Sultan Mawlana Abu-r-Rabi'a Sulayman: The Champion of Orthodoxy (1206/1792-1238/1822)
He was a just man and active erudite. He took Sheikh Ahmad Tijani’s tariqa (may Allah be pleased with him) following the authorization of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who testified to him that he was of his lineage. He witnessed prodigies from Seidina Sheikh (may Allah be pleased with him), which strengthened his belief in him. Sultan Suleiman also refused to believe the words of Seidina Sheikh Ahmed Tijani’s detractors (may Allah be pleased with him) – and indeed those were numerous. It has been reported he often asked Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) to allow him to see the Prophet (peace be upon him) while being awake. Seidina Sheikh (may Allah be pleased with him) answered:”I am afraid you might no be able to withstand it.” He persisted in his request until Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him), unable to convince him to give up the idea, finally accepted his wish. First of all, he advised him to keep it secret and specially reserve a pure and empty place for this encounter, and to be alone.
When, after he prepared everything in accordance with the recommendations of Sheikh he decided to enter the place, an intense fear mixed with respect seized him. He therefore was unable to stay inside alone to do the particular dhikr he received from Seidina Sheikh (may Allah be pleased with him). Under the effect of his emotions, he asked Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) to personally assist him. Sheikh agreed to go with him inside that place devoted to welcoming the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was while he was reciting the dhikr that an intense light, springing from Muhammadian lights, filled up the place. Being unable to withstand the intensity of that light, Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with him) fainted. When he awoke, he found Seidina Ahmed Tijani’s palm (may Allah be pleased with him) rest on his chest. Sheikh told him:”You are well, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) guarantees you this and that.” Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with him) replied:”May Allah reward you in blessings. Indeed you warned me that I would not withstand the encounter, which I personally experienced.”
The following is a letter Seidina Ahmed Tijani had sent to Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with them).
“First of all, I am recalling the Divine Name of Allah and calling upon Him for prayers and peace upon the Prophet, he upon whom He (Allah) bestowed the most honorable and respectable status, the fulfillment and success of majesty and generosity, he (peace be upon him) the master who has risen to the climax of glory. For the benefit of our master of noble lineage, of gentle character and perfect moral standards, you who honor and raise the Islamic caliphate, you who belong to the religion of Muhammad (peace be upon him), you, today’s refuge, mawlana prince of the believers, you our master Suleiman Ben Muhammad, I pray that Allah assist you and grant you a glorious victory, that He raise your soul to the heights of eternal happiness, and immortalize you in the gardens of strolls and divine gifts. We pray that Allah elect and inscribe you in the record books of the blessed here on earth and in the hereafter, that He set a benevolent and loving eye upon you, and grant you distinctive gifts as well as victory and protection both in this and in eternal life. We pray Allah that the Day of Judgment be one of rejoicing bliss and divine hospitality for you. We pray for the mercy and blessing of Allah on you here on earth and in the hereafter, and also for His soldiers to be around you for help anywhere, everywhere you may be. We pray that through your person He purify His servants and this country, that through your person, He strengthen the pillars of faith and religion, that through your person, He make good and peace splash over all the Muslims, and that He be for you an ally, a source of assistance, of help and of protection.
