Ahmad al-Tijani

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Abu al-ʿAbbâs Ahmad ibn Muhammad at-Tijânî or Ahmed Tijani (1735–1815), in Arabic: سيدي أحمد التجاني‎ (Sidi Ahmed Tijani), is the founder of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order. He was born into a Berber family[1][2][3] in Aïn Madhi in Algeria, and died in Fez, Morocco, at the age of 80.


Tijani was born in 1735 in Ain Madi, the son of Muhammad al-Mukhtar.[4] He traced his descent to a Berber Tribe, Tijania.[5] When he was sixteen, Tijani lost both parents as a result of a plague. By then he was already married. He learned Quran under the tutelage of Mohammed Ba'afiyya in Ain Madi and also studied Khalil ibn Ishaq al-Jundi's Islamic jusrispudence works that were written under Malikite rites.[6] He also studied Abū al-Qāsim al-Qushayrī's Risala ila al-sufiyya. In 1757, Tijani left his village for Fez. While there, he joined three Sufi brotherhoods, the Qadiriyya, the Nasiriyya, and the tariqa of Ahmad al-Habib b. Muhammed.[6] In Fez, he met a seer who told him he would achieve spiritual revelation (fath). Thereafter, he left Fez to teach at al-Abiad, spending five years at the village. In 1772, he began a journey to Mecca for hajj and to seek a Sufi way of life. During his journey, he was initiated into the Khalwati order at Azwawi. He later taught for a year at Tunis where he achieved some success.[7] He left Tunis for Egypt where he met Mahmud al-Kurdi of the Khalwati order in Cairo. Tijani reached Mecca in late 1773 and performed hajj rites. In his quest to seek a Sufi way of life, he met Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah El Hindi, who rarely saw people except for his servant. He also met Abd-karim al-Sammman, founder of the Sammaniyya branch of Khalwati. Al-Samman told Tijani he will become a dominant qutb (pole) or scholar within the Sufi orders in the region.[8] Tijani left Mecca and returned to Cairo where he got al-Kurdi's blessing to preach the Khalwatiyya order. From Cairo he settled at Tlemcen for a couple of years.

Tijani later settled at Boussemghoun, an oasis seventy five miles south of El Bayadh. It was at Samghun that Tijani received a vision from the prophet who told him to start a new Sufi order. He left his previous affiliations with other Sufi orders and claimed divine instructions from prophet Mohammed.[9] Tijani's order soon gained attraction in the desert regions surrounding Abi Samghun. Shaykh Tijani lived in Abi Samghun for about fifteen years. In 1796 he went to Fez, marking the real beginning of his Tariqa.


In Fez, Tijani was well received by Mawlay Sulayman, the Moroccan Sultan. Though Sulayman disliked other Sufi orders, he provided Tijani a house and appointed him as a member of his learned council.[6] At first, Tijani chose the mosque of Mawlay Idris to pray but performed the rites of the Tijani order in his house. Tijani later built his own zawiya. In Fez, he sent his trusted aides to spread the word of his order. Trusted aides such as Abu Hafs' Abdul-Rahman was sent to Oran and Algiers and Abdul-Salam al-Waghiri to Constantine, Algeria. Further muqaddams were appointed among learned converts including Muhammad Fuwadir al-Abdallawi in the Jarid district of Tunisia and Muhammed al-Hafiz in Mauritania.[6]

Tijani assigned to himself the title of Qutb al-Aqtab (or the Pole of the Poles) and Khatm al-Walayya al-Muhammadiyya (or the Seal of Muhammadan Sainthood).[6]

Seal of sainthood[edit]

