Saturday, April 28, 2007

Moulay Sulaiman

His lineage:

Sulaiman b. al-Mahdi b. al-Yazid b. Muhammad b. Umar b. Muhammad b. al-‘Abbas b. Abu al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Musa b. ‘Isa b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Wughiri b. Ya‘la b. ‘Abd al-‘Ali b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. A‘mar b. Sulaiman b. Muhammad b. Moulay Idris II b. Moulay Idris I b. ‘Abdullah al-Kamil b. al-Hasan al-Muthanna b. al-Hasan b. Ali.

His father, Moulay al-Mahdi, was originally from the tribe of Qal‘iyya, Nadur. He was a fine horseman and was highly respected by all the people of the region in the Reef. When there were disputes or conflicts between tribes, he was the intermediary who solved them and reunited the parties. He had a huge influence amongst the people. If he spoke the people fell silent and if he ordered them they followed. His house was open to anyone. People would come from far and wide to ask him for his prayers and he would feed and honour them. Later, he moved to the region of al-Lahyaina just outside of Fez. There he married and settled for some time. He was gifted with two sons whilst resident there; Hashim and Sulaiman. However, after some time, he was forced to leave his sons with their maternal uncles and return to Nadur and was absent for many years. He only visited them once while he was resident in Nadur. When Sulaiman was twenty years of age, his father sent him a letter calling him to attend in Nadur. There his father married Sulaiman to the wife of his brother, al-Hasan, who had recently passed away. Sulaiman returned to his homeland al-Lahyaina accompanied with his new wife.

When he was around twenty eight years of age, in the year 1315, he travelled with some local fuqara to visit the Sheikh of the Darqawi Order in Bu Bareeh, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman, who was the grandson of Moulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi. He was the youngest of the travellers, but when he arrived at the Sheikh’s home, the Sheikh cried, ‘Welcome, my beloved! Welcome, my beloved!’ He sat him at his side and he was given the litany of the order.

Soon after joining the Darqawi Order, he travelled to visit his father in Nadur. He resided there and took his new spiritual allegiance with great sincerity and seriousness, becoming completely engrossed in worship and invocation of God. He loved to visit the brethren of the order and he made his house a place of invocation for the brothers whenever they wished to visit. Wherever he moved, he would bring the brethren together for remembrance of God. He had memorised vast numbers of spiritual odes and poetry and would recite them in the gatherings with power and passion. He would never tire of invoking God and singing His praise. When he went out on his travels, he would always be accompanied by the fuqara and from the moment they left their homes their tongues would not cease from invoking their Lord. At times, they would stay up the whole night until the dawn prayer invoking or in spiritual discussion. He loved to read the books of the previous spiritual masters such as the letters of Moulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi. He would read them out to the fuqara out loud and contemplate over the meanings and express them to his audience. He frequented the scholars of the region and would always inquire about the matters of his religion and act upon what he had learnt. He visited his Sheikh 25 times in his life. When setting off to visit, he would gather the fuqara and travel in groups on foot from Nadur to Bani Zarwal, singing out odes on the road ahead. They would rest from village to village until they arrived at the zawiya of the sheikh. His sheikh always sang his praises. He used to call him the ‘stallion of the order’.

One day he was sitting by the side of Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman in a gathering with the fuqara when the sheikh put his hand on Moulay Sulaiman’s back. He called out, ‘This is the stallion of this order. Everyone repeat after me ‘by God, this is the stallion of the order,’ so they repeated the words of their sheikh. One day he was with his sheikh and he said to him, ‘This order holds direct knowledge of God and I want a portion of that knowledge.’ The sheikh replied to him, ‘Invoke God until the knowledge comes to you.’ From those words, Moulay Sulaiman knew that the future would hold great things for him. He was highly respected in the order and all the brethren loved him and honoured him. When they were in the gatherings, he would never mention a word related to worldly affairs. He detested hearing the brethren talk about matters that did not concern them. He remained like this until his sheikh passed away. He served his sheikh for 35 years.

After the death of Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman, Moulay Sulaiman travelled to take from Sheikh al-‘Alawī. He came to know of Sheikh al-‘Alawī through his friend Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He had met Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj in a gathering with the fuqara. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj had related Sheikh al-‘Alawī’s qualities and teachings and given him a copy of the sheikh’s poetry. On reading it, he became engrossed in its meanings until he lost consciousness. He was carried to his bed without even being aware of his surroundings. When he came to, he found himself drawn towards meeting the Sheikh. He became perplexed what he should do. Every time he thought about visiting him, his mind would play with him. Half of him wanted to visit and the other half would put doubts in his mind.

