The Language of the Future
by Murshid F.A. Ali ElSenossi
Sayyidi Abul Hashaan ash-Shadhuli
Sayyidi Abul Hashaan ash-Shadhuli (593AH/1196CE to 656AH/1258CE)
Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli was born near Ceuta, in the north of Morocco, in the year 593AH/1196CE. His linage traces back to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn, through his mother, and Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan, through his father. As a young man, Sayyidi Abul Hassan set out to find the Pole (qutb) of his era and, though many travels, it was not until he reached Iraq that the Sufi master al-Wasiti told him that the purpose of his travels would be fulfilled by returning home. Returning home Sayyidi Abul Hassan found a light rising above Jabal Alam. Ascending the mountain he made ablution (wudhu) at a fountain at the base. Arriving at the top he saw Sayyidi Abdu-s-Salam ibn Basheesh reciting Qur'an with one of his sons. Their bodies seemed to be moving, though, as Sayyidi Abul Hassan approached he realised that it was the whole mountain that was swaying in harmony with their recitation. Sayyidi Abdu-s-Salam ibn Basheesh addressed him, saying "you cannot come to us in a state of impurity, return and perform ablution." Sayyidi Abul Hassan returned to the spring at the bottom of the mountain and refreshed his ablution. Ascending again, Sayyidi Abul Hassan was rebuffed a second time with the statement "we told you to return when you have purified yourself." On the decent Sayyidi Abul Hassan pondered his repeated rejection until it became clear that the purification required of his was inward. Performing ablution again, Sayyidi Abul Hassan washed all of his attributes, perceptions, preconceived ideas and aspirations. It was in this state of total surrender that he entered the Path of Allah. After his time under the tutelage of his Shaykh, Sayyidi Abul Hassan travelled across North Africa, Tunisia, and came to settle in Egypt. Sayyidi Abul Hassan did not leave any discursive works, though he did leave an extensive collection of litanies (ahzab). When asked the reason for not writing any books, he replied "my companions are my books." One year Sayyidi Abul Hassan stated "I have been Divinely ordered to go to pilgrimage." They set sail from Cairo, though, after only a few days, the winds shifted and they remained in an uninhabited spot on the bank of the Nile. After about a week without movement another pilgrim started questioning how Sayyidi Abul Hassan could have been Divinely ordered to go on pilgrimage and then have this happen. Sayyidi Abul Hassan came out of his resting quarters, ordered that the sails be unfurled, and recited the Litany of the Sea (Hizb al-Bahr). The wind picked up so quickly that there was not enough time to cast the rope off the stake and it continued this was until they reached their destination. When questioned about this, Sayyidi Abul Hassan stated "By Allah, I did not utter it [the Litany of the Sea] except as it came from the Prophet of Allah (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) , from whose instruction I learnt it". 'Guard it,' he said to me, 'for it contains the greatest name of Allah (ism al-adham)." On his deathbed, Sayyidi Abul Hassan said of the Litany of the Sea "teach it to your children for the greatest name of Allah (ism al-adham) is contained within it." Towards the end of his life, Sayyidi Abul Hassan fought on the front line of the battle of al-Mansurah against the Crusaders, led by King Louis IX of France, despite his advanced age and weakening eyesight. Before the battle, Sayyidi Abul Hassan had a dream (ru'ya) wherein he saw a huge tent emanating light and filled with saintly people. When he asked to whom the tent belonged, he was informed "to the Prophet of Allah, peace and blessings upon him." In the latter part of the dream, the Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) spoke to Sayyidi Abul Hassan and gave him advice and transmitted to him the Litany of Victory (Hizb al-Nasr). After this dream, Sayyidi Abul Hassan entered the battle mounted on his best horse, with a sword in each hand, reciting the Litany of Victory (Hizb al-Nasr). Despite superior military power, King Louis IX lost the battle and was captured along with many of his generals. Sayyidi Abul Hassan is the founder of the Shadhuliyya Tariqa. He passed away in 656AH/1258CE while travelling to perform Hajj and is buried in Humaithra, Egypt. Around his tomb a mosque and zawiyya have been built.
(Silsilat). The Spiritual Chain of each tariqa descends from the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) down to the present-day Shaykh. It is through his attachment to the silsilat that the newly initiated murid has the means to travel to Allah under Divine Protection.
(Qutb). The Pole or The Pivot or The Axis. Within the Sufi hierarchy the qutb occupies its peak. He is the one person in every era who forms the focus of Allah's supervision of the world. The Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) has always been, and will always be, the Beautiful Axis around whom revolve the celestial spheres.
(Wudhu). This is the ritual ablution that all Muslims perform before entering the prayer and is unique to Islam. The literal meaning of the word ('Wu-dhu') is 'to turn on the light'. This 'turning on the light' is the first step to entering the room. The Holy Prophet said "On the Day of Resurrection, my followers will be known from the traces of ablution and whoever can increase the area of his radiance should do so". By performing the ablution in the proper manner, one increases his radiance and illumination (Dhu'), thus becoming 'light upon light'.
