Today, we feature the works of a grandson and his grandfather.
Bio taken from Tijaniyya.com
Shaykh Hassan Cisse, son of Sayyidi Ali Cisse and Sayyidah Fatimatou Zahra Niasse and grandson and spirtual heir of Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, is Chief Imam of the Grand Mosque in Madina Kaolack, Senegal and one of the eminent leaders of the Tariqa Tijaniyya, a Sufi brotherhood based exclusively on Qur'an and Hadith. Shaykh Hassan brought the Tariqa to the United States in 1976, introducing it to Muslims in America for the very first time. The Shaykh is the Founder and Chairman of The African American Islamic Institute, Inc., a tax exempt, international humanitarian organization.
Shaykh Hassan Cisse was born in Kaolack, Senegal in December, 1945, the first grandson of Shaykh Al-Islam Al Hajj Ibraham Niasse (RA), who illuminated the essence of Islam throughout West Africa. After memorizing the Holy Qur'an at ten years of age, Shaykh Hassan completed his elementary and post elementary studies in Senegal. Educated in Senegal, Mauritania, Egypt, England and the United States, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies and Arabic Literature from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, a Diploma in French Language, a Certificate in English Language and a Master of Philosophy from the University of London.
While engaged in research toward a Ph.D in Islamic Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, his father, Sayyidi Ali Cisse(RA), passed away and he was recalled to Senegal to assume the inspired work that has given direction and meaning to millions of seekers of Truth in Africa, Asia, Europe and, especially, in the United States.
Since the Shaykh first came to America in 1976, he has been teaching, guiding, inspiring Muslims to fear Allah and love Prophet Muhammad(sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), always reminding us to do what Allah ta'ala says do and stop where Allah ta'ala says stop. Over the past twenty years, the Shaykh has traveled to various U.S cities, many of which have honored him as a distinguised Islamic scholar and religious leader and for the work of The African American Islamic Institute, Inc. Shaykh Hassan Cisse has been awarded the Key to the City of Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, where June 16, 1986 was proclaimed Shaykh Hassan Cisse Day, Detroit, MI and Memphis, TN, which honored him as an Honorary Citizen of Memphis and was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the City of New Orleans, which proclaimed October 2, 1996 Shaykh Hassan Cisse Day.
Internationally, Shaykh Hassan Cisse has been recognized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) as a respected Islamic scholar and leader for his outstanding work and cooperation with the UNPFA towards achieving the goals set forth during the Cairo and Bejing conferences regarding human rights, to include family planning, the status of women, the education of girls, protection of children and the prevention of drug abuse. He has been recognized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for his scholarship, leadership, cooperation and advocacy regarding the issues vital to the health, education and well being of children. The Shaykh has spoken extensively on these issues, giving an enlightened Islamic perspective on human rights, womens rights, marriage, alcohol and other drugs and children during his annual International Islamic Conference in Senegal and The Gambia. As a result of his active involvement in human rights issues, Shaykh Hassan Cisse has participated in United Nations conferences for NGOs and is frequently invited guest speaker at UNICEF and other UN-sponsored events.
As the Founder and Chairman of the Board of The African American Islamic Institute, Inc., (An Institute of Nasrul Ilm, i.e., Helping Knowledge), Shaykh Hassan Cisse has directed the guidelines for the Institute's humanitarian activities in keeping with the teachings of Islam, to wit: feed the hungry, care for the sick, teach the unlettered, protect the interests of women and children, pursue knowledge and foster peace and understanding among mankind.
Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse: Revivalist of the Sunnah
Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse was born in Senegal on October 17, 1902 (15 Rajab, 1320 A.H.) and died on July 26, 1975 (15 Rajab 1395 A.H.) He was the son of al‑Hajj Abdullahi Niasse and grandson of Muhammad Niasse, both of them well-known members of the Mama of Senegal. Growing up in an intellectual environment strengthened his grasp of the Islamic sciences. His father taught him Qur'an with its tafsir and Hadith with their shark (explanation). He also taught him fiqh and the science of tasawwuf from the well-known books in use among the majalisu-l-'ilm in Senegal, those circles in which students gather around the shaykhs in search of knowledge.
