Accueil English pages Articles written The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
English - Articles written
Écrit par Omneya Nabil Muhammad Ayad   
Jeudi, 22 Mai 2014 00:00
Index de l'article
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path
Chapter 1 : Introduction
Literature Review
Martin Lings'' Work on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
Thesis purpose
Primary Sources
Historical brief on the French Colonialism in Algeria (1830-1900) and the role of the Sufi orders in Algeria
Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
A comprehensive list of all the written books of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
History of the al-‘Alawī Sufi Order
Chapter Two : The Historical Background of the Sufi Spiritual Stages in Major Works
The History of the Development of the Spiritual Stages in Major Sufi Works
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba):
2- The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Riḍa wa-l- Taslīm)
3- The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4- The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr):
5- The spiritual station of Sincerity (al-Ikhlās)
6- The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7- The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al-Tawhīd)
Chapter 3 : The Sufi Spiritual Stages in the Work of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)
2-The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Rida wa-l- Taslīm)
3-The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4-The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr)
5-The spiritual station of Sincerity (Ikhlās)
6-The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)
Toutes les pages

Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī

Before delving into the intellectual work of Shaykh al-‘Alawī on the spiritual stages of the Sufi path to God, it would be beneficial to shed some light on the biography of Shaykh Ahmed b. Mustafa al-‘Alawī (1869-1934) on whom Martin Lings provided the personal narrative of Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s private doctor, Marcel Carret, who had the fortune of spending quite a long time with the Shaykh which would help us to have an insider view.23

Another major source for reading about the biography of Shaykh al-‘Alawī is the narrative which he wrote in his own hands about himself towards the end of his life and which will be used in the next few pages to draw some basic guidelines on his life, his Sufi mentors and his spiritual development which led him to be the Sufi saint of the twentieth century. 24

In the early years of Shaykh al-‘Alawī, he did not have much knowledge about the science of Sufism perse yet he was very interested in the science of Islamic theology and finding intellectual proofs of the issue of God''s existence. He narrates that when he became aware of Sufism through reading the Sufi classical literature and encountering some of the Sufi saints of his time, he started conducting conversations with his close friend and business partner, al-Hajj b. ‘Awdah b. Sulimān, about the importance of having a Sufi mentor or a Shaykh to guide their way to God but Shaykh al-‘Alawī said that at that time he did not believe that he would ever find a mentor. It turned out that Shaykh al-‘Alawī was right, his mentor found him. Reading Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s narration of the first encounter between him and his revered Sufi mentor Shaykh al-Buzaidī leaves the reader wondering how destiny brought them both together as he was meant to be one of the greatest Sufi saints of his time.

Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s business partner, Bin ‘Awdah, knew about Shaykh Buzaidī and hoped that he might be their mentor to guide their way to God but Shaykh al-‘Alawī did not know about Shaykh Buzaidī before their first encounter. One day Shaykh Buzaidī was passing by their store so Bin ‘Awdah took the opportunity and asked him to come over their store and spend some time with them and Shaykh Buzaidī accepted the invitation and he became a frequent visitor to their store. During these visits Shaykh al-‘Alawī was not involved in the conversations that were mainly conducted by Bin ‘Awdah. Shaykh al-‘Alawī held in his heart great reverence for the visiting Shaykh Buzaidī that prevented him from speaking before him, and other times he was busy in handling the store that he wasn''t following the conversations closely.

One time during Shaykh Buzaidī''s visits he gazed at Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s face and told Bin ‘Awdah that the Shaykh had a potential for treading the Sufi path and he would be like Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Isa, a revered Sufi saint. Shaykh al-‘Alawī smiled politely while in his heart he felt it is a farfetched possibility as at that time he didn''t think of himself apt for the great honor.

The turning point which sparked the spiritual connection between Shaykh al-‘Alawī and his mentor Shaykh Buzaidī is when Shaykh Buzaidī knew of Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s special gift of holding and handling snakes without being bitten by them. Shaykh Buzaidī asked Shaykh al-‘Alawī if he is able to handle any snake and Shaykh al-‘Alawī replied positively. Shaykh Buzaidī told him that he has a bigger snake that is even more poisonous than any other snake and that if he was able to handle it then he would be a sage man and this snake is his lower self.

These words as Shaykh al-‘Alawī narrated kept echoing in his ears and made his head spinning over their meanings. After this encounter, only a short time has passed before Shaykh al-‘Alawī''s real attachment of love and reverence for Shaykh Buzaidī started to grow gradually in his heart.

Shaykh al-‘Alawī accompanied his mentor for good 15 years full of spiritual knowledge which left Shaykh al-‘Alawī in total preparation to be a mentor himself in the Sufi path. Shaykh al-‘Alawī faced a lot of tragedies and encountered a lot of challenges which should have burned him out yet the divine light fueling his heart always guided his way to safety. Right after the death of his beloved mentor, his wife died in less than a month and he found life pretty unbearable in Algeria and wanted to emigrate to Morocco. He prepared for his travel by selling his home and his business store yet again he encountered some difficulties in issuing a license for travel and he was forced to remain with no source for income. During all these hardships he always managed to give Sufi lessons about divine knowledge and soon enough he had a lot of followers whose numbers were in thousands towards the end of his life.

The Sufi works which he left provide us with glimpses of how Shaykh al-‘Alawi''s knowledge was like and how he succeeded in enriching the Sufi heritage with his profound inspiration and divine knowledge. His outer appearance did not fall short to reinforce the nature of his writings as was narrated by Dr. Carret, his medical doctor, that when he saw Shaykh al-‘Alawī for the first time, he was struck with his Christ like face. This issue was highlighted further by an article that was written by Michel Valsan.25

Shaykh al-‘Alawī managed a fine equilibrium between delving into the inner meanings of divine law and its spiritual manifestation and between the outer shell of keeping religious rituals and following the prophetic example and his application of the revealed law. This revealed law is the shell which covers the spiritual core of divine knowledge.

Some orientalists fell into the pitfall of generalization and depending on false information which led some of them such as Arberry for example to believe that Sufism in later centuries was lying on its death bed. While holding such negative view of Sufism, when Arberry''s attention was directed towards Shaykh al-‘Alawī, he freely admitted that he was a man whose sanctity recalled the golden age of mediaeval mystics.26

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