Silsilat of the Tariqa Burhaniyya-Dasuqiyyah-Shadhuliyya

by Wasi Abu Bakr Sirajuddin Cook

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad 'Uthman.

Sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad 'Uthman is the son of Sayyidi Shaykh Ibrahim Muhammad 'Uthman Abduh al Burhani and inherited the Burhaniyya Tariqa from his father in 2003. He is the first Shaykh of the silsila to have lived outside the traditional Arab world. In continuing the approach of his father, Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim has established centres for the Burhaniyya Tariqa across the globe while respecting the national laws and regulations of each country. He was sent by his father to Germany in 1990 to study medicine and has since completed his studies, taken up residence there, and married a German Muslim.

Sayyidi Shaykh Ibrahim Muhammad 'Uthman Abduh al Burhani (d. 2003).

Shaykh Ibrahim was the son of Sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman Abduh al Burhani. He inherited the Burhaniyya Tariqa in 1983. Under the guidance of Shaykh Ibrahim, the Burhaniyya Tariqa continued to expand beyond the Nile Valley. Shaykh Ibrahim considered the teachings of his father as complete and understood his role as head of the Tariqa to be about action and not theory. To achieve this, Shaykh Ibrahim travelled widely across the globe, meeting many of his murids. These actions helped globalise the Burhaniyya Tariqa, while maintaining its centralised structure. He passed away in 2003.

Sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman Abduh al Burhani (1902-1983).

Sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman Abduh al Burhani was born in Halfa, Sudan, in 1902. At the age of ten he was initiated into the Path of Allah by his uncle. He established the Burhaniyya Tariqa in 1938, which was marked by the following dream and vision of Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman: "During sleep and during my visions I saw a locomotive with only one wagon coming towards me and stopping right in front of my feet. I discovered that the train came from Dasuq, the home of my Shaykh. This dream repeated itself for forty days. After that the vision became more tangible and I could enter it. I opened the wagon and found a coffin inside. I opened the coffin and found a corpse wrapped in white cloth. I lifted the white cloth and found a green cloth underneath. I lifted the green cloth and found a yellow cloth beneath it." After Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman had lifted all three cloths, he saw the feet of the corpse and was astonished that they resembled his own. He then found himself in the presence of many saints and asked "who is the deceased?" The reply was "it is Ibrahim Dasuqi," which brought Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman to tears. Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi then appeared to Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman and said "the dead man stands for my tariqa and you have been chosen to bring it back to life." In the 1950's the Burhaniyya Tariqa expanded outside Sudan into Egypt and then into surrounding countries. Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman is recognised as the reviver of the Burhaniyya Dasuqqiyya Shadhuliyya Tariqa. He passed away in 1983 and is buried at Khartoum.

Sayyidi Ahmad Arabi ash-Sharnubi (d. 994AH/1586CE).

Sayyidi Ahmad Arabi ash-Sharnubi was born in Sharnub in the Nile Delta near Dasuq. His linage traces back to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn. Sayyidi Ahmad Arabi ash-Sharnubi travelled widely, staying in Damanhur, living in Mecca and Medina for seven years, founded a Zawiyya in Cairo, and sojourned in Istanbul. He was also a scholar at al-Azhar University. The doctrine of the four major poles (aqtab) can be traced to Sayyidi Ahmad Arabi ash-Sharnubi, where he wrote that there are four grand poles within Sufism to whom all subsequent taruq are attached. He was the heir of the four poles and the Muhammadan light that shines in them. Sayyidi Ahmad is the founder of the Sharnubiyya tariqa. He died in Anatolia in 994AH/1586CE where he is buried.

Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran (729AH/1329CE to 739AH/1339CE).

Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran is the brother Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi and his maternal uncle was Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli. He was the first khalifa of his brother, inherited the Dasuqiyya Tariqa after his brother's death, and is responsible for collecting his brother's written works together. Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran was a scholar, studying theology in Alexandria and teaching at al-Azhar in Cairo, and a wasilun. Due to his brother's asceticism, Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran is widely accepted as the organizing force behind the early Dasuqiyya Tariqa. He died in Alexandria in and is buried beside his brother in Dasuq.

Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi (633AH/1255CE to 676AH/1296CE).

Sayyidi Ibrahim was born in Dasuq, Northern Egypt, in the year 633AH/1255CE, during the last night of the month Sha'ban. Sayyidi Ibrahim refused to suckle in the morning after his birth and during the daylight hours of Ramadan, the first of many of the miraculous events of his life. He read the Qur'an from age three and regularly entered retreat (khalwa) from age five. A distraught mother came to Sayyidi Ibrahim, telling him that a Nile crocodile had taken her son. Sayyidi Ibrahim found the crocodile and told it to return the child, which it did. He then told the crocodile to die, which it did. One back vertebra (kharaza) from this crocodile still hangs in Sayyidi Ibrahim's tomb. He is author of many well known litanies (ahzab), perhaps most famous of which is Salat al-Muhammadiyyah, a prayer on the Muhammadan Essence, also known as Al-Dhatiyyah. Sayyidi Ibrahim understood Syriani, the language of the Angels, which can be found interspersed within his litanies. There are many stories recounting his engagement with the angels, even taking his parents, Sayyidi Abdul Aziz al Mukni bi abi-l Majd and Sayyidatuna Fatima ash-Shadhuliyya, to converse with them. His maternal uncle was Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli. Sayyidi Ibrahim is the founder of the Dasuqiyya Tariqa and he is recognised as one of the four major Poles (aqtab) within Sufism. He had many followers all over Egypt, with many Christians converting to Islam at his hands. Sayyidi Ibrahim passed away in 676AH/1296CE. He is buried in his well-known mosque in Dasuq.

Sayyidatuna Fatima ash-Shadhuliyya.

Sayyidatuna Fatima ash-Shadhuliyya is the sister of Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli. She married her brother's servant and companion, Sayyidi Abdul Aziz al Mukni bi abi-l Majd. Amongst her children were Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi and Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran. One day Sayyidatuna Fatima ash-Shadhuliyya was waylaid by bandits who were intent on doing her harm. The bandits had her cornered an unable to escape when, from out of the shrubbery came a lion which attacked the bandits and protected Sayyidatuna Fatima ash- Shadhuliyya. Many years later Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi recounted these events to his mother and, on seeing her astonishment, stated "I was that lion."

Sayyidi Abdul Aziz al Mukni bi Abul Majd.

His linage traces back to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn. He came from Iraq where he was a khalifa of the Sufi master al-Wasiti. On meeting Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli, he became Shaykh Shadhuli's servant and companion, later becoming his brother-in-law by marrying Sayyidi Abul Hassan's sister, Sayyidatuna Fatima ash-Shadhuliyya. Amongst his children were Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi and Sayyidi Musa Abul Umran. One day on 'Arafat, during his time with Sayyidi Abul Hassan ash-Shadhuli, Sayyidi Abdul Aziz was singled out by Shaykh Shadhuli to say "Amen" to his supplication and him alone. After the Shaykh had completed his supplication another of his companions stated to Sayyidi Abdul Aziz. "By Allah, he has just supplicated for you to be an abdal and a khalifa. Later in his life the sahib al-waqt would stand when seeing Sayyidi Abdul Aziz al Mukni bi Abul Majd and then, after many instances of this, stopped doing so. The sahib al-waqt was asked "why don't you stand up before Abul Majd and pay your respects like you did before? Has something happened between the two of you?" The answer was given, explaining that "this standing up was not because of him but because of the great man, whose magnanimity is like a sea, in his loins, but has now been transmitted to his wife." The sahib al-waqt was referring to Sayyidi Ibrahim al Qurayshi ad-Dasuqi. Sayyidi Abdul Aziz is remembered as a pious and devout scholar. His tomb is in Marqus.