Whilst in this dilemma, he dreamt one night that his sheikh Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman visited him, saying, ‘Give me my letter that you have.’ Moulay Sulaiman took out the letter and gave it to him. The sheikh then signed it with his signature and returned it to him. When he awoke he interpreted that it meant he had permission to visit Sheikh al-‘Alawī and join his order. He set off towards Mostaghanem with a friend, but before going into Algeria, he consulted Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He was in prison at the time in Melilia. He found Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj with a group of fuqara. On seeing Moulay Sulaiman, Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj rose from the gathering beaming with happiness. Moulay Sulaiman informed him that he wished to visit Sheikh al-‘Alawī to join the order. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was overjoyed on hearing this. He rushed to get a pen and ink to write a letter that Moulay Sulaiman will take with him. He insisted that Moulay Sulaiman give the letter to Sheikh al-‘Alawī personally. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj escorted them out of the prison and on departing embraced Moulay Sulaiman out of his love for him.

The two companions then headed for Mostaghanem. On arriving at the zawiya they found Sheikh al-‘Alawī sitting with a group of his fuqara and scholars. He went to greet him and handed him the letter. The sheikh was overjoyed on reading the letter. Once he had read it, he fixed his gaze on Moulay Sulaiman for a time, and then spoke, ‘From what I have read, Sheikh Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj praises you highly and asks me to take good care of you, so order your beloved friends.’ Moulay Sulaiman replied, ‘Sir, your order requires a dowry, and we are desolate. We have nothing to give you in way of a dowry. Sheikh al-‘Alawī answered with a Quranic verse: ‘Verily charity is for the poor and impoverished.’ Moulay Sulaiman said, ‘We have come to take direct knowledge of God from you but which is accompanied with safety.’ On hearing these words, Sheikh al-‘Alawī rose his hands in prayer for Moulay Sulaiman along with everyone else present, saying, ‘May God raise the veils from our Brethren.’ From this visit on, Moulay Sulaiman felt a spiritual change in his life. He first met Sheikh al-‘Alawī in 1350 at the age of 63. Moulay Sulaiman continually visited Sheikh al-‘Alawī and strived spiritually and physically for the sake of the order.

Once Sheikh al-‘Alawī had passed away, he took his instruction from Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He would attend the gatherings in the zawiya of Bani ‘All and Melilia. They would hold long conversations between themselves which would at times go on until dawn. They spoke of the spiritual realities and the science of spiritual allusions. They never liked to part from one another’s company. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj said to him one time, ‘I desire the company of he who I can exchange with in understanding of divine realties. If I find one, I wish never to leave his company.’ Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj would come from Melilia on frequent occasions to visit Moulay Sulaiman in Nadur, so they could discuss these subjects which are the very core of Sufism. Moulay Sulaiman would ask Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj permission to go out and visit the fuqara to teach them and visit the neighbouring towns to spread the Order. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj thanked him for carrying this burden off his shoulders on numerous occasions.

When Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj passed away, the overwhelming majority of the fuqara came to pledge allegiance to Moulay Sulaiman. Many more entered the order through his efforts until the regions alongside Nadur brimmed with his followers. He often went out to visit the regions with members of the fuqara and reciters of Quran. Once they had arrived at their destination, he told members of the fuqara to sing out loud the ‘Testification of Faith’ with their beautiful voices. When they came to the door of their host, all the fuqara would sing out aloud in one voice an ode of the order. If the tie of prayer had come they would pray the obligatory prayer first and if not they would proceed with the Hadra. Moulay Sulaiman would lead the singing of the Hadra with his sweet but powerful voice. Once the time of prayer had arrived, they would all fall quiet and he would order someone to perform the call the prayer from the door of the house. Then he would lead the prayer or ask one of the fuqara to do so. Once they had finished the prayer, they would read Sura al-Waqiya, the Latifiyya of Sheikh al-‘Alawī and invoke God’s name ‘Ya Lateef’ 129 times. Then they would proceed with the singing of the odes of the order and finally stand for the Hadra. Once the host had given them permission to leave they would leave the house as the entered, reciting the odes of the order. He lived out his life in this way from beginning to end.

He never used to laugh out loud but always had a smile on his face, and was always full of advice for the brethren. If wealth ever came to him he would spend it on the brethren. He was never harsh but treated the brethren softly and with wisdom. If anyone did something unbecoming in his company, he corrected him gently. The most important thing for him was the performance of prayer. He would make sure he himself and the people around him performed it in its time. If the time came to pray, he would go to the middle of the house and call out to his family to pray, ‘It’s time to pray.’ If he noticed any of his children become lax wit their prayers he would become extremely angry. Whoever came to visit, he would remind them not to neglect their prayers. He would say, ‘whoever squanders his prayer is not one of us nor are we one of them.’ He also advised his companions to constantly invoke God and send blessings on His prophet. He would say, ‘If you send blessings on the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, or hear about his noble qualities, envision him in your minds, so that your veneration and love for him increases. If you do so you will certainly see him by the grace of God.’ He always reminded the fuqara of the closeness of death and that they should prepare for the next world. He constantly reminded them to know the basics of their worship and to ask if they did not know. He said, ‘Ask about matter pertaining to your obligatory and recommended acts of worship and be sure of them because God is not worshipped with ignorance, but rather by knowledge and understanding.’ He loved to discuss matters related to spiritual allusion and inner divine realities. He would say, ‘Whoever does not understand these discussions or does not find out he has no existence in the eyes of the spiritual masters.’ Moulay Sulaiman has many poems related to the spiritual path as well as aphorisms and profound words. He composed around 240 poems related to the unity of God, spiritual allusion, inner divine realities, and praise of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. He used to say, ‘whoever contemplates these poems and really strives to understand them, then lets himself float deep into their meanings, he will achieve spiritual enlightenment soon enough because they suffice one from invoking the Divine Name in spiritual retreat.

