Thursday 11 October 2012

The Golden Chain of the Shadhiliyyah

The Golden Chain of the Shadhiliyyah

This spiritual succession or tradition is often represented as a tree, whose roots are in revelation and whose twigs, leaves, and flowers correspond to the spiritual methods or 'paths' (turuq), founded by the great spiritual master. The branches of the tree represent the principal lines of succession, and are sometimes to be interpreted historically, sometimes only symbolically. On the root of the tree one can read the name Allah; above it, on the trunk, is the name of the Archangel Gabriel (Jibril), who, in the Islamic perspective is the divine instrument of revelation, and above this is the name of Muhammad. At that point the trunk divides into two branches, which bear the names respectively of the first and fourth caliphs (Abu Bakr and Ali), since they were the first two mediators and masters of the Sufi tradition. 

These two branches divide into many twigs, which bear the names of the earliest Sufis such as Hasan al-Basri, Habib al-'Ajami and Sari as-Saqati. Following these come the names of the greatest spiritual masters of the first Islamic centuries such as Junayd, the great teacher of Sufi metaphysics, Dhu'n-Nun al-Misri, the lover, and Abu Yazid al-Bistami, the absorbed in God. All of these masters lived in the Islamic east, although Sufi mysticism appeared as the 'inner dimension' of Islam wherever Islam prevailed. From about the fourth Islamic century onwards (the ninth century A.D.), the blossoms of mysticism also appeared in the Far West, firstly in Spain and immediately thereafter in the Maghrib, where the name Abu Madyan stands at the origin of a whole segment of new twigs and leaves. This name appears at the top of the tree at about the same level as other famous names from which henceforth almost all subsequent spiritual orders spring.

The Spiritual Succession Abu Madyan
For it was at that time-the twelfth century A.D.-that there appeared 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in the Near East (his influence was to sweep across the whole Islamic world); Mu'in ad-din Chishti in North India and, a little later, Jalal ad-din Rumi in Asia Minor. From this time onwards the Sufi tradition became organized in the form of spiritual orders or brotherhoods that took the name of their founders.

Abu Madyan Shu'ayb was born in Seville of Arab parents in 1126. He was orphaned at a tender age, and was apprenticed to learn the weaver's craft. He fled from his brother's house, however, with a view to quenching his thirst for knowledge. After much wandering, he finally reached Fez, where he took instruction from several of the masters of 'outward' and 'inward' science, while he made a living from weaving. It was at this time that the works of al-Ghazali reached Fez. The scholar Abu'l-Hasan ibn Harzihim (Harazem in Moroccan dialect) condemned them publicly. During the following night he dreamt that the author had com- plained about him to the Prophet and the first four Caliphs and that he had been sentenced to so many blows with a whip. He awoke and found whip- marks on his body. He withdrew his condemnation and immersed himself in the writings he had proscribed. Thanks to Ibn Harzihim, Abu Madyan became acquainted not only with al-Ghazali's Revivification of the Religious Sciences, but also with the works of al-Muhasibi and other Sufi masters…….

Abu Madyan died at 1198 at 'Ubbad near Tlemsen, not far from the Moroccan border, His grave which a mosque was built, has remained a leading place of pilgrimage . Text avaliable The Way of Abu Madyan- Doctrinal and Poetic Works of Abu Madyan Shu'ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Ansari

Two of Abu Madyan's indirect disciples were to a lasting influence throughout the spiritual world of Islam. The first was Arab Muhiyd din ibn Arabi was born in 1165 in Murcia Spain and migrated via Fez, Bujaya and Tunsia to the Isalmic east. Because of his unsurpassed metaphysical expositions he was called 'the Great al-akbar' (ash-shaykh al-Abkar). The other was Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili, the founder of spiritual order (tariqah beraing his name, Shadhiliyyah. 