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, 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 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.

Sayyidi Abdu-s-Salam ibn Basheesh (1140CE to 622AH/1227CE).

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. 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 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.

Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi (596AH/1200CE to 675AH/1276CE).

Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi was born in Fes, Morocco, in the year 596AH/1200CE. His lineage traces back to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn. He spent much of his youth in Mecca amongst the Bedouins and would cover his face in imitation of them. From this he became known as al-Badawi, the Bedouin. During his time with the Bedouins he became renowned as a bold and daring horseman. Throughout his life Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi was guided by instructive dreams or visions (manam). He spent time living an austere life and spent much of his time in worship in a cave outside of Mecca. He embarked on the spiritual path in earnest during his mid-thirties and initially became reclusive, devoting himself to extensive devotion. As a result of a series of visions, Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi travelled to Iraq, visiting Sayyidi Abdul Qadir al Jilani and Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i, and was initiated into the Rifa'iyya Tariqa. After touring Iraq he returned to Mecca until he was given another indication in a dream to travel to Tanta, in the Nile Delta, where he spent the rest of this life. When visiting the Prophet Muhammad in Medina, Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi addressed him saying "If they say to me, you went and visited, what did you come back with of benefit? O most generous of all creation, what do we say in return?" He heard to blessed voice of the Prophet Muhammad replying "Say: We have come back with every goodness, and the branch has met and connected with its origin." Amongst his sayings are "beware the love of this world, for it corrupts the righteous deed as vinegar corrupts honey" and "this way of ours is built upon the Book, the Sunnah, truthfulness, purity, loyalty, bearing injustice against oneself, and fulfilling the promise." Sayyidi Ahmad al Badawi is the founder of the Badawiyya Tariqa, also known as the Ahmadiyya Tariqa, and he is recognised as one of the four major Poles (aqtab) within Sufism. He passed away in 655AH/1276CE in Tanta, Egypt.

Sayyidi Abdul Qadir al Jilani (470AH/1077CE to 561AH/1166CE).

Sayyidi Abdul Qadir al Jilani was born in the town of Na'if, in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, in the year 470AH/1077CE, during the last night of the month Sha'ban. His lineage traces back to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan, on his father's side, and Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn, on his mother's side. As a young man of eighteen, he set off for Baghdad to study Hanbali law and later came to be recognised as a noted scholar of Qur'an, Hadith, and religious law. On leaving for Baghdad, Sayyidi Abdul Qadir's mother sew 40 gold coins into his coat and instructed him to always speak the truth. On the way, his caravan was ransacked by looters and, upon coming upon the young man, asked him what he had on his person. On receiving information regarding the gold coins, the looters were so dumbstruck that they took him to their chief, who asked him the same question and received the same answer. After being urged to produce the gold coins and being informed that he could have kept them hidden, the chief of the bandits asked why the young man had be upfront about them and was informed of Sayyidi Abdul Qadir's mother's instructions. This response so moved the chief that he left the tribe of bandits and gave up looting. Despite his success as a scholar, Sayyidi Abdul Qadir initially retreated from public life and spent twenty-five years as a wanderer of the desert regions of Iraq. Eventually he returned to Baghdad, when he was in his fifties, and began to preach in public. His popularity within Baghdad grew quickly and to such an extent that it was difficult to adequate space to accommodate the people coming to listen to him. One day the reigning Caliph was shaken and became terror stricken from a tumultuous clamour. Thinking that it was an earthquake, the Caliph sought out the source of this noise only to find that it was from the sheer number of people, who had come to listen to Sayyidi Abdul Qadir, responding to him sneezing. On another occasion while giving a sermon, Sayyidi Abdul Qadir was struck silent due to a Divine inspiration. When he resumed he stated "this foot of mine is on the necks of all the saints of Allah." Those present took this as an order to bow their necks, as did all the saints of Allah who were not there, doing the same from where they were. On Sayyidi Abdul Qadir, Shaykh Ibn 'Arabi stated that he had reached a stage called "caliphate" from where he could exert influence on people and command them in the name of Allah (tasarruf). Sayyidi Abdul Qadir remained single until he received a sign from the Holy Prophet Muhammad and from his four wives he had twenty two daughters and twenty seven sons. He treated all his wives equally, visiting them each daily, and, if one of them became ill, Sayyidi Abdul Qadir would do the housework, sweep the floor, fetch water, and cook for them. His numerous writings and sermons enjoy a wide popularity. Sayyidi Abdul Qadir is the founder of the Qadiriyya Tariqa and he is recognised as one of the four major Poles (aqtab) within Sufism. He passed away in 561AH/1166CE. His body was entombed within his madrassa in Babul-Shaykh, on the east bank of the Tigris River, in Baghdad.

Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i (512AH/1118CE to 578AH/1182CE).

Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i was born in the Hasen Region of Wasit, Iraq, in the year 512AH/1118CE. His linage traces back to the Prophet on both his father's and mother's sides. His cousin was Sayyidi Abdul Qadir al Jilani. Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i memorised the Qur'an by the time he was seven and was so prodigious in his studies that he received permission to teach both the external and internal sciences of Islam by the time he was twenty. Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i had a special passion for knowledge and especially passing this knowledge on to others, repeatedly encouraging them to "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave." He was so committed to his students that he would not leave them with a gap in their knowledge and would provide everything for those committed to studying under him so that they were free from all distraction, even to the extent of providing for their livelihood. In order to assist his students, Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i authored six hundred and sixty two books, though many of these are no longer available. During Hajj, Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i visited the Prophet's mosque in Medina. After offering his prayers he greeted the Prophet with "Peace be upon you, my ancestor," to which he received the reply "Peace be upon you, my descendant." On hearing this, Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i requested that he be able to touch the hand of the Prophet and a hand extended from the grave of the Prophet, which Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i kissed. This was witnessed by the many that were present, amongst whom was Sayyidi Abdul Qadir al Jilani. After the miracle of receiving the hand of the ProphetBlessings upon the Holy Prophet, it is said that Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i's greatest miracle was his integrity in religion, his steadfastness on sharia, and his adherence to the conduct of his righteous predecessors. Regarding this he said "the faqir is on the right path as long as he follows the sunnah, once he deviates he slips away from the right path" and "arbitrate every single saying and deed of yours according to the Islamic law of your Prophet." Amongst the supplications of Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i, he would call on Allah, saying "O Allah, make my time inhabited by You, my inner self luminous with Your love, my eye contented by witnessing the effects of Your Kindness, my insight enlightened and informed by the shining lights of being close to You." He is the founder of the Rifa'iyya Tariqa and is recognised as one of the four major Poles (aqtab) within Sufism. Sayyidi Ahmad ar-Rifa'i passed away in 578AH/1182CE and his tomb is located near Tal Afar in northern Iraq.

Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin (38AH/659CE to 95AH/713CE).

Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin was born in Medina in 38AH/659CE. He was the son of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn and great-grandson of the Prophet. Sayyidi Ali Zayn was self-denying and renounced worldly pleasures, though he did not give way to poverty and feebleness. He is considered to be pious with what Allah prohibited and his asceticism was internal and psychological. All accounts of his life highlight Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin as having gracious courtesy, penetrating knowledge, and sincerity in his devotion. A fire once broke out in the house while he was in prostration. He did not raise his head from prostration until after the fire went out. When asked about this, Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin said "the other fire kept my mind busy." Once, when circumambulating the Ka'aba, he heard a man asking Allah for patience. Sayyidi Ali Zayn turned to the man and said "You are asking for tribulation. Say 'O Allah, I ask You for wellbeing and gratitude for it.'" He died in Medina in 95AH/713CE and is buried in al-Baqi' cemetery next to his uncle Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan. After his death many people discovered that the individual who provided sacks of food for more than one hundred families, always with his face covered to avoid being recognised, was Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin.

Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Zainab (5AH/626CE to 62AH/681CE).

Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Zainab was born in Medina in 5AH/626CE. She was a granddaughter of the Prophet, daughter of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali and Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatimata Zahra. As a result of losing her mother when she was seven, Sayyida Zainab had a special closeness with her brothers Imam al Hassan and Imam al Hussayn. When her father became Caliph, Sayyida Zainab and her family moved with her father from Medina to Kufa. While in Medina, Sayyida Zainab held sessions to help women study the Qur'an and learn more about Islam, a practice she continued in Kufa. She was instrumental in the protection of her nephew. When Sayyidi Ali Zayn al 'Abidin was sentenced to death by the governor of Kufa, she threw herself on him in a protective embrace and, moved by her actions, the captors spared Sayyidi Ali Zayn's life. Sayyida Zainab was a model of defiance against oppression and other forms of injustice. Although Sayyida Zainab had wealth, she lived a modest life and donated most of her wealth in charity and was especially generous to the poor, the homeless, and the parentless. In her character she reflected the best attributes of those who raised her. In sobriety and serenity she was likened to the Mother of the Believers, Khadija, her grandmother; in chastity and modesty to her mother Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatima Zahra; in eloquence to her father Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali; in forbearance and patience to her brother Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan; and in bravery and tranquillity of the heart to Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn. Her face reflected her father's awe and her grandfather's reverence. She died in 62AH/681CE.

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn (4AH/626CE to 61AH/680CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn was born in Medina in 4AH/626CE. He was grandson of the Prophet, 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 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 (3AH/625CE to 50AH/670CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan was born in Medina in 3AH/625CE. He was the eldest grandson of the Holy Prophet, 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.

Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatima Zahra (615CE to 11AH/633CE).

Sayyidatuna as-Sayyida Fatima Zahra was born in Mecca in 615CE. She is the most famous daughter of the Holy Prophet and Khadija. She was the wife of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali and the mother of Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hassan and Sayyiduna wa Mawlana al Imam al Hussayn. She has been regarded as one of the four exemplary women in the history of humanity (along with Asiya, wife of Pharaoh; Mary, mother of Jesus; and Khadija) and is referred as Fatima az-Zahra, meaning "Fatima the resplendent." Numerous marvels are attributed to her and she is seen by many as an important model for female piety and sanctity. She was only eighteen when she died in Medina in 11AH/633CE, passing shortly after her father. She is buried in the graveyard of Jannatul Baqi' in Medina in an unmarked grave, which was according to her will.

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali (598CE to 40AH/661CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Ali was born in Mecca in 598CE, with some sources indicating the he was born in the sacred sanctuary of the Ka'aba. He was the fourth caliph and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, later becoming the Prophet's son-in-law though marriage to the Holy Prophet'sBlessings upon the Prophet daughter, Fatima Zahra. Imam Ali was the first child to accept Islam. The personal qualities for which Imam Ali is renowned are innumerable and include being an exemplary warrior, statesman, husband, father, and scholar of immense eloquence. He was respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, piety, nobility, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, consistent treatment of all Muslims, and generosity in forgiving his defeated foe. He is seen as an exemplar of futuwwah (spiritual chivalry). Almost all silsila of the turuq trace their lineage through Imam Ali. On the 19th of Ramadan 40 AH, Imam Ali was attacked with a poison-coated sword while prostrating during the fajr prayer. Rather than seek out revenge, Imam Ali stipulated that if he survived his attacker would be pardoned and if he died his attacker should receive only one equal hit. Imam Ali died a few days after the attack in Iraq in 40AH/661CE.

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam 'Uthman ibn Affan (576CE to 35AH/656CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam 'Uthman ibn Affan was born in Taif in 576CE. He was the third caliph and twice son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and known as 'the possessor of the two lights'. Upon becoming caliph, Imam 'Uthman led a simple life, despite a flourishing family business. Although offered a stipend from the public treasury, the Bayt al-mal, Imam 'Uthman never took any salary for his service as caliph. He showed patience and endurance as leader of the Muslim community and made it his practice to free slaves every Friday, look after widows and orphans, and give extensively in charity.

