He was the spiritual guide of Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili , his only disciple. His spiritual legacy is connected with that of Al-Dakkak and Abu Madyan. He is the ancestor of Moulay Ali ibn Rashid , founder of Chefchaouen. He was a Sharifian , a descendant of Hasan ibn Ali . He also wrote a metaphysical paraphrase of a widely known prayer , called al-Salat al-Mashishiyah , in which the believer calls on God to bless the Prophet to thank him for having received Islam through him. In it, Ibn Mashish sees in the prophet Muhammad as an expression of the one Spirit from which all revelation comes and which is the eternal mediator between the ungraspable Godhead and the world.
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Today, I was inspired to write a very special post about a very special Wali, of whom the full depth and comprehension of cannot be expressed in words or grasped by the faculties of the intellect.
He was a master of masters, a secret of secrets, a helper ghawth for mankind, a beloved singled out specially from all mankind and creation for the intimacy of his Beloved.
His name as we know it today is Abdul Assalaam ibn Mashish, and blessed is the heart who carries that name and some portion of its secret within it. Abdul Assalaam was Moroccan of origin, and lived out his life in utter seclusion on the djebal Alam mountain of the knower, or mountain of knowledge.
He had only one student, whose name was Abul Hassan Shadhili, who later went on to become the qutb of his time and founder of the Tariqah Shadhiliyyah.
For anyone who undertakes the journey to his mountaintop maqam and spends the night in the freezing mountain air by his tombside, overlooking the valleys below from its cliff side, and disappears for a night into the presence of the pure light of this true Muhammadan Inheritor, surely you would come to know the deep meaning of the saying La illaha Il Allah, Muhammad Rassullah and to find the steps of the dance which spring from The Music of the Soul.
I cannot express the specialness and holiness of this place in words, and all that is left for me to do, if I were to try and impart some understanding of this holy man and this holy place, would be to guide you to it so you could taste from it and experience it yourself.
This I will attempt to do below. To arrive at the maqam of Abdessalaam, one must take a bus to either Chefchouan or Tetouan, for the maqam lies in the middle of these two destinations. I do not advise anyone who does not know the road to try and make the journey themselves by car, though there are road signs which mark the beginning of the trail from the main road, as it is a winding and tricky back mountain road and it is too easy to get lost there or get waylaid by the bad roads.
My advice would be to take one of the following paths: either to head to Tetouan, where there is a shuttle that leaves every morning at 7 am going to the tombside very humble, poor persons shuttle, it would take some fortitude to be able to endure it or, if you have the monetary means and would not like to deal with the rougher ride, to speak to one of the grand taxis in either city, Tetuoan or Chechouan, and haggle for a direct taxi to the tombside.
From Tetouan, my friends and I were recently able to rent a cab for dh for this trip, which was what I would consider the exactly reasonable price, as that is twenty dirhams more then it would cost to rent the cab to Chefchouan, which is equally far if not further from his tomb.
For those wanting to take the shuttle, which is 20 dirhams a seat, from Tetouan, merely speak to one of the taxis there and ask them to take you to the shuttles to Abdessalaam ibn Mashish, and they should be able to take you right there.
Again, their departure is everyday at 7 am, and they begin their return from the tomb around p. By shuttle like this, the journey would take around 45 minutes to an hour. If you attempt to take a big taxi from Chefchouan to the tomb, you would have to test your haggling skills and see what you arrive at, but as chefchouan is even closer I suspect dirhams remains a perfectly reasonable price, for those who are good at haggling.
If they ask specifically what station, tell them, if you are in Tetouan, the one going to Chefchouan, and if you are in Chefchouan then the one going to Tetouan. The tomb is located in a small village now name after him, at the very top of the village, which is really the very top of the mountain. They have put down planks from the nearby oak trees that grow in the region to make the ground around the tomb soft, and there are two mosques by his tomb, one right next to it and another below.
It is a comfortable and very pleasant location to spend the night awake in worship until sunrise, but remember to bring protection from the intense cold, which is unpredictable and tends to occur year round, even in mid summer.
