Our master Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), ALLAH’s servant of high aspiration, the virtuous and distinguished son of the Hidden Pole, Seyyidina Sheikh Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret), was chosen to perpetuate his noble posterity.
He spent his days and his nights absorbed in acts of adoration for ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted) that he only interrupted in order to accomplish similar or better deeds. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had assured him and his brother perfection in the Knowledge of ALLAH. Sidi Abdelaoui (may ALLAH be satisfied with them) related facts about him that was so surprising of which it was impossible to conceive by means of reason. He was holder of the Great Opening, and the Knower Mulay Muhammad Ben Abi Nasr El ‘Alawi (may ALLAH be satisfied with them) affirmed that Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) was in possession of the Supreme Name.
He gathered the secrets and was the source of extraordinary prodigies, with the apparent power to administer. He meticulously protected his secrets, as well as those of his father Sidi Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret). Sidi Muhammad El Habib was born in Fes and his mother was called Mubaraka. His brother was born in Bussemghun and his mother was Mabruka. He was 15 years old when his father passed away. So he left Fes and went to Ain Madhi with his brother, both accompanied by the Pole Sidi Hajj Ali Tamacini (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), in accordance with the last instructions of their noble father.
It would appear that he undertook two pilgrimages: one with his brother Sidi Muhammad El Kebir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) by sea, in the year 1240 of the hegira, and the other in 1265 of the hegira (1848 ad), four years before his death. During the first pilgrimage, he brought back the servant Zahra, the mother of his son Sidi Ahmed ibn Salim otherwise known as Ibn El Habachiya. He married him to his cousin Lalla Ruqayya, daughter of Sidi Muhammad el Kebir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him). Sidi Ahmed Salim died during Sidi Muhammad el Habib’s lifetime, and after the funeral, he said: “All those who have attended my son’s funeral ceremony will enter Paradise.” When somebody pointed out that Ali Zalat, a drug user and Chemha the Jewess had attended the ceremony, he answered: “Even them.” Later, it was found that Ali Zalat had stopped taking drugs and he obtained the opening. As for Chemha, she fell sick after the death of Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) and asked her children to bring her to Ain Madhi. As soon as she arrived near the tomb of Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), she proclaimed the testimony of faith out loud, despite the beating inflicted by her children, she repeated it continuously until her death.
Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) undertook his second pilgrimage by land accompanied by some of Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani’s companions (may ALLAH be satisfied with them). Among them was the Master Suleiman ibn Sa’d (may ALLAH be satisfied with him). When they arrived in Egypt, the scholars came to visit him, but he spoke to none of them and gave all his attention to his litanies. He did this out of fear that these people would harm themselves by noticing that Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) did not master the Arabic language. On returning to Ain Madhi, he took the time to grammar and knowledge, as befits the sons of Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret), so that they may ennoble themselves both physically and spiritually, although they are already noble due to their high degree of faith and perfection. This allows for the people to benefit from them both exteriorly and interiorly, given that knowledge attracts the elite, and the commoners will also benefit.
Among all that has been told on this subject is the story related by his intimate companion Sidi Ahmed Abdelaoui: “Once, I was learning grammatical texts, when our Master Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) saw me and said: “Abandon that and read that which would be of benefit to you.” I abandon this reading in obedience with his command. Then, another day, when I was sitting with him, he said to me: “O Sidi Ahmed! I have some hidden litanies belonging to Seyyidina (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) which no other but me is authorized to see. I would like to recite them, but I am afraid of making mistakes. I would like to learn grammar. We should study the Alfiya.” Thereafter, each day, I wrote ten verses and learned them, whereas Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) only wrote four verses. When I reached the chapter concerning prepositions, I looked at his slate, and to my surprise, I saw that he had already reached the end of the Alfiya. I said to him: ‘’O Sidi, how is that possible?” To which he answered: “I am not like you, sleeping all night: I only sleep one hour and then I do what I have to do.” Then, we recited it alongside with the scholar Sidi Ahmed ibn ‘Achur (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) until he died.”
Sidi Muhammad el Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) often wrote letters to the Zawiya that were far away, urging them to maintain the propriety required by the noble Law. He encouraged them also to conform with the attitude of Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) pursuing the purified Sunnah in all things. Here is an extract from a letter that he sent to the Zawiya of Fes:
“After mentioning the Name of ALLAH and the prayer upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the poor servant in His Lord who has no need of him, Muhammad ibn Ahmed Tidjani,
To all the brothers on the path, and to our brothers in ALLAH of the town of Fes, may ALLAH protect it, may the peace, the mercy and the blessings of ALLAH be upon you.
I praise ALLAH for you, there is no other God but Him , We request ALLAH, for each and every one of you, for your elderly and for your youth, for your men and for your women: may He illuminates your clairvoyance, may He purifies your outside and inside, may He removes all hatred from your heart, as well as jealousy, resentment, controversy and argument, may He protect you from misfortune and fear, may He elevate your deeds and accept them through His Grace, may He remove the lack of propriety therein, may He grant you repentance for all inadequacies in terms of propriety in all things and for all previous regrettable deeds, may He perpetuate the love for the Sheikh in you, and obedience to his instructions as well as the most perfect propriety during the litanies and in all your behaviour until you reach His Proximity and that of His Messenger, may the prayers of ALLAH be upon our Master Muhammad and his family. Ameen.
Know that I received news of you that gave rise to compassion and so I am obliged to send you this advice to benefit you and serve as a reminder to all those to whom ALLAH destines good.