As a boy, the Shaykh was highly intelligent, showing signs of great potential and blessed with good character. These characteristics once prompted his father to say, "You do not need to travel as your brothers do. If you but sit, people will come to you. It is the duty of a river to be full. If the neighboring cows do not come to drink, those who are from afar will." In reference to his educational background and achievements, Shaykh Ibrahim said, "I learned Qur'an and Hadith first from my shaykh, my father, and he, from his father. I received an 'ijaza (diploma from the majalis al-'ilm) first from my father in both Qur'an and Hadith, then from Abdur-Rahman b. alHajj-1-'Alawi and another 'ijaza from Shaykh Ahmad Sukayrij who, himself, had earned some six hundred 'ijazas from six hundred different shaykhs whose names are mentioned in his book' where he writes, `The first one to whom I gave authorization in all these chains of transmission was the Khalifa al-Hajj Ibrahim Niasse.' "
When Shaykh Ibrahim entered upon the Sufi path, he took the Tariqa Tijaniyya from his father. The step was momentous, for it was within this tariqa that he was to play a major role. It was, in fact, a role without parallel since Shaykh Umar Tal al-Futi's earlier role in the spread of the Tijaniyya. Starting with his father, Shaykh Ibrahim received many appointments as muqaddam in the Tijaniyya. Before dying, his father instructed Shaykh Muhammad Mahmoud ash-Shinghity of Mauritania to appoint his son a muqaddam. Shaykh ash-Shinghity, however, told Shaykh Ibrahim, "You have no need for an 'ijaza from a creature because you have your appointment from the Creator." 2 He had additional appointments from al-Hajj Abdullah b. al-Hajj al-Alawi of Mauritania and the master Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Tijani of Egypt as well as Shaykh Ahmad Sukayrij of Morocco, the closest link to Ahmad al-Tijani in silsilah. He certified that Shaykh Ibrahim was khalifa of the Tariqa's initiator, Ahmad al-Tijani. Of himself, Shaykh Ibrahim once said, "What I have in the way of `ijaza and muqaddam authorizations would indeed fill a book." Although he was the youngest of his father's children, shortly after his father's death in 1922, he became the most outstanding among them. He became, in fact, the most important marabout within his father's house and throughout the area. His importance is reflected in Notes Et Etudes Sur L'islam En Afrique Noir where we find the statement, "El Hajji Ibrahim Niasse est incontestablement la personalite religieuse la plus marquante de Itidjanisme senegalais dans toute la region du SineSaloum ou la famine marboutique des masse."
For the first time since the epoch of the founder, Shaykh Ahmas Al-Tijani (died in 1815), we find within the Tariqa an international grouping of Muslim peoples.
Shaykh Ibrahim was a staunch advocate of restoring the proper ritual observances of the Prophet's pure Sunnah. Some had become careless and begun to omit some of the recommended practices of the Prophet This was particularly true with reference to the Muslim canonical prayer (salat). In Africa the problem was especially acute. Basing himself on the prophetic tradition "Pray in the way you see me pray," the Shaykh focused his efforts on the most frequent omissions from the prayer ritual. They were: Qabdur, the placing the hands upon the breast with the right one over the left; the recitation of the formula bismillahir-rahmanir-rahim aloud before the recitation of the opening chapter (Suratul-Fatiha) and the Qur'anic lection when the prayer was said aloud and silently when it was said silently; and the raising of the hands before bowing (ruku), and after bowing. The latter practice was based on the hadith, "Everything has its beauty and the beauty of salat is the raising of the hands." The Shaykh also wrote a book entitled Raf'ul malam 'an man rafa'a wa qabada iqtida an bi sayyidil anam substantiating his claims with proofs drawn from the Qur'an and Hadith. In them, he attacked a false doctrine of blind taqlid and advocated a true doctrine of taqlid which must in all cases be based upon the Prophet's pure Sunnah. The changes advocated by the Shaykh caused quite a stir in many communities who believed that what they were doing was the authentic Maliki practice. It was, therefore, difficult for them to break habits that seemed to them confirmed by being passed from one generation to the next. But in time a large segment of the Muslim population abandoned what they had been wont to do and adopted the established wont of the Prophet which Shaykh Ibrahim had championed. This, in fact, was the beginning of the Reformed Tijaniyya as it has been called in John Paden's excellent book, Religion and Political Culture in Kano.
As a spiritual guide in tasawwuf, Shaykh Ibrahim wrote many books explaining Sufism and the possibility of spiritual perfection in the modern age. Perhaps the most famous and widely read was Kashiful-Albas or "The Removal of the Confusion." It was written in Arabic and explains the real meaning of Sufism. In it, the Shaykh states that tasawwuf possesses a definition, subject, matter, name, compilers, sources, laws, problems, attributes, and results. Everyone who takes up its study should be familiar with these ten points. Tasawwuf is to adopt every worthy form of behavior and to eschew unworthy forms of action. It is to adopt, in fact, the character of the Qur'an and Sunnah. One must give himself entirely over to Allah, the Exalted, in whatever He wills, just as He wills. A certain poet once said, "Sufism is not to wear wollen garments or affect worn out clothing. It is good behavior and good manners (adab)." Another said, "Sufism is not to wear a woolen coat and patch it, nor to weep when the singer sings. It is not to cry out, nor to dance and make merry. It is not to feign fainting as if one is mad. Rather, tasawwuf is being pure without defilement and following the truth of Qur'an and the religion."
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African American Islamic Institute