The grand men of coffee.
Some years ago I read the translation of the four supplications (do’as) read at the end of al-Bar/BaSaudan Gathering. It blew me away. It blew me away what they were actually saying as I had not understood Arabic.
Basically after completing the poetic recitations, prior to reciting al-Fatihah and they would intend to dedicate its rewards to the parties they specify. This is done four times. The third one was what got me. I have inserted that translation here, at the end of this post.
Among others, it was dedicated for the people who serve the coffee at the gathering. And this isn’t the whim of the person leading the gathering, but part of the structure according to the text which is about two hundred years old and read in many parts of the world.
I also thought, that’s nice of Shaykh Abdullah BaSaudan to have done so. Good on him. Wow.
Recently though, I was at the public weekly class at Rubat Tareem, the older one of the two major institutionalized schools in Tareem. This is one of few places perhaps where you get a taste of old classic Tareem, including the language spoken and references frequently made.
The crowd would sit around the one leading the session, and the few at the front are those who are on the roster to read portions from the selected books. The teacher would interject with his commentary while the reader reads. Standard stuff.
Then I noticed he made an interjection and starting to supplicate leading up to an al-Fatihah but not connected to the text that was being read. It was for the coffee makers, pourers, perfume (incense) bearers, etc. I looked to the back of the hall and true enough the coffee guys were approaching the front.
It was sweet. And I’m not talking about the coffee. A royally sweet moment.
These men – some scruffy, rough hands, crumpled shirts with holes – are the pourers who also perform other tasks like sweep the floor, wash the cups and fix wiring, are being honoured by a room of scholars, students of sacred sciences and members of public who attend circles of learning when people elsewhere choose to sleep.
These men, who elsewhere in other cultures would be called ‘cleaners’, ‘janitors’ or ‘contract workers’ are being honoured like this, at each gathering, structurally, regularly, for hundreds of years.
And it is throughout the tradition. Not just at BaSaudan, Not just at Rubat Tareem. As I had then realized that this is just the way they do it here, in every gathering. That this is one of the important but have yet become a subtle manifestation of Islam.
That whoever you are, Allah who is the Exalted, has His slaves raise you, and honour you, if they are connected to Him, and continually increase their connection to Him.
For indeed the heavens are raised. And honoured.
The third supplication:
‘Following that, read al-Fatihah where it’s rewards are a present for those who served coffee, incense, and blessings, and whoever who came that brought service for us, or who provided service to us, or becomes the reason for the gathering of this place.
And also the rewards of al-Fatihah to the readers and the listeners. May Allah beautify their states, help them to have their deeds received (by Allah), bring forgiveness of their parents, and our parents, including the whole of the Muslimin, and to gather our hearts in the state of taqwa, and protect us from all harm and trials together with a safety that’s long-lasting and sufficient. (and then all those present would recite al-Fatihah)’
Pic: Habib Abu Bakr BilFaqih leading the gathering. He was appointed to takeover after the late Habib Salem al-Shatri. Habib Abu Bakr was among those that didn’t leave when the Communists came – persecuting, torturing and murdering scholars. During which, he used to go from one secret class to another, whilst hiding books around his waist, 20-30 years ago as a much younger man. FYI Singaporeans, he has aunts in Serangoon.