By Allah’s grace, a “hidden soldier” reached out a while back and wanted to help us acquire the remaining manuscripts from the collection of Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi (Allah have mercy upon him). Here is his account. May Allah bless him, reward him, and give him spiritual openings and union with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Amin. —Abdul Aziz Suraqah
This week I had the honor to participate to the venture of collecting all of the manuscripts of Shaykh Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Qandusi kept in the libraries of Morocco. Sidi Abdul Aziz Suraqah and I thought it would be of general benefit to share some impressions of my travel. I kindly ask the reader to forgive my choice to preserve my anonymity.
My first encounter with al-Qandusi’s doctrine took place short after the publication of the Arabic edition of The Drink of the People of Purity (found here), published by Shaykh ‘Abdullah Hammadi al-Idrisi (Allah reward him with goodness). The book was brought to our Zawiya and read by our Shaykh. I keenly remember when he reached the famous passage where the Shaykh stated that Allah’s Greatest Name is the name of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace):
“…for the name of the Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the essence of Allah’s Beautiful Names that are well-pleasing to Him.” (Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi, The Drink of the People of Purity)
After reading this passage, our Shaykh was unable to read further and simply closed his eyes. I then started looking more into the issue of the Prophet’s name (Allah bless him and give him peace), discovering the extent to which Muslim scholars devoted attention to this topic, underling its spiritual value and benefit. The names of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) mentioned in the Dala’il al-Khayrat along with the Divine Names come to mind. When I first heard the recitation of these two lists at the resting place of Mawlay Idris at Zerhoun, sung by the Shurafa’ who are the guardians of the Dala’il al-Khayrat in Fez and in Zerhoun, I was at least “shocked” by the power of their recitation. But that is another story.
I have followed Sidi Abdul Aziz’s Facebook pages for some time. When he started researching and obtaining the first copies of unreleased works of the Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi, I had a deep desire to help him in his task. Researching Arabic manuscripts is one of my professional duties skill sets. I had some friends and colleagues in Rabat, Morocco who work in the different libraries where Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi’s works are stored. I then offered him my help.
I offered three istikhara prayers before deciding to leave. The first night I fell asleep while sending prayers upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). I dreamed that a voice was calling me to come from his grave. The dream filled me with awe, but my feeling was positive. After the other two istikharas I enjoyed peaceful nights. I then asked my Shaykh for permission to travel, and he strongly encouraged me to engage in this research and visit Fez, where we have spiritual and human connections.
Allah made everything easy. From the very first day I benefited from the gracious help and kindness of a researcher attached to the Royal Library. He was an extremely knowledgeable man and a devoted helper of seekers. We had an appointment at the National Library in Rabat, where he introduced me to two colleagues working on catalogues of manuscripts kept in the Library. They helped us to identify each text we were looking for, its exact location in the majmu’at, (codex). They told me that we had to wait to discover if those manuscripts were already scanned or not. I had a meeting with them in their office the following afternoon.
The first day continued in the second library, the Khizana Malikiyya, the Royal Library of Rabat, which is located in the Makhzan, the Royal Palace itself. It was a high honor to be introduced in such a noble place. The collection of manuscripts held by the King of Morocco, Muhammad VI (Allah preserve him) can be dated back to the very foundation of the Kingdom by Mawlay Idris I. It contains many extremely rare manuscripts and unique copies of inestimable texts in all fields of knowledge. I was fortunate to view and admire the original Mushaf al-Qandusi, the fabulous copy of the Quran written by our master Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi. In the Khizana I was able to obtain some books of Shaykh al-Qandusi on Sufism. Some are very valuable copies of his “Drink,” others are hitherto unknown texts that he penned. I must admit that contemplating his handwriting was a pure spiritual experience. The master was well aware of this, since he states at the end of his copy of the Quran that every single line of his style was inspired directly by the Prophet Allah bless him and give him peace).
