A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Sages of Makka (2018)

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A Luminous Lamp in the Shade of Table Mountain: Shaykh Seraj Hendricks (2021)

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was one of the Resident Shaykhs at Azzawia Institute of Cape Town, and appointed khalifa of Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, having studied in the Holy City of Makka for more than a decade at his hands and those of other ‘ulama in the Hijaz. Shaykh Seraj, al-marhum, passed away in July 2020. In this moving biographical text, his muqaddam in the tariqa, Shaykh Dr Hisham, a public intellectual and academic of politics, international studies and religion, whom Shaykh Seraj also appointed as Senior Scholar at Azzawia Institute, discusses the life of Shaykh Seraj, the history of Azzawia, and the approach that the noble scholar took towards religion.

Praise for “A Luminous Lamp”

Published by Dar al-Turath al-Islami 

“Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was one of the very few inheritors to the mantle of the great luminary of Makka, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, may Allah have mercy upon them both. It is not an easy task to speak of the likes of such a man as Shaykh Seraj, but this work has managed to bring together so much for those of us that valued the noble shaykh so much. As Shaykh Seraj’s muqaddam, Shaykh Dr Hisham knew Shaykh Seraj and his tariqa well indeed – and as a scholar in his own right, his writing will educate the reader about Shaykh Seraj, his life, and the legacy he leaves behind.”

Shaykh Afeefuddin Al-Jailani, Darul Jailani International

“It is challenging to pay tribute to my brother, friend and colleague, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks. He was a fabulous scholar, a visionary colleague, a profoundly knowledgeable and patient mentor, and a loving and transparent friend. It is difficult to capture all aspects of the positive contribution of my friend and colleague Shaykh Seraj Hendricks; but this book by Shaykh Dr Hisham should give a glimpse to the vast light of Shaykh Seraj. May Allah ta’ala bless his soul, grant him forgiveness and company of the pious.”

Shaykh Dr Muhammad al-Ninowy, Founder, Madina Institute Seminaries

“In this tribute of reverence and love, Shaykh Dr Hisham fulfills the time honoured tradition of recording in writing the biographies of luminaries who have passed on – most particularly, that of Shaykh Seraj Hendricks. He weaves into it the fascinating backstory of how the Muslims at the Cape, after two centuries of forced migration, isolation, social subjugation and enslavement, began, after the abolition of slavery in 1834, to reestablish links with the Muslim world, and specifically Makka. From this contact, the suppressed aspirations of Cape Muslims sprung into a resurgent and resilient tradition of scholarship that continues to the present day. Through this narrative Shaykh Dr Hisham has rightfully earned the gratitude of the Cape’s Muslims.”

Maulana Taha Karaan,
Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council, Cape Town

“Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was, like his name, a “Seraj”–a light- giving lamp–in his teachings and his example, for his family, students, and community. This work, A Luminous Lamp, sheds light on this beautiful life and legacy in ways sure to inspire.”

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Founder, SeekersGuidance

“A loving tribute to a beautiful soul who touched the lives and hearts of many, A Luminous Lamp elucidates the humility and integrity of Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, his scholarly lineage and erudition, and the century-long traditions and community of Azzawia in Cape Town, South Africa.”

Dr Mona Hassan,
Associate Professor of Religious Studies & History, Duke University

“The iconic Azzawia Institute is situated on the slopes of the Table Mountain ampitheatre overlooking Table Bay where South Africa’s first Muslims arrived as slaves and exiles. Founded in 1920 by his grandfather, Shaykh Muhammad Salih Hendricks, the late Shaykh Seraj was steeped in his grandfather’s Makkan ethos and Ghazalian traditions. A scholar of note, an eloquent orator, a defender of social justice, a supporter of the creative arts, a spiritual beacon and a community leader, Shaykh Seraj was many things to many people. This brief bio-publication, a fitting tribute penned by Shaykh Dr Hisham, gives the reader precious insights into the shining legacy of one of Cape Town’s finest sons.”

Shafiq Morton,
Author and Journalist, Voice of the Cape

“Shaykh Seraj Hassan Hendricks illuminated the hearts of those who saw him, with a presence of altruism and compassion, that resulted in serenity in those who came to him. A linguist, a philosopher, and an advocate for women’s rights, he was a pioneer among the people of knowledge, in pursuit of justice. The lamp shines; and those who seek, flutter towards its light. This eloquently written book by Shaykh Dr Hisham, one of Shaykh Seraj’s closest students and inheritors of his legacy, echoes Shaykh Seraj’s passion for his religion, which embodied the attributes of love, upon the middle way. As Shaykh Seraj’s children and spouse, we encourage all those who respected Shaykh Seraj to read this book, A Luminous Lamp, and we pray you all find benefit.”

