Shaykh Abu al Hasan Shadhili

10 September 2011
Shadhili, Abu al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'Abdu' Allah ibn 'Abdu'l-Jabbar [d.656H/1258CE] 'alayhi al-rahmah wa'l-ridwan

Shaykh Abu al Hasan Shadhili alayhir rahman, who, on his father's side, descended from the Fatimid-Hasanid line, and on his mother's side from the Fatimid-Husaynid line. He was born in Morocco, and educated in Tunis and Morocco. He was the Founder the Shadhili Sufi order, combining formal scholarship with mystical exercises. The opposition of establishment Tunisian 'ulama to his preaching led him to move to Alexandria, Egypt, in 1244, where he gathered students & followers, founded a zawiyah [Sufi lodge] & created the distinctive organisation, devotional activities & social life of the order. He avoided close relations with the government. Passed down popular prayers & Sufi terms. The movement he inspired is one of the oldest Sufi tariqahs & became the most important in North Africa.

Abu al-Hasan Shadhili alayhir rahman was one of the great saints of the community, he said about tasawwuf:

He who dies without having entered into this knowledge of ours dies insisting upon his grave sins (kaba'ir) without realizing it.1

He was born in the year 593 A.H./1196 C.E., in the mountain village of Ghumara in the Rif area of the northern Atlas mountains of the Maghrib. The Berber tribe to which he belonged had virtually separated itself from the rest of the Maghrib by refusing to accept the Religion of Islam, which was otherwise universally followed in this region. SHAYKH ABU MADYAN had tried to teach and guide this tribe to the Truth, but they had preferred to live in their state of spiritual ignorance.

After Abu'l as-Hasan spent a period of time with his murshid; Shaykh 'Abdu's-Salam ibn Mashish alayhir rahman, he was ordered by his shaykh 'Abdu as-Salam to proceed to Ifriqiya, now known as Tunisia, where he should settle in the village of Shadhila until Allah would send His Order for him to move to the city of Tunis, where he would meet with certain difficulty and opposition. He was told nevertheless that he should remain in Tunis, until the coming of an event which would permit him to leave this city and to travel to the East where, as his Master said,

"You will become the Qutb of your time."

Shaykh Abu'l as-Hasan alayhir rahman set out for the village of Shadhila, between Qayrawan and Tunis where, rather than looking for a place to lodge, he retreated to a cave on the mountain of Jabal Zaghwan, accompanied by his spiritual brother and companion, 'Abdullah ibn Salama al-Habibi alayhir rahman, where they spent 40 days in total seclusion and supplication.

Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Shadhili alayhir rahman died in Egypt, 656 Hijri - 1258 Common Era. His shrine is at Humaythra near the Red sea.

Extracts from & further reading : Sidi Muhammad Press