He was the faqeeh, the muhaddith, the mufassir, the noble Shaykh ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad Bakar al-Fallaanee, popularly known as Fallaatah. And al-Fallaanee refers to the tribe of al-Fallaanah, which is well-known and widespread in most of Western Africa. And according to some historians, his lineage goes right back to ‘Uqbah ibn Naafi’ or Ibn ‘Aamir or Ibn Yaasir, however, it is most probably another ‘Uqbah and not the great companion of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who conquered Africa.
He was born in 1345 A.H. (1925 C.E) near Makkah, during his parents hijrah from Africa which took them approximately a year. Regarding this, the Shaykh mentions: “Allaah willed for them to begin their journey and they were two, and when they completed their journey they/(we) were three”.
In 1346 A.H. they moved to al-Madeenah an-Nabawiyyah, where he grew up and began his education with what were known in those days as al-Kuttaab, by the name of Muhammad Saalim, under whom he memorised the first few chapters of the Noble Qur.aan.
Later, he entered the Daar al-‘Uloom ash-Shar’iyyah in Madeenah and studied there until he was approximately 7 years old. There, he graduated from his primary education and completed the memorisation of the Qur.aan.
In 1365 A.H. (1945 C.E.) he taught at the Daar al-Hadeeth.
In addition to this, he taught the the Daar as-Sa’oodiyyah in 1373 A.H. (1953 C.E.) as he was appointed an assistant to the principal.
In 1375 A.H. (1955 C.E.) he taught hadeeth and it’s fundamentals in al-Ma’had al-‘Ilmee until 1378 A.H. (1958 C.E.)
In 1377 A.H. (1957 C.E.) the Daar al-Hadeeth was placed under his principalship.
In 1385 A.H. (1965 C.E.) he was appointed assistant secretary of the Islaamic University of Madeenah.
In 1395 A.H. (1975 C.E.) he was appointed general secretary of the Islaamic University of Madeenah.
In 1396 A.H. (1976 C.E.) he was appointed an assistant lecturer in the Faculty of Hadeeth as well as maintaining his position as general secretary of the Islaamic University of Madeenah.
Later, he became the principal in charge of the Centre for Da’wah Affairs at the Islaamic University of Madeenah.
In 1406 A.H. (1986 C.E.) he was appointed principal in charge of the Centre for the study of the Sunnah and the Prophetic Seerah at the Islaamic University of Madeenah, which was actually setup by the Shaykh himself.
After he retired, he went back to the Daar al-Hadeeth.
His efforts at Daar al-Hadeeth
Daar al-Hadeeth was setup by one of the scholars from India by the name of Shaykh Ahmad ad-Dahlawee (rahima-hullaah) who was a scholar from amongst the Ahlul-Hadeeth, who opened up the Daar al-Hadeeth in 1350 A.H. (1930 C.E.) by permission of King ‘Abdul-‘Azeez (rahima-hullaah).
A kind donor from India by the name of Shaykh Muhammad Rafee’ (rahima-hullaah) donated a building for the Daar al-Hadeeth which was near the al-Masjid an-Nabawee. It was named Maktabah Ahlul-Hadeeth and also Madrasah Daar al-Hadeeth.
While the Shaykh was teaching at the Daar al-Hadeeth in 1367 A.H. (1947 C.E.) he also attained a higher certificate.
He was close to his Shaykh, the great noble Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan al-Ifreeqee, who took over principalship of the Daar al-hadeeth after Shaykh Ahmad ad-Dahlawee (rahima-hullaah) died in 1375 A.H. (1955 C.E.). And when Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan al-Ifreeqee (rahima-hullaah) died in 1377 A.H. ( 1957 C.E.) Shaykh ‘Umar assumed principalship of the Daar al-hadeeth thereafter.
And when the project of the extension of al-Masjid an-Nabawee began, the Daar al-Hadeeth had to be knocked down to make way for the necessary extension, and appropriate compensation was paid to those responsible at the Daar al-Hadeeth. With this money, Shaykh ‘Umar strived hard to find an appropriate piece of land to buy and build the new Daar al-Hadeeth and the Maktabah. Finally he purchased a piece of land and in 1413A.H. (1993 C.E.) work began on building the new Daar al-Hadeeth and was completed in 1417 A.H. (1997 C.E.). The new Daar al-Hadeeth incorporated a school, a library (Maktabah Daar al-Hadeeth), a masjid, a department for hadeeth, a large lecture theatre which could hold a thousand students, housing accomodation for students, a business centre, housing accomodation for visitors and a car park.