Rhoda Hendricks, Rashid Hendricks, Nuha Hendricks, and Alia Hendricks – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks’ wife and three children

Available for order direct from Dar al-Turath al-Islami here – (if ordered from DTI directly, the shipping might be more than from other sellers in America or the UK, but the price of the book will likely be much cheaper). Email [email protected]

Praise for “A Sublime Way”

Jointly published by Fons Vitae & Dar al-Turath al-Islami 

As Shaykh Afeefuddin al-Jailani notes in his foreword, ‘The Sublime Way’ has “collected the Makkan teachings in spiritual calling to God, and prophetic teachings by way of al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, may God have mercy on him” – Shaykh Muhammad al-Ninowy goes on to note in his own writing how this book is “a book about our shaykhs, the scholars and nobles of the honoured city of Makka; and on their ṭarīqa (Sufi path) on the path of self-purification (tazkiya), inner excellence (iḥsān) and the path (sayr) to Allah Most High”. Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki is one of the foremost exemplars of that particular ṭarīqa, who was known as a scholar’s scholar during his lifetime, producing scores of sages from around the world, who studied at his hands in Makka. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, Ustādh Dr Hisham and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, joined hands in producing this work, which they seek to describe the Sufi path of the way of the scholars of Makka – Ṭarīqa ʿUlamā Makka – who originally came from around the globe, and engaged with each other in that holy city. The book contains a description of the path, via the inheritance of the South African absorption of that tariqa, which is where the Hendricks brothers returned to following their time in Makka with Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki; alongside an essay on pluralism; and a discussion of some of the practices of the tariqa.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks were the Resident Shaykhs at Azzawia Institute of Cape Town, and appointed khulafa’ of Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, having studied in the Holy City of Makka for more than a decade at his hands and those of other ‘ulama in the Hijaz. Shaykh Seraj, al-marhum, passed away in July 2020, leaving Shaykh Ahmad as the Resident Shaykh of Azzawia Institute. Shaykh Dr Hisham, a public intellectual and academic of politics, international studies and religion, was appointed a Senior Scholar at Azzawia Institute of Cape Town, and is affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Royal United Services Institute.


“This is a book that I believe, Allah Willing, would please the souls of the noble scholar, al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, and that of his forefathers, for it shows how united the scholars of Makka were in their Sufism. Indeed, it’s a very good explanation of the different facets of the path of Sufism, the way of the scholars of Makka – Ṭarīqa ʿUlamā Makka – who came from around the globe and engaged with each other in such a beautiful way in Makka. May Allah bless the authors for their efforts, and may He allow us to benefit.”
Syed Hasan b. Muhammad bin Salem al-Attas, Imam, Masjid Ba’Alawīe, Singapore

“… this book about our shaykhs, the scholars and nobles of the honoured city of Makka; and on their ṭarīqa on the path of self-purification (tazkiya), inner excellence (iḥsān) and the path (sayr) to Allah Most High… I found therein much benefit, and majestic usefulness…it is rich in meaning and abundant in spiritual and intellectual benefit. It will be especially of benefit to one seeking a succinct yet rich in-depth book.”
Shaykh Dr. Sayyid Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy, Dean & Founder, Madina Institutes and Seminaries

“Praise be to Allah ﷻ Who has assembled a beautiful group for the writing of this book. They have collected the Makkan teachings in spiritual calling to Allah, and prophetic teachings by way of al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, may Allah ﷻ have mercy on him. May Allah ﷻ bless the brethren, the virtuous shaykhs, the judicious Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the noble Ustādh, Dr. Hisham and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks.”
Shaykh al-Sayyid Afeefuddin al-Jailani, Founder and Chairman, Al-Wariseen Trust

“The Middle East has suffered significant intellectual and moral damage….it is a source of great reassurance to see that the authentic and indigenous spirituality of the Holy Cities has survived…and is now attracting many of the younger people who are seeking a merciful and authentic alternative to the fundamentalist project. This book is a very welcome indication of that timely change.”
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Dean, Cambridge Muslim College/Dr Timothy J. Winter, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University

“Simply put, this is one of the best roads to Mecca: a simple yet authoritative Sufi guide in English transmitting the teachings of the great sage of our age from the Holy City of Makka, Shaykh al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī (d. 2004).  This Meccan tradition represents one of the true inheritors of the Ghazālīan legacy in the modern age as reflected throughout the pages of this guide, and inflected through the timeless lessons of Imam al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) in balancing gratitude (shukr) and wayfaring (mujahada), and indeed, theory and practice. May Allah ennoble the sage, the transmitters and those who benefit from it! “
Dato’ Dr Afifi al-Akiti, Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University and Orang Besar 8 of Perak, Malaysia