If some people came with the intention of refuting him in a gathering, he would remain silent and not speak; he would not even answer them. If reciters of Quran attended he would honour them and respect them and order his followers to do so, too. If he was given a gift he would give it over to them. Every time his ablutions were broken, he would remake them instantly whether it were in the night or day. He often granted his followers permission to recite the Divine Name in addition to the general litany of the path. Great numbers achieved divine enlightenment through his teachings and directions or merely by a glance of approval. He always encouraged the fuqara to never tire of invoking God. He would say invoke until it flows from your tongues and your hearts gain solace through it. Heedlessness is the worst of calamities. If one becomes heedless, Satan takes a grip on one’s heart.

Some of His Sayings

‘Heedlessness is the worst of all calamities. If one becomes heedless, Satan takes a grip on one’s heart.’

‘Gathering with the brethren for the sake of God is a mercy and wandering from their presence is torment.’

‘If the aspirant invokes God, harm flees and if he becomes heedless of invoking God it returns.’

‘If the brethren come together, then they are glorified and full of force, and if they separate they become humiliated and base.’

‘If one sticks to the brethren, he will achieve spiritual enlightenment from his Lord, and if he dallies off from the group, Satan will take hold of him and play with him amongst his colleagues.’

‘I highly detest he who is silent whilst his brethren are discussing with him matters of the spiritual path. The one who engages in conversation of matters of the spiritual path is like running water and the one who does not is like a stagnant pool.’

‘Discuss the matters of the spiritual path as long as you live, for it is the very spirit of the order, and the order without it is like a body without soul.’

‘Bring to your consciousness love and contemplation. One who loves is like one who soars high in the sky and one does not it is like one who travels with his feet on the ground. Love will bring you much closer than acts ever will.’

‘He who has only love for worldly matters will not produce anything. If worldly matters take a grip of him, they will rule over his heart and limbs. If they do so, he has passed on as those who went before with his and our recompense in wait in the next life.’

‘Oh Lord, we have neglected and squandered your rights, so please grant us your grace and mercy, Oh Most-Merciful, Lord of the worlds.’

‘Invocation of God is a fire that burns away wrongdoings, refines one’s character, replaces blame worthy traits with praiseworthy ones.’

‘Whoever does not find himself in increase, is in decrease and whoever finds himself so, then death is more fitting for him.’

‘Who venerates the brethren gains provision from them and is indeed victorious and whoever belittles them, his own self will debase him and will reap only loss.’
He was frequently known to weep. If he wept he would wipe the tears into his face and say, ‘these are the tears of love.’ He liked to keep himself unknown and did not try to make himself known amongst the people or raise himself up. Anyone that came to him constricted or plagued by worries would get up from sitting with him relieved and joyful. He was constantly concerned with the affairs of the Muslim community. He would rejoice at their rejoicing and become saddened at their situation and what afflicted them. If he was informed of tragic event that had occurred for the community he would pray for them and order the brethren to read the litany of ‘Ya Lateef’. If he heard of anyone’s death, be it man or woman, he would order them to invoke the ‘Basmala’ 11, 000 times for them, splitting the number up between the brethren and he would pray that God has mercy on them and forgives them.

One day he was sitting under a tree when all of a sudden a man approached him. The man was tall in stature with a rosy face. He was wearing was ornately designed and of many colours. When I managed to get a good look at him, he looked back and I fell into a faint. When I came to, I found no one there. When I began to think who he could have been, a notion came to me that this must have been al-Khadir (al-Khidr), peace be upon him.’

Near the end of his life, his body became extremely frail and had lost all his strength. One day he went to make his ablutions and he fell breaking his left leg. From then on he was bedridden. The brethren used to carry him and his bed on their shoulders out with them. They could not bear to be apart from him in the gatherings. They would delight in seeing the light in his face. Just to stare in his face would increase their state and lift their spirits. Despite his weakened state he would order to be taken out to travel or visit the brethren.

After he had reached 100, he would spend the whole day without food because of his weakened state. When he felt his time draw near, which was eight days before his death, he called his grandson Sidi al-‘Arabi al-Waryashi, and dictated to him how he wished his will to be. From amongst the things he stipulated in his will was that he be buried in the zawiya, and that Sidi Buzidi remain the imam of the zawiya, that he lead the people in prayer, and that he remain to take care of the its affairs. He died Thursday 17th if Shawwal 1390 17th December 1970 at the age of 103, may God be pleased with him and grant him His mercy.


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