THE SEAL OF THE SAINTS & THE CONCEALED QUTB–SHAYKH AHMAD IBN MUHAMMAD AL-TIJANI (RA)


by Muhammad Abdullahi Al-Tijani Al-Ibrahimi on Monday, January 17, 2011

As-Salam Alaykum dear Tijani brothers and Sisters,

The 18th Day of Safar (which is in two days time) is a very important Date for all Tijanis, because it is the date in which our Master, the Seal of the Saints, Sayyidina Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Tijani (RA) entered into his Supreme Rank of “al-Qutb al-Maktum” (The Hidden Pole).

Know that Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SAW) granted our Shaykh (RA) two sublime ranks eternally, namely that of al-Khatmiyyah الختمية (being the Seal of the Saints) and that of al-Katmiyyah الكتمية (Concealed Station).

Therefore, he is known as Khatam al-Awliya (al-Khatm al-Muhammadi al-Ma’lum) and al-Qutb al-Maktum.

Khatam al-Awliya means he is the Seal/Perfection of Complete Muhammadan Sainthood, Wilayah (which is the next level of knowing Allah after Nubuwwah/Prophethood).

It does NOT mean he is the “last saint” as some wrongly understand. It also means that he is the spiritual provider of all the Saints before him and after him. He is the eternal reservoir of Wilayah from which they all drink. As he (RA) said:
لا يشرب ولي و لا يسقى إلا من بحرنا
“No Wali drinks or is given drink save from my ocean”
(From the Jawahir al-Ma’ani)

The word “drinks” refers to the great Qutbs who take directly from him, and “given drink” refers to the Awliya who take from those Qutbs, from all Tariqahs and all times.

No-one (not even the Qutb) drinks from the Prophets directly, although they may think so, as Shaykh Ibn-Arabi (RA) thought and mentioned in his Futuhat. After quoting that passage from Ibn-Arabi, Sahib al-Faydah al-Kubra Mawlana Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse (RA) wrote:
قلت: أنظرإلى هدا الإمام الجليل مع سعة باعه في علوم المعارف لم يعرف الحضرة الكتمية التي استمد منها القطب فدكر أنه من روحانية الأنبياء و إستمداد القطب الغوث إنما هو من بحر المدد الأكبر القطب المكتوم و الخاتم المحمدي المعلوم و هو سيدنا و وسيلتنا إلى ربنا الشيخ سيدي أحمد بن محمد التجاني الحسني رضي الله عنه و نفعنا به آمين
“I said: Look at this great Imam (Ibn-Arabi)! Despite his in-depth knowledge of Ma’rifah, he did not recognize the Hadrah al-Katmiyyah from which the Qutb derives his support. So he mentioned that it is from the Spirituality of the Prophets, while in reality, the Qutb al-Ghawth derives it from the Ocean of Greatest Support, al-Qutb al-Maktum wa ‘l-Khatam al-Muhammadi al-Ma’lum, and that is Our Master and Our Means to God, Shaykh Sidi Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Tijani al-Hasani, may Allah be pleased with him and make us benefit from him, Amen.”
(From the Kashif al-Ilbas)

As for the essence of the rank of Katmiyyah, it is concealed and cannot be spoken of.

The difference between the two is their levels of situation. The Shaykh al-Tijani’s Khatmiyyah is situated in the Da’irat al-Sifah, which belongs to Rasul-Allah (SAW). There he (RA) acts as the Viceregent of the Prophet (SAW). It is a Hadrah of Zuhur (Manifestation). From this Rank, he provides for all the saints, and seals them. The following statement of his (RA) points to this Rank :

روحى وروحه صلى الله عليه وسلم كهاتين – وأشار الى السبابة والوسطى – فروحه صلى الله عليه وسلم
تمد الانبياء والمرسلين و روحى تمد الاقطاب والعارفين
“My Soul and his (SAW)’s Soul are like this (eternally) – and he pointed to the Shahadah finger and the middle finger – His (SAW) Soul provides for the Prophets and Messengers and my Soul provides for the Qutbs and the Arifin”
(from al-Ifadah al-Ahmadiyyah)

As for the Shaykh al-Tijani’s rank of Katmiyyah, it is situated in the Da’irat al-Ism, which is his exclusive domain, and the Hadrah of his own Wilayah al-Khassah. It is the Hadrah of Butun (Hidden Essence). It was to this Maqam that he (RA) pointed to when he (RA) said:
لنا مرتبة عند الله تناهت فى العلو… يحرم ذكرها و إفشاؤها وليست مما ذكرته لكم
“I have a Rank in the Presence of ALLAH that is the ultimate in its loftiness …it cannot be mentioned or revealed, and it is not what I have (already) mentioned to you”
(From the Jawahir al-Ma’ani)

These two ranks are also referred to when the Shaykh al-Tijani (RA) said:

