BIOGRAPHY OF SHIEKH IBRAHIM NIASS (BAYE)

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Ibrāhīm Niasse (1900–1975)—or French: Ibrahima Niasse, Wolof: Ibrayima Ñas, Arabic: شيخ الإسلام الحاج إبراهيم إبن الحاج عبد الله التجاني الكولخي‎ Shaykh al-‘Islām al-Ḥājj Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ḥājj ʿAbd Allāh at-Tijānī al-Kawlakhī —was a major leader of the Tijānī Sufi order of Islam in West Africa.[1] His followers in the Senegambia region affectionately refer to him in Wolof as Baay, or “father.” He is the founder of the Ibrāhīmiyyah branch of the Tijānī order, whose adherents designate themselves in Arabic as the people of the Faydah Tijāniyyah (Tijānī Flood) or, in Wolof, as Taalibé Baay (disciples of Baay). Outsiders often refer to his disciples as Ñaseen, which in Wolof means “of or pertaining to the Ñas family,” although his disciples do not generally use this designation. Baye niass(cheikh Ibrahim niass) is estimated to have about 250-300million followers today.

Life

Born in 1900 in the village of Tayba Ñaseen (spelled Taïba Niassène in French), between the Senegalese city of Kaolack and the border of Gambia, he was the son of Alhaji Abdullahi Ñas (1840–1922), the main representative of the Tijānī Sufi Order, often referred to asTareeqat al-Tijjaniyyaa, in the Saloum region at the beginning of the twentieth century. During his youthful days, Shaykh Ibrahim relocated with his father to the city of Kaolack, where they established the zāwiya (religious center) of Lewna Ñaseen. After his father’s death in Lewna Ñaseen in 1922, Shaykh Ibrāhīm’s elder brother, Muhammad al-Khalīfa, became his father’s successor or Khalīfa. The 22-year-old Shaykh Ibrāhīm spent most of his time farming in the family’s fields and teaching a growing number of disciples in the nearby village of Kóosi Mbittéyeen. Although Shaykh Ibrāhīm never claimed to be his father’s successor, due to his charisma and precocious knowledge, he gained a large number of disciples, and tensions arose between his disciples and those of his elder brother, Muhammad al-Khalifa. In 1929, while on the farm in Kóosi Mbittéyeen, the youthful Shaykh Ibrāhīm announced that he had been given the Key to Secrets of Divine Knowledge, and thus became the Khalifa of Shaykh Tijani in the Tijaniyya Order, a position yet to be attained by anyone as of that time. Sheikh Ibrahim then declared that whoever wishes to attain ma’arifa, a level of Divine Certainty in the Sufi Order, must follow him. Meanwhile, at the age of twenty-one, Shaykh Ibrahim Niass had written his first ever book titled “Ruhul adab”, literally meaning ‘Spirit of Good Morals’. The book was welcomed by most people due to his clear and appropriate use of the Arabic and the maturity in content. The book prepares young mureeds to the path of the faydat Tijaniyya. it explains the basic jurisprudence of the Tijani Sufi order and its principles.

In 1930, after the prayer of ʿĪd al-Fiṭr (the end of the month of Ramadān), a fight broke out between Shaykh Ibrahim’s disciples and those of Muhammad al-Khalīfa The incident made Shaykh Ibrahim immediately decide to relocate with his disciples to a new place. That evening, he set out with a small group of his closest disciples to find a new place to live, and the next day they established a new zāwiya in Medina Baay, a village that was later incorporated into the growing city of Kaolack. In the following years, the shaykh divided his time between teaching during the dry season in Madina Baay and farming during the rainy season in Kóosi Mbittéyeen. During the summer of 1945 he reestablished himself in his father’s house in his natal village of Tayba Ñaseen, rebuilding and reorganizing the village after a fire outbreak had destroyed much of it.

the Sheikh used to say “I learned Quran and Hadith from my father and from him, I received my ijaza”. It is notable among many that Shaykh Ibrahim Niass learnt both Quran and Fiqh all from his father. It is evident that after the demise of Alhaji Abdullahi Niass, the sheikh gained access to his father’s library and mastered several books at that young stage. He used to also say that that ‘I’ve two teachers: the outward one and the inner one – the outward sheikh I’ve is my father and the inner one is Sheikh Ahmad Tijani and he never lives my side for even a second’.

