Biography of
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Mas`ud al-Fasi
(b. ~1212 H. in Fas – d. 1289 H. in Makka)
by bmk

Below the biography of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Mas`ud al-Fasi, through whom we received al-Yaqutiyya, the powerful wird upon the Prophet , which he received directly from him (salllAlllah `aleihi wa sallam), while sitting in al-Rawda al-Sharifa in Madina.

In Damascus, he had two successors:
- al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri (the famous mujahid), and
- Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib al-Jaza'iri.
Through the latter it has reached us at the hands of the Ya`qubi family.

1- His upbringing and studies
2- Years of mujahada and khidma
3- Finding his Sheikh, and opening at his hands
4- His travels and his passing away
5- His miracles
6- Poetry
7- Al-Yaqutiyya
8- His successors (khalifa's)
9- Poetry in his honor
10- His writings

1- His upbringing and studies

He was born in al-Maghrib al-Aqsa (Marokko today) in the city of Fas. His date of birth is unknown, however it can be inferred from the date when he met his Sheikh, Sayyidi Muhammad ibn Hamza Zhafir al-Madani (who was in turn a student of Sayyidi Imam Muhammad al-`Arabi al-Darqawi), in 1242 H. Assuming that he was at that time around thirty yeras old, his date of birth an be estimated to the beginning of  1210's.

He studied the Quran and the religious sciences in Fas under its greatest teachers. In the the Maliki madhhab, he studied the book al-Khalil, and its commentaries by al-Kharashi and `Abd al-Baqi under the faqih al-Qadi al-`Abbas Abu Sauda ibn Murra al-Fasi al-Maliki. He studied  tafsir, and hadith and its terminology under the great muhaddith Sheikh `Abd al-Salam al-Bar`i, a member of the leage of `ulama, who was amazed at his capacity of memorization and intellectual and spiritual gifts. With Sheikh al-`Arabi al-Zarhuni al-Fasi, he studied books of hadith, history and sira such as: al-Kala`i, al-Waqidi, al-Harifash, al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib [books specified in the footnote of Tabaqat]. He studied Arabic literature, grammar and logic with Sheikh `Abd al-Salam ibn Musa al-Andalusi. And he read the Qursheyri Risala and other tasawwuf books with Sheikh al-Tihami ibn Hamadi.

2- Years of mujahada and khidma

After completing his Shari`a studies, he secluded  himself to worship his Lord, and spent day and night doing salutations upon the Prophet sall Allah `aleihi wa sallam. He used to recite the entire book of Dala'il al-Khayrat twentyone times every day, apart from other devotions such as the fard, sunna and mustahabb of salat, Quranic recital and adhkar. He often visited the awlia, the dead and the living. He was virtuous, abstaining from what Allah ta`ala has forbidden and turning down his glance fron what He dislikes. He left dunia behind him, and was engrossed in the love of Allah ta`ala.

At this time, he used to serve the brothers, cutting wood for them, and providing for them the things they liked. One of the miracles told of him occurred in this time: One day, four thieves came to steel from him. He pointed at them with his hand, and Allah made them blind to him, so that they could not see him, and they said to each other: "Where did he go? He was with us just now!" All this time he was with them, hearing what they said. [Cf. a similar story about Sayyidi Imam Abul Hasan.]

One of the men of Allah, known as al-Sharif Ahmad al-Ghiran, used to give him the tidings of wilaya. He was a man of gnosis and elevated states, whom nobody could approach, but when he met our Master, while in one of these states, he regained sobriety, hugged him and said to him: Hell my Master ibn `Ata Allah - this was how he would always address him.