قدماى هاتان على رقبة كل ولىّ لله من لدن آدم الى النفخ الصور
“My Two Feet are on the necks of every Wali of Allah, from the time of Adam (SAW) till the blowing of the Trumpet”
(From the Rimah Hizb al-Rahim)

This Katmiyyah is manifested also in the Dai’rah after the Dawa’ir of the Sifah and the Ism. This Dai’rah which was referred to in the Jawahir al-Ma’ani by the couplet:

و لله خلف الإسم و الوصف مظهر
و عنه عيون العالمين هواجع

And Allah has a Complete Manifestation after the Ism and the Sifah as well
But the eyes of creation are asleep from (noticing) it

Most the great Saints did not even know of the first Rank, let alone the second one or beyond.

We Tijanis are lucky to have smelt its fragrance, which is the fragrance of the Prophet (SAW) himself. As the Khalifah of the two Seals, Mawlana Shaykh Ibrahim (RA) said:
طويت و سهلت الطريق إلى الحق
لكل مريد الوصل للحق بالحق

طويت علوم العارفين بأسرها
بشمي ريا المصطفى صاحب الصدق

Indeed, I have rolled up and made easy the Path to the Haqq
For every seeker who desires to reach God through God

Indeed, I have folded (i.e. combined in me) the Knowledges of all the Arifs
Because I smelt the Fragrance of the Mustafa, the Truthful One

Ultimately, this knowledge cannot be gained from books or translations of books, but by actual spiritual experience gained by total submission to a Shaykh of Tarbiyah in this Tijani Tariqah, particularly those who drink from the Faydah of the Shaykh al-Tijani (RA), as they are the specialists in this Knowledge. As the Sufi poet said:

لكنه بدون ذوق ما دري
و الذوق يغني فيه عن معبر
But it could never be understood without personal experience
And the personal experience is beyond expression

This exposition itself is not meant to make anyone understand the rank of our Shaykh (RA). It is only to re-enforce those who have done the Tarbiyah, and encourage those who haven’t. We should not let anything stop us from gaining this blessing, which is the secret of this Tariqah and its Fruit.
Based on the above, do note these dates carefully:
- Sayyidina al-Shaykh al-Tijani (RA) migrated from Algeria and entered into Fez (Morocco) in the year 1213 AH, at the age of 63.
- Then in the Muharram of the next year, 1214 AH, Sayyidina (RA) entered into the Maqams of the Qutb al-Ghawth (The Master of the Saints of his Age) and then the Khatam al-Awliya (Seal of all the Saints of all times), which is also known as Maqam al-Khatmiyyah or Khaatam al-Wilayah al-Muhammadiyyah. This took place in the holy mount of Arafah spiritually (although Sayyidina was physically present in Fez at the time!) at the age of 64.
- Then on the 18th of Safar of the year 1218 AH, Sayyidina (RA) entered into his highest Rank of al-Qutb al-Maktum (The Concealed/Hidden Pole) or Maqam al-Katmiyyah (The Station of Concealed-ness). This Rank is concealed because Sayyidina (RA) mentioned about himself that, “He has a hidden rank whose reality is not known to anyone but Allah (SWT) and the Muhammad (SAW)”. He also mentioned that the Prophet (SAW) personally mentioned to him (while awake and not in a dream) that he is the “Qutb al-Maktum” (The Hidden Saint).”

Some scholars of the Tijani Tariqah have mentioned that Sayyidina (RA) entered into the Maqam al-Katmiyyah (of al-Qutb al-Maktum) in the same year in which he entered into the Maqam al-Khatmiyyah (of Khatam al-Awliya), which is 1214 AH.

This is the opinion of the venerable authors of the Kitab al-Jami and al-Munyah.

However, the Qutb Sidi al-Arabi bin al-Sa’ih (RA) has substantiated in the Bughyah that Sayyidina (RA) entered into his highest rank of Katmiyyah four years later, i.e. in the year 1218 AH. The learned contemporary master Sidi Idris al-Iraqi (RA) of Fas has also substantiated this view with evidences I cannot mention now, in his book al-Fayd al-Rabbani fima Taduru alayhi al-Tarbiyah ind al-Shaykh al-Tijani.

In any case, what is established for sure is that Sayyidina Shaykh (RA) entered this Maqam of al-Qutb al-Maktum on the 18th of Safar.

