From the Kashf Al bas of Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse

As recorded in the text of adh-Dhahab al -Ibriz, Shaikh Abdullah al Aziz ad Dabbagh gave the following response to the question under discussion:

"What is meant by spiritual training (tarbiyya) is purifying the soul and purging it of its depravities, so that it becomes capable of bearing the secret truth. That can only be achieved by removing the darkness from it, and severing the ties of falsehood that bind it. The severance of falsehood from it may sometimes be due to the purity of its innate character , in which case Allah cleanses it without any intermediary. This was the state of affairs in the virtuous first three centuries, which were the best of the centuries, for the people in those centuries were devoted to the Truth, constantly focused upon it. When they slept, they slept upon it, when they awoke, the were fully conscious of it, and when they moved, they moved in it. If Allah opened someone’s insight, and he examined their inner beings, he would almost invariably find their minds devoted to Allah and His Messenger, seeking the attainment of His good pleasure. Goodness abounded in them for this reason!

This light of the Truth shone in their natures, and there appeared in them such knowledge and attainment to the degree of independent judgment (Ijtihad) as cannot be qualified or defined. There was no need for spiritual training In these centuries, for the Shaikh would simply meet with his disciple, the recipient of his secret and the inheritor of his light, then speak to him about his authorization. Success would thus be conferred on the disciple without further ado, because of the purity of the natures and the clarity of the minds (in those centuries), and their ardent yearning for the path of right guidance.

"It may sometimes be due-I mean the severance of darkness from people’s natural characters-to the instrumental influence of the Shaikh. That came about after the virtuous centuries, because people’s intentions had decayed, their consciences had stagnated, and their minds had become attached to this world, focused on the satisfaction of lustful appetites and personal fulfillment. The insightful Shaikh would therefore begin by meeting with his disciple, in order to know him well and examine him. He would then discover that his mind was attached to falsehood and the satisfaction of desires, and find that his nature followed his mind in that respect, for he was dallying with the heedless, cavorting with the negligent and loitering with the idle prattlers, and his physical limbs and organs were functioning in an unworthy manner in the process, since the mind which controls them was yoked to falsehood, not to the truth.

When the Shaikh found him in this condition, he would command him to practice secluded retreat (khalwa), remembrance (dhikr) and frugal diet. He would be separated by the secluded retreat from the idle prattlers, who are counted among the dead. The remembrance would dispels the utterance of falsehood, the dalliance, and the nonsense that was on his tongue. The frugal diet would diminish the steam in the blood, so the lustful appetite would be diminished. The mind would then resort to dedication to Allah and His Messenger. When he attained to this purity and clarity, his nature would be capable of bearing the secret truth. This was the goal pursued by means of spiritual training and the introduction of the secluded retreat.

"The mater then continued along these lines for a period of time, until the truth became mixed with falsehood and the light with darkness. The people of falsehood began to train those who came to them by means of the introduction of the secluded retreat, and teaching the Names with a corrupt intention and a purpose at variance with the Truth. To that they would add spellbinding incantations and ambiguous figures of speech, resulting in a beguilement (makr) and enticements (istidrajat) from Allah.

This practice was widespread in the times of Shaikh Zarruq and his Shaikh, so it was evident to them from the wise counsel of Allah and His Messenger, that they should advise people to desist from this training, in which the purveyors of falsehood were frequently engaged, and that they should stand with the people in the zone of security, in which there is no fear and no sorrow, that being the zone of adherence to the Sunna and the Book, those who are rightly guided by which do not go astray. Their statement was couched in advisory and cautionary terms, and their intention was not to advocate the absolute cessation of genuine spiritual training. Far be that from them, for the light of the Prophet continues to shine, his message is comprehensive and his blessings are universal, until the Day of Resurrection…."

The Quranic verses and the Prophetic traditions contain indications and explicit announcements of good tidings for this company, whose member are committed to the Truth, not at one particular time but not another, and not in one particular place but not another. Allah has said

And among those whom We have created there is a community who guide with the Truth and establish justice therewith (7:181)

In his marginal commentary on the Jalal, the erudite theistic philosopher Shaikh Sidi as Sawi has said: They are the Community of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), according to his saying in the Prophetic tradition:

A company from my Community will not cease to be committed to the Truth until Allah’s final commandment arrives! (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

Mu’awiya is reported as having said, while delivering a sermon: "I once heard Allah’s Messenger say:

Among my Community there will never cease to be a company obedient to Allah’s commandment. They will not be harmed by those who forsake them, nor by those who oppose them, until Allah’s final commandment arrives, for they are devoted to that (obedience)

--and this company in not peculiar to any particular time, nor to any particular place. No indeed, they are present in every place and in every time, for Islam will always excel and never be surpassed. However numerous the profligates and the people of evil may be, they are of no importance and they have no forceful impact. In this is good news for this Muhammadan Community, making it known that Islam is endowed with sublimity and honor, and it people likewise, until the Day of Resurrection draws near. At that point, the bearers of the Quran and the religious scholars will die, the Quran will be erased from the books, and the gentle wind will blow, so everyone in whom there is a tiny speak of faith will die. This will not happen until the demise of Jesus (peace be upon him)…"

The demise of Jesus will not occur until after he slays the Dajjal, and lives for forty years, as the Prophetic traditions have repeatedly stated, and the Dajjal will not arrive until after the Mahdi, by seven years at the head of one hundred.