3- Finding his Sheikh, and opening at his hands

He travelled to Tarablus al-Gharb (Tripoli), in search for a spiritual guide, and  in 1242 H. he was led to Sheikh Sayyidi Muhammad ibn Hamza Zhafir al-Madani (d. 1264 H), who had in turn taken the Shadhili tariqa from Sayyidi al-Sharif al-`Arabi ibn Ahmad al-Darqawi (d. 1239/1240 H). As soon as he met him, he realized that this was the guide that Allah ta`ala had chosen for him, and his heart became instantly attached to him. With him he stayed for eighteen years. Through him he received openings and became firmly established on the Path, of which he testtifies as follows:

"Allah gave me knowledge like the knowledge He gave to the predessors before (man sabaqa min al-Awwalin), and what al-Haqq gave me has room only in my breast."

And: "By Allah, if it was not that I am bound by the Shari`a, I would disclose the most strange of strange things."

And: "I have at this time received the permission from Allah and His Messenger to say: This my foot is above the neck of every living saint. I said this, while in the Diwan of the Awlia of Allah ta`ala, and some of the awlia that were present wanted to utter these words, but I said to him: By Allah's Highness and Majesty, if you utter them, I will remove you from the Diwan and stripp you off your sainthood. So he remained silent and did not utter them."

4- His travels and his passing away

He was given permission by his Sheikh to guide seekers while the latter was still alive. In 1260, he left al-Maghrib and spent twenty-nine years travelling through the lands of Hijaz, Hind, Yemen, Sham, Misr, calling to Allah and His Mesesenger, and spreading the Shadhili tariqa, and he founded countless zawiyas of dhikr circles. He came to Misr in 1289. That same year he went to Makka al-Mukarrama, where he passed away, and was buried in al-Ma`la.

5- Among his miracles are the following:

During one of his travels, he was staying in a town in the province of Tarablis (Tripolis). As its people saw on him the signs of rightousness, they gathered around him, crying, complaining, and begging him to help them against the oppression they suffered from their ruler, until the Sheikh - may Allah preserve his secret - was crying with them. Then he said: By Allah, other them Who there is no deity, He will not remain as a ruler over you more than this month, either he will be removed or he will die. No more than three days passed after this utterance, before this ruler was removed from power, and faced with accusations which led to his death sentence.

While on one of his travels, he suffered difficulties and weariness that made hes feet swollen, and something inappropriate concerning his teacher came to his mind, and he made the intention to go to al-Makka al-Mukarrama, to search for a perfect Sheikh. That night, he saw al-Haqq, high and majestic is He, in a dream. He ordered that he be whipped twice as a corrective, then he said: My God, I repent to you. Then Allah ta`ala said: Release him! Then He made him stand in front of Him and said: Ask Me! He said: My God, I ask from You protection (from sin - `isma). He said: I do not give you protection (from sin), this is not for anyone except for the Prophets. Then (the Sheikh) said: My God, i ask from You to be preserved (al-hifzh). He said: It is yours. Then he awoke from sleep.

6- Poetry

In a Qasida, consisting of seventy verses, he mentions Allah's favors on him, some of which are quoted below:

شربت شرب السرّ من خمرة الصفاء
فسكري بها حقا وما لي منازع
سقاني ساقيها الحبيب فلم أر
سواه على الإطلاق في الكون لامع
ولا خطرتْ لي في سواه معية
فمهما رأيت الخلق ما أنا جازع
وأبصرت ما فوق البرية والثرى
كذا العرش والكرسي لحكمي طائع
فصرت أنا الساقي لمن جاء عاطشا
معيثا لمن ناداني في الكل شافع
أنا اشرب والمشروب والكدح الذي
يكون لأهل الشرب فيه ودائع
أنا النور والأنوار والسرّ والخفا
أنا الشمس والأقمار من نوري ساطع
فيا أيها الملهوف إن كنت ظامئا
فنادي بنا يا فاسي آت، أُسرع

I drank the drink of the secret from the wine of serenity
     – my drunkennes by it is real, none can contest it.
Served by the tender of its drinks, the Beloved, I did not see
     anyone at all except Him in the universe, resplendant,
And nothing occurred to me to be besides Him,
     so whatever I saw of creation did not worry me.
I saw all upon earth and above the Pleyads,
     even the Throne and the Kursi, obeying my command.
Thus I became the tender of drinks to those who come thirsty
     assisting the one who calls me, interceding for all.
I am the drinking and the drink and the cup in which
     (secrets) are deposited for the people of drinking.
I am the lighting and the lights, and the secret and the hiding
     I am the sun, and the planets reflect my light
O you in distress, if you are thristy,
    call "Ya Fasi, come!" and I'll hurry.

