Shaykh Umar al-Yafi b. Muhammad al-Husayni was born in the city of Yafa (Jaffa) in Ottoman Palestine in 1759/1173. He was a Ḥanafī who had a deep knowledge of Islamic Law (fiqh), hadith, Arabic grammar, and morphology. He was also a great spiritual guide who had a profound impact on the lives of the great many who were transformed by his teachings. He expressed much of his divine love and wisdoms in the many lines of poetry he composed, which were later collected by his students in what became known as Diwan al-Yafi.
Amongst his most famous compositions is the short prayer for rain below. In a region where water is scarce and rain is considered a blessing whose abundance or scarcity correlates with the good actions and sins of the community, this composition became sung far and wide.
Perhaps, what has distinguished this poem over others is the deep humility and sense of submission to God conveyed in Shaykh al-Yāfī’s plea, “If you are the Helper of only those who are obedient, who will then help those [of us] who are sinful? The mercy of the Most-Merciful is absolute without any restrictions. If none could hope for Your provision other than those who are obedient on Your path, in whom can those [of us] who disobey You seek refuge? For, You are the Guide for those who are astray.”
If the elite who have devoted their entire lives to God implore Him as such, we are reminded of how much more we are utterly dependent on God’s mercy and guidance.
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