As for one version of the Prophetic tradition, which contains the words:

There will always be a company in Morocco (al Maghrib)…

--Muhyi’d Din al Arabi al Hatimi said: "Allah placed it in Morocco, meaning the station of the quality of the Seal (al Khatmiyya) and the quality of Concealment (al Katmiyya) because it is the location of the secrets and concealment." (Consult al Futuhat and his book which he entitled Anqa Maghrib fi Khatm al Awliya wa Shams al Maghrib. You should also consult al Bughya.
Allah has said:

A multitude of those of old and a multitude of those of later times (56:39,40)

---and Ibn Abbas is reported as having said: "Allah’s Messenger said:

"The two multitudes are from my Community."

--This is not inconsistent with the Prophetic tradition:

"My community is like the rain, for it is not known whether the best is in its first part or in its last!"

--for the first is in one valley and the last is in another valley, and this implies that there may come to be someone in the Community who provides the people with tremendous benefit, which was beyond the means of anyone else among those who preceded him. The first part refers to particular individuals, while the second refers to the total span of time, and what a difference there is between the two! That is why he specified the generation".

Shaikh Zarruq has said in Ta sis al Qawaid: "Consideration of the times and the individuals is not required as a principle of Islamic law, for it is a pagan matter, since the infidels said:

"If only this Quran had been revealed to some great man from the two towns!" (43:31)

--so Allah responded to them with His saying:

Is it they who apportion their Lord’s mercy? We have shared out among them their livelihood in their life of this world, and raise some of them above others in rank so that some of them may take labor from others, and the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass. (43:32)

And when they said:

"We found our fathers following a religion, and we are guided by their footprints." (43:22)

--Allah responded to them with His saying:

"The one sent to warn them said: What, even though I bring you better guidance than what you found your fathers following? They said: In what you (Messengers) bring we are disbelievers" (43:24)

"It is therefore necessary to consider the universality of Allah’s gracious favor without regard for a time or an individual, expect In the case of someone specifically mentioned in His speech. The saints have followed the Prophets in that respect, because the charismatic talent (karama) is evidence of the miraculous talent (mujiza), and the religious scholars are the heirs of the Prophet in sanctity and mercy, even if they are different where superiority is concerned, so you must understand…."

On the subject of Allah’s saying:

And a multitude of those of later time. (56:40)

--our Shaikh, our means of access, the nourishment of our spirits and our supporter, the Cardinal Pole, the Ghawth, the Muhammadia Seal, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) said "They are our companions!"

Look with the eye of fair judgement, for then you will discover that he acquired the perfection of the inheritance, since the two multitudes came to be in the Community: one multitude belonging to his ancestor, they being the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and one multitude belonging to him, they being his companions. My pen recoils from inscribing all the rest of the indications:

In the secret of secrets there are subtle intricacies. Our blood would be shed publicly, if we were to reveal them

By this you should know that the cessation of the support of the Prophet, or dimming the light of this Prophethood, cannot be maintained by someone endowed with the lowest degree of faith.

As recorded in al-Jami and al Jawahir, our Shaikh Ahmad Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "You should know that the Prophet used to impose the general rules on the common folk during his lifetime; that is to say, when he declared something unlawful, he declared it unlawful for everybody, and when he prescribed something, he prescribed it for everybody, and likewise in the case of all the obvious rules of the Sacred Law.

In addition to all that, he used to impose special rules on the elite, and he used to assign certain matters to some of his Companions but not to others, as is well known and thoroughly recorded in his traditional reports. When he was transferred to the abode of the Herafter, the situation was therefore the same as it had been during his life in this world.

He had begun to entrust to his Cummunity the special decree imposed on the elite, but not modification of the general decree imposed on the common folk, so modification thereof ceased with his death, while his gracious favor continued to apply to the special degree imposed on the elite. If anyone imagines that all of his support for his Community came to an end with his death, as in the case of all other dead men ,he is ignorant of the Prophet’s degree and guilty of treating him with indecently. He is also in danger of dying as an unbeliever, if he does not repent of this deluded conviction.."


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