The Passing of Shaykh Harith ad-Dari – the Lion of the Sunnah

For the Ummah to lose a great scholar and influential figure in times of strength and resilience is of the greatest of calamities. How is it then for the Ummah to lose such a leader in its most traumatic times and when it needs them most? A time characterised by division, weakness and the gathering of nations around it as they gather around a plate of food.

In these difficult times, facing the generality of the Ummah and in particular Iraq, the news of the death of 'the Lion of the Sunnah' in Iraq, the Shaykh, the Mujahid, Harith ad-Dari – a resolute barrier in the face of the extreme sectarian mission in Iraq, and an impediment in the face of the impending neoconservative and Islamophobic plot against the people of the land of the two great rivers.

Indeed, for every nation there is a destined term. On the morning of Thursday 12th of March 2015, Shaykh Harith ad-Dari passed away in Istanbul, Turkey, the Secretary-General of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq at the age of 74. This comes at a time of the ever-increasing targeting of Iraq's Sunnis, following the deeply sectarian and neoconservative coalitions that spared not a resource or means of terror in its repository to complete this malicious objective.

Our discussion about the life of Shaykh Ad-Dari should not be confined to his courageous stances or dignifying actions, not least his struggle to serve his faith, country and nation, particularly during the calamity known as the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rather, light needs to be shed on the methodology he applied in addressing some of the most crucial events in Iraq's recent past and his brave stance in front of the sectarian incursion that sought to end all Sunni presence in Iraq.

Who is Shaykh Harith ad-Dari?

He is Harith ibn Sulayman ibn Dari ibn Thahir ibn Mahmud az-Zawba'i ash-Shamari at-Ta'i. Born in the province of Abu Gharyb, Baghdad in 1941, Shaykh Ad-Dari was raised by his father Shaykh Sulayman who directed the religious practice and scholarship he became renowned for. Shaykh Ad-Dari continued to seek Islamic knowledge, specialising in Shafi'i Fiqh and languages, and he studied Hadith, Tafsir and Rhetoric. His teachers include Shaykh Fu'ad Afandy al-Alusi, Shaykh 'Abdul-Qadir al-Khatib and Shaykh Al-Haj Najmuddin al-Wa'ith. After completing his studies in Iraq, he moved to Egypt to study at Al-Azhar's College of Islamic Principles (Usul) in 1962, acquiring high certifications in Tafsir and Hadith in 1967.

On returning to Iraq, he worked under the religious affairs ministry as an inspector, then as a lecturer at Al-Imam college in 1970 before returning to Cairo to complete his masters in Hadith in 1971 then went on to complete his PhD in 1978. The Shaykh continued to mentor at Baghdad University until 1997, completing 27 years of service, throughout which he lectured at Islamic universities in Jordan and the UAE, publishing several books and many research papers.

His Most Admirable Stances

Men are but known through their stances in the most difficult situations. Shaykh Ad-Dari has many such stances, of them:

  • His stance in the face of the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003, supporting all legitimate forms of resistance against the invading force, and using his status amongst his own tribe (Zuwaybi') which eventually led to the US's withdrawal from Iraq after implanting its most staunch ally, Nouri al-Maliki to continue carrying out the neocon agenda.
  • His resistance to the neocon agenda of strengthening the extreme sectarian presence which was effected by Nouri al-Maliki in 2006 and supported by Iran and the US, being of the first to identify the approaching danger. Eventually, motivating the 'Iraqi Spring' in 2012, calling on all tribal leaders to unite in the face of this threat, after identifying Al-Maliki's exploitation of the 'anti-terror' law to his sectarian advantage. This successfully led to the ouster of Al-Maliki.
  • He contributed to the formation of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq during the US invasion, becoming its president, then its Secretary-General, directing it to become the forefront driving force behind the Iraqi resistance against the neocon alliance.

Sending Condolences to the Ummah for the Shaykh's Departure

In an authentic narration, on the authority of 'Abu'l-Aswad (radhiallahu 'anhu), who said:

"I came to Al-Madinah, and, while I was sitting beside 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a funeral procession passed by. The people praised the deceased, and 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab said: 'He will certainly enter it.' Then another funeral procession passed by and the people praised the deceased. 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiallahu 'anhu) said: 'He will certainly enter it.' A third funeral procession passed by and the people spoke ill of the deceased. He said: 'He will certainly enter it.' I ('Abu'l-Aswad) asked: 'O Amir Al-Mu'minin (i.e., Leader of the Believers)! What do you mean by 'He will certainly enter it'?' He replied: 'I said the same as was said by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). He (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, 'If four persons testify the righteousness of a Muslim, Allah will grant him Jannah.' We asked: 'If three persons testify his righteousness?' He (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) replied, 'Even three'. Then we asked: 'If two?' He (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) replied, 'Even two.' We did not ask him (regarding the testimony) of one.'" [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1368]

So if this is to whom four or even fewer testify after he dies, what then to he who receives the witness of thousands regarding his righteousness, good action, Jihad and being at the forefront in speaking the truth? Until now, these thousands of such condolences are flooding social media. The Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq was the first to deliver these condolences to the Ummah regarding this great scholar, and through this, it was reciprocated by some of the most prominent scholars of the Ummah. We participate in sending our condolences, our supplications and our recognition of his action and contribution. Not only do reciprocated words of recognition indicate a status of a person after his death, but the happiness and gloating of his enemies from the anti-Sunni militias serves the same purpose.

Finally, and despite the magnitude of our calamity with the passing of Shaykh Harith ad-Dari, the goodness in this Ummah is persistent until the Day of Resurrection. The Ummah is capable of conceiving his likes, and we say not, except what pleases Allah: to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.

O Allah, reward us for our affliction and replace us with something better than it. Amin.

Posted on on 26 Jumada al-Awwal 1436H (17 March 2015), with slight changes to the formatting.

Be Mindful O Mankind!

No man can have anything better after faith (iman) than a woman of righteous character, loving and child-bearing. And no man can have anything worse after unbelief (kufr) than a sharp-tongued woman of bad character.
'Umar ibn Al-Khattab (d. 23H), Commander of the Faithful, may Allah be pleased with him