Kind, The Gracious: A Digest of Qurʾanic Exegesis), al-Imam Printing Press. The author, along with a group of charitable people, paid for its printing and distributed it for free.

He also has many useful widely-circulated remarks and many verdicts taken from his answers to questions that came to him from his town and other places. He has various notes on the contents of many of the books he came across. He used to find it extremely easy to write, to the extent that he wrote down a great number of verdicts, amongst other things.

Why He Wrote

His main purpose in writing was to disseminate knowledge and call people to the truth. This is why he compiled, wrote and printed as much as he was able to of his works, not gaining any transient or material compensation, but rather, distributing them for free so that anyone and everyone could benefit from them. I pray that Allah ﷻ rewards him kindly for his service to Islam and the Muslims, and makes it possible for us to do things that please him.

His Death

After a blessed life of almost 69 years spent entirely in the service of knowledge, he left to be closer to his Lord in the year 1376H, in the city of ʿUnaizah, part of the land of al-Qasim, may Allah ﷻ show him abundant mercy.

SOURCE: as-Sa’di, ‘Abd ur-Rahman ibn Nasir, Lessons Learnt from the Story of Yusuf. London, England: DuSunnah Publications (2013) pp.9