For anyone coming across Khalifa Shaykh Tijani for the first time, if he asks for the description of Shaykh Tijani, the right answer is to say that he is Sirr Barham Niass.
Why is this so? It was Shaykh Ibrahim himself who said in one of his many statements when referring to the maqāmāts of three of his sons as follows:
“Abdullah ilmī, Nazīr Sūratī wa Shaykh Ahmad Tijānī Sirrī”
“Abdullah is my knowledge, Nazir is my picture and Shaykh Ahmad Tijānī is my secret — my hiddenness.”
Shaykh Ahmad Tijānī was born into a home of knowledge, sainthood and piety in December, 1932 some 88 years ago. His mother was a simple-natured, honourable woman of substance and piety in the person of Sayyidah Maryam Muhammad Niyam, a woman that was righteous to her husband and who produced for him good fruits by way of noble children. “A pure land sprouts a pure fruit by its Lord’s permission”.
He (Shaykh Tijani) was trained under the tutelage of his father, a person of grace. He learnt Qur’ān memorization, Tajweed, Hadith, Fiqh, Mantiq, Balāgha, Seerah as well as the various sciences of our Tariqah Tijānīyyah at a very early age. However, he submerged all of his learning into the pure and complete khidmah (service) of his father, Mawlānā Baye Niass. He has always been an khādim (servant/attendant) from a lad and was the one who accompanied his father to all his travels in his lifetime, except for one or two occassions and while on travels on the instructions of his father.
What a pity! His mother died [may Allah forgive her] when he was so little!. As a result, he doubled up in his devotion to the khidmah of his father in a focused, undiverted and dogged manner. His father is the Sun of Reality, the Crown of the Age, the harbinger of the Faydah of Grace, in the person of Maulana Shaykh Alhaji Ibrahim Niass bin Abdullah, the great RTA. He therefore combined the devotions due to both parents to his remaining father who tasked him with a lot of important functions or duties right from that young age. He learned ethics, decorum and how to deal respectfully with elders and show humility to teachers even at that young age. In all manner of duties, he sought to please his father by diligently attending to whatever assignment he was tasked with. He thus sought for, and earned his love and by these extraordinary devotions to his father, obtained his pleasure.
The people both far and wide witnessed this phenomenon and he became a great helping hand to Shaykh Ibrahim in shouldering the responsibility of reception of his important guests who paid courtesy visits to Shaykh in Senegal from all walks of life. He rose to these challenged very early in life such that his father Shaykh Ibrahim used to him to his very important personalities, contacts, leading government functionaries and other personalities not just in one but many countries.
When Shaykh Ibrahim passed away to the great beyond, Khalifa Tijani placed his feet on all the areas his father had planted his own, in shouldering the onerous task of propagating the call (da’wah), along with his honorable brothers in the spread of Islam, the Tariqa and the Faydah.
As for his generosity and honorable disposition, it is likened to what a poet said:
He is an ocean from whichever area you approaxh him; his ocean of greatness is marifa [knowledge of God]
His generous nature is the sail of the ship in that ocean.
Reproduced below are two of the many letters the Gawth (Shaykh Ibrahim Niass) wrote to his lovers when he sent Shaykh Tijani as his representative.
Shaykh Ibrahim after sending his greetings to his lovers as is compulsory wrote as follows;
“Let it be known, may Allah strengthen you with His help and protect you, actualise your aims to the peak in these world and the next. By virtue of the need to enquire after your welfaree and having missed you for a while. I hereby inform you that my son, the apple of my eye and the fruit of my eternity, the name of my Shaykh and Strengthener Mawlānā Shaykh Ahmad Tijānī would be visiting you in your abode with our permission as a messenger from our side. He will be making appearances to your abode by way of ziyarah in order to renew the covenant and love, the bonding between us in the near future, inshā Allah as an honorable guest to you all, I admonish everyone that meet him among the lovers whosoever they may be to make serious efforts in being good to him as an obligation and also in honoriong him. Whoever honors him honors us, whoever is pleased with him is pleased with us. May Allah reward you on our behalf for Islam and the Tariqah. May He make your dignity continuous and elevate you secretly and openly. Remain in good condition always and in an elevated position openly and secretly.
Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullah”
“Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds, may the salutation and peace of Allah be upon the most distinguished of all the Messengers and upon household and companions and the people of great moral rectitude, according to te measure of his worth which is great, may it also be upon his followers and those who follow them in goodness till the Day of Judgment.
May the greetings of peace which is immeasurable and whose quantum cannot be comprehended by anyone by way of what the pens write be upon you my most intimate spiritual sons, the pwople of Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and the entire locations of our lovers and friends and those who av a leaning to us and those who hold firmly to us in Nigeria, Accra and Kumasi (Ghana). May Allah our master retain you all as leaders, and protect you all with His Eye of Mercy in every moment.
