Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sheikh al-'Alawi's Legacy

His Will

When Sheikh al-‘Alawi felt his time drawing near, he called for two officials to write down his will. The first things he called for was that everything the Zāwiyah contained including the lands and properties around it remain for the general benefit of the Fuqāra. He made Sīdī ‘Udda b. Tunis responsible to oversee that it remained so as long as he respected the practices of the Order and did not change anything therein. He was ordered to respect the people who dedicated themselves to the Zāwiyah, whether they had been then for a time of whether they were newcomers. He was told to provide for them from the funds of the Zāwiyah. Any guest coming to the Zāwiya was to be honoured and treated with the utmost respect. His wife ‘Waraqa Mughniya’ daughter of ‘Ali was given the choice to take her inheritance from his personal wealth that he had earned from before he dedicated himself to the Order or she could remain there where she would be fully honoured and respected. When she was to pass away, he asked that she be buried next to him. As for the spiritual inheritance of the teachings of the Order, he declared that everyone who was affiliated had their portion of it, but his true inheritor would appear after him and spread the Order in respect with the teachings that Sheikh al-‘Alawi had laid down. This did not have to be from his family or close companions; he could be from those now far from him, and God chooses whom He wills.

Forty days after the Sheikh’s death the terms in his will were not respected. Sīdī as-Salih b. Dimrad gathered all the representatives of the Sheikh and called them to pledge allegiance to Sīdī ‘Adda b. Tunis. Sīdī Ahmed b. Sādiq stood up and exclaimed, ‘If we pledge allegiance to Sīdī ‘Adda b. Tunis and then another arises more deserving of the role who will benefit the people more, what do we do? Do we break our oath or do we remain in allegiance to Sīdī ‘Adda even though it is not just? I suggest we stay as we were in the life of the Sheikh unified. Everyone remains in his Zāwiya and no-one interferes with each other without their permission and we respect each other.’ This is where the division started; anyone that did not join the ranks of Sīdī ‘Adda was considered outside the fold of Order. Fuqāra were thrown out of the Zāwiyas in Algeria and the wealth of the Zāwiya became controlled by one particular family.

His Passing

The Sheikh lived a life of 63 years that was spent calling people to God. He passed away on July 14th July 1934. He remained on his bier for three days in order that the people from their respective regions could come to pay their respects. Thousands came to visit both men and women. At the time, the heads of the Order came together under the leadership of Sīdī Muhammad al-Madani, who was the biggest scholar of the Order, to discuss who would take the reins of leadership now that the Sheikh had passed on. He said, ‘We cannot decide on this matter you ask me about until we consult Sīdī Muhammādi Bil-Hājj. He was the greatest of Sheikh al-‘Alawi’s disciples. When they consulted him, he replied, ‘If that was the position of the Sheikh then we must leave it at that.’ The reason that Sīdī Muhammad al-Madani referred to Sīdī Muhammādi Bil-Hājj was that he heard Sheikh al-‘Alawi allude to the special station that Sīdī Muhammādi Bil-Hājj had and that he was the one to inherit the teachings of the Order. Once the Sheikh was buried and the people had paid their respects, his disciples returned to their respective homes to carry on his teachings as he had ordered

The Number of his Disciples

Moulay Sulaimān: ‘I was present in Mostāghanem when I heard one of the people who had dedicated their lives to the Zāwiyah and was a scribe for the Sheikh say, ‘Sheikh al-‘Alawi wrote to all his representatives and disciples of the Order all over the world and told them to collect the names of everyone that affiliated themselves to the Alawi Order. After they wrote back to him the number came to around 33 million. Sheikh al-‘Alawi also left behind him more then 50 thousand man capable of leading others to knowledge of God all-Mighty. Sīdī Sālih bin ‘Abd al-‘Azīz said he heard Shiekh al-‘Alawi say, ‘My hope, God willing, is that I leave behind me more teachers than Sidi Moulay al-‘Arabi left behind him, may God be pleased with him, and he did not pass away until he had left 40, 000; all of them were from the people who could take others to knowledge of God.

