Sunday, September 2, 2012

Honoring Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq (1442 - 1493) - A Sufi Gem of the 15th Century


Those who desecrated Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq's tomb on 26th August 2012 should know that he wouldn't have possibly cared. 

At 40, he wrote to his guide Al Hadrami saying:
"You have known sir, that I am in Misrata
because of what came into my heart that I must obey.
We are unable to do anything
but turn wherever the wind of our destiny turns
and accept whatever emanates from it
with the help of God.
Since each destiny has been recorded in a book
we do not care where we are,
as long as we are numbered among the beloved ones."

In all likelihood, the Shaykh is at a better place, in a better abode despite the foolish attempt made by those who wished to dishonor him and his maqam

Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq (1442 - 1493), his full name was Shaykh Shihabbudin Abu Al-Abbas ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa Al-Barnusi Al-Fasi. A gem of the 15th century, he was widely known as Zarruq, a nick name given by his grandfather, from the word 'Azraq' meaning blue, for he must have had a pair of blue eyes, a common trait of the Berbers. His parents died when he was an infant. He was brought up by his mother's mother Umm Al Banin, a saintly  lady from whom he learned plenty about unity and the fundamentals of Sufism, until he was 10.  

Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, although must have also been influenced by the Qadiri Tariqa, was believed to be an associate of the Shadhilli Tariqa. He became a seeker of knowledge and a writer at the age of 16. Al-Zaytuni, a "blind serpent" was another of his Sufi Shaykh. He performed pilgrimage to Mecca at the age of 27. His other significant guide was Al-Hadrami who was also known as Al Makki, a notable Shadhilli guide. In total, he was said to have studied with 48 guides, a good mixture of jurists and Sufis.

Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq married his first wife Fatimah while he was in Fez, Morocco. She bore him two sons. At 40, he settled in Misrata, Libya where he married a second wife who bore him another two sons and one daughter. He had named all his fours sons Ahmad. He died at 54 while in retreat and didn't leave behind much possessions at death except for a cape, a jubbah, a dress, a rosary and 14 volumes of various subjects.

Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq was regarded by many as "unifiers" for having unified shariah, haqiqah and tariqah in his teachings and in practice. His zawiyah in Misrata had only been constructed 20 years after his passing. His students had wanted to build a zawiyah during his time, but he refused their offer.

He had written a huge amount of publication that Al Kuhin reckoned it to be half a page a day for each day of his life. Of the 94 works written by Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, one was on alchemy, two on medicine, two on theology, two Quranic commentaries, three on letters and number symbolism, four on biographies and travel narratives, five correspondence, six prophetic traditions, 10 on invocation and commentaries, 10 poems, 10 on jurisprudence, and 39 on Sufism. Some of the major titles on Sufism were: commentaries on Al Hikam, commentaries on Hizb al Bar, commentaries on Dalail Khayrat by Al Jazuli, commentaries on Sahih Al Bukhari and his most prominent publication was the Qawaid al Tasawuf  (Principles/Foundation of Sufism).

As a believer of the unseen and a lover of awliyaAllah, we pray so that Allah will make us benefit from Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq's teachings and that He will gather us with him and all other awliyaAllah in the presence of Rasulullah s.a.w. Ameen.

"We do not care where we are,
as long as we are numbered among the beloved ones."
- Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq


Read a brief abstract of Qawaid Al Tasawuf here: 
Other postings related to Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq:

Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq's short biography above was extracted from a Ph.D thesis written by
Sister Zaineb S. Istrabadi, Indiana University 1988.

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