As-Salām alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakātuhu,
Kindly be informed, and let not the ‘Ulamā among you be beguiled that i am sending to you the apple of my eye and the fruit of my soul and my representative who stands on my station, your brother and lover, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Niass as my able representative in making ziyarah to you to enquire over your conditions having missed you a while out of our pleasure.
I advise you to be good to him, listen to him in all that he may command you on our behalf, render your support to him and collaborate with him. Whoever collaborates with him collaborates with us and whoever collaborates with us have certainly collaborated with our Lord (Allah). And unti your Lord is the end of all goals.
I remain with you, and may you remain relevant, and may your reign be ever assisted.
Alhaji Ibrahim inn Abdullah
It will therefore be no surprise to say that Shaykh Tijani is the one encompassing the beauty, majesty and perfection of Mawlānā Baye Niasse, all at the same time. He is also a man full of Allah’s light and subsisting in the illumination of the gnostic lights of both Abū-l ‘Abbās and Baye Niass in attitude, ethical dispositions, in moral rectitude, in all kinds of dealings with people as a religious leader, a family leader, a spiritual doctor, an arbitrator, a diplomat, a caring father to all, a spender for Allah, in Allah and by Allah….of his self, his means and wealth, generous and accomodating to a fault. He is encompassed of all the noble attributes of the Holy Prophet; Honesty, Truthful, Trustworthy, Pious, Ascetic, Loving, Merciful, Considerate, Firm, Focused, Annihilated in the Love of God and a true servant of Allah. He was always in the company of his father and following him on all his travels in the spread of the faydah and in the bonding of the people in love. There are only two instances when he was apart from his father. One was whenever Shaykh Ibrahim ask him to precede him in travelling to some ahbāb (lovers) before he joins the entourage, or when he sent him with his letter to represent him. The other was when Shaykh Ibrahim undertook his last journey to London. At that time, he was diplomatically excused and sent to Nigeria in the company of Sayyid Aliyu Cisse to represent him, taking only Sayyid Kabir Faye along with him, so that Shaykh Tijani will not feel totally weighed-down by the news of his passing away.
When one of his sons, Sayyid Ahmad Ahmad Tijani Niasse was asked ti give a description of his father (Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Ibrahim Niasse), he simply referred the Al-Kanz team to a write-up which encapsulate his personality. This was in the book titled: “Zajratul Ikhwān” – a book written by the Khalifah, to caution the Muqaddams about their roles within the faydah of his father Mawlānā Baye Niasse.
In pages 6 & 7 of the book, the following are written:
About his moral dispositions, these are his glowing qualities;
– He is extremely shy, full of reverence for people he comes across.
– Very littke in grievance, wrong-doings or inflicting trouble on others.
– Largely active in joining dissenting minds, reformation acts, bonding people together.
– Truthful of tongue, never telling lies or making up stories.
-Smallness of speech, always in major silence [qalīl ul-kalām]. This is in line with the prophet’s saying that “whoever is small in speech, is perfect in intellect”.
– Plentiful in work execution, doing many works [kathīr ul-‘amal]. Very much likened to the adage: “Jack of all trades, but in his case, Master of all].
– Smallness in downgrading any humanbeing. He hardly underrates anybody.
– Righteous, always doing to others, kindred and people unknown to him. Never leaving people in the middle of a problem until fully resolved.
– Accomplished achiever, seeing things to a good completion or conclusion, always a go-getter.
– Dignified, sedate, polished and highly organized.
– Forbearing and patient even in the face of daunting challenges
– Appreciative to a fault; never letting any small favour pass-by without saying thank you.
– Always easy to please and always finding excuses for others.
– Painstaking and persevering; never getting weighed down under intense pressure.
– Sensitive, tactful, prudent, mild-tempered, gentle-hearted, friendly.
– Chaste, modest, pure, virtuous, decent, honest and upright.
– An encyclopedia of the best mannerisms.
– Never make abusive statements or abuse anyone.
– Nefer defame anyone or backbite.
– Never loses temper in anger.
– Never procrastinate or delay today’s work for tomorrow.
– Never tight-fisted, greedy or self-centred; extremely open-handed and generous to all people.
– Never pushed to inciting anybody, never in jealousy of othet peope’s achievements or progress.
– In good spirits, always displaying a cheerful mien.
– He loves only for Allah’s sake and hates only for Allah’s sake.
– His pre-occupation is in seeking Allah’s Noble face through every kind of righteous deeds.
– He is pleased for Allah’s sake only.
– He is angry for Allah’s sake only.
– He is full of piety and fears Allah in the secret and in the open.
– He encompasses sound or best character and moral rectitude.
These are his glowing attributes and his score-cards are there for all to see. Another amazingthing about him is that he never seems to forget anyone to whom he has a duty or an obligation to settke; even up to a toddler; he is usually the one to even remind the person who has responsibility of reminding him! He is such a darling father to all. He is a personality whose entire life is in order to serve humanity, always inconveniencing himself in order to solve the problems of others. He never discriminates among his children, always trying his utmost to please each and everyone of them. He is no less so with his khādims; always eating with them, loving them, appreciating them and meeting their respective needs both in the matter of their spiritual training and in all other life’s endeavors. He teaches them all how they should imbibe noble character and simplicity of life.