There are times the tomb is reasonably tempered, perhaps more around the spring time based on one of my visits, but I was there recently in summer and nearly froze, so I would say better be prepared just in case. It is so named because they say when he taught there, birds would fill the sky above it, and in fact these were the angels coming to hear his knowledge.
This is located behind the tomb, in the rocks off to the right of the tomb facing its front side and the green Sadaqa box there. On one side of the tomb is a mosque and the other is a mountainous trek going back a bit, which about five minutes along, near the end where you will see a big water tank, is the small open air mosque of bricks.
Near to it is also a cave rumored to have been the resting place of Abdul Qadir Jilani when he came to visit Abdessalaam ibn Mashish. Shadhulliyyah spring and stairway. The other sight to see is the shadhulliya spring and stairway, where Abul Hassan made wudu three times on his way to meet his new master. The stairway leads right to the tomb side, and to reach it from the tomb merely climb down the cliff by it a short ways, aiming a bit to the right, as if descending directly from the mosque, and it takes up within one hundred feet of the tomb or so.
You can ask the locals for help if you find yourself confused. At the bottom of the stairway, past the spring, is a road leading downwards. If you follow it a short while, until it becomes dirt road, and then follow the dirt road, you will find the still standing and restored house which was the birthplace of Abdussalaam ibn Mashish. It has been converted into a Quranic school, and the room which he was born in has been converted into a small mosque where you can pray.
There is a shaykh buried there now, who, just several years ago, died during his pilgrimage to the tomb and was buried where he fell. All of these sights would be better and easier visited with a tour guide hired from among the village folk, for maybe dirhams, to show you around.
Know that you can also rent rooms to spend the night at the tomb, very very humble rooms, for dirhams a night. Make sure to bring your passport, there are police in the village and they want documentation of anyone coming to visit it from abroad. However, once you prove your citizenship, you should have no troubles. My favorite is to rent a room for the night, and then perform the night in prayer next to the tomb, coming down to sleep in the room in the morning.
In the day it is overrun by very pushy beggars, who are much better if you come dressed in a djellaba and so forth, but I am told by many people ruined their journey.
My experience has never been that bad, and particularly, once the night falls, it becomes just you and maybe the one or two other locals who are there for the same reason: to perform their ibaada in the privacy of the night.
At that time you should have no problems whatsoever. There are also cheap restaurants and so forth, everything you need to be spend however long you would like in retreat at the tomb. That is everything that is to be said about the tomb and getting to there. After leaving his Master Abu Madyan, he, may Allah be pleased with him, returned to his own country where he lived amongst his people as a member of the shurafa, those who are dedicated and devoted to upholding the Religion of Islam, untouched by connection to worldly positions.
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. Sidi ibn Mashish never encouraged insurrection, and always condemned those who took part in political uprising under the pretext of religious activities, so that his teaching was always towards peace and against all acts of aggression. The Love of Allah is the only pole around which good deeds turn.
Let your tongues speak of nothing but Allah, instead of occupying themselves with the things of this world. The Wine sharab al-mahabba brings about the blending mazj of the Divine Qualities with the human qualities, Characteristics with characteristics, Lights with lights, Names with names, Qualities with qualities and Actions with actions.
Allah extends the seeing of whom He wishes. The Wine al-sharab waters the hearts, the arteries and the veins.
I ask You to hand the Creation to me so that I have no shelter nor refuge except You. If you follow that light you will reach your goal.
As they recited together the holy Words, Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli saw that their bodies began to sway from side to side, but in truth it was not their bodies which were moving thus, but the whole mountain which was swaying from side to side in accompaniment with their recitation. From this sign he knew that this was truly the Qutb for whom he was searching. Return and make wudu. This time, as he made his ablution, he emptied himself of everything that he knew, or thought he knew, or that he had learned and taken in from other teachers, and he destroyed all his attributes, pictures, and prejudices, until he knew that he was left with only a vast space of nothingness inside him which was waiting to be filled.
