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SHADHILIYAH. Together with the Rifa’iyah, Qadiriyah, and Ahmadiyah, the Shadhiliyah is one of the four oldest tariqahs (Sufi orders) in the Muslim world. It takes its name from the Moroccan-born Abfi al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Shadhili, whose chain of initiation (silsilah) is traced through Shaykh `Abd al-Salam ibn Mashish to Abfi Madyan al-Ghawth (d. 1126), the patron saint of Tlemcen. Sidi Abfi al-Hasan (as he is generally known)

traveled extensively in North Africa-he was for a time imprisoned in Tunis by a jealous `alim-before establishing a zdwiyah in Alexandria. He died at Humaytharah (in the present-day Governorate of Aswan) on his way to the hajj in AH 656/1258 CE. He left no scholarly works but passed down a number of enduringly popular collects (ahzdb), one of which, Hizb al-bahr, was widely used as a prayer for safety at sea. The ahzdb have been compiled (with transliterations and translations) in volume 1 of The School of Shadhdhuliyyah by A. N. Durkee (Alexandria, 1991).            – –

It was not until the tariqah passed into the hands of its third shaykh, Ahmad ibn `Ata’ Alldh, al-Iskandari (d. 1309) that its doctrines were systematized, and the biographies of Sidi Abfi al-Hasan and his successor Sidi Abfi al-`Abbas al-Mursi (d. 1287) were recorded. Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah’s Aphorisms (Hikam) guaranteed the popularity of the Shadhiliyah; they are spoken of as “undisputedly the last Sfifi miracle performed on the banks of the Nile . . . and . . . one of the instruments for the [Shadhiliyah’s] expansion” (P. Nwyia, Ibn `Ata’ Allah et la naissance de la confrerie sadilite, Beirut, 1972, p. 35). An English translation of the Hikam was published by Victor Danner under the title Ibn `Ata’illah’s Sufi Aphorisms (Kitab al-hikam) (Leiden, 1973).

The tariqah, which represents what Annemarie Schimmel (1986, p. 251) calls the sober “Baghdadian” school of Sufism, is known for a pragmatic approach to worldly comforts; for the Shadhilis, wealth per se does not exclude one from the community of fuqard’ (lit., “the poor in God”). Sidi Abfi al-Hasan is also said to have preferred the grateful rich to the patient poor. This subtle distinction informed the discrepancy between the outlooks of the Shadhiliyah and Qadiriyah in seventeenth-century Sudan (Grandin, 1986, pp. 170171) and is used to explain the tariqah’s high profile in contemporary reformist Sufism, particularly in Egypt.

The Shadhiliyah is spread over a large part of the Muslim world. It is represented in North Africa mainly by the Fasiyah and Darqdwiyah branches and has a large presence in Egypt, where fourteen branches were officially recognized in 1985. It continues to be active in Sudan, where it was overwhelmingly popular (along with the Qddiriyah) between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, before the entry of the more reformist Idrisi orders. It is also represented in sub-Saharan and East Africa, and it is the majority tariqah of the Comoro Islands.

During the Ottoman period the Shadhiliyah was active in Turkey and may well have received royal patronage from Sultan Abdulhamid II. The tarigah also spread into southeastern Europe, where it was represented in Bulgaria, Romania, and the former Yugoslavia, as well as in Kosovo and Macedonia. The Fasiyah branch was introduced into Sri Lanka in the mid-twentieth century, and other branches are reported to have been active in parts of China. The tariqah was also represented in Yemen in late medieval times and is credited with the introduction of the use of coffee to facilitate long sessions of invocation (dhikr). In the twentieth century, the Fasiyah Shadhiliyah were persecuted by the Zayd! imams Yahya (19o4-1948) and Ahmad (1948-1962).

The Burhaniyah Disuqiyah branch, which originated in Sudan under Shaykh Muhammad `Uthman `Abduh (d. 1983), became widely popular in Egypt in the 1960s and spread to Syria in 1968. The orthodoxy of this branch became the subject of debate in Egypt in the 1970s and 1980s; however, despite the reservations of the `ulama’ the Burhaniyah Disuqiyah is today more popular than ever.

Three other branches of the tarfqah stand out in Egypt. The Hamidiyah, founded by Sid! Salamah alRadi (d. 1939), is credited with being one of the first tarigahs to face the problems of anti-Sufi criticism and diminishing membership by compiling a rule (qanu n) defining correct behavior for its members (Michael Gilsenan, Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt, Oxford, 1973, pp. 92-128). This branch, whose main hadrah (congregational invocation) is held at the mosque of al-Sayyidah Zaynab in Cairo, has acquired a reputation for the careful organization and control of its public rituals.

The `Azamiyah Shadhiliyah was founded in 1915 in the Sudan by Muhammad Mad! Abu al-`Aza’im. Currently headed by his grandson `Izz al-Din, this branch has campaigned actively for reform of Sufi practices. It is also critical of what it views as Jama’at Islamiyah’s Khariji tendencies and emphasizes the necessarily Sufi nature of any “Islamic solution.”

The `Ashirah Muhammadiyah (Muhammadan Family) is a registered friendly society with a core of initiates known as the Muhammadlyah Shadhiliyah. The ‘Ash!rah was officially recognized in 1951, although its present shaykh, Muhammad Zak! Ibrahim, was ousted from the Sufi Council (majlts) for challenging the status quo. He took legal action and was reinstated in January 1956. Since then, this branch of the tariqah has devoted itself to reforming Sufism and defending it against hostile

critics. It also claims responsibility for the introduction of the 1976 Sufi Ordinance (la’ihah), which regulates the disciplinary and financial matters of the Egyptian tariqahs.


Grandin, Nicole. “Les turuq au Soudan, dans la Come de l’Afrique et en Afrique orientale.” In Les ordres mystiques dan !’Islam: Cheminements et situation actuelle, edited by Alexandre Popovic and Gilles Veinstein, pp. 165-204. Paris, 1986.

Ibn `Ata’ Allah, Ahmad ibn Muhammad. Lata’if al-Minan ft Mandqib AN al-`Abbas al-Mursi wa-Shaykhihi al-Shadhili Abi al-Hasan. Edited by ‘Abd al-Halim Mahmud. Cairo, 1974.

Luizard, Pierre-Jean. “Le role des confreres soulies dans le systeme politique egyptien.” Monde Arabe Maghreb Machreq 131 (JanuaryMarch 1991): 26-53.

Mahmud, `Abd al-Halim. Al-Madrasah al-Shadhiliyah al-Hadithah wa-Imamuha Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili. Cairo, c. 1968.

Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1975


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/shadhiliyah/

  • writerPosted On: July 26, 2017
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