Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad
Is the book titled The Lives of Man by Imam Abdullah ibn Alawi al-Haddad reliable? And is his aqidah in 100% accordance with that of the Ashari school and ahlus sunnah wal jamaah? He states in his book, and I quote from page 7-8, “It is narrated  that rasullulah (saw), was already a prophet when Adam (AS) was between water and clay, between spirit and body, and  that he (saw) accompanied Adam when he boarded the ark, and Ibrahim (AS) when he was thrown into nimrods fire.” Is this accurate? And is this the belief of the majority of ahlus sunnah wal jamaah? This is just one of many quotes from the book in which there are many similar stories, please explain. Also, there are many more popular books written by this sheikh and another, Habib Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad, including The Key to the Garden,Gifts for the Seeker, and The Book of Assistance. Are these books alright to read?
These books are inestimable and filled with guidance. Imam `Abd Allah al-Haddad was one of the great Imams of Ahl al-Sunna and a Mujaddid (Renewer) of this Religion. If his `Aqeedah is not 100% in accordance with the Ash`ari School and Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a then there is no Ash`ari School and no Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a. That `Aqida is cited in full in Key to the Garden. As for the hadiths quoted:
 Water and clay / spirit and body hadith:
Al-Qari said in al-Asrar al-Marfu`a:
The Hadith: “I was a Prophet when Adam was still between water and clay.” Al-Sakhawi said, “I never saw it in this wording… Al-Zarkashi said, “It is baseless in that wording but al-Tirmidhi narrated:
“When were you a Prophet? He replied: When Adam was still between the spirit and the flesh.”
Ibn Hibban in his Sahih and al-Hakim narrated from al-`Irbad ibn Sariya that the Prophet said, upon him peace:
“I was decreed in the Divine Presence to be the Seal of the Prophets when Adam was still kneaded in his clay.”
 Prophetic translation hadith:
Imam al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur cites Ibn Marduyah’s narration that Ibn `Abbas said – Allah be pleased with them:
“I asked the Prophet – Allah bless him and greet him: May my father and mother be your ransom! Where were you when Adam was in Paradise?’ Whereupon he smiled until his pre-molars showed and said: Truly I was in his loins, and <he alighted upon the earth while I was in his loins, and I boarded the Ark in the loins of my father Nuh, and I was cast into the fire in the loins of my father Ibrahim. Nor did my forefathers and mothers ever join illicitly.>…'” Etc.
Narrated by Ibn Abi `Umar al-`Adani in his Musnad and Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (1:349) cf. Kanz al-‘Ummal (#32010, 35489). Ibn Kathir cited it with its chain in al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya and al-Suyuti in al-La’ali’ al-Masnu’a (1996 ed. 1:243-244) with another very weak chain. Al-Qadi `Iyad cited the bracketed portion in al-Shifa (p. 126-127 #131) cf. al-Suyuti, Manahil al-Safa (#1280) and commented: “Al-`Abbas’s panegyric of the Prophet – upon him peace – witnesses to the veracity of this report.” `Iyad is referring to the narration in which al-`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib – Allah be well-pleased with him – said:
“Messenger of Allah, I wish to praise you.” The Prophet replied, upon him peace: “Go ahead – how well you speak!” (lâ yafdudillâhu fâk). Al-`Abbas said:
“Before [your translation] you were blessed
in the shades [of Paradise] and the repository (Eden)
where leaves were used for garments.
Then you alighted upon earth, neither a formed human being
nor a piece of flesh nor clot,
But as a drop that boarded the Ark
when the flood destroyed Nasr and the rest of the idols:
Transported from the loins to the wombs
in the succession of worlds and centuries.
Until your noble House, proclaiming [your merit],
took hold of the highest summit of the line of Khindif.
And then, when you were born, the sun rose over the earth
and the horizon was illuminated with your light.
So we – in that radiance and that light
and paths of guidance – can pierce through.”
Narrated from Khuraym ibn Aws ibn Jariya by al-Hakim (3:327=1990 ed. 3:369), al-Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (5:267-268) as cited by Ibn Kathir in his Sira (ed. Mustafa `Abd al-Wahid 4:51=1:195), Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya (1:364), Ibn Sayyid al-Nas in Minah al-Madh (p. 192-193) with his chain through al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani, and – as mentioned by al-Qari in Sharh al-Shifa (1:364) – Abu Bakr al-Shafi`i and al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (4:213). Al-Suyuti in al-La’ali’ al-Masnu`a (1:265=1996 ed. 1:244) said: “There is no question that these verses are by al-`Abbas.” Also cited by al-Qadi `Iyad in al-Shifa (p. 216 #393), Ibn al-Athir in Usud al-Ghaba (2:129 #1348), Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Isti`ab (8:447), also from Khuraym’s brother Jarir ibn Aws, Ibn Hajar in al-Isaba – in the entry “Khuraym,” al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (1-2:36-37 and 3:415=al-Arna’ut ed. 2:102-103), Ibn al-Qayyim in Zad al-Ma`ad (3:482-483), and in Sharh al-Mawahib (3:84).
I heard the Shaykh of Tarim and Prophetic inheritor, al- Habib `Umar ibn Hafiz say on tape: “The reason the Umma no longer pierces through’ is because they have abandoned the conviction in their Prophet which al-`Abbas and the rest of the Companions had.”