He was now totally surrendered to whatever this Master, whom he desired with all his being, would send him. He climbed once more to the top of the mountain, but before he reached its summit he was met by the Master who greeted him by pronouncing his full line of descent back to the Prophet Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon him.
The Shaykh now embraced him with the deep Love of acceptance. A full bucket has no room for water. I have washed myself of my knowledge and my actions so that I do not recognize any knowledge or action except what comes to me by the hand of this Shaykh. The knowledge of this ablution has become the habitual practice sunna for all those of this holy Path who have followed after him, because it is the only way to reach the knowledge of the Reality, and the Light from that meeting continues to pour out without ceasing to both the East and the West.
One such sign was that on the night of his arrival on the mountain he was sleeping at the entrance of the cave where his Master lived. He dreamt that he was asking the Shaykh to grant him certain wishes, one of them being that Allah, the Mighty and Supreme, would incline the hearts of His creatures in favor towards him.
Then he wished to ask his Master if it was necessary for him to live in solitude, or in the desert, in order for him to be in the right station maqam to perform his religious tasks, or whether he should return to the towns and inhabited places to seek out the company of scholars and virtuous people. People ask You to make their relations with other people easy, but I ask You to make them difficult, so that I may always seek refuge and protection in You alone.
This is the Sea which overflows. Then one day, as he sat in the presence of his Master who had his young son on his knees playing and enjoying himself, the thought came to him to ask him about the Greatest Name of Allah.
It is of no importance to ask about the Greatest Name of Allah. It is important that you should be the Greatest Name of Allah-that the Secret of Allah should live in your heart.
When you are amongst the people, refrain from mentioning the Secret. Remove your heart from their presences. Thus you will attain the highest rank of holiness. I adjure you, by Allah, to this.
You are under obligation to give to Allah that which is owed to Him, and He will do the rest, and will protect you. Deliver me from their mentioning, and of accidents which should befall me because of them. Protect me against their wickedness, and by Your Kindness enable me to avoid their snares, for You are powerful over everything. These are cheap people. Do not take in friendship those who prefer their own self to you, and do not take for friends those who prefer you to themselves, because their sincerity is only based on appearances.
But he who guides you to Allah has counselled you well. And Allah knows those who fear Him. It was revealed to him, he said, in a dream from the Prophet Muhammad, prayers and peace be upon him, himself. In this holy revelation the Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him, showed him that his Secret, prayers and peace be upon him, was the key to the Door of the Knowledge of Allah, Mighty and Supreme is He. How mighty is he among the Prophets who is a picture and example of the Existence of Allah.
He said, according to the words revealed to him by his Beloved Prophet, and may Allah hallow his Secret:. Send Your Blessings and send Peace in all the affairs Of the revealed and the Hidden, upon the one from whom the Secrets Which were hidden in his lofty Essence, Were cleft asunder by becoming revealed. This is the Preserved Secret which none of us creatures knew before, And which no one who comes after him can obtain, In spite of his instinctive yearning for witnessing it.
O Allah! And the reservoirs which are distinguishing signs of Omnipotence, Pour forth in profusion the lights of his dazzling Secret. Briefly, an analogy can be made. The World of the Kingdom al-mulk and the World of Dominion al-malakut shine out through him, the Prophet, may prayers and peace be upon him, like spacious gardens on high. His Beauty, prayers and peace be upon him, is like the plants in gardens… and the World of Omnipotence is like a sea on the two shores of which are gardens that are watered from its reservoirs.
The World of the Kingdom is the world of the presences, of bodies which produce manifest deeds and actions, so that everything which is known through the senses is from this Presence. Also everything that is known by the White Mind and by true understanding is from this Presence. The Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him, embellishes the World of the Kingdom and the World of Dominion just as flowers beautify gardens… so that these two Worlds are enhanced by his Beauty, may prayers and peace be upon him.
And which is not tended by his all-pervading Secret.
Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish al-Alami