He is the Qutub (leader of saints) of his age, the reference point for all auliya’ (saints) during his time, the pillar of strength of the religion, embedded in his soul the highest level of yaqin (certainty). He is Habib Abu Bakar bin Muhammad As-Saqqaf.
His lineage of nobility clung himself to the noblest of the nobles, prophet Muhammad s.a.w. He was born in Besuki, a small town in Kabupaten Sitibondo, East Java, in 1285 H. He was an orphan, his father died when he was young, yet he underwent a good Islamic education under the supervision of his family until he grew to be a soul, rich in the quality of mahmuda (noble quality) and was clear the signs of sainthood in him.
His Journey to seek Knowledge
In the year 1293 H, he prepared to further his studies to Hadhramaut, the place of his ancestors. His grandmother Fatimah binti Abdullah, encouraged him to further his studies there. After long hours of travelling, he reached the town of Seiwun and his uncle, Habib Abdullah bin Umar already waited for him there.
The first destination of his was the house of a famous scholar, Habib Syaikh bin Umar. As soon as Habib Abu Bakar arrived, Habib Syaikh hugged him all of a sudden. It is true that the auliya’ (saints) of Allah knew the signs of each other, eventhough other people could not read them.
Habib Syaikh gave his fullest attention to Habib Abu Bakar in terms of education, through his uncle, he learnt Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Tasawwuf. His uncle woke him up every night for tahajjud prayer (night prayer), to follow the practices of Rasulullah s.a.w.
Habib Abu Bakar also went to study and receive certificates from many scholars in Hadhramaut and the most prominent among his teachers is Al-Qutb Habib Ali bin Muhammad Al-Habsyi. Al Habib Ali bin Muhammad Al-Habsyi once called his dearest disciple and told him that he will meet one of the three auliya’s (saints) of a very high level, the other 2 had already passed, both named Abu Bakar and thus the third will also come by the name of Abu Bakar. Later, the disciple of Habib Ali Al-Habsyi dreamt of Rasulullah s.a.w who took with him a child and Rasulullah s.a.w told him, “Look, I bring with me my pious grandson, Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf”. The dearest disciple of Habib Ali Al-Habsyi then met Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf and told him his story.
Habib Ali Al-Habsyi proposed a woman in Seiwun for the marriage of his student Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf, and he himself covered all the costs of the marriage.
Other than Habib Ali Al-Habsyi, there are many more Habibs who taught Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf. Some of them are Habib Muhammad bin Idrus Al-Habsyi, Habib Abdul Qadir bin Ahmad and many more. Habib Abu Bakar went back home to the land of Java in 1302 H. He stayed in Besuki, East Java, his hometown for 3 years before he made hijrah to Gresik and he was 20 years old when arrived at Gresik.
The sufi Path
In the same year he arrived at Gresik, one event occured that changed his entire life. While Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf was listening to the Friday sermon, he felt an awakening in his heart. It brought to him an insight, telling him to be in solitude. At that very moment he stood up, leaving Masjid Jami’ and headed to his home, never to be in touch with anyone since then. His suluk (living in solitude) went for 15 years.
When he came out of solitary, he was welcomed by his teacher, Habib Muhammad bin Idrus Al-Habsyi, and his teacher said, “I have prayed and do tawajjuh (seek for Allah’s mercy) for three days and three nights to call Habib Abu Bakar out of his solitary life. His teacher then brought him to visit the maqam (grave) of Habib Alwi bin Muhammad Hasyim.
They then headed to Surabaya to the house of Habib Abdullah bin Umar As-Saqqaf. In the middle of the crowd, Habib Muhammad bin Idrus proclaimed, “This one (Habib Abu Bakar) is one khazanah (treasure of wisdom) from all khazanah of the bani Alawi and we opened it for the sake of the selected fews and for the public.”
From that day onwards, Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf set a timetable of teaching lessons at his house. People came from all over the land to learn from him and to visit him. In his teaching lessons, he finished teaching the kitab ‘Ihya’ Ulumuddin’ of Imam Ghazali for 40 times.
His maqam (spiritual level) was acknowledged by all of the auliya’s (saints) during his time and was seen as the one who obtained the level of ‘As-Siddiqiyyah Al-Kubra” and “Sahibulwaqt”.
Habib Alwi bin Muhammad Al-Haddad spoke of him, “In reality, Habib Abu Bakar As-Saqqaf is the Qutbul Ghauts and he is the one whom Allah’s focus is upon.”
Habib Abdurrahman Al-Habsyi spoke of him with his tears flowing, “This one (Habib Abu Bakar) is the king of bees! (king of the Auliya’s). He is my brother in the path of Allah, look at him! Because looking at him is an ibadah.”