Shaykh Ibrahim’s fame quickly spread throughout the countryside, and most of his father’s disciples ultimately became his disciples in spite of his junior status in the family. Although his disciples remain a minority within Senegal, they form the largest branch of the Tijānīyyah worldwide. In an unlikely role reversal during the 1930s, several leaders of the Arab ‘Idaw ʿAli tribe in Mauritania—the same tribe that introduced the Tijānī order to West Africa—declared themselves disciples of Shaykh Ibrahim. Notable among them were Shaykhāni, Muḥammad Wuld an-Naḥwi and Muḥammad al-Mishri. Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya, as the shaykh’s disciples came to be known, flourished and gained large numbers of followers during the 1930s and 1940s throughout North and West Africa. In 1937 upon meeting Shaykh Ibrahim during a pilgrimage to Makkah, the Emir of Kano, Nigeria, Alhaji ‘Abdullahi Bayero gave his oath of allegiance to the shaykh and declared himself a disciple of shaykh Ibrahim. That incident made Shaykh Ibrahim gain the allegiance of many of the prominent Tijānī leaders of Northern Nigeria and also many others who were not Tijani prior to this time.

Alhaji Abdulmalik Atta – a prince from Okene and the first High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom – was one of shaykh Ibrahim’s closest disciples as well as the shaykh’s father-in-law through his daughter Sayyida Bilkisu. Shaykh Ibrahim became a renowned Shaykh al-Tareeqa (Master of the Sufi Order) throughout the Hausa areas of West Africa. In the end, he had far disciples outside of Senegal than within it. At the time of his death in 1975 in London, England, Shaykh Ibrahim Niass had millions of followers throughout West Africa.

The Sheikh was the first West African to have led the Azhar [2] mosque in Egypt after which he was honoured ‘Sheikhul Islalm’. He became very close with many freedom fighters in West Africa due to his contribution for Independence in African States. The Sheikh became friends with Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who became fond of him and always sought advice from the Sheikh. Others such as Gamel Abdul-Nasser of Egypt were all friends to him. The then King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Faisal, also loved him so much and respected him. Sheikh served as the Vice President of the World Muslim League[3] with the King being the President.

His branch of the Tijāniyya, Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya has become the largest branch in the world. After his death, the community was led by his closest disciple, Shaykh Aliyy Cisse and Niass’ eldest son, Alhaji Abdulahi Ibrahim Niass. The current Khalīfa in Medina Baye is his eldest surviving son, Sheikh Ahmad Tijani Niass who became the khalifa in 2010 after the death of his brother khalifa Ahmadu Niass, known as “Daam”, on Tuesday 18 May 2010. Shaykh Ibrahim’s role as principal Imam of the Medina Baye mosque has been carried out by the Cisse family. While serving as Medina Baay’s Imam, Shaykh Hassan Cisse, Shaykh Aliyy Cisse’s son and Shaykh Ibrahim’s maternal grandson, carried Shaykh Ibrahim’s teachings to the United States, United Kingdom and many other western countries. Shaykh Hassan Cisse was generally regarded as the leader of Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya worldwide until his sudden death in August, 2008. Since then, Shaykh Hassan’s younger brother Shaykh Tijānī Cisse has been given the position of Medina Baye’s Imam. However, The current Grand khalifa Worldwide and the spiritual leader of Tijjaniyya ibrahimiyya is his Eminence.

Since the death of Shaykh Hassan Cisse and the taking over of Shaykh Tijānī Cisse as Imam of the Grand Mosque of Medina Baye, his junior brother Sheikh Mahi Cisse[4] has continued the da’awah of Shaykh Hassan Cisse to the United States of America, Singapore, Malaysia, West Africa and other parts of the world. The Atlanta maulid of Sheikh Hassan Cisse has still been preserved.

Death

The Grand Sheikh died in London on 26 July 1975 [16th Rajab 1395 AH] at in St. Thomas Hospital at 12:03 noon. The Sheikh’s death shock many people.