Muhyid-din Ibn Arabi learns about Abu Madyan
Muhyid-din Ibn Arabi grew up in Seville, when Abu Madyan, as an old man, still in Bujaya. Ibn Arabi wrote ……. One day the master (Abu Yaqub ben Yakhlaf al-Qumi al-Abbasi who had been a companion of Abu Madyan ) mounted his horse, and bade me and one of my companions follow him to Muntabar , a mountain that was about an hour's ride from Seville. As soon as the city gate was opened, my companion and I set out on foot. My companion carried in his hand a copy of al-Qushayris's Epistle, of which has I have said I knew nothing.

We climbed the mountain and at the top we found our master , who with a servant, had gone ahead of us. He tethered his horse, and we entered a mosque at the top of the mountain in order to pray. After the prayer, we sat with our backs towards the prayer-niche (mihrab). The master handed me Qushayri's Epistle and told me to read from it. I was unable, however, to utter a single word. My awe of him was so great that the book even fell from my hands. Then he told my companion to read it, and he expounded on what was read until it was time for the afternoon prayer, which we said. 

Then the master said: 'Let us now return to town. He mounted his horse, and I ran alongside him, holding on to his stirrup. Along the way he talked to me of the virtues and miracles of Abu Madyan. I was all ears, and forgot myself entirely, keeping my eyes fixed on his face the whole time. Suddenly he looked at me and smiled and, spurring his horse, made me run even more quickly in order to keep up with him. 

I succeeded in doing so. Finally he stopped, and said to me: 'Look and see what thou hast left behind thee.' I looked back and saw that the way along which we had come was full of thorn bushes that reached as high as my tunic, and that the ground was also covered with thorns. He said: 'Look at thy feet!' I looked at them and saw on them no trace of the thorns. 'Look at thy garments!' On them too I found no trace. Then he said: 'That comes from the grace engendered by our talking about Abu Madyan-may God be pleased with him-so persevere, my son, on the spiritual path!' Thereupon he spurred his horse and left me behind . . .
(Ruh al-Quds fi munasahat al-nafs by Muhyidd-in Ibn Arabi) Muhyidd-in Ibn Arabi books ..... Ibn Society

Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili more on the life, At the beginning of the thirteenth century of the Christian era, about twenty years after Muhyi'd-din Ibn 'Arabi had left Fez for the east, the Moroccan Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'Abdallah, a scion of the Hasanid branch of the Fatimids, who later achieved fame under the name of Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili, also migrated to the east in order to seek the spiritual pole of his time. In Baghdad a Sufi informed him that this pole was to be found in his own homeland, on Mount al-'Alam in the Rif mountains. He therefore returned home, and found in the place described a disciple of Abu Madyan, namely the spiritual master "Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish:

Abdas-Salam ibn Mashish more on the life.
As I approached his place of refuge, which was a cave near the top of the mountain, I made a halt at a spring which gushed forth a little beneath it. I washed myself with the intention of casting off all my previous knowledge and actions, then, as one completely poor, I made my way up to the cave. He came out towards me, and when he saw me, he said: 'Welcome,"All, son of "Abdallah, son of 'abd al-Jabbar . . .' and he named all my ancestors right back to the Prophet, whom God bless and greet. 

Then he said: 'O, "Ali, thou comest up to me here as one poor in knowing and doing to seek from me the riches of this world and the next.' I was smitten with fear out of awe for him. Then I remained with him for a number of days, until God opened my inward eye and I beheld wonders and things that far exceeded the ordinary realm, and I experienced the goodness of God's grace . . . One day, as I sat by my master, I said inwardly to myself:
'Who knows, perhaps my master knows the Supreme Name of God.' At that moment the young son of the master spoke from the depths of the cave: 'O Abu'l-Hasan, it is not a question of knowing the Supreme Name of God, it is a question of being the Supreme Name.' Thereupon the Shaykh said: 'My young son has seen through thee and recognized thee!' (al-Anwar al-Qudusiya fi tariaq ash-shadhiliya Muhammad Zafir al-Madani )

'Abdas-salam ibn Mashish was murdered in 1228. His tomb on Mount al-'Alam, is a place of pilgrimage to this day. 

