Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris was either 13 or 23 years younger than Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani (may Allah be pleased with them both); the difference because historians give us two different years for Shaykh Ibn Idris’ birth.
The Egyptian scholar and hadith master Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Tijani wrote in a footnote to al-Ifadatul Ahmadiyya,
“Shaykh Ahmad Faraj, the khalifa of the Idrisiyya in Egypt, told me that sayyidi Ahmad ibn Idris (may Allah be pleased with him) was brought as a child to sayyidi Ahmad al-Tijani who held his head and said, ‘Amazing! What will come out of this head!’”
There was a blessed man, who cried very often, called Muhammad Taha Mustafa from the town of al-‘Adwa in Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt. He was from the Tijani Tariqa, and called his son Muhammad al-Hafiz, after the great Egyptian scholar and hadith master Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Tijani. This son, however, took the Ja’fari tariqa from Shaykh Abdul Ghani al-Ja’fari, and is the Shaykh of the religious institute in the town of al-‘Adwa.
One day Muhammad Taha Mustafa was sitting in the Azhar, listening to the Friday Lesson of Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him). He thought to himself in his mind, “If this shaykh is a Friend of God as they say, he will show me a karama now, and he will mention Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani.”
As soon as this thought crossed his mind, Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari said to all the listeners:
“Recite the Fatiha for the soul of Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him)! He was the cousin of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris.”
Specifically, the shaykh said: ibn khala, meaning that his mother was the maternal aunt of shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris (may Allah be pleased with them both). Allah knows if the shaykh meant this literally or if he simply meant that they were distantly related through their mother’s side.