The Zawiyas he Left Behind

1) Tlemcan (district of al-Haddādīn): Representative: Sīdī al-‘Arabi ash-Shawwār (washed Sheikh al-‘Alawi’s body and was previously affiliated to the Hibri Order)
2) Oran (New City): Representatives: Sīdī Sālih bin ‘Abd al-‘Azīz
Sālih b. Murād
Sīdī ‘Ali Bilahsan
Sīdī Ahmed Bil-Farhat

3) Ghalīzān: Representative: Sīdī Sālih b. Murād at-Tilimsāni
4) Algiers (Bu Zarī‘ah): Representative: Sīdī al-‘Abbās al-Jazīri at-Tilimsāni
5) Burj Abi ‘Arīrīj: Representative: Sīdī al-Hasan b. al-Joudi al-Azhari
6) Ja‘āfra: Representative: Sīdī ash-Sharīf b. al-Hasan
7) Region of ‘Iyād: Representative: as-Sa‘īd al-Mekki
8) Khanshala: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. Da‘ās
9) Bani Ya‘lā: Representative: al-Hājj al-Hāshimi Bu ‘Amāma
10) ‘Ināba: Representative: al-Hājj al-Hasan (student from Zaytouna)
Sīdī Muahammad as-Salim (affiliated to Sulaimiyya Order previously)
11) Mostaghānem
The Reef (North Morocco):
1) Bani Yaznāsa: Representative: Sīdī al-‘Arabi b. ‘Umar ash-Shabābi
2) Ahfīr: Representative: Sīdī Abu Madyan al-Butchīchi (affiliated to the Qādiri Order previously) He went to visit the Sheikh and took the litany from him. Then the sheikh entered into spiritual retreat for a number of days. Then he went back to his people with the permission of the Sheikh to inculcate the order to the people.
3) Bani Bu Yahyā: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad as-Saghīr (grandson of Sīdī Muhammad b. Qaddor al-Wukīli and resident at the Zawiya in Kerker).
4) Bani Bu Yahyā: Representative: Sīdī Bil-Qāsim b. Ahmed as-Sa‘īdi.
5) Kebdāna: Representative: Sīdī al-Mukhtār b. Hadīdwan.
6) Bani Shikār: Representative: Sīdī Muhammādi Bil-Hājj
7) Farkhāna: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. Rahu
8) Qal‘iyya(Bani Muzuja): Representative: Sīdī al-Bashīr b. Abd al-Rahmān
9) Qal‘iyya(Bani Bu Yifrour): Representative: Moulay Sulaimān b. Mehdi
10) Qal‘iyya(Bani Sadāl): Representative: Sīdī Ahmed b. ‘Allāl
11) Bani Sa‘īd: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. Isā as-Sa‘īdi
12) Bani Tuzīn: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad Emziyān at-Tafrīsīti
13) Bani Wulīshk: Representative: Sīdī Shu‘aib b. Muhammad b. Tāhir (previously affiliated to the Nāsiriyya Order)
14) Bani Wulīshk: Representative: Sīdī Hadu b. Muhammad b. ‘Allāl al-Wulīshki
15) Bani Wulīshk: Representative: Sīdī Shu‘aib b. Maimoun
16) Tamasmān: Representaitve: Moulay Tāhir b. Muhammad b. Tayyib b. Muhammad b. Qaddour.
17) Bani Waryāghal: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. Muhammādi b. at-Touzāni
18) Bani Abdullah: Representative: Moulay Abd al-Rahmān al-Ghalabzouri
19) Bani ‘Amart: Representative: Muhammad b. Muhammad ash-Sharqi
20) Bani Mazdawi: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad Aghrabi
21) Sanhāja: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. al-Hājj Muhammad as-Sanhāji
22) Ghumāra: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. al-Mufaddal al-Ghumāri
1) Tetoun: Representative: Sīdī al-Mukhtār b. al-Hājj ‘Abd al-Qādir
2) Tangiers: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. al-Hājj Ahmed Tai Tai
3) Tangiers: Representative: Sīdī Ahmed al-Hassār al-Jazā’iri
4) Sebta: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad ad-Dou
5) Fez: Sīdī al-Hājj ‘Umar al-Labbār (gatherings were held in his house)
1) Sīdī Muhammad al-Madani al-Qasībi
2) Tunis (Shrine of Sīdī Yahyā): Sīdī Muhammad b. al-Wunīsi
1) Aden: Representative: Sīdī Amir Yahyā b. Hāmid ad-Deen. (He has numerous followers in Europe)
1) Paris (Algerians)
2) Marseilles
1) Lahai (Yemenis under the leadership of Sīdī Abdullah al-Hakīmi)
1) Cardiff: Representative: Sīdī Hasan Ismā‘il
2) Birmingham
3) Liverpool
4) Hull
5) South shields

