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Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi’s life and work
This site includes Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi’s biography, photos, online articles, and more.
Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi
Shaykh Ahmad  Al-'Alawi
Detailed Information on Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi
Author’s Writings On-line

Biography of Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi

Shaykh Ahmad Al-‘Alawī was born in Mostaghanem, Algeria, in 1869. He never obtained any formal schooling, although he learned the Qur’ān from his father at home. He later earned his living as a cobbler, but he was deeply religious by nature, and thirsty for knowledge. His meeting with his spiritual master, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Būzīdī, was crucial in his spiritual awakening. Al-‘Alawī had at that time been involved in developing magical powers such as charming snakes, but Shaykh Al-Būzīdī turned him away from this and awakened him to his true nature. After his master’s death, Al-‘Alawī was elected to succeed him as Shaykh. He first resisted this call, and for several months in 1909 traveled to Tunis, Tripoli, and Istanbul. Upon his return to Algeria, however, Al-‘Alawī duly assumed his spiritual function and became so influential that, as early as 1923, he was reported as having in the region of one hundred thousand disciples. The Shaykh is often known by his full name, Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-’Alawi al-Mustaghanemi, and he was a major presence in the initiatic chain of the Shadhiliyyah-Darqawiyyah tariqah (Sufi Order), to which was later added a reference to his own influence, thus making it the Shadhiliyyah-Darqawiyyah-Alawiyyah Order. The Shaykh Al-‘Alawī died in 1934. His emphasis on the way of the invocation is beautifully expressed in his statement: “Remembrance is the mightiest rule of the religion.…The law was not enjoined upon us, neither were the rites of worship ordained, but for the sake of establishing the remembrance of God.”

Martin Lings' classic book A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, UK, 1993) is a biography of this great spiritual figure, and includes translations of some of the Shaykh's poetry and other writings.

Shaykh Ahmad Al-'Alawi’s Writings Online
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2SubjectWW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
The poem "Layla" by Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi is a masterpiece of lyrical and mystical poetry. Martin Lings' translation from the original Arabic into English allows much of the beauty and metrical form of the original to shine through. Following the ancient Sufi poets, the Shaykh al-Alawi (1869-1934) uses the figure of the mysterious, elusive, and overwhelmingly beautiful Layla as the personification of the divine Beloved, who is so close as one's jugular vein, yet so far from the seeker's grasp. The poem is found in the anthology "Music of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry" (World Wisdom, 2004).
Layla, a poem by Shaykh Ahmad al-AlawiMusic of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual PoetryAl-'Alawi, Shaykh Ahmad Poetry
Treatise on the Invocation of the Divine NamePray without Ceasing: The Way of the Invocation in World ReligionAl-'Alawi, Shaykh Ahmad Islam
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