Imam Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili

 Humaithara ,Red Sea Governorate, Egypt


Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili also known as Sheikh al-Shadhili [593 AH/1196 AD – 656 AH/1258 AD] is an influential Moroccan Islamic scholar and Sufi, founder of the Shadhili Sufi order.

He was born in a royal family of a business man in Bani Yafrah among the Berber Ghomara tribe, near Ceuta in the north of Morocco, also known as the Rif region, in 1196.

He was a Maliki who wandered far afield in search of knowledge. Immensely learned, even as a young man, he was famous for his ability to engage in legal argumentation with the religions scholars of his day. As a young man, Abul Hasan was hesitating between living the life of an ascetic in the wilderness in order to give himself up totally to worship and invocation, or to return to the towns and settlements to be in the company of the scholars and the righteous. He studied in Fes and moved to Alexandria in 1244. In Iraq he met the Sufi master al-Wasiti, who advised him that he could find his Spiritual Master (Sheikh) in the country Abul Hasan had travelled from: Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish, the great Moroccan spiritual master. Under his guidance, Abul Hasan attained enlightenment and proceeded to spread his knowledge across North Africa, especially in Tunisia and Egypt, where he is buried. He founded his first zawiya in Tunis in 1227.

It was in a hermitage on top of Jabal al-'Alam, near Tétouan, that he met the sheikh who he was searching for and who was to have the greatest influence on his life, Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish (d. 625/1228), known as "the Pole of the West", just as Abd al-Qadir Gilani (d. 561/1166) was called "the Pole of the East". While he was living with Sheikh Ibn Mashish, on the holy mountain, many wonderful signs from Allah came to Abu'l Hasan, through this holy guide. One such sign was that on the night of his arrival on the mountain he was sleeping at the entrance of the cave where his master lived. He dreamt that he was asking the Sheikh to grant him certain wishes, one of them being that Allah would incline the hearts of His creatures in favour towards him. Then he wished to ask his master if it was necessary for him to live in solitude, or in the desert, in order for him to be in the right station (maqam) to perform his religious tasks, or whether he should return to the towns and inhabited places to seek out the company of scholars and virtuous people. Before his departure from Jabal al-Alam, Abd as-Salam foretold his student of his eventual move to Ifriqiya where he will become known by the name of Shadhili and the eminent spiritual station he will eventually inherit from Abd as-Salam himself. Abu'l Hasan relates that in a dream, he saw his master standing near the Divine Throne. The parting words of advice and admonition that Abd as-Salam gave his disciple before he departed for Tunis emphasised the transformation of consciousness to inward and outward God-centeredness, contentment with God in all states, and the inner withdrawal from creation in prosperity and adversity. These seminal teachings of Abd as-Salam would, through Abu'l Hasan, become the fundamental precepts of the Shadhili Tariqa.

Humaithara is between Marsa Alam and Aswan in Egypt and his shrine there is highly venerated. When he heard of a saintly man teaching Islamic sciences in the Al-Qarawiyyin university of Fez he hastened to meet him and his life changed. This man was the Sufi and scholar Mohammed ibn Harazem (d. 633/1218), grandson of Abul Hassan Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1144) and student of Abu Salih Mohammed Majiri (d. 631/1216), who had been instrumental in the orientation of Abul Hassan to seek the spiritual Pole of the time (Qutb az-Zaman).

The core tomb building in which Imam Shadhili's grave is found was constructed in the year 1259 (656 Hijri), immediately after the death of Imam Shadhili. After the late 13th century, the number of pilgrims visiting the grave of Imam Shadhili increased and the shrine was extended in order to accommodate large numbers of people. The visitors to this shrine include Imam Fassi of Makkah, who is also called the second al-Shadhili and one of his important disciples, his 21st khalifah, and the founder of the Fassiya branch of the Shadhili order. Almost all leaders (shuyukh) from Bait Al Fassi, Makkah have visited the shrine of Imam Shadhili, their shaykh here in Humaithara.

There is a well outside the shrine. Imam Shadhili's gargled water was poured into this well on the day before his death. The water in this well is located in the midst of a desert but never goes dry throughout the year. The water of this well is pure and it serves the drinking water needs of the local villages.

Shortly before Sheikh Abu'l Hasan started on his last pilgrimage to Mecca, the city of Baghdad fell to the conquering Mongols, thus ending the long reign of the Abbasids there and ushering in a new epoch in the history of Islam. The sheikh was accompanied by a mass of his disciples; but he fell ill in the eastern desert of Egypt, in a place called Humaithara (now: Sheikh Shazly), and there he died in the year 656/1258.

Additional Info

Shortly before he died, in 656/1258, Sheikh Abu'l Hasan designated Abu'l Abbas al-Mursi as his successor in the order. After Sheikh Abu'l Hasan's death, Abu'l Abbas al-Mursi moved into the great tower that the founder of the Shadhiliyyah had used as residence, mosque, and zawiyah, and remained there until his death ( 686/1288) some thirty years later, seldom moving out to travel in Egypt.

  How to Reach: From Aswan International Airport the shrine is around 235 KM and 224 KM from Marsa Alam Airport. It is 228 KM from Aswan bus station and 224 KM from Aswan railway station. It takes around 3 hours by road from Aswan, and 4–5 hours from Edfu. Bus services are available from Cairo, Aswan, and Marsa Alam. Taxi and rickshaw services are not available in the locality of Humaithara.,

Nearest City : Aswan
Nearest Bus Stop : Aswan bus station
Nearest Airport : Marsa Alam Airport, Aswan International Airport
Nearest Railway Station : Aswan
Contact Person Name : Not Available
Contact Person Phone: Not Available
Website : Not Available
Connect with us