Only one text has come down to us from Ibn Mashish, a metaphysical paraphrase of a widely known prayer, in which the believer calls on God to bless the Prophet as if to thank him for having received Islam through him. called As-Salatul-Mashishiyyah Ibn Mashish sees in the historical Muhammad an expression of the one Spirit from which all revelation comes and which is the eternal mediator between the ungraspable Godhead and the world. This is the Logos, the first manifestation of God and, as such.

His universal symbol as well as His highest veil. By the very fact that in this way the Absolute reveals itself in a relative and multiple fashion, it also conceals itself. This eternal mediator is called the 'Muhammadan Spirit' (ar-Ruh al-Muhammad), not because it is embodied only in Muhammad-for all God's messengers and prophets manifest it-but because in the Islamic perspective Muhammad is its most immediate expression. Divine Truth, the Sufis say, is in itself unlimited and inexhaustible, so that every religious form in which it deigns to clothe itself for the salvation of men can be no more than one possible form amongst others. 

Sufi mysticism is predominantly founded on gnosis, and this finds expression in the saying of Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili: 'Know and be as thou wilt, he once said, and meant by this that the man who has realized what he is before God can do nothing else but act rightly. He taught his disciples to look on the world with the eye of eternity:
'Attribute the actions of creatures to God as Agent; this will bring no harm to thee; whereas it will bring harm to thee if thou regardest creatures as the authors of their actions.' The spiritual attitude corresponding to this angle of vision is that of 'vacare Deo', unconditional self-abandonment to God: The servant will not attain to God as long as he harbours any desire or ulterior motive. If thou wouldst please God, renounce thyself and thine environment and thy power over it. But this abandonment is not mere in-action: each moment is a sword, if thou cuttest not with it, it will cut thee (i.e. cause that moment to be lost for the remembrance of God).
(al-Anwar al-Qudusiya fi tariaq ash-shadhiliya Muhammad Zafir al-Madani)

Shaykh Jazuli -author of Dalail al Khayrat
oward the end of the fifteenth century and begiinning of the sixteenth, Muahmmad Abu Abdullah al-Jazuli a man from the far south of Morocco, founded a Shadhili order. The order later played an important role in the defence of the Sus againest the Portuguese, which is why the Saadians brought the body of the founder to Marrakesh in order to inter it there. Al-Jazuli is famous throughout Morocco to this day for his work 'The proofs of Goodness' (dalail al-Khayrat), a collection of blessings on the Prophet in the form of a litany in which Muhammad (peace be upon him) the receptacle of revelation, appears as the summation of all positive and God reflecting aspects creation. From the spiritual posterity of Al-Jazuli several spiritual orders emerged whic hstill exist in Morocco today. The most popular is undoubtedly the one found in Meknes towards the end of the sixteenth cenutry by the Sharif Muhammad Ben Isa al-Mukhtari. Biographical Note of Shaykh Jazuli 

Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili inaugurated a spiritual method for the acquiring of spiritual poverty and for the practising of it in the midst of worldly cares. Amongst the disciples that came to him during his lifelong peregrination from the Islamic West to the Islamic East, there were rich and poor, educated and uneducated, government ministers and day labourers.

His first successor was Abu'l-'Abbas al-Mursi, who lived in Egypt, and the one after that was the famous Ahmad ibn Ata'illah of Alexandria, whose 'Spiritual Aphorisms' (Hikam) became the breviary of almost everyone who followed the Sufi path, whether in the Far West (Morocco) or the Far East (Java and Sumatra). Ibn Ata'illah died in 1309. In addition to the Shadhili line of spiritual masters who-like Ahmad az-Zarruq al-Bamussi, bom in Fez in 1441 and died in Tripoli in 1493- expounded Sufi doctrine with logical precision, there were always spiritual personalities who broke every rational framework, as if they incorporated some secret essence of the doctrine which transcended ordinary reason. One such was the master Ali as-Sanhaji, who lived in Fez in the first half of the sixteenth century.

The link with the Islamic east was maintained by the pilgrims who travelled to Mecca. And thus it occurred that eastern spiritual orders like the Qadiriyya, the Khalwatiyya and the Naqshbandiyya spread to the Maghrib. In the middle of the eighteenth century a Fez man, from the noble family of the Saqalli brought the Naqshbandi spiritual method from Egypt to Fez.

