The Life and Works of Imam Al Jazuli



Early Life

Imam Al Jazuli wrote the Dala'il Al Khayrat. Muhammad ibn Sulayman Al Jazuli was born in the 15th century (9th century Hijri) was a descendant of the Prophet ﷺ through his noble grandson Imam Hasan I.

His full name was Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Sulayman Al Jazuli Al Simlali Al Hasani and was from the Berber tribe of Jazula in the Sus region in the south of Morocco.

He spent a great part of his early life in rural Morocco. He then travelled to Fes for his studies and lived in Madrasah Al Halfawiyyin (present-day Madrasah Al Saffarin). Many people, to this day, visit his student lodging in Madrasah Al Saffarin in Fes. According to some sources, it was in this room where he composed Dala'il Al Khayrat, although others have stated that it was compiled in the Qarawiyyin library.

One of the most significant moments in his life was his meeting with Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq (d. 1493), the great scholar and Sufi from Fes. Imam Al Jazuli benefitted immensely as his student, studying Maliki fiqh texts and receiving spiritual knowledge here.


Later Life

After finishing his studies, Imam Al Jazuli headed to the Doukkala region where was initiated into the Amghari Shadhiliyya Sufi order through the great saint Abu Abdallah Muhammad Amghar (d. 850/1446). The Shaykh was fighting against the Portuguese at the time. Under his mentorship, Imam Al Jazuli received knowledge about the spiritual path until he reached the level of perfection and became a master in his own right. It said he entered into spiritual retreat (khalwa) where he remained for fourteen years during this time.

According to some sources, after the death of his Shaykh, Imam Al Jazuli set out to perform the pilgrimage in Makkah and visit the Prophet ﷺ in Madinah. He remained at the the mosque of The Prophet ﷺ for several years where he would recite Dalail Al Khayrat twice every day.


Teachings

Imam Al Jazuli returned to Fes in 857/1453 before settling in Asafi in western Morocco. Imam Al Jazuli established Tariqa Jazuliyya and set up a zawiya where he guided thousands of students.

He emphasised personal discipline and refinement of the ego. As a spiritual master, he required his students to adopt the patched cloak and staff. They were required to fast, practice solitary devotion and adhere to his methods of discipline. His aim was to transform his students into saints.

The Imam taught them that the sanctity of the Shaykh with his disciples was like the sanctity of the Prophet ﷺ with his companions. He also believed in adhering to spiritual masters, and taught that through them one receives illumination, mercy and secrets. He had many illustrious students who transmitted many narrations from him and his teachings on Sufism.

The governor of Asafi asked him to leave the city, fearing the imam’s growing influence and criticism of the local authorities for taking money from the Portuguese. He later moved to a place called Afughal, south of Essaouira. Imam Al Jazuli prayed against the people of Asafi, and after two years, the Portuguese conquered the city and expelled the local population. Seeing the error of their ways, the people of Asafi approached the imam, hoping for his pardon. He told them they would be forgiven after 40 years. In the year 984/1576, exactly 40 years later, the Muslims retook Asafi.

Imam Al Jazuli became known throughout the entire regionAll. Many people repented and turned to Allah under his spiritual guidance. Before his death he left many of his students qualified to guide others. One of his foremost followers was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abd Al Aziz ibn Abd Al Haqq, who is said to have encompassed the secrets of ultimate reality.


Death and Burial

Imam Al Jazuli passed away in his Fajr prayer, in the second prostration of the first rak’ah. Sources differ about the year of his death, with several dates between 1465 and 1470 being given. One source puts it at 16th Rabi Al Awwal 870/1465. It has been related that he had been poisoned which led to his demise. Sayyidi Mahdi Al Fasi said, "Muhammad ibn Sulayman Al Jazuli was upon the greatest rank of the Truthful Ones (Siddiqiyyat Al Uzma) and he was also a martyr due to the poisoning." He was buried on the same day in the mosque that he built, at the time of Zuhr.


Tomb

In 940/1534, roughly 70 years after his death, his body was moved to Marrakesh at the order of Sultan Abu Al Abbas Al A‘raj in order to prevent tribesmen from exhuming his body. When his body was removed from the original site, the people found that it was as fresh as the day they buried him and there were no signs of decomposition. Some people even pressed their fingers against the flesh of his face, and they found his blood rose to the surface of his skin as though he was alive. Marks from shaving on the day of his death were even said to have been visible on his face. He was finally laid to rest in Riyad Al Urus in Marrakesh where a mausoleum was built and where people continue to visit and congregate to recite the Dalail Al Khayrat to this day. There is immense majesty, and spiritual lights at his resting place.


Sayings

In the book Mumti’ ul-Asma’ Imam Al Jazuli is recorded to have said:

Know that one who carries any of the following three traits in his heart, he should repent to Allah. They are: pride of knowledge, bad character, and holding a bad opinion of people.

The awliya think well of the people, while the general scholars have a low opinion of people.

The fully accomplished shaykh is one who can acquire knowledge from Allah without any means.

The severed one is he who travels the path of discipline but does not attain the path of witnessing, when he goes to the people and calls them to Allah, then his propagation only remains at the level of discipline. This is because he has not arrived at the level of witnessing. The one who is fully accomplished is he who has arrived at the level of witnessing and he is intoxicated in the lights of perfection, and nothing distracts him from the True King. When he goes to the people, he goes to them with lights, knowledge and wisdom. One who adheres to him learns and becomes illuminated, and his level of comprehension is unlike those who follow the severed ones.

It is not incumbent to follow every caller to Allah; the true caller to Allah is he who propagates with spiritual insight.


Other Works

Apart from Dalail Al Khayrat, Imam Al Jazuli authored two other prayer works. One is called Hizb Al Falah, a short text which sometimes appears alongside Dalail Al Khayrat in certain copies, although it has not attained the fame achieved by Dalail Al Khayrat. The other is entitled Hiizb Al Jazuli, also known as Hizb Subhanal Da’im la Yazul, and is written in the Berber language of the Sus region.

Source: Salawat Hub


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