(Hizb). Prayer or litany. The litany is of great protective power as with the famous 'Litany of the Sea' (Hizb al Bahr) of Shaykh Abu'l-Hasan ash-Shadhili.
(Ism al A'tham). Some of the friends of Allah say that the Greatest Name is kept hidden, while others say it is 'Ya Hayy! Ya Qayyum!' (Oh, the Living! Oh, the Ever Self-Subsisting!) and others consider it to be the Name 'Allah'. The Name 'Allah' is the quintessence of prayer and the quintessence of the Qur'an and the quintessence of the entire deen of Islam. The dhikr of this Greatest Name 'Allah', is the most valuable activity to which man can apply himself. The Name takes the one who remembers to the One Who is Named.
(Ru'yah) It is within a dream vision that much of the Sufi Teaching may be transmitted, from a higher realm, to the dreamer. Within a dream vision meanings become clothed in forms. The knower is the one who knows what Allah means by the observed image in the vision. He is true to his vision and gives it its due. The learner is the one who does not know what Allah means but he has the aptitude and capacity to advance to the level of knowledge. His ru'yah must be interpreted for him because he deems the vision to be true. In other words, he takes the observed images as veridical and corresponding to the external world, until Allah teaches him and he knows the meaning.
Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn was born in Medina in 4AH/626CE. He was grandson of the Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace), son of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali and Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatima Zahra. Next to the main door of his mosque in Cairo is a plaque which reminds all who enter that the Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) said "I am from Hussayn, and Hussayn is from me." Despite expectations of him to take a prominent political role, Imam al Hussayn shunned the grandeur of his genealogical status in favour of breaking bread with the poor and needy. While he suffered persecution at the hands of the political powers, Imam al Hussayn said "I will never give my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave ... I have not risen to spread evil or to show off ... I only desire to enjoin good values and prevent evil." After three days of being denied water in the scorching desert heat, his oppressors attacked. Vastly outnumbered, Imam al Hussayn and his companions resisted the oppressors despite being fatigued, thirsty, and heavily wounded. Imam al Hussayn was the last to be slain and, while he was killed mercilessly, he dies holding firmly to his principles, that of instating an Islamic polity rather than unjust rulers.
Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan was born in Medina in 3AH/625CE. He was the eldest grandson of the Holy Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace), son of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali and Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatimatu-z-Zahra, and was the was the fifth caliph, though he abdicated after six or seven months. When negotiating Imam Hassan's abdication, it is reported that he was offered an annual stipend of 1,000,000 dirhams from the treasury Bayt al-mal, along with land taxes. To this Imam Hassan replied "He is trying to appeal to my greed for a matter which, if I desired it, I would not surrender to him" and only asked that safety be granted to the people. After his abdication, Imam al Hassan spent the remainder of his life in Medina, living in seclusion. He died in 50AH/670CE and is buried in the al-Baqi' cemetery in Medina.
Sayyidi Abdu-s-Salam ibn Basheesh was born in the region of Bani 'Urus, near Tangier, in the year 1140 CE. He was descended from the Holy Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). Very little is recorded of the early life of Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh except that it is said that he entered the Path of the People of Allah while he was still a child. By the age of twelve, he had memorised the Book of Allah according to its seven variant readings. His first teacher was the Shaykh `Abdu 'r-Rahman al-Madani az-Zayyat and then after some years he took the hand of Sidi Abu Madyan Shu`ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Ghawth. Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh had only one student (murid), which was Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli. He was such a strict follower of the Qur'an and the Sunnah that on being asked to recommend spiritual practices for a seeker, said, "Am I a Prophet? Perform the obligations of the Law and avoid sin. Keep your heart aloof from all temporal attachments. Accept, and be content with, everything that Allah sends to you and above everything else put the Love of Allah." One evening his student, Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli, came upon Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh as he supplicated "O Allah, people ask You to make their relations with the creation easy for them, but I ask You to make them difficult for me, so that I may have no refuge except with You." In the morning Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh explained to his student "I complain to Allah of the coolness of contentment, which submission and abandonment to His Will brings, just as you complain of the heat of being trapped in managing your affairs and of free will," adding "I dread lest its sweetness distract me from Allah and from fulfilling my duty towards Him." The only piece of writing from Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh is Salat Ibn Basheesh, also known as al-Salat al-Mashishiyyah. Regarding it, Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh stated "this is a Secret, which Allah preserves and guards. How exalted is he among the prophets, who is a depiction and similitude of the Existence of Allah." This text was revealed to him by the Prophet (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) in a vision. Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh's death came at the hands of a magician and false prophet known as Abu Tawajin, due to the latter's jealousy. On hearing of this treacherous act, the army in Sebta set out to rid the county of the scourge of Abu Tawajin. Sayyidi Ibn Basheesh passed away in 622AH/1227CE. He was buried at his place of worship atop the mountain of Jabal 'Alam.