“A Sublime Way provides rare and valuable insights in the English language on traversing the spiritual path laid out by one of the most prominent Muslim sages of the late twentieth century, Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, who inherited and transmitted the scholarship of Makka.”
Dr. Mona Hassan, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies & History, Duke University

“The most important aspect of this book, in my opinion, is the presentation of major universal concepts in Sufism (taṣawwuf) …although all these universal concepts were elaborated within a specific spiritual path, but the message is universal. Therefore, it benefits both the traveller (sālik) as well as the general reader.”
Dr. Wan Suhaimi Wan Abdullah, Associate Professor, Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation, ­University of Technology in Malaysia (UTM)

“Dr. Hisham, Shaykh Seraj and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks are to be commended for their work in making the methods and understandings of those who take on the path of many of the sages of Makka accessible to a Western audience. This book is highly recommended for those interested in Sufi philosophies of spiritual ascent and their influence on spiritual networks on a global level.”
Dr. Feryal Salem, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Director of the Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies and Muslim Chaplaincy Program, American Islamic College

“It was a pleasure reading this book. It is a remarkable “tract of practical Sufism” (to use the words of Shaykh Seraj in the preface). It provides a depth of historical tradition in synthesis with contemporary modern articulation of what is involved in following the Sufi path. The presentation of the diverse dimensions of Sufi practice provides important insights into how diversity is shaped by tawḥīd unity.”
Dr. John O’Voll, Professor Emeritus of Islamic History, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding, Georgetown University

“This important book is a welcome addition to contemporary, Muslim-authored works on Sufism, a genre that offers a much-needed insiders’ look at the history, practices, and–most critically–the continuing relevance of the time-honoured traditions of Sufism for today’s Muslim communities. Too often Sufism, especially when presented in academic works on Islam, comes across as an esoteric mysticism, best suited for a bygone age. This book remedies that approach by demonstrating the dynamism of Sufism–how it is both rooted in the Islamic tradition but is also practiced, developed, and refined by scholars and worshipers living in modern times and addressing the concerns of modern Muslim communities…it is my belief that the continuing relevance of the Sufi way, particularly the way of the ʿulamā, lies in its ability to speak to the heart of the believer and illuminate the foundations of faith in an increasingly bewildering world.”
Shaykha Zaynab Ansari, Core Faculty, Tayseer Seminary

Errata can be found at the end of this page.



The book can presently be ordered in North America on Amazon.comFons Vitae and Mecca Books.

In the UK, one can go to Amazon.co.uk and Madani Books.

For booksellers beyond North America and the UK, please write to [email protected] for private distributors in South Africa, Egypt, and elsewhere.


Book Events and bookings

Book events for a Sublime Way have been held in Cape Town (Dar al-Turath al-Islami, November 2018), Cambridge (Cambridge Muslim College, March 2019), Beirut (Almakan, March 2019), the Bradford Literary Festival (July 2019), Malaysia (November 2019) with possible events in Singapore and Egypt later in the year. Please write to [email protected] for further information or bookings.

The book launch at Cambridge Muslim College, with Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and Sidi Ma’an al-Dabbagh, can be seen here:


The below includes a few online video links on Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī. More suggestions, or requests for information, can be sent to [email protected]

The Life of Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī

Teaching in Masjid al-Haram on Ramadan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toWM7z8LuZ8

Lecture on the Prophetic Biography

Teaching about love for the Prophet

A talk in Oman at the turn of the 21st century

Meeting with many of the scholars of Syria in a small gathering

The importance of Shaʿbān, and the month of the Mawlid

On Sufism

On Love

Poems and songs recited by Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, which also include many pictures of him with other scholars of the time

The Blessed Cloak

My Heart’s Trust in Allah

Oh Allah a Look from the Merciful Gaze

The Muhammadan Ode

Talks and gatherings during visits to Cape Town with Shaykh Seraj Hendricks and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks

The funeral prayer of Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī


  • On page 86 and thereafter, there are a few unfortunate places where the tahlil is rendered in English as ‘There is no Allah but Allah’ – this should be ‘There is no divinity but Allah’. This was due to an editing error.
  • Page 87, Footnote 109: “Witr is prayed at night after Isha or Fajr Prayer.” should read as “Witr is prayed at night after Isha or before Fajr Prayer.”