Key to the Garden – Ḥabīb Aḥmad Mashhūr ibn Ṭāhā al-Ḥaddād

Muhammad Isa Waley
Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi


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The first Muslim Testimony of Faith (Shahāda), “There is no deity but God,” is the essence and the highest principle of Islam. Key to the Garden is a multi-faceted exposition of how the whole spectrum of Islamic thought and worship unfolds from those few words. The first part of the book deals with the basic beliefs of Islam, the second with aspects of the faith that are widely misunderstood, and the third provides guidance for those wishing to tread the spiritual path. Dr Mostafa Badawi’s fluent English translation, first published in 1990, and its annotations and appendices have been extensively revised for this new edition.

The author, Ḥabīb Aḥmad Mashhūr ibn Ṭāhā al-Ḥaddād, was one of the great 20th century spiritual figures of the Bā ‘Alawī tradition, centered on the Hadramawt valley, Yemen. A direct descendant of the Blessed Prophet, he was both a leading exponent of the Shāfi‘ī school of jurisprudence and a master of the Sufi science of spiritual realization (taḥqīq) who followed and taught the way of Imām ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Alawī al-Ḥaddād and other illustrious predecessors.

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Born in 1907 at Qaydūn, Hadramawt, he studied under numerous shaykhs both locally, in Qaydūn and Tarīm, and for a time in Indonesia. For some decades he traveled into remote regions of East Africa, spreading the message of Islam, while based mainly in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. He also spent a number of years in Uganda, where tens of thousands of people came or returned to Islam at his hands. In later life the Ḥabīb divided his time between Jeddah and Mombasa until he became too elderly to travel. Disciples, prominent Muslims, and heads of state continued to visit and benefit from his wisdom and baraka until his death in 1995. Ḥabīb Aḥmad Mashhūr is noted not only for his writings, including a Dīwān of poems, but also for his luminous spiritual presence and many karāmāt or miraculous accomplishments.

Dr Mostafa Badawi, the translator, is a distinguished authority on the history and teachings of the Bā ‘Alawī Sayyids. Also a practicing psychiatrist, Dr Badawi is a resident of the Holy City of Madina.

“Dr. Badawi has been instrumental in introducing works of Imam ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAlawī al-Ḥaddād to the English readership. “

Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi is a scholar of Islamic sciences as well as a consultant Psychiatrist. Dr. Badawi is one of the leading contemporary translators of Islamic books from Arabic to English. He has translated the 10 treatises that constitute the complete prose works of Imām al-Ḥaddād, Key to the Garden by Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, The Degrees of the Soul by Shaykh al-Shabrāwī, and a collection of Bā-Alawī treatises recently published under the title Spiritual Insights.

Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi