Habib `Umar is a direct descendant of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ through Imam al-Husayn. His father and his father’s father and all his forefathers were scholars and knowers of Allah. Among his blessed forefathers are Imam `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin as well as the first of the Prophetic Household to settle in Hadramawt, Imam Ahmad bin `Isa al-Muhajir and his noble descendants, al-Faqih al-Muqaddam Muhammad bin `Ali, Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf and Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim.
Habib `Umar was born in Tarim, in Yemen’s Hadramawt Valley before Fajr on Monday, the 4th Muharram 1383 AH (27th May 1963), and it was there that he grew up. His father, Habib Muhammad, was a great scholar and caller to Allah, and he carefully supervised his son’s upbringing. When he was still very young, his father would take him with him to gatherings of knowledge and on expeditions calling to Allah.
At an early age, Habib `Umar memorised the Qur’an and began studying the Islamic sciences under his father and many of the great scholars of Tarim of the time. Among them were Habib Muhammad bin `Alawi bin Shihab, Habib Ahmad bin `Ali Ibn Shaykh Abu Bakr, Habib `Abdullah bin Shaykh al-`Aydarus, Habib `Abdullah bin Hasan Balfaqih, Habib `Umar bin `Alawi al-Kaf, Habib Ahmad bin Hasan al-Haddad, Habib Hasan bin `Abdullah al-Shatiri and his brother, Habib Salim, the Mufti, Shaykh Fadl bin `Abd al-Rahman Ba Fadl, and Shaykh Tawfiq Aman. He also studied under his older brother, Habib `Ali al-Mashhur, who is now the Mufti of Tarim.
In 1387 (1967), a socialist government came to power in South Yemen which attempted to eradicate Islam from society. The situation in Hadramawt became increasingly difficult and thus in Safar 1402 (1981), Habib `Umar migrated to the city of al-Bayda’ in North Yemen, safe from the socialist regime in South Yemen.
He resided in the Ribat of al-Bayda’ and studied at the hands of the founder of the Ribat, the great Imam, Habib Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Haddar, as well as Habib Zayn bin Ibrahim bin Sumayt, the Ribat’s main teacher.
During his time in al-Bayda’, Habib `Umar made frequent visits to the Hijaz. There he learnt from the great Imams of the time: Habib `Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf, Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, and Habib `Abu Bakr al-Attas al-Habashi. He took license to narrate from the chains of transmission in Hadith and in other sciences from Shaykh Muhammad Yasin al-Faddani and the Hadith scholar of the Two Sanctuaries, Sayyid Muhammad bin `Alawi al-Maliki, as well as other scholars.
After the fall of the socialist regime in 1410 (1990) and the unification of North and South Yemen, Habib `Umar returned to Hadramawt. His tireless work led to the establishment of Dar al-Mustafa in 1414 (1994). Dar al-Mustafa is a centre for traditional Islamic learning. Dar al-Zahra’ was opened in 1422 (2001) to provide learning opportunities for women as well.
Habib `Umar constantly travels to convey the Prophetic message and to call people to Allah. He delivers regular lectures and khuṭbahs within Hadramawt and often makes trips abroad. His travels have taken him to almost all the Arab states, East and South Africa, South East Asia and Australia, the Indian Subcontinent, Western Europe and Scandinavia and North America. He has connected to the chains of transmission of the scholars of these regions and has also participated in many Islamic conferences.