Shaykh Ahmad at-Tijani
Towards the end of the eighteenth century Mulay Ahmad at-Tijani, who had studied in Fez and then lived for a long time in the east where he had contacts with the Khalwatiyya, founded a new order which henceforth was to bear his name. His doctrine and his method held the balance between the Sufi tradition and the generally accepted theology. For this reason his order always lived on the best terms with the ruling house. The principal centre of the order is 'Ayn Madi in the south of Algeria, but the sepulchral mosque of the founder is in Fez, in the al-Blida district, where it is easily recognizable by its richly decorated doorway. Inside it is completely covered with blue and green arabesque mosaics. For a long time the order dominated the caravan routes through southern Algeria to the Sudan. It is well represented in Black Africa, and one can often meet Sudanese Muslims who have come to Fez to visit the tomb of the founder of the order.

other Tijani links

Shaykh al-'Arabi ad-Darqawi
The pure Shadhili tradition, which is representative of the earliest form of Sufism, was revivified at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century by Mulay al-'Arabi ad-Darqawi. His spiritual radiance extended well beyond the Maghrib. He was descended from a Hasanid family that lived amongst the Banu Zerwal, in the hills to the north-east of Fez. 

As a young man he studied in Fez, and it was here too that he met his spiritual master, the Idrisid 'Alt al-Jamal, who roughly rebuffed him several times before accepting him as his disciple. In one of his letters, Mulay al-'Arabi tells how his master tested him by ordering him, a young scholar of noble lineage, to carry a load of fresh fruit through the town: 
The first lesson that my master gave me was as follows:
he ordered me to carry two baskets full of fresh through the town. I carried them in my hands, and did not wish, as the others told me, to put them on my shoulders, for that was unwelcomed to me, and consticted my soul, so that it became agitated and fearful a d grieved beyond measure till I began to weep And, by God, I still had to weep for all the shame, humillation, and scorn that I had to undergo as a result. never before had my soul had to suffer such a thing, so I was not conscious of its pride and cowardice.

I had not known whether it was proud or not, since no professer, amongst all those that I had frequented, had ever taught me about my soul. While I was in this state, my master, who perceived my pride and my inner distress, came up to me, took the two baskets from my hands, and placed them on my shoulders with the words:'Distinguish thus between good and evil'. 

Thereby he opended the door for me and led me on the right way, for I learned to dicriminate between the proud and the humble, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the orthodox and the heretical, between those who know and translate their knowledge into deeds, and those who do not. From that moment no orthdoxy person ever overpowered me with hiss orthdoxy, no heretic with his heresy, no scholar with his knowledge, no pious man with his piety, and no fasting man with his asceticism. For my master, may God have mercy on him, had taught me to distinguish truth from vanity, and wheat from chaff.( Rasil al-'Arabi ad-Darqawi)

Letters of a Sufi Master The Shaykh ad-Darqawi sections of this book are available online from here also the book can can be purchased from this link
picture of a Darqawi Muqaddam and a Darqawi Shaykh Ali Darqawi

One of the effects of Divine Bounty, Grace, and Geerosity is that one finds the Master who can grant spiritual education; without Divine Grace no one would find or recognize him, since, according to the saying of the saint Abu'l Abbas al-Mursi (may God be pleased with him): 'It is more difficult to know a saint than to know God/ Again, in the Hikam of lbn "Ata'illah, it is said: 'Exalted be He who makes His saints known only in order to make Himself known and who leads towards them those whom He wishes to lead towards Himself.'

The heart of man cannot attach itself to the Divine Essence unless his ego has been effaced, extinguished, destroyed, annihilated ... As the saint Abu Madyan has said: 'Whoever does not die, does not see God.' A the masters of our way have taught the same. And take care that you do not think that it is the things of the body and the soul that veil God from us. By God, what veils Him is nothing other than illusion, and illusion is vain. 

