[From the Introduction of Shaykh Hassan Cisse, Shaykh al-Islam Ibrahim Niasse: Revivalist of the Sunnah (New York, 1984).]
Shaykh Hassan introduced this address by reminding the reader that the Tariqa Tijaniyya is based on the Qur’an and the Hadith, or narrations of the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Shaykh then sited the famous hadith of three stations of religion: Islam (submission), Iman (faith) and Ihsan (spiritual excellence) as justification for the “intent, substance and development of the Tariqa Tijaniyya.” Since Islam, as a religion suited for the lofty spiritual aspirations of the human soul, contains within it Ihsan, the religion also includes the Sufi tariqa, or the path of self-purification: the path of contemplating God, “until you worship Him as if you see Him; and if you do not see Him, know that He is seeing you” (the Prophet’s description of Ihsan from the aforementioned hadith). Shaykh Hassan continued:
It should be obvious from this Hadith that a human being has greater needs than an animal. In the same way he needs food for his body, he also needs food for his spirit; and the best food for the spirit is the remembrance of Allah (dhikr). Dhikr provides the direct link between the servant and Allah. Surely there is wise counsel in the saying, “The remembrance of Allah is the means to acquire sainthood, to be one of the awliya‘ (saints or friends of God).”
The Tariqa Tijaniyya is based on three principles:
- Asking Allah for forgiveness (astaghfirullah). It is forbidden for a Muslim to stop his brother in Islam from saying astaghfirullah. None of us are infallible. The same way we do something right today, we may do it wrong tomorrow. Consequently, the Prophet has directed us by saying, “Your sickness is the sins and the remedy of your sickness is to say astaghfirullah.” In addition, there are many verses in the Qur’an advising us to say astaghfirullah. For example, in Sura Hadid (57:21), we are told, “Be foremost (in seeking) forgiveness from your Lord…” And then there is the example of our most excellent guide, the Prophet, peace be upon him. In spite of the infallibility of his station, and what Allah has stated clearly in Sura Fath (48:2), that He has forgiven all his sins – the first and the last – the Prophet asked Allah’s forgiveness more than one hundred times every day. If that is the case with him, what about those of us who live in this corrupt time of disbelief and sin?
- The second principle is to say la ilaha illallah, “There is nothing worthy of worship but God.” In a Hadith, the Prophet said, “The best words I have ever said together with the previous Prophets are the words la ilaha illallah.” And, again, in Sura Baqara (2:152): “Then if you remember Me; I will remember you.” And in Surah Imran (3:191): “Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides…” And, again, in Sura Jumu’a (62:10), “and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.” Surely, when Allah, who has no limit, says to remember Him “often”, it is not to be taken lightly.
- And the third principle is Salat ‘ala Nabi, the offering of prayers upon the Prophet. Allah has ordered the community of the believers to offer prayers upon the Prophet just as He has himself done together with His angels, (Qur’an, 33:56). Moreover, the Prophet said in another Hadith, “Whoever offers one prayer upon me, Allah will offer ten upon him.” In another report, the Prophet said, “Whoever offers one prayer on me, Allah will offer ten on him; if he makes it ten, Allah will make it one hundred for him; if he makes it one hundred, Allah will make it one thousand for him; if he makes it a thousand, he will enter Paradise shoulder-to-shoulder together with me.”
Support for the dhikr of the Tariqa Tijaniyya thus is solely derived from Qur’an and Hadith. We are Muslims looking for the Truth, and wherever we see the Truth, we shall follow.
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For more information on the three principles of Tijani dhikr, see: