Encounter: Ibn Idris and Muhammad al-Madani

Shaykh Muhammad al-Madani left his home town of Madina in 1222 AH (1807 CE) and went to Morocco in search of spiritual guides. There he took guidance from many shaykhs including Ahmad al-Tijani and shaykh al-Mukhtar al-Kunti, reviver of the Qadiriyya in West Africa, until in 1224 he met with the greatest shaykh of the Shadhiliyya of that age, sidi Mawlay al-Arabi ad-Darqawi. He took the path from him and  received his illumination under his guidance.

As shaykh al-Madani’s son wrote,
“For about nine years he was his companion. …Then Mawlay Al-’Arabi said to him one day, in great earnestness: ‘Go to thy home, Madani. Thou hast no longer any need of me’; and on another occasion he indicated that he had reached the end of all perfection, and said to him: ‘Thou hast attained unto that which is attained to by the perfect among men,’ and he told him to go to his native town, the House of the Perfumed Shrine, and when he bade farewell to him, he wept and said: ‘I have made thee the instrument of my credit with God and a link between me and His Prophet’.

“He went to Medina, and stayed there with his family for three years, and every year he joined the Pilgrims on Mt Arafat and then returned to Medina where he visited continually the Shrine of the Prophet, spending his time turned towards God, steeped in contemplation, in utter detachment. …And he said,

‘During that time I met with the perfect Shaikh, the Gnostic, Sidi Ahmad ibn Idris. I found him on a most exalted footing as regards following the Wont of the Prophet, and I so marveled at his state that I took initiation from him for the blessing of it.’

While in Madina, people asked him to give them spiritual guidance, but he made no response to them out of courtesy to his shaykh, until he heard a voice from the noble chamber of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying: {And remind, for the reminder benefits the believers!} (Q 51:55)

He said: ‘I quivered and shook at the sweetness of that utterance, and I understood it to be an authorization from the Apostle of the All-Bountiful King’.
“So he obeyed God’s command and transmitted initiation to various persons in the city of the Prophet …and returned to his Master Mawlay Al-’Arabi ad-Darqawi …and remained in his presence for some months. Then Mawlay Al-’Arabi died, and my father set out once more for Medina … and when he reached Tripoli the eyes of some of its people were opened to the excellence of his virtues and the fullness of his spiritual realization, so they took initiation from him. Then the number of his disciples increased and the brotherhood became famous and men associated it with him, and on this account it was named Al-Tariqat al-Madaniyyah and it is a branch of the Shadhili Tariqah. ”
Shaykh Muhammad al-Madani’s greatest disciple was Muhammad al-Fasi (d. 1872), who spent eighteen years in al-Madani’s zawiya in Tripoli. When his shaykh died, al-Fasi went to Mecca and established his own zawiya, and then added other zawiyas in the Hijaz, Yemen, Egypt, and even India. His tariqa became known as the Fasiyya tariqa, or the Shadhiliyya Fasiyya.
And al-Fasi’s most famous disciple was emir Abdul Qadir al-Jazai’ri. Though having taken many tariqas before, it was at the hands of shaykh Muhammad al-Fasi that the emir Abdul Qadir achieved his illumination.
Al-Fasi later visited emir Abdul Qadir in Damascus, where he also gave the path to many of the students of the emir.
– Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century: Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi: His Spiritual Heritage and Legacy. Chapter: Seen from Within. Taken from http://www.tasawuf.ws/en/biography/
– Weismann, Itzhak, Taste of Modernity: Sufism, Salafiyya, & Arabism in Late Ottoman Damascus.
– R.S. O’Fahey, Enigmatic Saint

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