Abdul Aziz Dabbagh
Abdul Aziz Dabbagh
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1679 (1090 AH)
1719 (1132 AH)
Founder of the Muhammadiyya Way, seeing the Prophet ﷺ
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Abu Faris Mawlay Abd al-Aziz ibn Mas’ud al-Dabbagh al-Idrisi al-Hasani was a gnostic from the city of Fes born in the year 1679 (1090 AH). His family originated from the city of Salé in north-western Morocco, coming to Fes at the beginning of the 1500s.
His teachings were recorded in a lengthy book devoted to him by his disciple Ahmad ibn al-Mubarak al-Lamati al-Sijilmasi (d. 1743/1156 AH) called al-Dhahab al-Ibriz min kalam Sayyidi al-Ghawth Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh (Pure gold from the words of Sayyidi Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh). This book has been translated into English.
He was one of the first shaykhs to introduce the concept of Tariqa Muhammadiya which laid emphasis on achieving wakeful visions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and recognising the essence of the Prophet ﷺ. Shaykh Abd al-Aziz and his successors, Sidi Abdul Wahab al-Tazi and Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi were all said to have met the Prophet ﷺ. About this, Sidi Muhammad ibn Ali as-Sanusi (d. 1859/1274), head of the Libyan Sanussiya Tariqa wrote:
All three teachers in this silsila (Dabbagh, Tazi and al-Fasi) took from and met the Prophet ﷺ, while awake and asleep and after their death, and in the last instance, none of them had any support except that of the Prophet ﷺ. This is one of the characteristics of the people of Tariqa Muhammadiya and a reason for it being so called, even though all [other] tariqas [also] return to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
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The Khadiriyya Muhammadiya Tariqa, founded by Moulay Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh in Fes in the beginning of the 18th century (11th century AH) was internally and externally based on the lasting vision of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ. The origin of this Muhammedan Spring (al-manba’a al-Muhammadi) appears in a wird (litany) that Moulay Abd al-Aziz received from his Master Abul Abbas al-Khidr outside the sanctuary of the Patron Saint of Fes Abu’l Hasan Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 1116/559AH, teacher of Sidi Abu Madyan Shuayb al-Ghawth) in 1706 (1121 AH). His student Ahmad ibn al-Mubarak writes in his book al-lbriz: “our master al-Khidr (peace be upon him and our Prophet) had given his Shaykh, the succor of the age and our master ‘Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh, a litany with which to invoke seven thousand times each day. It was:
Allāhumma ya rabbi bi-jāhi Sayyīdinā Muḥammadi-bni ‘Abdi Llāhi ṣalla Llāhu ‘alayhi wa sallama-jma‘ bayni wa bayna Sayyīdinā Muḥammadi-bni ‘Abdi Llāh fī d-dunya qabla l-ākhira.
O Allah, O my Lord, by die rank of our master Muhammad the son of Abdullah gather me with our master Muhamad the son of Abdullah in this World before the Next.
About this litany, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh said:
I persisted in performing this dhikr. The first day it was difficult for me and I didn’t complete it until night had fallen. But little by little it began to get easier. My body grew accustomed to the dhikr so that I’d complete it by noon. Then it grew easier for me until I’d complete it by mid-morning. Finally, it became so easy I’d complete it by the time the sun had risen.
Three years following this litany, the shaykh met the Prophet ﷺ. When Allah ordained this, he forwarded and oriented his heart and eyes to the Prophetic Light that is between the tomb of our master Muhammad ﷺ in Medina and the barzakh. The Prophetic Light kept moving towards Shaykh Abd al-Aziz in Fes until the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emerged from it. At that moment, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ became the Shaykh of Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh.
In contrast to the Shadhili, Khalwati, Naqshabandi and Qadiri Sufi orders which possess a doctrinal transmission (silsila) of a succession of shaykhs back to the Prophet ﷺ, Moulay Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh’s silsila went directly to the Prophet Muhammad through al-Khadir, bypassing the early Sufi masters. Khadiriyyan Sufism was the Maghribi equivalent of the ‘Uwaysi’ methodology in the Mashriq.
Despite the fact that Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh inherited the sirr (secret) of his contemporary Shadhili master Sidi Ahmad ibn Abdallah al-Fasi (d. 1723/1129); the indirect master of Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi), his teaching focused on developing spiritual concentration on the “power of light” of the dhat (essence) of the Prophet ﷺ. He said:
The goal of the mystic path is illumination (fath)… Two kinds are distinguished: the normal fath and the ultimate, all-inclusive, al-fath al-kabir… Certainty (tahqiq) and real enlightenment only occur if the mystic passes through all the material and spiritual worlds and is honoured with the wakening vision of the Prophet ﷺ (ru’yat an-nabiyyi yaqadhatan / mushahadatu ad-Dhat sharifa). After this experience, he is omniscient and permanently protected against error (ma’asum). His knowledge is far superior to that of all others, in particular to that of the theologians and the fuqaha… Attaining fath signifies that the partition between Dhat and Ruh has been removed: the enlightened individual has reached a state like that of the Prophet ﷺ.
His disciple, Sidi Ahmad ibn al-Mubarak al-Lamati says:
Indeed this Way is based upon inner immersion, which is accompanied by modelling oneself on the Prophet ﷺ in word and deed, thus seeing him ﷺ as he is in flesh and blood, and engaging one’s tongue in tasliya (sending prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ) and busying oneself with uttering this at all times, in private and in public, so that it overwhelms one’s heart and that glorifying him, permeates one’s inmost being, so that one trembles by hearing him mentioned, and witnessing the Prophet ﷺ takes position of his heart and his outward figure appears before his inner eye. However, in order to experience a vision of the Prophet while awake, a person must be in a special mental state.
Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh describes the state in the following terms:
His mind is constantly occupied with the noble Prophet ﷺ, such that the Prophet ﷺ never leaves his thoughts. Other matters he is busy with, do not cause him to stop thinking of the Prophet ﷺ. People see him eating, but his thoughts are with the Prophet ﷺ; people see him drinking, but his thoughts are with the Prophet ﷺ. Even when his is asleep, his thoughts are with the Prophet ﷺ.
As for seeing our master Muhammad ﷺ in a dream (ru’aya), he said:
Whoever sees the Lord of being (sayyidu al-wujud) in a dream can do so in two ways…Usually what is seen is the image of the Dhat (suratu datihi), not the Dhat itself (‘aynu datihi), since the Dhat of the Prophet ﷺ can take on various forms…because the Dhat of the Prophet ﷺ possesses light which emanates from it and fills the entire world…If an enlightened person (al-maftuhu alayhi) beholds the image (sura) of the Prophet ﷺ before him, he then follows it with his spiritual insight (basira) and penetrates through light of the image of the Dhat of the Prophet ﷺ himself.
Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh passed away died in the year 1719 (1132 AH) and was buried outside the Bab al-Futuh Cemetery) in Fes near the tomb of al-Anwar, between the graves of Sayyidi al-Darras ibn Ismail and Sayyidi Ali ibn Salih. A cupola was erected above his grave which still remains the same today.