7- Al-Yaqutiyya

 Through him, we also have the Yaqutiyya, which he received as follows:

One day he was sitting in the mosque of the Prophet, sall Allah `aleihi wa sallam in Madina, recitng the Shadhili awrad, then continuing with salawat upon the Prophet, when he heard him, sall Allah `aleihi wa sallam, saying to him: "Do more salawat, o Fasi!" He asked: "What should I say, O Messenger of Allah?" Then he, sall Allah `aleihi wa `ala alihi wa sallam, said: "Say:

(* Allah and His Angels send blessings over the Prophet. O you who believe, send blessings over him, and salutations. *) O Allah, send blessings and salutations over the one for whose sake You unfolded Your secrets of imposing Power, and made Your lights of Mercifulness break through. (Etc. to the end)." 

8- His successors (khalifa's)

His successor in the tariqa was his son, Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Makki al-Fasi, who carried on his fathers work, spreading the tariqa in Hijaz, Sham and Misr. He is buried with his father in al-Ma`la in Makka.

In Sham, he had two successors:

- al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri al-Hasani, the famous mujahid; and
- Sheikh Muhmmad al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad al-Mubarak  al-Hasani.
The latter has passed down the tariqa through his brother, Sheikh Muhammad al-Mubarak, to the Ya`qubi family.

9- Poetry in his honor

Al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir wrote a long poem in praise of his Master Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi. It begins by narrating his meeting with him Makka, year 1279, as follows:

أمسعود!! جاء السعد والخير واليسر
وولت جيوش النحس، ليس لها ذكرُ
ليالي صدودٍ واقطاعٍ وجفرةٍ
وهجراني سادات، ولاذكر الهجر
فأيامها أضحت قتاماً، ودجنةً
لياليها، لا نجم يضيئ ولا بدر
فراشي فيها حشوه الهمّ والضنى
فلا التذ لي جنب ولا التذ لي ظهر
ليالي أنادي، والفؤاد وتيّم
ونال الجوى تشوي لما قد حوى الصدر
أمولاي!! طال الهجر واقطع الصبر
أمولاي!! هذا الليل، هل بعدها فجر؟
أغث، يا مغيث المستغيثين، والهاً
ألمّ به من بعد أحبابه الرّ
أ سائل كل الخلق: هل من مخبّر
يحدثني عنكم فينعشهي الخبر؟
إلى أن دعتني همة الشيخ من مدى
بعيد: ألا فادنُ!  فعندي لك الذخر
فشمّرت عن ذيلي الإزار، وطار بي
جناح اشتياقٍ، وليس يخشى له الكسر
وما بعدت عن ذا المحبّ تهامة
ولم يثنه سهل هناك ولا وعر
إلى أن أنحنا بالبطاح ركابنا
وحطّ دها رحلي وتمّ لها بشري
بطاح بها البيت المعظم قبلةً
فلا فخر إلا فوقه ذلك الفخر
بطاح بها الصيد الحلال محرم
ومن حلها حاشا يبقى له وزر
أتاني مربي العارفين نفسه
ولا عجب! فالشأن أضحى له الأمر
وقل: فإني منذ أعداد حجّة
لمنتظر لقياك، يا أيها  البدر
فأنت بنيّتي مذ (ألست بربكم)ـ
وذا الوقت، حقاً، ضمّه اللوح والسطر
وجدّك قد أعطاك من قدم، لنا
ذخيرتكم فينا، ويا حبذا الذخر!ـ
فقبّلت بأقدتكه وبساطه
فقال لك البشرى! بذا قضيَ  الأمر
وألقى على صفري بإكسير سرّه
فقيل له: هذا هو الذهب التبر