In the year 2010, around 2months after the re-opening of the Masjid Baye as stipulated by Shaykh Ibrahim Niass RTA in his testament, and which took place in March 2010, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Ibrahim Niass RTA became the *4th Son* to ascend the Khilafah or Caliphate of his father after Shaykh Abdullah Niass RTA who ruled for over 25years from *1975 to year 2001.*He was followed by, Shaykh Ahmad Dam Niass ( Papa Dam) RTA who took over the care and responsibilities of the Hadarah. This spanned the period between the year *2001-*2010* . What is noteworthy is that during the Caliphate of Papa Dam, he played a highly-supportive role along with Papa Dam in the discharge of the onerous responsibilities of the Hadarah based on the enormous quantum of work delegated to him especially with regard to ziyaarahs, moulud and other key Faydah programs organized in Nigeria by Nigerian adherents, students and lovers.
On his own ascension to the Caliphate in the year May 2010, the first aspect of work he shouldered was the creation of a platform for unification of the Hadarah and how to bring about peace and harmony through a Family Reconciliation Agenda. He tackled head-on, the matter of resolving the discord and discontent existing since the passing away of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass RTA. He set about the work of bringing together the entire family lineage of his father Maulana Shaykh Alhaji Ibrahim Niass RTA, with the family lineage of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass RT’A’s brother by name Khalifah Ahmad Niass RTA. It was after achieving a united family that he then commenced the major responsibility of giving the Hadarah a Structure which can stands the demands of the future. He co-ordinated the entire extended family of Niasse and those of the Cisse into various teams and charged each team to work on important aspects of expansion and restructuring of existing physical facilities, embarking on new infrastructures such as follows:
1.Renovation and Modernization of the Masjids of Baye in Kaolack, Tayba and Koosi. At Tayba he appointed the Khalifah of Shaykh Abdullah Papa Aas as Imam .
2. Expansion of existing guest house facilities throughout Medina Baye as well as building of new ones with larger guest capacities in hundreds.
These comprises the Daarul Salaam built by Shaykh Tijani himself and Baytu Dihaafah of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass RTA, amongst others.
3. Renovation and perimeter fencing of the Tomb of Medina Baye.
4.Commencement of the Establishment of Shaykh Ibrahim’s Library.
5.Provision of more tarred road surfaces within the Marina Baye.
6.Provision of additional power and water drinking facilities.
This is in addition to the whole urbanization project carried out for Daru Mbiteyyen, his mother’s place of origin where he built a modern Masjid, provided drinkable water, school and graded roads and pathways including hospital facilities for the inhabitants.
Alhamdulillah. He is survived by wives and many children. The eldest of the wires is Sayyidah Aisha – Ma Astou Lee, a woman of great purity who always refer to her hisband as Sayyidin Nyass: Waliyu Kāmil”. Notable among the wives are Sayyidah Afiyatou and Sayyidah Fatimatou who usually accompany him on trips to Ghana and Nigeria in many occasions.
Among the children, we have Shaykh Baye, Shaykh Mustafā, Shaykh Ahmad, Shaykh Boubakar,
Shaykh Umar, Shaykh Uthman, Shaykh Ali. We also have Sayyidah Maryam, Sayyidah Sawdah, Sayyidah Nafisatou, Sayyidah Zaynab, Sayyidah Ruki(Ysti Baye), Sayyidah Ummu Kulthum and Sayyidah Shaykha.
May Allah grant his family and all his spiritual children and khudāms longer life, sound health, happiness, accomplishments, success and all the best of the two homes.
He passed away on *Yaomul Ahad, 12th Dhul Hijjah,* *1441A.H (2nd August, 2020)*, after Isha’i, after 9.00 p.m at the Hospital in Dakar, where he was taken on Saturday 1st of August, 2020.. May Allah Ta’ala grant all the loved ones numbering millions whom he left, the fortitude to bear the loss.
May Allah accept his return, efface his shortcomings, widen his abode in the highest of Paradise and in the company of Rasulullah and his Inheritors, the People of Illumination and Benevolence.
.His exit from this world on the 12th of Dhul Hijjah marks exactly 3 months to the 12th of Rabiu-l -Awwal, the birthday of the Prophet, SAW.. May Allah console everyone that is left behind.May Allah unite and protect the family and lover, amin.
Death, according to a poet can never harm the fortunate one who devoted his/her life to following Allah’s Commandments; rather it’s a source of tranquil rest for the rightly-guided ones.
We seek that, in line with the teachings of the Noble Prophet, may Allah continue to keep us here on Earth as long as being here is good for our worshipful servitude to Him, and cause us to depart when death is good for us.
By: Sayyidah Balqīs Grillo at-Tijānī