Later in the evening I was fortunate to meet a man in Fez, a lover of the Awliya’, a simple man whose material poverty was inversely proportional to the richness of his love of Allah and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). This man, despite the fact that his wife was at hospital and about to give birth to twins—I discovered this afterwards!—stayed with me for the duration of my time in Fez. He has been granted a powerful spiritual connection with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), whom he sees in the state of wakefulness and sleep. Please pray for him. We could say that this man is one of those Majdhubs, half fool-in-God, whose mental capacity is totally absorbed in their thirst for Allah and His Messenger. He was a guide from another time, coming from the past, the kind of spiritual man you can find in the classical Sufi accounts. Fes is a city that still offers us such encounters.
The next day, al-Hamdulillah, we discovered that all of the manuscript of Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi’s books were digitalized and everything was at our disposal. We just had to wait until Monday the CD with all the scans.
I then traveled during the weekend to Fez, with the intention of visiting Shaykh al-Qandusi’s tomb. I met the person I had been recommended, but the first day he decided to bring me visit “living Awliya’” before visiting the cemetery of Bab al-Futtuh, where a great number of spiritual masters rest, such as Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh, Sidi al-Darras, Sidi al-Jinawi, Shaykh Ibn ‘Abbad al-Rundi, etc. We visited two elderly men whose lights I could not describe. They lived in state of extreme poverty, in one of the poorest quarters of the city. We benefited by their du’a and meditated deeply about their condition, and how we, in the prison of the western comfort, are far away from their spiritual state.
The next day we tried to find the grave of Shaykh al-Qandusi. Unfortunately my guide didn’t succeed. But the visit to Bab al-Futtuh is always a spiritual experience. My guide knew every poor faqir asking for some help in the cemetery, and despite the fact that we didn’t find the grave of Shaykh al-Qandusi, seeing the guide “in action” was a great experience in itself. I discovered that despite his material poorness, he spends all his money restructuring and building tombs for those who cannot afford even a simple gravestone. His connection with the Hereafter was impressive. Bab al-Futtuh is a strange place. I was told that the Wahhabis operate at the cemetery by trying to level gravestones from tombs—ostensibly because such things are gateways to polytheism, according to their criminal understanding of the issue at least—but in reality they do this in order to sell anonymous plots to unsuspecting people. Bab al-Futtuh is a sort of battlefield where two forces are struggling: those who are defending the memory and the presence of the Awliya’, and those who are erasing their presence by making forget their resting place and their name. Please pray for protection.
We walked then from Bab al-Futtuh to al-Rasif where we were staying, through the quarter of al-Andalus. We made a short visit to Shaykh ‘Ali Jamal, the master of Sidi Mawlay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi. My guide asked me to buy four live chickens for the two Shaykhs we met the day before. I cannot forget the image of my half-majdhub guide carrying the four live chickens on his shoulders in the crowded and popular streets of al-Andalus. Time had no power over us.
My visit to Fez was also the occasion of meeting a great Shaykh of the Zawiya of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi. His name is Shaykh Idris al-Fihri al-Fasi. A man struggling to restoring the Holy Quarter of al-‘Uyun, which is undergoing a difficult period since all of the original families from Fes left the old city for better living conditions and the houses are occupied by poor people from the countryside. This Shaykh spends all his energies—may Allah sustain him!—protecting the spiritual heritage of the old city of Fez.
Back to Rabat, I was able to obtain the CDs from the two libraries. I don’t know exactly how many pages we obtained. I estimate that they contain around 1000 doubles pages (over 2000 pages), to which we should add the al-Bawariq al-Ahmadiyya (which alone is nearly 500 pages), this means the CDs hold thousands of pages of the secrets and teachings of Shaykh Muhammad al-Qandusi. It will take some time to organize all of this material: to open every file and sort through and classify all the titles. I noticed different works on sending prayers upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), poems about Mawlay Idris and Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, a treatise on the divine names, some texts on the science of the letters, and maybe some letters he addressed to his disciples.
We need your du’a for finalizing the work. It’s only the beginning.