In an account of the life of Shaykh Ibrahim, one of his prominent students, the Grand Mufti of Nigeria, Sheikh Sherif Ibrahim Salleh Al-Husseini said that before the Sheikh Died, he asked his last wife, Sayyida Bilkiss to try and get Married because he is not a prophet, for it is only Prophets whose wives are not allowed to marry after their death.

Works

Shaykh Ibrahim spent his life in Islamic teachings, preaching, propagating and writing as well as divine knowledge. His works has affected the Islamic hemisphere as well as politics, independence, seeking of knowledge, tasawwuf, morals, poetry, travelogue, etc. His book isiirul saada,

His works were into categories such as: letters, travelogue, eulogies, tafseer, knowledge on tijaniyya, etc. many believe the Sheikh had written about seventy-five books in his lifetime.

Shaykh Ibrahim Ñiass’s many works include:

  • Sabilu ssadaam fi ibkaa’il maqaam – a book written to defend the state where the Maqam Ibrahim was situated.
  • Kāshif al-‘ilbās ʿan Fayḍati l-Khatmi ‘Abī l-ʿAbbās (“Lifting the confusion about the Fayḍa [Flood] of the Seal [of the saints] Abū l-ʿAbbās [Ahmad at-Tijānī]”). Edited by Shaykh Tijānī ʿAlī Sīse. Ash-Sharīka ad-dawliyya li-ṭ-ṭibāʿa, Cairo, Egypt.
  • Jawāhir ar-rasā’il (“Pearls of the letters”), a compendium of letters, fatwas, and other short communications by Ibrāhīm Ñas.
  • As-sirr al-‘akbar (“The greatest secret”)*Countless anthologies of poems, which have been published in Ad-Dawāwīn as-SittTranslated into English by Awwal Baba Taofiq (“the Six Anthologies”), Jāmiʿ Jawāmiʿ ad-Dawāwīn (“Collection of collections of Anthologies”), and Majmūʿ Riḥlāt ash-Shaykh ‘Ibrāhīm (“The Compendium of Travels of Shaykh Ibrāhīm”). All of these were edited by his son Shaykh Muḥammad al-Ma’mūn Ibrāhīm Ñas.
  • Kitāb at-taṣrīf (“The Book of Arabic morphology”), a book commonly used in Arabic schools throughout Senegal.
  • Manāsik al-ḥajj al-mubārakah al-musammāt: tuḥfat ‘ahl al-ḥādirah bi-mā yanfaʿ al-ḥājj siyyamā fī ṭ-ṭā’irah (“Rituals of the blessed pilgrimage, or: gems for city people to benefit the pilgrim, especially one traveling by airplane”). Edited by Shaykh Tijānī ʿAlī Sīse.
  • Ruhul Adab (Spirit of good moral and discipline) translated into English by Sheikh Hassan Cisse.
  • AlIfriqiyya lil Ifriqiyyin (Africa for the Africans) African leaders and freedom fighters under chairmanship of Gamal Abd al-Nasser of Egypt entrusted publishing of this book to Sheikh Sani Auwalu a Nigerian disciple of Sheikh Ibrahim Inyass(RA).
  • A number of fatwas (legal opinions), including: Wajh at-taḥqīq fī kawn jāmiʿ medīna huwa l-ʿatīq (“Verification that the longstanding rule of the precondition of a mosque is a city”), concerning the circumstances in which a Friday mosque should be built; and Baḥth fī thubūt ru’yat al-hilāl (“Study on establishing the sighting of the new moon”), concerning when to end the month of Ramaḍān and its fast. In addition to his printed works, dozens of cassette tapes of Ibrāhīm Ñas are readily available in Senegal, including complete Tafsīr al-Qur’ān (interpretations of the Qur’an) in Wolof and Arabic, several recitations of the Mawlid an-nabawī (birth [and life] of Muhammad), also in Wolof and Arabic, and speeches on various religious and practical subjects in Wolof.”Dawawin Al-Sittah” (voluminous poetic work in praise & exaltation of Muhammed),”Risalatul-Tauba”(a pamphlet expounding the realities of sincere repentance to Allah)
  • Rihlat conakiriyya
  • Rihlat comashiyya
  • Hujjal baaligha,
  • Bayaan wa tab’een… et al.

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