When the building was finally finished, it was something of a sight, so much so that it won a prize for its design.
And the Shaykh was extremely attached to the Daar al-Hadeeth and held it very dear to him, and used to extend much assistance to it.
The Shaykh said: “I met more than seventy scholars at the masjid of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and they were in truth inheritors of the Prophet”.
The Shaykh, the muhaddith Muhammad Ibraaheem al-Khatanee, who was a student of the muhaddith, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abdul-Baaqee al-Ayyoobee al-Madanee. He studied under him at the Daar al-‘Uloom ash-Shar’iyyah.
Shaykh ‘Ammaar al-Jazaa.iree, under whom he also studied at the Daar al-‘Uloom ash-Shar’iyyah.
Shaykh Yoosuf ibn Sulaymaan al-Filisteenee, under whom he also studied at the Daar al-‘Uloom ash-Shar’iyyah.
Shaykh Saalih az-Zughaybee.
Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alee al-Harakaan, who was previously the assistant secretary of the Muslim World League. He studied the majority of ((Saheeh al-Bukhaaree)) under him, along with it’s explanation, ((Fat.h al-Baaree)). And this was while he was teaching in al-Masjid an-Nabawee.
Shaykh As’ad Muhiy ad-Deenal-Husaynee, under whom he read the Noble Qur.aan, thereby further strengthening his memorisation.
Shaykh Muhammad Jaatoo al-Fallaanee, under whom he studied a number of texts of the Maalikee madhhab, and some their explanations. He also studied ad-Dimishqee’s explanation of ((Mukhtasir Khaleel)), along with some of ((Aqrab al-Masaalik)), and then completed the rest under Shaykh ‘Ammaar al-Jazaa.iree.
The Shaykh, the muhaddith Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Soodaanee al-Madanee, under whom he studied some books of poetry and Arabic grammer and some aspects of Usool al-Fiqh.
The Shaykh, the muhaddith Muhammad al-Haafidth ibn Moosaa Humayd.
The Shaykh, the muhaddith ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Yoosuf al-Ifreeqee, who had a tremendous effect on his personality, such that there became a great similarity between them, as Shaykh ‘Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad mentioned in his lecture about Shaykh ‘Umar.
He studied ((Buloogh al-Maraam)) under Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan along with ((Subul as-Salaam)) and some major books of hadeeth such as ((al-Muwatta,)) of Imaam Maalik, and also in tafseer and the science of hadeeth, while also hearing him respond to the questions of the people seeking fataawa.
The Shaykh, the muhaddith Saalim ibn Ahmad Baajnidaan al-Hadramee, the renowned muhaddith from Indonesia
May Allaah have mercy upon all of the deceased amongst them.
His teaching in al-Masjid an-Nabawee
The Shaykh began teaching in al-Masjid an-Nabawee in 1370 A.H. (1950 C.E.), when he had attained a permit to teach from the Presidency of Judges of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Shaykh thereby taught for approximately 49 years in al-Masjid an-Nabawee, and his teaching place used to be very close to what is popularly known as “Riyaadh al-Jannah” (the Garden of Paradise) which is the area stretching from the Prophet’s house (current resting place) to his mimbar.
Many students of knowledge used to attend his lessons, as well as the visiting pilgrims. And many of his lessons were recorded and are available free of (recording/copying) costs from the recording library in al-Masjid an-Nabawee. As an example, his explanation of ((Saheeh Muslim)) stretches to 817 audio cassettes, and that is a complete recording of the Shaykh’s explanation. And his explanation of the ((Tafseer of Ibn Katheer)) stretches to 720 audio cassettes, but this is incomplete. And his explanation of ((Sunan Abee Daawood)) stretches to 576 audio cassettes, and this is also incomplete. In total, all his audio cassettes amount to approximately 2,253.
The Shaykh was of excellent manners, and was very concerned about the benefitting and assisting the Muslims. He was extremely humble and noble to his guests as he would greet them with a cheerful face, enticing the guests to feel full of cheer as a result. He used to enjoy assisting the people, whether old or young, considering he was himself worthy of receiving assistance because of his position and knowledge and old age. So as a result of his impeccable manners, he was loved by those who knew him and those who did not.