1) Damascus: Representative: Sīdī Muhammad b. al-Hāshimi
1) Jāffa: Representative: Sīdī Muatafā ‘Abd as-Salām al-Filāli
2) Gaza: Sīdī Muhammad b. ‘Amīmour al-Hilāli
3) Falouja: Sīdī Hussein b. Muhammad b. Sulaimān
1) Representative: Ibrahim b. Abu Bakr
He also had zawiyahs in Medina and Somalia.
Ethiopia: Representative: Ali b. Muhammad as-Saqqaf al-Yemeni


Sheikh al-'Alawi's Teachings

His Method in Educating his Disciples

He would order his disciples to hold firm to the rites of the path and the way of the Sufis of old, whilst making sure to uphold the rites of the religion in their entirety as well. He would tell them to be dressed well and clean, to adhere to Islamic attire, to let their beard grow and to wear their rosary beads around their necks. One time he went to Tlemcān to visit the Fuqāra there. It was a time when many of the youth had entered the order in the city. When he arrived, they gathered around him and sat at his feet yearning to hear from him. However on glancing at their attire he was disappointed to see them dressed in western clothing. He ordered them to imitate the Sufis in their dress and wear what the righteous wore. They quickly responded so that when he came back to them another time he saw them all wearing white turbans and they had let their beards grow, with their rosary beads hung around their necks. He instantly when it a state of great joy, so much so that when he returned back to his Zāwiyah, and he began to contemplate on their state, a poem came to him:

يَا اهْلَ أَهْلَ وُدِّي حَسْبِيَ رِضَاكُمْ
O Brothers, my dear beloved brothers, your pleasure alone suffices,
شَوْقِي زَادَ فِيـكُمْ مَلَكْنِي هَوَاكُمْ
My yearning for you wells up and my love for you has taken a hold of me.
أَحِبَّـتِي أَنْتـُمْ تَيَّهْنِي مَعْنـَاكُمْ
My loved ones, my mind is bewildered by your inward being,
أَبَـى قَلْبِي مِنِّي أَنْ يَنْسَى لِقَاكُمْ
And my heart refuses to forget your meeting.
أَخَذْتُمْ فُـؤَادِي فَذَاكَ فِـدَاكُمْ
You have snatched my heart, so that is your ransom,
تَرَكْتُمْ سُهَادِي يُنْبـِي أَنْ هَوَاكُمْ
You have left me with sleeplessness nights; this is what informs me of my love for you.

He would order his disciples to always present themselves with the best of manners and to enumerate the remembrance of God and always stay close to the other brethren. His addresses would speak to the heart and many a time tears would be seen on the cheeks of the listener. Even screams would be heard from those present out of their love for God all-mighty. In the gatherings they would rise for the Hadra and it could last for hours. They would not grow weary and lazy at all. He would be seen in the middle of the circle singing the odes to the movement of the men with a powerful voice that moved the men even more. If he saw someone lower their head, he would raise it and if he saw someone with his eyes open he would close them for him. If he saw anyone raise their feet above the floor he would usher him to keep them on the floor and if he saw someone too far apart from those next to him, he would draw them close. He placed the strong with the strong and the weak with the weak; he placed the tall with the tall and the short with the short, so that the Hadra ran in the best of fashions. All this was done with gentleness, compassion and the best of manners.

The Regime of the Zawiya

The Zāwiya was divided into different sections, each one dedicated for a specific purpose. There was an area for the children to study how to read and write and memorise Quran, and there was an area for the Fuqāra to study with local scholars the basics of the religion and memorise small parts of the Qurān. He appointed an official Imam to lead the prayers in the Zāwiya and he had someone who gave the call to prayer as well.

The Annual Gathering

The Sheikh had an annual gathering for all the Fuqāra to attend that would be held either in Mostaghānem or in Algiers. The purpose of this was to strengthen relationships between the Fuqāra who might not see each other through the rest of the year because of their daily duties. Thousand would attend the gatherings and they would behave as if they were one body united. Local and governmental officials as well as scholars would be invited to attend in order that they have an idea what the Order was about. The gatherings were passionate and emotional occasions. The Fuqāra would weep when the Sheikh stood in their presence and they would perform the ‘Hadra’ from Ishā until the early hours of the morning. The occasion would last three whole days. On the last day after Dhhur, some of those present would present speeches which they had prepared. Sīdī ‘Ali al-Boudilmi was the one who presented the names to the Sheikh and he would review the material before it was presented. The speeches would go on until ‘Asr. Then the Sheikh would lead the people himself or call one of the scholars forward and finally pray for all the people both men women old and young present, scholars, Muslim community, and the Muslim leaders. There would be around 6, 000 present at these gatherings as attested to by Sīdī ‘Ali Boudilmi.

