Tariqa Tayebiyya Sammaniyya – Omaidan

Sufism in the Sudan

The central message of the Sufis all over the world is to strive to attain perfection. To the great Persian Sufi poet Jalal Din Rumi “the temporal soul is in prison, and it remains there as long as it is on the earthly plane”. So the Sufi sheikhs’ message rests on the idea that they want, with the grace of Allah, to help the murid to release himself from the shackles and chains of imprisonment in order to respond to the yearning for spiritual attainment.

Sufism was first introduced in Sudan, in the 16th century, by Sheikh Taj Eldin El.Bahari, a member of the Qadirryyia Sufi order based inBaghdad. Islam inSudan is dominated by the Sufi Orders, which have deeply penetrated the country since the era which came to be known as theSennarState. Historians state that the spread of Islamic teachings inSudan owed its impetus to the Sufi sheikhs who came from the Islamic heartlands ofHejaz,Egypt,Yemen andMorocco. The coming of those holy men was during the time of theFunjKingdom.

Through the tolerance, simplicity and peaceful means which distinguish their doctrine, Sufis sheikhs have successfully attracted many natives to the fold of Islam. Sufi orders inSudandraw their supporters and followers from all walks of life; tribal leaders, religious teachers, merchants, farmers, qadis, and even governmental officials have all been initiated in the Sufi tariqas. Tariqa, an Arabic term for the spiritual path, especially in the sense of a method of spiritual practice, is often embodied in a social organization and tradition known as a Sufi order.

Because of its well-known tolerance, the Sufi tradition opened the way for many pre-Islamic practices to reappear in an Islamic form. In this regard the Qadiriyya tariqa which is supposed to be, by some historians, the first Sufi tariqa in Sudan, built its doctrines upon local practices and traditions and won the support and the allegiance of many Sudanese, becoming the most popular and widespread order in the country. Sufism inSudanis a deep rooted force that has shaped, and continues to shape, the Sudanese society as a whole. In a country with diverse cultures and beliefs, Sufism casts a spell of moderation over the whole country. The introduction of Sufi orders into the country has led to the creation of some distinctive features of Sudanese Muslim culture, and, since it represents the popular version of Islam in the country, Sufism has come to be the main aspect of social consciousness as well as a significant unifying force throughout the different epochs of Sudanese history.

      Historically, Sufis inSudanwere always accused of passiveness by certain circles, specifically when the situation related to politics and the ruling group. To refute this accusation they (the Sufis) expressed their views in their writing to affirm the fact that politics ought not to be an END but A MEANS to serve all people irrespective of their race, color, and political affiliation. Throughout the history of Sudanese politics, Sufi sheikhs have enjoyed and continue to enjoy good ties with all the political systems- both military and democratic ones. The Sufis have been revered by rulers both in the past and the present day, and are favoured by them. Sufism and Sufis are the plasma for the unity that overcomes the principles which divide humanity on the bases of religion, class, tribe and political affiliation. Sufism reaches beyond egocentrism, ethnocentrism and competitive materialism. 

2- Sammaniyya inSudan

       The Sammaniyya tariqa arrived in Sudanin the second half of the 18th century. This tariqa was named after its founder, master Sheikh Mohammad Ibn Abdul Karim As-Samman{1133-1189A.H-1739-1775 A.C}.The lineage of Sheikh As-Samman shows he was a descendant of Sayyidi Abu-Baker al-Sidiq, the first man on earth to believe in the message of Islam. In the Sufi path Sheikh As-amman was a student of  master Sheikh Mustafa – Ibn Kamal Din al-Bakri, the founder of the Khalwatiyya tariqa. Moreover, he was initiated into the Gadiriya tariqa at the hand of Sheikh Mohammad Tahir al-Kurdi.