We pray Allah that your heart be tamed and filled with a permanent awareness of Him so that your limbs be unceasingly at His service. I request you, our master, to respect the commands of Allah and avoid His interdictions, and I advise you in the same way as when Allah said: “O ye who believe! Fear Allah and let every soul look to what (provision) he has sent forth for the morrow. Yea, fear Allah: for Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do. And be ye not like those who forgot Allah; and He made them forget themselves! Such are the rebellious transgressors! Not equal are the Companions of the Fire and the Companions of the Garden: it is the Companions of the Garden that will achieve Felicity.” (Surah 59 The Gathering, verses 18 to 20) Allah also said: “O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: he that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest Achievement.” (Surah 33 The Confederates, verses 70 and 71) Allah also said: “And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly.” (Surah 2 The Cow, verse 281) Allah also said: “To Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth. Verily We have directed the people of the Book before you and you (O Muslims) to fear Allah. But if ye deny Him lo! unto Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth, and Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.” (Surah 4 The Women, verse 131) Allah also said: “O mankind! Do your duty to your Lord and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son nor a son, avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief deceiver deceive you about Allah.” (Surah 31 Luqman, verse 33)
In the meditation over the verses of Allah, are guidance, advice, a source of reflection and a lesson. Feed your soul on a diet of patience and steadfastness. That is surely a cure for the faith of he who is used to being blindly dependent on his passions, and hence disobeys divines orders. May peace be upon our master and upon all those who are at his service, his close relations, his servants, his friends, his companions and upon the close friend who has written this to you, the humble servant of Allah, Ahmed ibn Muhammad Tijani, may Allah bless him here on earth and in the hereafter. I have a serious an important matter to convey to you from the master thanks to whom everything exists, the river of generosity, Seidina Muhammad (peace be upon him). He told me this: “Write a letter to our son Suleiman ibn Muhammad, prince of the believers, and tell him there is nothing on earth greater in merit and in danger than my wird, the wird I dictated to you. Tell him to recite it, for indeed, Allah will purify his life on earth and in the hereafter thanks to the recitation of this wird. Inform him there is nothing on earth greater in merit and in danger than the invocation known as Saifiyou that I had dictated to Ali ibn Talib (may Allah be pleased with him). By reciting it Allah keeps away both apparent and hidden calamities from him, which will bring him good here and in the hereafter. Teach him the prayer of consultation that I had taught you and the recitation of Al Fatiha seven times, together with the evocation of the Name after his prayers. Tell him not to give in to self-neglect, to do his utmost to say prayers on me, the Salat al Fatihi. It is through unceasing efforts that Allah will purify both his inner and outer status. Also, do as much as you can to teach him some of the merits of the Salat al Fatihi. These are the words that the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me to forward to you. You should be well aware that my relationship with him is that of a servant towards a king, me, the servant sitting beside him (the king) silent and respectful. The servant has nothing to ask nor receive from the king. If the king gives orders, the servant only executes. He is happy sitting near the king, silently and respectfully. I can neither ask him anything, nor put questions to him. I take no initiatives towards him. He gives orders and I execute them. He has for years protected and brought me up in such a way that I can neither ask him anything nor question him.
As concerns the wird he dictated to me and ordered me to convey to people, it should be said as follows:
Istighfar (100 times )
Salatul Fatihi (100 times)
La ilaha ila Allah (100 times)
You should therefore recite it twice a day, one in the morning, and once in the evening or at night. Do so for the morning wird anytime between the Subh and Dhuhr prayers, and for the evening wird, between the Asr and Isha prayers. Before giving me the wird, he (the Prophet, peace be upon him) informed me that Allah will allow in paradise any man who regularly recites his wird, and with him his parents and wives and children, without being accountable for anything and without punishment. Such a man will also undergo no punishment from his death to his settling in paradise. As for the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message about the Salat al Fatihi, the recitation of Al Fatiha with the intention of the Name, Al Saifiyou and the prayer of consultation, I will give you more information about them in another letter. May Allah’s prayers and peace be upon the Prophet.
It has been reported that when Sultan Suleiman and Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with them) met, Sultan Suleiman highly honored him and offered him a residence known as the “Mirror Residence” in Fes. But Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) declined the offer because of a deep feeling that annoyed him. Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with him) noticed it and talked to him to reassure him and to remove any doubt on the matter. Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) informed his close companions he would live in that residence with the approval of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered him to give the equivalent of the rent to the poor. Thus, he kept on giving the value of the rent in bread to the poor all the time he stayed in the residence until his death. When Seidina Ahmed Tijani got the official authorization from Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with them) to build the Zaouiya of Fes, the latter sent him two purses containing each a thousand riyals, and told him:” Use this money for the construction.” But Seidina Ahmed Tijani (may Allah be pleased with him) returned the gift arguing that “all matters pertaining to him rest between the hands of Allah.” Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with him) really insisted to have him accept the money. Seidina Ahmed (may Allah be pleased with him) finally accepted, but refrained from spending the it on the construction of the Zaouiya. He ordered that the money be distributed to the poor and the needy. Sultan Suleiman (may Allah be pleased with him) passed away on Thursday Rabi al Awwal 13, 1238, in the city of Marrakech. The location of his shrine is well known there.