Conditions of the Gatherings:
• He would invite all the Fuqāra no matter where they be. He would also invite scholars, local governmental officials and followers of other Orders if they wished to attend. However, they would come with respect for the Order and not try to take control of the gathering. They would not recite any poems or perform any act until they had asked permission from the host himself.
• The celebration cannot, by any means, conflict with the Divine Law. The brethren shall all pray together at the correct times and sit together to remember God and teach others about drawing close to Him.
• That the speakers not prolong their speeches so that the audience grow tired.
• That the organizer of the event be a master of the path that has been given authorization from a previous master. He should also have the required knowledge of how to organise the event in the best possible way. He should not be influenced by suggestions coming from people that have no understanding of the path who may ruin the whole event.
• All the attendees should come with the intention to invoke God alone. They should hold only love for their other brethren. They must represent the order and respect it. They should not come clean shaved or wearing anything other than Islamic attire such as a white ‘Jalāba’ with their prayer beads hung around their necks in order that the people present will see the beauty of the order and revel in the sight of being amongst fellow men of God.
• The best singers are to be chosen to sing at the gatherings and they must sing from the collection of Sheikh al-‘Alawi’s poems or from some of his followers so that people hear what this Order has to teach. The people should avoid letting just anyone attend in order that the event not be spoilt by the bad manners and behaviour of some.
• The attendees should respect the practices of our pious predecessors who brought us this order. When they come to the Zāwiya or any of the Fuqāra’s houses they should enter by saying at the top of their voices the Testimony of Faith. They must not look down on any practice they brought and speak badly about it such as the ‘Hadra’ and reciting the invocations out loud in unison.
• There should be no intermixing of the sexes under any circumstances throughout the whole event. There must be a barrier between them that prevents any contact in order that the hearts remain sound and pure. In the time of Sheikh al-‘Alawi there was not a sign of intermingling at the events. There would be a specially allocated area for the women to invoke God all-Mighty. He would not let even a young girl appear in the company of the men and likewise he would not let a young boy appear in the company of the women.

His Wisdom

Once Sheikh al-‘Alawi asked some of his visiting disciples from afar, “Do you come together?” They replied that they did not. He exclaimed, “Then you have no path; coming together is necessary even if it is just once in a week.”
Once he was sitting with the Fuqāra and he asked a man beside him, “If you found Paradise opened up before you and the Fuqāra were besides its door invoking God which one would you choose? Would you sit with the Fuqāra or enter the door into Paradise?” The man said he would choose Paradise. “Nay, I would choose to sit with the Fuqāra; their company is the gardens of Paradise.”
One time, he was sitting in his private quarters and could no longer hear the sound of Fuqāra invoking God in the Zāwiyah so he asked why it was so. He was told that a scholar was given the Fuqāra a lesson. The Sheikh came out of his room and went into the Zāwiyah to see this scholar. The sheikh came and sat by the side of the man and noticed that he was clean shaven and dressed in western clothes. “What are you saying?” The Sheikh asked the man. “O sir, I am apologise, I am just imparting some words to these brothers.” The Sheikh replied, “Your knowledge is dry; they will not accept it nor digest it.” Then he clapped his hands and the Fuqāra rose up and began a Hadra. When they finished, the Sheikh said to them, “My brothers, the state of someone suffices one from needing to ask about them. If again you see a scholar like this one, clean shaven and dressed in western attire, then take him and his knowledge and throw it to the waves.”
One day, Moulay Sulaimān was with Sheikh Muhammādi and he asked him what women should do with regard to the litany: do they read the whole litany like the men? He replied, “Women have many chores in the day, such as having to educate the children, clean the house and so forth. Therefore it is enough that she read ten of each invocation instead of the prescribed one hundred.” Then he asked him how the Fuqāra should read the litany: should they do so individually or as a group? He answered, “If one intends to teach others how to recite the litany, then it is preferable do so in group; otherwise it is better to recite it individually.”

His Keenness to Preserve the Sunnah

The Sheikh was adamant that his Fuqāra practice only that which is closest to the practice of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. Therefore he ordered all of his students to pray with their hands clasped in prayer and not by their sides. This practice began to spread throughout the north and east of Morocco because of the Sheikh. The Spanish authorities were strongly opposed to them doing so and they would arrest people seen praying thus. However this did not prevent the practice from becoming widespread throughout Morocco and Algeria and the scholars of the regions submitted to it. Other strong supporters of this practice at this time were the Kettāni and Bin Siddīq families. He also called his disciples to read out loud after the five prayers ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’ three times and then recite, ‘Sayyiduna Muhammad Rasul Allah’. This became specifically known only amongst his Fuqāra.