        The Sammaniyya tariqa was brought to Sudan by the renowned –mugadid– master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib Wad al.Bashir {1155-1742/3 -1239-1824 AH} who had been initiated by As-Samman himself while on pilgrimage to Median, the home of the prophet Mohammed (Pbuh). He had been initiated into five tariqas, among these the most famous one was the Qadiriyya. It was stated that he was very concerned with spreading the Qadiriyya teachings after spending seven years with his sheikh, the gnostic –alarif– As-Samman. During his time there Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib had studied different types of Islamic and Arabic sciences. Upon his arrival from the Hejaz, master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib settled in Um-marih-40km north of Omdurman-a place from which he started to teach and to initiate people into the Sufi path, according to the tenets and principles of the Sheikh As-amman. His tariqa gained wide popularity especially in the Gezira area, where the new teachings of Sammaniyya attracted many of the Gadiriyya sheikhs to the new style of the tariqa. Also, the personality of master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib had really impressed many previous Qadiri sheikhs, drawing them to the fold of Sammaniyya. Among the famous Qadiri sheikhs who came to be initiated into Sammaniyya were Sheikh Ahmed al.Basir (d.1829), Sheikh Mohammad Tom wad Bannaqa (d.1851) and master Sheikh al.Gurashi wad Azain (d.1878). The latter was a student of master Sheikh al. Basir and later came to be the teacher of the Imam al.Mahdi. Through the coming of the Sammaniyya tariqa (which was identified by some historians as a reform) a new spirit was infused into Sudanese Sufism. The pioneering leadership of Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib, better known in Sudan as al.Ghauz, led to renewal not only of the practical aspects of God remembrance- ziker and songs of praise (madih)- but also to the philosophy of Sufism. For the first time Sudanese Sufi literature came to be identified comprehensively with some new Sufi concepts such as alnur  al Muhammad, wuhdat alwegud  (unity of existence),  fana (passing away) etc. and practically, may Allah pleased him, the Sheikh expressed these views in his masterpiece al hikam-the book of wisdom. Master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib wad al.Bashir is a descendant of Abasi on his father’s side, and through his grandmother descended from al.sayyidaFatima, the daughter of the prophet (pbuh). Finally, and because of his pioneering and significant role in the tariqa, the tariqa came to be known as tariqa al .Tayyibia  al.Sammaniyya and inSudan it is the largest tariqa with adherents numbering in the millions.

3-Sheikh Nur al.Daim sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib.

         Master Sheikh Nur al.Daim, the son of  master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib, the founder of the Sammanyyia tariqa in Sudan, inherited the Sufi allegiance (bia) from his father. 

        The story of his succession to his father’s caliphate is mentioned by Ali Salih Karar, in his book Sufi Brotherhoodsin the Sudan, he states: “Ahmed’s death in 1824 without nominating a successor led to a long dispute among his sons, and between them and some of his senior adherents. At first Ahmed’s followers split into two groups .The first supported Ibrahim al.Disuqi ( d.1269/1852-3),  Ahmeds elder son, because of his age, learning and, more importantly, because he had frequently taken his father’s place in leading prayers. The second group backed Nur al.Daim (d.1268/7-1851), another son of Ahmed, because his father was said to have remarked of him that ‘baraka’ would be inherent in him and his offspring. This dispute continued until 1242/1829-30 when Ahmed al.Basir arrived to build a tomb over his master’s grave. Al.Basir, who was greatly respected by the Sammanyyia and believed to be a member of the prophetic communion hadrat al.rasul, was said to have authorized Nur al.Daim to lead the prayers, praying behind him like an ordinary follower. Al.Basir’s justification for this was that he had had a vision (ruya) in which the prophet declared that Nur al.Daim was Ahmed’s successor.

4- Sheikh al.Bashir sheikh Nur.Daim

My master is a grandson to the founder and pioneer of Sammanyia tariqa in Sudan my master Sheikh Ahmed Atyyeb Ibn al.Bashir.In the Sufi path he was initiated at the hand of his father’s well-reputed students my master sheikh al.Gurashi Ibn Zien.Shiekh al.Bashir was one of the Gnostic, devoted all his time in good deeds.

Before his coming to stay at Tabat As.amman may Allah pleased him with his blessed son sheikh As.amman sheikh al.Bashir spent a lot of time at Tebeib-village near Rufa.In Tabat he died and buried in a tomb that becomes latter a place of visiting to the people.

My master sheikh al.Bashir had initiated many followers in the Sufi path as well he may God pleased him had authorised many as sheikhs in Sammanyyia tarriqa, among the most famous of them was Sheikh al.Amir and the sons of sheikh al.Tuhamy in Dender area.

And at the time of his death he was left many blessed and righteous sons: Sheikh al.Sidiq, sheikh al.Rashid, sheikh Abd al.aziz, sheikh al.Rafae, and sheikh As.amman.   

5- Sheikh As-amman sheikh al.Bashir.

        The widespread teachings of the Sammaniyya Qadiriyya tariqa on the western bank of the Blue Nile River  and in the surrounding towns and villages of Sennar state reached the reputed master Sheikh As-ammani Sheikh al-Bashir (1850-1967  AC). Master Sheikh As-amman was a grandson of the founder of the Sammaniyya tariqa in Sudan, my master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib wad al.Bashir. He was initiated into the Sufi path at the hand of his father Sheikh al.Bashir wad Nur Daim. During the lifetime of his father he established Tabat -40 kilometres north of Sennar, and from there my master Sheikh As.amman took upon himself the task of guiding and directing people to their Lord. Stories of the extreme generosity and karamat of the sheikh spread rapidly among the simple people of the area of whom the majority were farmers and animal herders. The occurrence of great miracles at the hands of the sheikh as well the charismatic qualities of Sheikh As-amman were the reasons found to be behind the successful spread of the tariqa Sammaniyya in the area.

     In addition to the mosque where the prayers are held and the litanies of the tariqa are performed, the khalwa (Quranic school) where the younger children come to memorize and learn the Quran, there is the massid which links the two previous elements.  Through his strong belief Sheikh As.amman, May Allah pleased him, realized the importance of education and knowledge in the lives of people, and so this great man established the Institute for Religious Science, in 1956. Alongside the Islamic and Arabic subjects that were taught at the Institute, modern subjects such as Geography, Mathematics and English Language were also introduced as part of the curriculum. It is said that just as he was concerned with people’s guidance to Allah, master As.amman was also equally concerned with the great message of the Institute which focuses on increasing awareness and combating ignorance in that remote area of the Sudan. It was said that for that reason the sheikh was personally in charge of the Institute, paying the salaries of the teachers and providing accommodation for them and the students. After many years under the direct charge of the sheikh the Institute was finally handed over to the government and placed under the supervision of the Religious Affairs Ministry.

       Socially, master As.amman never neglected the great responsibility of social contact and by maintaining good relations with people irrespective of race, tribe or social status, he (may Allah pleased him) was with people in both their sorrows and on happy occasions. Regarding this, the sheikh was regularly visited by the grandsons of Sheikh As.amman, the founder of the tariqa, who used to visit the tariqa sites in theSudan.

     After a life of piety and good deeds master Sheikh As.amman passed away in the year 1967 and was buried at Tabat As.amman, where his shrine has become a place of attraction for everyday visitors. To conclude, we can say that the greatest karamat of the sheikh was undoubtedly his straightforwardness towards the faith, and his God favored him by guiding thousands of men to the Sufi path. Master Sheikh As.amman was survived by many daughters and five blessed sons: Sheikh Al.Sadiq, Sheikh Ibrahim, Sheikh al.Badawi, Sheikh al.Jili, and Sheikh Al.Bakri.

6- Sheikh al.Bakri Sheikh As.amman.

        Master Sheikh al.Bakri (1917-1970) really is one of the few great saints who came at a latter time, passed away and left a generation of men among the people who became like the stars in both number and brightness. When he left this temporary life he left behind a great spiritual legacy.

His biography tells that he was the son of my master Sheikh As.ammani sheikh al.Bashir. His grandfather was the pioneer of the Sammaniyya tariqa in Sudan while on the side of his grandmother he belonged to the family of Sheikh Mohammad wad Taha the famous wali (saint) and the student of my master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib wad al.Bashir.

     Sheikh al.Bakri took bia (the Sufi allegiance) from his father master Sheikh As.amman wad al.Bashir. During the lifetime of his father, master Sheikh As.amman, Sheikh al.Bakri ( may Allah pleased him) established his own independent massid  beside the massid of his father. At his own place of residence he began to receive guests and visitors, bestowing upon them what Allah had offered him from His material and spiritual bounties, and giving the Sufi allegiance to those who required it. This act of the son pleased his father, for the father knew from the beginning what the future held for his blessed son. In time the prophecy of the father was verified, so from the many who were called he came to be one of the few who were chosen; chosen to be a wali known to the people of heaven before the people on earth, chosen to the presence of Allah as a perfect inheritor to the prophet Mohammad and the Reality, chosen to guide men to the presence of Allah.

    Sheikh al.Bakri was one of the perfect, pious saints.  The signs and qualities of perfection which represent knowledge, piety, good character, handsome appearance, and bodily strength were applicable to him. It was said that he stuck strongly to the prophetic Sunnah, deeply concerned with the moral and spiritual training of his disciples. A lot of stories tell us that he was one of the men of insight and clear sight. The incidence of the many and the frequent karamat attributed to him fixed the charismatic powers of the sheikh in the minds of his disciples and murids. The spread of such stories of karamat, in addition to the spiritual powers of the sheikh and his strong personal qualities had a great influence in attracting many people to take the Sufi allegiance at his hand. To his disciples he was a sincere guide. They followed his teachings with great love, sincerity and devotion, and thus regained their dignity and integrity as human beings. Sheikh al.Bakri was able, by Allah’s leave, to revive an entire generation, and the repercussions of such work are still being felt. He believed that in Sufism the love of influence, excessive eating and sleeping hinders the murids’ spiritual advancement.