O Mas`ud! may fortune come, and goodness and ease,
     may the armies of darkness turn back, no longer mentioned.
My nights are (nights of) obstruction, being cut off and estranged,
     separated from the Masters - unnameable (is this) separation.
Days have become gloomy, and black
     the nights; no stars are there to light it up, and no fullmoon.
My bed in (these nights) is filled of anxiety and emaciation,
     the side gives me no pleasure in it, nor does the back.
All night I call, with a heart enthralled by love,
     and passion burning for what the breast desires.
O my Master! The separation has been long, patience is broken,
     O my Master! will there, after this night, be a daybreak?
Aid - o you who aid those who seek aid - one who has lost his senses (because of love and grief),
     stricken with harm, after his beloved ones (left).
I call to ask all creation: is there any announcer of news,
     who can tell me about them, that the news may revive me?
Until the Sheikh's aspiration called me from a distance
     afar: O come near! I have a treasure for you!
So I tucked up the lose end of my izar, and was carried,
    on wings of yearning, that will never break.
For the one who loves, Tihama is not far, []
    ease does not divert him, nor does roughness (deter him) –
Until we made our camels kneel down in the Valley,
    and I dismounted my saddle, and joy for it was complete.
A Valley in which the mighty House is the Qibla –
    nothing except what's beyond it can boast such greatness [].
A Valley in which lawful game is prohibited –
    whoever makes it lawful, the load of his crime rests on him.
He came to me, who raises (adepts to the level of) gnostics, 
     and nothing was strange – every matter became clear. []
He said: "I have been, for so many hajj seasons
     awaiting your meeting, o fullmoon!
You are my beloved son, since (Allah said) "Am I not your Lord?
     truely, this hour is enclosed in the Tablet and the Scriptures."
Your grandfather gave you a foot, in which for us is
     your treasure – what a good a treasure!
Thus I kissed his feet and his carpet
     and he said: "Good tidings to you, now fate is accomplished."
And he cast over my brass his secret's Elixir,
     and to him was said: "This is an ore of pure gold"

Etc. The poem consists of more than hundred verses. It is preserved in the Zhahiri library in Damascus, and reproduced in [4].

10- His writings

Amongst his books are:
"Al-Kanz al-Mutalsam - الكنز المطلسم"
"Maratib al-Din wa nihayat al-`arifin - مراتب الدين رنهاية العارفين"
"Al-Futuhat al-Rabbaniyya - الفتحات الربانية والإجازة المدنية"

[In his book "al-Futuhat al-Rabbaniyya" (The Lordly Openings) [3], Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi describes his sheikh and his silsila, and puts forth twentyfive reasons for the superiority of the Shadhili silsila. Some of this is reproduced in Tabaqat al-Shadhiliyya [1]]


[1] Tabaqat al-Shadhiliyya al-Kubra, by al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Khuin al-Fasi al-Shadhili (Dar al-Bayruti, Dimashq 2000)
[2] Al-Nafhatu al-Saniyya fi Sharh Yaqutati al-Sadati al-Shadhiliyya, by Muhammad al-Farr Ghala Abu al-`Ala al-Shadhili (Al-Azhar Publication 1954)
[3] Al-Futuhat al-Rabbaniyya, by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Mas`ud al-Fasi (Al-Azhar Publication 1921)
[4] Al-Amir Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri - al-`Alim, al-Mujahid (Dar al-Fikr 1994)

More info:
"Ma`ahid al-tahqiq - معاهد التحقيق", by Sheikh Mahmud al-Wafa'i, contains a biography of Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi. He met him in his last year of life in Egypt in 1289, and he discribes hin his book how he was overwhelmed with love and longning. Later he met his son Shams al-Din in Suez in 1293, and took the tariqa from him, and followed him to Makka, after which he returned to Misr to spread the tariqa there.

© Damas Cultural Society 2007

Latest update: 2008-05-17