Sidi Muhammad ibn Sulayman Mana’i Tunsi was a scholar who mastered both exoteric and esoteric knowledge, gathering together the merits and the blessings that had been scattered. He was loved by Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) who looked upon him with respect because of his sincere love and elevated aspiration.
He was strongly attached to the rope of the Sunnah, holding it tightly. He always spoke out when he noticed an innovation or somebody practicing one. One day, Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) asked him: “What do you think of me” and he answered: “I accept and practice what I see in you which conforms to the Law, and when I see the contrary, I leave it aside.” Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) answered (or words to that effect): “Stay that way, but do not criticize things that you do not understand, thinking that you are right when in fact you are not.” Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) looked upon him with approval both in his presence and in his absence and covered him with his love. He was among the special scholars of this Tariqa.
He took the Tariqa in Fes because he had gone to study there. He used to go to the zawiya with a student who was one of Seyyidina’s companion (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret), and sat a certain distance from the brothers while waiting for his companion.
Usually, Seyyidina stayed for dinner with the people attending and one time, Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) said to him: “O the Tunisian, you are our companion (on the path)” and he answered: “O Sidi, I am the companion of couscous and meat.” Then Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) said to him: “What is stopping you from taking our wird?” To which he replied: “I take from My Lord who said: “Indeed, Allah and His angels send blessing upon the Prophet. O you who have believed, send blessing upon him and greet him.”” Seyyidina was quiet.
When Sidi Muhammad ibn Sulayman (may ALLAH be pleased whith him) went back to his room in the madrassa, he was restless and could not sleep. He felt guilty for having answered Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) in this way, fearing that this was improper conduct towards Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) and aware that the evocations and other instructions obtained through the specific authorization are more beneficial than those obtained through general authorization. He thought to himself: “It is as if I have never read the words of Ibn Achir who said: “Whoever keeps company with a Sheikh knowing the pathway protects himself from his own path to Perdition.””
He got up in the middle of the night and went to the zawiya but he found it closed. He went asleep on the doorstep until the time of Subh prayer when Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) arrived and he took the tariqa. Then Seyyidina put his hand on his heart and implored: “O ALLAH make him learned in the religious knowledge.” Ever since that day, he had ever-increasing openings in this field.
Here is a letter that Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) sent him: “We request ALLAH to shower you with kindness and bring you relief from whatever you are complaining about. We request Him to gaze upon you with kindness, mercy and protection from all misfortune. May He grant that you attain everything that you hope for, may He be your helper in the satisfaction of all your needs both in this world and the Hereafter. We request Him to pour oceans of approval and grace upon you both in this world and the Hereafter. Ameen. ”
Concerning what you have written to me regarding the deeds (in the past) of the Walis against the vicissitudes of fate and requesting me to act likewise against the troubles that afflict you in order to deliver you, my answer is as follows:
The waly’s situation does not conform to one unique rule, nor to one unique path, and does not always comply with their wishes. Their case is relinquished to ALLAH and follows the rule of His Own Will (machiya). Thus, no waly has settled an issue through his own free choice nor acted upon anything according to his own order and his own will: all of this follows the decree of ALLAH’s Will and it is He who does what He wishes.
How many Awliya (plural of “wali”) demonstrate their prodigies to the people when and where they want, and how many others of great worth and elevated station have turned away from existence by ALLAH to the extent that they no longer know anything else besides ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted), as for these Awliya, if they want to act and demonstrate prodigies, as the Awliya do, they are forbidden to do so by the decree of ALLAH’s Will, for reasons that ALLAH alone knows. Djounaïd (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said: « Certainly, some men have walked on water, although better men than them have died of thirst.”
As for the issue in which you requested me to intervene, in order to dissipate the trouble, know that I can find no possibility, nor ruse, nor means and this is by the Decree and Predestination of ALLAH. ALLAH speaks the Truth and it is He who guides us on the path. Each and every one of the elite does not follow exactly the same measure because the Decree belongs only to ALLAH through His Will for all situations in which people find themselves. May ALLAH pray upon His Prophet, Salam.”
Sidi Muhammad ibn Soulayman Mana’i Tunsi is burried in Tunisia. May ALLAH have mercy upon him.
Research and translation by Zawiya Tidjaniya el Kubra in Lyon, France