The Mauritanian Master, al-Tijani bin Bab bin Bayba (RA) referred to all this in his essential Tijani poem Munyat al-Murid by saying:

و في محرم غدا غوثاً رشيد
خليفةً عن المهيمن المجيد
أعطى داك شيخنا بعرفه
حكاه من حققه و عرفه
و بعد شهر و ليال إرتقى
إلى مقامه العزيز المنتقى
مقامه المكتوم عن كل الورى
سوى النبي ما وراءه ورا

And in Muharram, he (our Shaykh al-Tijani) became a Guided Ghawth
A Khalifah of the Overpowering and Glorious Lord

Our Shaykh entered that Rank in Arafah
As narrated by those who witnessed and knew

And after a month and few nights (i.e. in Safar), he was raised
to his unique and chosen Rank (al-Katmiyyah)

His Maktum (concealed) Rank from all Creation
Except the Prophet (SAW) after whom is nothing

Many Tijanis in various lands celebrate this occasion by holding big gatherings of the fuqara on this day. While such celebrations are not a teaching of our Tariqah (and Shaykh Sukayrij was actually against them), there is nothing wrong with them if they are done properly and with a good intention. For it is always good to invite fellow Tijani brothers to make Wazifah, eat together and discuss about Allah, Rasul (SAW) and our Master (RA). Such an occasion is a good excuse for doing that!

Do note also that these above-mentioned dates only imply Sayyidna’s entering into these Sublime Maqams in the Physical Human Manifestation of Existence, and not in Reality.

As for Reality (Haqiqah), Sayyidina Ahmad (RA) was the Khatam al-Awliya and al-Qutb al-Maktum, even before he was born, and even before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. He was always there, and will always be there, for it is an eternal Hadrah.

This is in the same manner as our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who was the Khatam al-Anbiya and Habib-Allah forever…even before he was born and as a child, but he only announced his Maqam at the age of 40.

Zawiyahs all over the world are encouraged to commemorate this historical occasion with Khatm al-Quran, mass Wazifah, recitation of poetry, and most importantly, discussions and lectures on the life and legacy of Sayyidna Shaykh al-Tijani (RA).

Subhan-Allah! Through this one MAN, we Muslims received the greatest gift of Tariqah Tijaniyyah from the PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAW) himself.

Al-Hamduli-Llah! Through this one MAN, millions and millions of Muslims have and continue to recite Astaghfiru-Llah, Salatu ala-Nabi and La Ilaha Illa’Llah millions of times on a daily basis!

Allahu Akbar! Through this one SAINT, millions of other Saints were produced!

All this is in the Zahir (Outward Manifestation of the Universe). By his fruits you know him.

As for the Batin (Inward/Hidden Manifestation of the Universe)! Be certain that, in that realm, all Saints of Allah, receive their Sainthood through Shaykhuna Ahmad al-Tijani (RA) only. This includes all the Saints before our Shaykh (RA) and after our Shaykh (RA), from the Muslim Ummah and the Ummahs before us. None receives it directly from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or any other Prophet (SAW).

The ONLY WALI to have received his WILAYAH directly from the Reality of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is our Shaykh al-Qutb al-Maktum (RA). His appearance was the re-appearance of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself, for he (RA) manifested nothing but the Batin Reality of Mawlana Rasul-Allah (SAW)!

And beyond this what we cannot say or write, for as the Complete Khalifah of the Qutb al-Maktum, Sahib al-Faydah Mawlana Shaykh Ibrahim (RA) says in praising his Master Sidi Abi’l-Abbas Ahmad al-Tijani (RA):

معاني أبى العباس أفنى المعانيا
وأفنى معاني شوقه ذا المعانيا

وقد غصت بحر الغيب في بحر سره
ولم أك وان لا ولا متوانيا

تنورته في حضرة قدسية
مديراً لكاسات المعارف ساقيا

لعمري هذا الشيخ عين ولاية
تفجر من بحر النبوة صافيا

حقيقة سر الكون ثاني مكون
وخاتمة الأفراد فرداً مساميا

وثم وراء العقل ما لو ذكرته
يريق دمائي من أخال مواليا

لعمري وحق الشيخ تكفي اشارة
فأسكت عن هذا ولست موانيا

The Meanings of Abi’l-Abbas have finished all meanings!
And the yearning for him has finished this suffering one (in his love)

Indeed, I have dived in the Hidden Ocean of his Secret
And was not relaxed or lazy (in searching for his reality)

I saw him in the illuminated Divine Presence
Passing on and distributing the Glasses of (the Wine of) Ma’rifah

I swear! This Shaykh is the Pure Fountain of Sainthood
That sprouted from the Ocean of Prophethood

The reality of the Secret of Existence, the Second Creation of God
And the towering Seal of the Complete Saints

Then there is that which is beyond the pale of normal human understanding
If I mention it, even my close supporters will kill me!

I swear by the Honor of the Shaykh! A subtle indication is enough!
So I keep quiet about this; without relaxing though!

We ask Allah through the Seal of His Prophets, Muhammad (SAW) and the Seal of His Saints, Ahmad (RA) to never cut our rope from Him and Them. Forever, Amin.

Was-Salam,

Servant of the Tijani Door,

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