Master Sheikh al.Bakri passed away in the year 1970, and was survived by two daughters and five sons: Sheikh Hassan al.Basri, who is the khalifa now residing at Tabat al.samman, Sheikh Ateyyib, Sheikh Nur adaim, Sheikh Mohammad Taha, and Sheikh As.amman.

 Sheikh As.amman sheikh al.Bakri -Omaidan.

        Each era has produced true and sincere guides who testified to the prophetic message and gave guidance to thirsty seekers of divine knowledge and the Sufi path, among such guides comes my master Sheikh As.amman. The life story of my master Sheikh As.amman (1954) tells us that he was born in the village of Omaidan-30km north of Dender- the son of master Sheikh al.Bakri, named As.amman after his grandfather, the gnostic sheikh As.amman wad al.Bashir. Previously, the Omaidan area lacked the necessities for a dignified life for people; there was no school and no health centre. This has changed because of the great efforts that the sheikh has exerted. His appearance at Omaidan, this small village which lies on the eastern bank of the Dender river, is considered an expansion of the previous efforts by his forefathers master Sheikh Ahmed Ateyyib Wad al.Bashir and master Sheikh As.amman Wad al.Bashir to change conditions. The spirit of change in that society began when a primary school for both boys and girls was opened in the year 1986. What distinguished the early batches of this school was that students successfully linked the memorization of the Quran and the subjects that were taught at the school, by dividing their time between the school and the massid where there is the khalwa in which they learn and memorize the Quran. 

      Many factors lie behind the dominance and the successful spread of the Sammaniyya Gadiriya tariqa in the Dender area, among which is the personal behavior of the sheikh. To the local people Sheikh As.amman stands as an example of generosity, piety and righteousness.  In addition the spiritual power of the sheikh is represented in the innumerable occurrence of karamats which have played an important role in attracting many people. Omaidan has now turned into a centre in which the renewed Sheikh As.amman devotes his time everyday to receiving hundreds of people from different parts of the country and from different classes and sects, catering to the visitors’ varied material and spiritual needs. The importance of the sheikh to the society is that he is a trusted figure for curing mental diseases; a lot of people flock to Omaidan with their insane relatives, as As.amman is reputed to cure them.  Like his ancestors his door is open to all people, his whole life is dedicated to the service of human beings.

        Sheikh As.amman plays an important role in the reconciliation and settlement of many disputes and social conflicts which arise among the tribes of the area, because of the spiritual power he possesses people respect his word.


Words of wisdom

“I learned with certainty that it is above all the mystics who walk on the path of God; their life is the best life, their method the soundest method and their character the purest character. Indeed, were the intellect of the intellectuals, the learning of the learned and the scholarship of the scholars, who are versed in the profundities of revealed truth, brought together in the attempt to improve the life and character of the mystics, they would find no way of doing so, for to mystics all movement and all rest, whether external or internal, brings illumination from the light of lamp of the prophetic revelation, and behind the light of the prophetic revelation there is no other light on the face of the earth from which illumination may be received”

                                                                                        Imam al.Gazali.    

              Come, come, whoever you are

              Wander, worshipper, lover of leaving

              It doesn’t matter.

              Ours is not caravan of despair.

              Come, even if you have broken your vow

               A hundred times.

               Come, yet again, come, come.

                                                                                    Mevlana Rumi.

           Your heart is the House of God,

            Let none dwells therein besides God.

                                                                                     Ibrahim Ibn Adham.

            Wilt thou the Lord you see,

             Be pleased to love thee

             To friends or enemies both,

             Smile to the whitish tooth.

             The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose


            The light often arrived at you, but they found your heart full with    

             Images of the creatures. They then returned from where they came.

                                                                        Ibn.Ata Allah.Al.Iskandari.

           The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.

                                                                                      Leo Tolstoy. 

–       Any truth (haqiqa) which is not supported by the active testimony of the divine laws (sharia) is atheism.

                                                                  Sheikh Abdul Gadir al Galani


This piece is taken from the website of the Tariqa Tayebiyya Sammaniyya – Omaidan.

See on-line at: http://omaidan.com/en/text/en1.html


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