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab (577CE to 23AH/644CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab was born in Mecca in 577CE. He was the second caliph. Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab was initially hostile towards Islam. Upon hearing that his sister had accepted Islam he went to her, questioning her about Islam, and demanding that she give him the parts of the Qur'an that she had. His sister refused, stating that he was unclean, and demanded that he wash before touching the parchment. Eventually Imam Umar ibnu-l Khattab relented and, on receiving the Qur'an, he recited it, broke down in teaches, and accepted Islam. From that day forward he became one of the foremost companions of the Prophet Muhammad. His initial hostility was turned against those who opposed Islam and Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab openly prayed at the Ka'aba and protected others who did so too. Reflecting on these events, Abdullah Ibn Mas'oud said "Umar's embracing Islam was our victory, his migration to Medina was our success, and his reign was a blessing from Allah. We didn't offer prayers in the Masjid al-Haram until 'Umar had accepted Islam. When he accepted Islam, the Quraysh were compelled to let us pray in the Mosque." Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab's Caliphate saw a vast expansion of the Islamic empire and the following saying neatly sums his rule, he said "By Allah, he that is weakest among you shall be in my sight the strongest, until I have vindicated for him his rights; but him that is strongest will I treat as the weakest, until he complies with the laws." For Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab, simplicity and duty were his guiding principles and impartiality and devotion the leading features of his administration. He had one mantle and one shirt, both conspicuous for their patchwork, a simple and symbolic attire adopted by later Sufis. Imam 'Umar ibnu-l Khattab died in 23AH/644CE in Medina and is buried by the side of the Prophet Muhammad's grave.

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (570CE to 13AH/634CE).

Sayyiduna wa Mawlana-l Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was born in Mecca in 573CE. He was the first caliph, the father-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and one of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Many Sufi poets refer to him as the "Friend of the Cave," referring to an incident when he accompanied the Prophet on the dangerous journey from Mecca to Medina. The two fled Mecca, followed by a group from the Quraysh with ill intent, and sought refuge in a cave. Allah caused a spider to spin a web across the mouth of the cave and birds to nest there, leading the pursuers to believe that no one could possibly have entered the cave without disturbing these creatures and destroying their homes. While the pursuers were at the mouth of the cave, Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was repeatedly stung by a scorpion, causing him significant pain. Rather than cry out, Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq refrained from making a noise and even caught his tears to minimise the possibility that the pursuers be alerted to someone in the cave due to the sound of his tears hitting the ground. This image of the "Friend of the Cave" became a model of dedication and love of the Prophet, a spiritual state lauded and prized by many. Once, Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq donated all his wealth for the sake of Allah. When the Prophet heard this he asked him what he had left for his family, to which he was replied "Allah and His Prophet." As Caliph, Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was instrumental in preserving the Qur'an, appointing a committee, headed by Zayd ibn Thabit, to collect all verses of the book and then verify them. Imam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq died in 13AH/634CE in Medina and is buried by the side of the Prophet Muhammad's grave.

Ziyadatan fi sharafi-l Mustafa, Salla-llahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Increase the greatness of the Chosen One, May the salutations of Allah be upon him, and peace. (570CE to 12AH/632CE).

Muhammad is the final Prophet and Messenger and is known as the Seal of the Prophets (khatm al-anbiya). He is the most central figure within the Islamic tradition, in general, and in Sufism, in particular. All Sufi Orders trace their lineage to The Holy Prophet Muhammad, for it was through him that Allah transmitted the final Divine revelation to humanity and it is within him that Allah has granted an incomparably great character. His incomparably great character is the model par excellence for the individual seeking to draw close to Allah.

This page last updated on June 14, 2016