He is quoted as saying

The bounties that flow from the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) are received by the natures of the prophets, and everything that flows and emerges from the natures of the Prophets is received by my own nature, and from me it is distributed to all creatures from the origin of the world until the blowing on the trumpet... No saint drinks or provides water to drink, except from our ocean, from the origin of the world until the blowing on the trumpet... 'The spirit of the Prophet and my spirit are like this' – pointing with his two fingers, the index finger and the middle finger. 'His spirit supports the Messengers and the Prophets and my spirit supports the poles, the sages, the saints, from pre-existence to eternity (mina al-azal ila abad)... These two feet of mine are upon the neck of every saint of Allah, from the time of Adam until the blowing of the trumpet... 'Our station in the Presence of Allah in the Hereafter will not be attained by any of the saints, and it will not be approached by anyone, whether his importance is great or small. Of all the saints among from the very beginning of creation until the blowing on the trumpet, there is not one who will attain to my station.[10]

Sources on the life of Al-Tijani[edit]

The greater part of the life and teaching of Shaykh Tijani can be drawn from two primary hagiographical works:

  1. Kitab Jawahir al-ma'ani wa-bulugh al-amani fi fayd Sidi Abil al-Abbas at-Tijani (Gems of Indications and Attainment of Aspirations in the Overflowings of Sidi Abil Abbas Tijani) by Sidi Ali Harazem Berrada (d. 1797), and
  2. Kitab al-Jami’a li-ma f-taraqa mina-l ‘ulumn (The Absolute in What Has Separated from the Sciences) by Sidi Mohammed ibn al-Mishri Sibai Hassani Idrissi (d. 1809).

Later hagiographies tend to be works of compilation drawn from these two primary sources. Such hagiographies are:

  1. Kitab Rima'h al-Hizb al Rahim ala Nuhur Hizb ar-Rajim (The Spears of the League of the Merciful thrown at the Necks of the League of the Accursed) by Sidi Omar ibn Said al-Futi (d. 1864),
  2. Kitab Bughyat al-mustafid li-shar'h minyat al-murid (Aspiration of the Beneficiary in Commenting the 'Demise of the Disciple') by Sidi Mohammed ibn al-Arbi Sayeh (d. 1894), and last but not least,
  3. Kitab Kashf al-Hijab 'amman talaaqa bi-Shaykh Tijani mina-l As'hab (Raising the Veil of the Companions who encountered with Shaykh Tijani) by Sidi Ahmed ibn al-'Iyyashi Skirej al-Fasi (d. 1940).

Most of what we know about Shaykh Tijani comes from these books.


