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ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b.

Muḥammad al-Fāsī al-Fihrī


(d.1036)
Masters of the Shādhili Path Series

Translated by Sidi Idris Watts

Sīdī ʿAbd al-Raḥman was born on Sunday 19th Muḥarram 972 in


al-Qaṣr al-Kabīr1. His father died when he was still being weaned from
his mother. He was raised in the home of his elder brother Sīdī Yusūf.
He entered the Qurʾānic School with his cousin Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
and they both studied the basics of Islamic Law and Grammar at an
early age alongside their memorisation of the Holy Quran. In 968, his
brother Sīdī Yusūf sent both boys to Fez to study under the scholars of
their time. They both benefited hugely from their time there.

Sīdī ʿAbd al-Raḥman never left the side of a scholar named al-
Qaṣṣār until he was given a general permission to teach all the sciences
he had studied under him. His teacher used to speak of him highly. He
also studied with his elder brother Sīdī Yusūf many disciplines such as
Qurʾānic exegesis, Prophetic Traditions and Sufism. Sīdī Yusūf opened up
his brother’s soul to the inner realties and connected him to his Lord.
After he had tasted the fruits of the path, he gave up his time to the
study of Sufism alone. He was a true erudite having mastered
grammar, language, jurisprudence and its principles, theology, logic
and much more. He was known to say, “When reading the book of
Bukhārī, Muslim or Muwaṭṭaʾ, I have no need to refer to any other
source but Qādī ʿIyāḍ’s ‘Mashāriq al-Anwār’ (a book used to clarify vague
and rare words in hadīth literature). As far as the meaning of any of the
prophetic traditions, I have need of no-one.”

He spent all his time in Fez teaching the exegesis of Quran and
the sound books of prophetic traditions. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh would
read aloud the book in his lessons. Then after he had passed away, his
brother’s grandson ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Fāsī2 took over the responsibility.

1
A city in the central-north of Morocco still present today.
2
ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Fāsī (d. 1091) One of the greatest scholars of his time. Born and
raised in al-Qaṣr al-Kabir, he studied Qurʾān, Arabic, Law and the Science of Prophetic
Tradition with his father at a very young age. Later on he moved to Fez and stayed in
the Madrasha Miṣbāḥiyyah facing the Qarawiyyīn where he was to study for years to
come with some of the greatest scholars of his time such as the famed ʿAbd al-Wāḥid
ibn ʿĀshir. After his studies he set off to return back to his home city but soon on the
road he was robbed by thieves. When he returned, his uncle told him that this was a
sign that he should stay in Fez. From then on, students from all over Morocco would
He produced many beneficial works such as his commentary on
Jalālayn, Bukhārī, Sanūsiyyah, al-Mukhtaṣar of Khalīl, Dalāʾil al-Khayrāt,
al-Ḥizb al-Kabīr of Imām ash-Shādhilī, and Sūrah al-Fātiḥah.

When he was young he met Sīdī ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Majdūb and he sat
him on his thigh and fed him a piece of meat. He also took from Sidī
Riḍwān al-Jinwī.3 He was the one to inherit the teachings of his brother
as testified to by Sīdī Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh. He was called ‘the
Junayd’ of his time by other scholars. He was the first to establish the
recitation of Quran after the Subḥ and Maghrib prayers on 29 th
Ramaḍān 1015 in the mosque adjacent to his house in the Qalqaliyyīn
District. Then in 1017, his zāwiyah was built where Sīdī ʿAbd al-Qādir is
buried today, which Moulay Ishmāʿīl later had restored and extended.

One day a man stood up in his presence whilst he was relating stories
of the righteous and said, “Sīdī, where are they today?” He replied
back, “O my boy, here I am, one of them. God all-mighty said: and you
see them looking towards you yet they do not see4”

Some of his sayings:

“If some of our mysteries were shown to creation, there would not be
enough room for them in these lands and the earth would become
confined by the on pour of divine knowledge.”

come to sit at his feet and take from his knowledge. He was a man of great
abstinence. He refused to accept the gifts of people and he made his living writing
out copies of Saḥiḥ al-Bukhārī and selling them to the people. He took the order from
his great uncle ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān but when he passed away he took from his successor
Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh. He is most well-known for his answers to various questions
related to Islamic Law (al-Aʾilah aṣ-Ṣughrā wa al-Kubrā) He is buried in the zāwiyah and
mosque where he used to teach in the Raṣīf District of Fez.
3
Sīdī Riḍwān al-Jinwī (d. 991) He is originally from Jinwah, Spain. His father, who was a
Christian, accepted Islām and then migrated to Morocco. There he married a Jewish
woman who had converted to Islām. He used to say, “I came from between filth and
blood, pure milk, sweet to drinkers (Qurʾān: 16/66).” He was born in Fez and
memorized the Book of God and studied knowledge in both Fez and Marrakesh. He
kept the company of Sīdī ʿAbd Allāh al-Ghazwānī (the successor to Sīdī Tubbāʿ, who
was the successor to Imām al-Jazūlī) in Fez. When his teacher moved to Marrakesh he
yearned to be by his side and so moved when he was old enough to be with him.
After his teacher’s death he took from his successor Sīdī Muḥammad aṭ-Ṭālib, Sīdī
Aḥmad Zarrūq, Sīdī Muḥammad ash-Shuṭaybī from the region of Banī Zarwāl, and Sīdī
Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Kharūbī from Algeria. After taking from these masters, he took
up the mantle of teaching disciples himself. He was known for his incessant weeping.
One of his teacher’s of the Islamic sciences used to call him ‘Riḍwān the Weeper’. He
is buried outside the Gate al-Futūḥ where there is a shrine over his grave.
4
Qurʾān: 7/197
“The Faqīr is like musk; the more you try to cover him up the more
fragrance he produces.”

“I see the Prophet  awake and in my sleep.”

“Between here and Tunisia there is no one like us.”

His teacher Sīdī Yusūf said about him:

“If it weren’t for the fact that he had his teacher he would be one who
urinates down his legs (i.e. because of the powerful states that would
come to him)”

He passed away on a Wednesday night, the 17 th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal


1036 IE at the age of sixty-four. He is buried in front of the door of his
brother’s shrine.