And Shaykh al-Albaanee praised him much for his good neighbourly conduct and his impeccable good manners when he was a neighbour of Shaykh ‘Umar during the time he spent teaching at al-Jaami’ah al-Islaamiyyah (Islaamic University) in Madeenah.
[Note from Abu ‘Abdullaah: Having been taught Arabic grammar by Shaykh ‘Umar’s son ‘Abdul-Haadee; Shaykh ‘Abdul-Haadee once mentioned to us in class that the Shaykh did not permit the television inside their home, saying “Why should I invite Shaytaan into my house and force the angels to depart?”]
And the Shaykh was extremely wise in his opinions and sharp-witted at the many issues which people brought to his attention, as those who spent time with him in his tent during Hajj and the different da’wah centres he would visit would well know.
In conclusion to all this, Dr. Marzooq az-Zahraanee, who was previously the principal of the Centre for Prophetic Studies mentioned: “The Shaykh was complete in his manners, complete in his uprightness, complete in his manhaj and complete in his taqwaa…”.
And the Shaykh was blessed with impeccable manners as has been mentioned, even when he faced those who disliked him for his manhaj or manner, and he was able to affect them with his good manners in such a way that they would correct their ways and ahere to the true path and manhaj, which is based upon the Noble Qur.aan and the authentic Sunnah according to the understanding of the pious predecessors. And all this was whilst he was teaching in al-Masjid an-Nabawee.
His ‘aqeedah and manhaj
The Shaykh adhered steadfastly to the Noble Qur.aan and the authentic Sunnah as understood by the pious predecessors and he invited to this path with wisdom and maturity. He also used to encourage others to understand the evidences, and used to detest the opposing manaahij.
His Hajj journey
The Shaykh was blessed to have performed Hajj a great number of times, with his first ever Hajj being in 1365 A.H. (1945 C.E.), and from that time until 1418 A.H. (1998 C.E.) he performed Hajj every single year except once when he was ill. So he performed Hajj a total fo 53 times, as he also performed ‘Umrah a great number of times too. May Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) accept from him, aameen.
The Shaykh travelled to many countries for da’wah purposes, either with the Islaamic University or to setup Summer camps. From amongst the countries he visited were: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and many African countries.
The Scholars praise of him
Amongst the many scholars who praised him were:
Shaykh al-Albaanee, who praised him much for his good neighbourly conduct and his impeccable good manners and knowledge, such that when in 1395 A.H. (1975 C.E.) Shaykh al-Albaanee was asked as to who should be referred to when seeking fatwa, Shaykh al-Albaanee advised that Shaykh ‘Umar should be referred to for all fatwa-seeking questions.
Also, Shaykh ‘Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad described him as: “…a great man, a rightly-guided scholar, one who possessed noble manners and praiseworthy characteristics. And that he was upon the manhaj of the pious predecessors adhering to what was transmitted from Allaah and His Messenger (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).”
And Shaykh ‘Abdul-Muhsin mentioned that since he first met Shaykh ‘Umar way back in 1381 A.H. (1961 C.E.) love had entered into his heart for Shaykh ‘Umar.
The Shaykh had great desire to die in Madeenah, and Allaah permitted his wish to be met as he died in Madeenah on Wednesday 29 Muharram 1419 A.H. (17 March 1999 C.E.) after having received medical treatment and returning from Riyadh just a day before his death. The Shaykh was 74 years of age. His funeral prayer was performed after Salaatul-‘Asr and he was then buried in the graveyard of Baqee’, near al-Masjid an-Nabawee. Many attended his funeral from amongst the scholars and the judges and lecturers and teachers from the universities along with many students, and pilgrims and those who simply loved him.
May Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) have Mercy upon his soul, aameen.
The Shaykh left behind him one wife, seven sons: Dr. Muhammad (a member of the teaching staff at the Islaamic University of Madeenah), ‘Abdur-Rahmaan (a member of the teaching staff at the Primary school within the Islaamic University), ‘Abdul-Haadee (a member of the teaching staff at the Arabic Language Institute within the Islaamic University), ‘Abdul-Kareem, ‘Abdur-Razzaaq and Anas, and two daughters.
The Shaykh bequeathed his entire library to Daar al-Hadeeth, and his bequest was carried out after his death.