Biography of
Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib al-Hasani
(b. 1255 H. in Algeria – d. 1313 H. in Damascus)
by bmk

He was Muhammad al-Tayyib al-Dillisi al-Maliki ibn Muhammad al-Mubarak ibn Muhammad al-Dillisi al-Qayrawani, whose lineage goes back to Mawlana Idris, the founder of the city of Fas and great grandson of sayyiduna al-Hasan Sibt Rasul Allah (sall Allah-u `aleyhi wa sallam). His family  came from Algeria, where they lived amongst the berbers. They were sent to guide and educate them, and they learned their language and intermarried with them.

Upbringing and studies

Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib was born in Dillis in Algeria around year 1255 H., and grew up under his father's tutalage. Together with him he came to Damascus year 1263, in the first of a series of emmigration waves caused by the French colonial war. This was a group of about five hundred families, lead by his maternal grandfather Sheikh Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Saklawi.

As a young boy, he memorzied the Holy Quran perfectly, and learnt calligraphic hand-writing. In 1269, his father, Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib al-Kabir - rahimahu Allah - passed away, and Sheikh al-Saklawi, took him under his wing and raised him in the Khalwati tariqa.

He  learnt many sciences and skills under Sheikh al-Tantawi and other Maliki scholars, who gave him general ijaza. He also studied the religious sciences under many other Shuyukh – maybe the most famous of them was al-Sheikh al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir al Jaza'iri, from whom he took Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya of al-Sheikh al-Akbar, and other books on tasawwuf. [Al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir settled in Damascus in 1272. He met Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi in Makka year 1279, and took the the Shadhili tariqa from him.]

Taking the Shadhili Path

When Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi came to Damascus in 1282, Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib took the Shadhili tariqa from him. He devoted himself to it for a long time, after which he was given permission from Sheikh Muhamamd al-Fasi to deliver admonition and guidance to others.

In 1287, he was sent by al-Amir Sheikh `Abd Al-Qadir, together with Sheikh Muhammad al-Tantawi and some other people, to the city of Konya in Turkey, in order to compare with their copy of "Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya" with a hand-writing of its author that existed there. The two Sheikhs recited the entire book twice, and then returned and recited it again to al-Amir `Abd Al-Qadir.
Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib excelled in intelligence, good memory and fluency of the tongue. He was agreeable in his way of dealing with people, mild-tempered, abstaining from worldly things, content with litle and very generous. He was respected an accepted, and he understood the language of common people. His meetings attracted many lovers, he was always enquiring about the brothers, and encouraging them to marry. For some time, he earned his living as a book binder, until he received the permission of Sheikh Muhammad al-Fasi to devote himself to spreading the Path. Through him, the tariqa was spread and the adhkar where established, and many wayfarers entered this Path.

His main center was in the Khaydariyya zawiya, where the adhkar were regularly recited and hadras performed. After the passing of Sheikh al-Mahdi al-Saklawi - his grandfather, Sheikh and tutor, rahimahu Allah - in 1278, Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib took his place as a lecturer in Dar al-Quran al-KhayDariyya, located in the old city in Damascus, near Dar al-Hadith. He continued teaching in this Madrasa until he passed away, and his office was handed over to his brother, Sheikh Muhammad al-Mubarak. Besides this, he also had another center in Mazza, near the maqam of the sahabi sayyiduna Dihya al-Kalbi, and a third one in Zakya, one of the villages of Qura Hawran.

His successor in the Shadhili Tariqa was his brother, Sheikh Muhammad al-Mubarak, through whom it has been passed down to the Ya`qubi family.

His miracles

The people of Sham relate many of his miracles, among which are the following:

Once he was walking, together with some companions, in one of the market places of Damascus, and their presence drew the attention of people. One man then said to himself: "If it is not due to tricks and cunning crafts that this Sheikh possesses, why would these people gather around him?!" That very moment, the Sheikh turned straight towards him saying: (* Inna ba`da al-zhanni ithm *) (Certainly, some assumptions are sinful, Q).

On one of the occasions when Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib was performing hajj, he was accompanied by the Sheikh and Reciter `Abd al-Rahim al-Dibs wa al-Zayt. Sheikh `Abd al-Rahim's camel got lost, and with it an amount of money entrusted it to him by other people for conducting trade on their behalf. Sheikh `Abd al-Rahman was exasperated - he feared the people would accuse him of having wrongfully taken their money and means of subsistance. He went to Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib and told him what had happened, and the Sheikh supplicated for him with the following words:  "May Allah give you something better in return". However, Sheikh `Abd al-Rahim insisted that he supplicate ardently for him, saying: This is people's money. Sheikh Muhammad al-Tayyib then felt sympathy for his situation, and turned towards Allah making tawassul by His Messenger - peace be upon him and his family - by reciting the famous qasida which begins with these lines:

"Ma arsala al-Rahmanu aw yursilu"
"No Mercy That Allah has sent or will send"
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He then turned towards  Sheikh `Abd al-Rahim and said to him: "You found your camel", and within a very short while, two Arabs came and brought him the lost camel.

His poetry

His most famous qasida is

 "Suluwi `an al-Ahbab"
   – "Would I neglect those I love"
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His passing and place of burial

He passed away on a Monday, the 26th of Sha`ban year 1313, and was buried on the hillside of Mazza near the maqam sayyiduna Dihya al-Kalbi.

His tomb is located in a a private home near Jami` al-Ra'is in Mazza, next to what was previously a mosque named after him, where he used to teach. The original mosque was demolished to give way to presidential buildings for the Asad family.

With him is buried one of his students.

The tomb is in a private home next to what was previously a mosque named after him, where he used to teach. The original mosque was demolished to give way to presidential buildings for the Asad family.


- Tarikh `Ulema Dimashq (Article based on an interview with Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ya`qubi that took place on the 29th of Shawwal 1402)
- bmk/Ziarat 2004, 2006, 2007

© Damas Cultural Society
Latest aupdate: 2007-07-11