The Shadhili order is one of the greatest Sufi orders in the world of Islam. It is renowned for its adherence to the prescriptions of the Shari‘a, its insistence on sacred knowledge, its moderation and its emphasis on the principle of gratitude. The legacy arid achievements of many of its early masters are well known. There are also many contemporary Shadhili Sufi masters who can easily be compared, in their influence and achievements, to their early predecessors, yet very little is known about them. Recent works on Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi and Shaykh Ahmad Ibn ‘Ajiba have slightly rectified this state of affairs, but more work is needed on the Shadhiliyya and its masters.
There are moreover very few works in European languages that deal with the Shadhili method of spiritual training. The present study tackles both concerns. The life and works of the great Algerian Shadhili master Muhammad al-Hashimi (1881-1961) are exposited and his method of spiritual training is amply explained. The details of this spiritual method will help to explain, albeit indirectly, how the Shadhilis try to accede to the ‘kingdom of heaven’ while, at the same time, leading a harmonious and peaceful existence with their fellow Muslims as well as with the rest of the world.
The teacher and guide of souls, Muhammad ibn al-Hashimi was born to pious parents, both prophetic scions who traced their lineage back to al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (Allah be well pleased with him), in 1298 A.H. in the town of Sabdou, which lies in the vicinity of Tlemcen, one of the main cities of Algeria. His father was one of the city’s scholars, and a judge therein. When he died, he left behind him young children; the Shaykh was the oldest of them.
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