  1. ^ Jestice, Phyllis G. (2004-12-15). Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 858. ISBN 9781576073551.
  2. ^ Willis, John Ralph (2012-10-12). Studies in West African Islamic History: Volume 1: The Cultivators of Islam, Volume 2: The Evolution of Islamic Institutions & Volume 3: The Growth of Arabic Literature. Routledge. p. 234. ISBN 9781136251603.
  3. ^ Gibb, H. A. R. (1970). Mohammedanism. OUP USA. p. 116. ISBN 9780195002454.
  4. ^ Abun-Nasr 1965, p. 16.
  5. ^ Hurreiz, Sayed Hamid A. (1977). Ja'aliyyīn folktales: an interplay of African, Arabian and Islamic elements. Indiana University. p. 23.
  6. ^ a b c d e Abun-Nasr 1965, p. 17.
  7. ^ Abun-Nasr 1965, p. 18.
  8. ^ Abun-Nasr 1965, p. 19.
  9. ^ Abun-Nasr 1965, p. 37.
  10. ^ Arabic: إن جميع الأولياء يدخلون زمرتنا ويأخذون أورادنا ويتمسكوا بطريقتنا مـــن أول الوجود إلي يوم القيامة حتى الإمام المهدي إذا قام آخر الزمان يدخل زمرتنا بعد مماتنا وانتقالنا إلى دار البقاء." "طائفة من أصحابنا لو اجتمعت أقطاب الأمة ما وزنوا شعرة من بحر أحدهم والآن قد ظهر واحدا منهم." "لو أطلع أكابر الأقطاب على ما أعده الله لأصحابنا في الجنة لبكوا عليه طول أعمارهم وقالوا ما أعطيتنا شي يا ربنا." "أنا سيد الأولياء كما كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سيد الأنبياء"."لا يشرب ولي ولا يسقى إلا من بحرنا من نشأة العالم إلى النفخ في الصور." "إن نسبة الأقطاب معي كنسبة العامة مع الأقطاب." "إن لنا مرتبة تناهت في العلو عند الله تعالى إلى حد يحرم ذكره وليس هو ما أفشيته لكم ولو صرحت به لأجمع أهل الحق والعرفان على كفري فضلا عمن عداهم وليست هي التي ذكرت لكم بل هي من ورائها." "طابعنا يغلب على كل طابع ولا يغلب عليه طابع."وقال رضي الله تعالى عنه وأرضاه مشيرا بأصبعيه السبابة والوسطى: "روحه صلى الله عليه وسلم وروحي هكذا روحه صلى الله عليه وسلم تمد الرسل والأنبياء عليهم السلام وروحي تمد الأقطاب والعارفين والأولياء من الأزل إلى الأبد.""كل الطرائق تدخل عليها طريقتنا فتبطلها وطابعنا يركب على كل طابع ولا يحمل طابعنا غيره""من ترك وردًا من أوراد المشايخ لأجل الدخول في طريقتنا هذه المحمدية التي شرفها الله تعالى على جميع الطرق أمنه الله في الدنيا والآخرة فلا يخاف من شيء يصيبه لا من الله ولا من رسوله ولا من شيخه أيا كان من الأحياء أو من الأموات. وأما من دخل زمرتنا وتأخر عنها ودخل غيرها تحل به مصائب الدنيا وأخرى ولا يفلح أبدًا" "وليس لأحد من الرجال أن يدخل كافة أصحابه الجنة بلا حساب ولا عقاب ولو عملوا من الذنوب ما عملوا وبلغوا إلا أنا وحدي" "إن أصحابنا يوم القيامة ليسوا مع الناس في الموقف بل هم مكشفون في ظل العرش في موضع وحدهم و لا يقدم عليهم أحد في دخول الجنة إلا الصحابة رضي الله عنهم." لما قيل له رضي الله عنه و أرضاه و عنا به بمَ نالوا ذلك قال: "من أجلي." قلتُ (أي العلامة سكيرج) و سره يظهر في قوله صلى الله عليه و سلم له رضي الله عنه و أرضاه و عنا به: "و فقراؤك فقراءي و تلاميذك تلاميذي و أصحابك أصحابي." فعُلِم أن بين أصحابه صلى الله عليه و سلم و بين أصحاب هذا الشيخ رضي الله تعالى عنه مناسبة تامة و لتلك المناسبة كانوا عند الله من الأكابر و إن كانوا في الظاهر من جملة العوام." ويستطرد ﺍﻟﺨﻠﻴﻔﺔ ﺴﻴﺪﻱ ﻋﻟﻲ ﺤﺭﺍﺯﻡ: "ووراء ذلك مما ذكر لي فيهم وضمنه أمر لا يحل لي ذكره ولا يرى وﻻ يعرف إلا في الدار الآخرة بشرى للمعتقد علي رغم أنف المنتقد." ويستطرد سيدي عمر الفوتي: "ومن هنا صار جميع أهل طريقته أعلى مرتبة عند الله تعالى في الآخرة من أكابر الأقطاب وإن كان بعضهم في الظاهر من جملة العوام المحجوبين"


  • Davidson, Basil; Africa in History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
  • John Esposito (2003), The Oxford Dictionary of Islam
  • Nasr, Jamil Abun; The Tiyânniya. A Sufi Order in the Modern World,Oxford, 1965
  • Jean-Louis Michon (1999), The Autobiography of a Moroccan Soufi: Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba (1747–1809)
  • Triaud, Jean and Robinson, David (eds.); La Tijâniyya: Une confrérie musulmane à la conquête de l"Afrique. Paris: Karthala, 2000
  • Trimingham, J. Spencer; The Sufi Orders in Islam, ISBN 978-0-19-512058-5
  • Abun-Nasr, Jamil (1965). The Tijaniyya, a Sufi order in the modern world. London: Oxford University Press.

External links[edit]