As the saint Ibn "Ata'illah has said: 'God did not veil Himself from thee by some reality coexisting with Him, since there is no reality other than He. What veils Him from thee is naught but the illusion that some- thing outside Him could possess any reality.' . . .
Know that the faqir can only kill his soul when he has been able to se( its form, and he will only see its form when he has separated himself from the world, from his companions, from his friends, and from his habits. One faqir said to me: 'My wife has got the better of me.' To which I answered: 'It is not she but your own soul that has got the better of you; we have no other enemy; if thou couldst dominate thy soul, thou woulds dominate the whole world-not merely thy wife.' 

. . . The soul is something immense; it is the whole cosmos since it is a copy of it. Everything that is in the cosmos is in the soul and everything that is in the soul is in the cosmos. Therefore, whoever masters his soul masters the world, and whoever is mastered by his soul is mastered by the world. . . .

Spiritual intuition is very subtle. It can only be fixed spatially by concrete symbols and temporally by interior prayer (dhikr), holy company, and the breaking of habits. . . .All things are hidden in their opposites-gain in loss, gift in refusal, honour in humiliation, wealth in poverty, strength in weakness, abundance in restriction, rising up in falling down, life in death, victory in defeat, power in powerlessness, and so on. Therefore, if a man wish to find, let him be content to lose; if he wish a gift, let him be content with refusal; he who desires honour must accept humiliation, and he who desires wealth must be satisfied with poverty; let him who wishes to be strong be content to be weak; let him who wishes abundance be resignec to restriction; he who wishes to be raised up must allow himself to be cas down; he who desires life must accept death; he who wishes to conquer must be content with impotence . . . (Rasa'il)

Shaykh Ahmed Al-alawi
Ahmed al-'Alawi is Ahmed ibn Mustafa ibn 'Aliwa, Abu al-'Abbas al-'Alawi, born in Mostaghanem, Algeria, in 1291/1874. He was a Sufi, Maliki scholar, Koranic exegete, poet, and the sheikh and renewer of the Shadhili tariqa, of which he founded the 'Alawi-Darqawi order that bears his name. His teachingstressed the threefold nature of the Muslim religion (din) as mentioned in the Gabriel hadith: Islam, represented by one's inward and outward submission to therules of Sacred Law; true faith (iman), in the tenets of faith of Ahl al-Sunna; and the perfection of faith (ihsan), in the knowledge of Allah which the way ofSufism provides the means to. He authored works in each of these spheres, though his most important legacy lay in the spiritual way he founded, whichemphasized knowledge of Allah (ma'rifa) through the practice of solitary retreat (khalwa) under the supervision of sheikh, and the invocation (dhikr) of theSupreme Name.

Europeans visited the sheikh, but some who met him later wrote works that tried to assimilate him to a sort of perennialist philosophy thatwould consider all religious traditions as valid and acceptable reflections but a single truth, substituting traditional spirituality versus modern materialism for Islamversus unbelief. The sheikh's own works emphatically deny their philosophy, and the reason Allah afficted them with it would seem to be that they did notremain with the sheikh long enough to absorb his state or become as he was, a follower of the way of the prophets and purified ones, rather taking theiraffiliation with him as a means to legitimize opinions they had from the first and were unwilling to ever relinquish, remaking the master, as it were, in their own image.

The true measure of a spiritual way, however, does not lie in books produced by writers, in the wrong or in the right, but in hearts it opens to knowledgeof divine realities conveyed by prophetic revelation, and in the Sheikh Ahmed al-'Alawi, whose order has spread to the farthest reaches of the Muslim world, certainly stands as on of the greatest Sufi masters of Islamic history. He died in Mostaghanem in 1353/1934. 

The Life of the Shaikh Ahmad Al-Alawi By Himself Translation and commentary by Martin Lings in his book A Sufi Saint of the twentieth century - Shaikh Ahmad Al-Alawi - his Spiritual heritage and Legacy. (Chapter, Seen from within) the full book can be purchased from this link ...Picture of Shaykh Al-Alawi 1 & Shaykh al-Alawi 2

The main text was taken from this book called Fez, City of Islam

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