I heard that some of you talk during the recitation of the Wazifa, and do not take part in this assembly according to the propriety and the respect that it requires. I also heard of states of jealousy, hatred, and arguments and things like these which some of you have with others. O my brothers, this is what severs and prevents us from attaining the promised stations…”
Sidi Ahmed Abdelaoui related: « Sidi Muhammad El Habib’s enemies sent him a letter containing the following: “You must come to Algiers so that we can benefit from your blessing. Having personally opened this letter, he went into the garden and asked me to follow. Then, he ordered a servant to close the door and not to allow anyone in. Once we were seated, he alluded: “O Ahmed! The donkey has just given birth” So I said to him: “What is the matter?” He explained to me and then said: “Answer him that I will never go to see him and that if my presence in this country disturbs him, then the land of ALLAH is vast.” Then, I left him. Usually, I dined with him in the evening, but not that particular evening because I was worried about this situation. The next day, he sent for me and when I reached him, one of his servants asked me: “Why did you not come for dinner yesterday, Seyyidina’s son has eaten nothing until now and I do not know the reason why.” Then, I went to meet him, he said: “I beseech ALLAH never to show me the face of the Christians (that is to say the colonialists) and never to receive from them.” Not more than four days had passed when ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted) reclaimed his soul”.
Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with them) passed away in Ain Madhi on a Saturday at the beginning of the month of Jumada Thani in the year 1269 of the hegira, at the age of fifty-four. In accordance with his recommendation, he was buried in the same tomb as his son, Sidi Ahmed ibn El Habachiya (may ALLAH be satisfied with him).
Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) had many children of which fifteen girls who were all married to the descendants of Sidi Hajj Ali Tamacini (may ALLAH be satisfied with him).
He had four sons of which two left no inheritors: Sidi Ahmed ibn el Habachiya that we mentioned previously, and Sidi Khalifa who was born shortly after the death of his father and died at the age of four.
From the two remaining sons, that is to say Sidi Muhammad el Bachir and Sidi Ahmad ‘Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with them), the two blessed branches of Seyyidina’s descendants flourished until this day.
Sidi Muhammad El Bachir was born in 1265 of the hegira and his mother was a servant called Fariha. When his father, Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), died, he was only four years old.
His younger half-brother, Sidi Ahmed ‘Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), was born in 1266 of the hegira, and his mother was also a concubine among the servants, by the name of Afiya who was from the Haussa tribe (principally from Niger and Nigeria) who Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) particularly treasured.
Due to the hardships of pregnancy and the jealousy of certain members of the household, she left the house and Ain Madhi when she was pregnant with Sidi Ahmed ‘Ammar(may ALLAH be satisfied with him). She went to the region of Constantine and was taken in by the Shawi tribe. The chief, a pious man called ‘Ammar, took great care of her, and when the child was born, his mother named him Ahmed after Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret), and Ammar after the chief of the tribe that had taken her in. Sidi Ahmed Ammar never knew his father and was about three years old when he died.
One day, the Imam of ‘Atiq mosque in Ain Madhi had a vision of Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him). In this vision, Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) ordered him to inform Sidi Muhammad El Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) that he had another brother and that he should seek him out.
With the desire to find him, Sidi Muhammad El Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) sent many people looking for him throughout Algeria, but to no end.
In the meantime, Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) experienced many extraordinary events, although he was still a child, and his reputation spread with the rumours that he was the descendant of a great wali.
Notably, once, when he was shepherd, he lost one of his flock who had strayed onto the land of a French colonialist and trampled his crops. When the colonist realised the extent of the damage, and seeing Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) coming to retrieve his sheep, he raised his hand to slap him but his hand remained paralysed. He knew that this child was special and let him go, with his apologies.
Sidi Muhammad el Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) had heard rumours of a prodigious child and so he sent for him and his mother when they were in the area of Annaba. Craftiness was necessary to bring them to Ain Madhi because anyone who tried to force them met with problems.
When Sidi Muhammad el Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) saw him, he recognized through unveiling a distinctive sign indicating the offspring of Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH be satisfied with him). Then Sidi Muhammad el Bachir handed him the Khilafa of the Tariqa and took special care of him and his well-being.
Then, he stayed with him until he was deported by the French to Algiers, and then to Bordeaux in France, until his return to Ain Madhi. Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) established his authority from the palace of Kourdan, and Sidi Muhammad El Bashir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) remained to watch over Ain Madhi. Sidi Ahmed Ammar was so pious that he commanded reverential fear in all those who contemplated him, and possessed an enlightened awareness of things apparent and hidden. He faced adversity with firm conviction in His Lord, courage and wisdom.
The French government closely monitored this future chief of Saharan tribes and they left him no opportunity to cease the reins of the authority that was his by right. At an early age, they distanced him from his home and placed him under house arrest in the town of Algiers although he was not even sixteen years old. Even this was not sufficient to reassure them and so without hesitation they deported him to France, to the town of Bordeaux. They wanted to destroy any desire or capacity to govern in him, but in His Infinite Knowledge and Ultimate Wisdom, God wanted to provide him assistance and a loyal and devoted adviser, embodied in the person of the young Aurélie Picard which gave him a unique and unthinkable advantage for that time.
On the one hand, a Muslim religious chief and dignitary hailing from the vast desert, and held under house arrest in a grand hotel in Bordeaux in enemy territory, and on the other hand, a young French woman that he married. She was indeed very young, but experienced, courageous and devoted, although she knew nothing of the culture of these people from far away who were frequently reputed to be barbarians by her own people.
Two opposing worlds that would be joined by ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted) through a special alchemy and harmony that was able to face all hostility and objections. The arrival of this lady in Ain Madhi was a revolution for its inhabitants. The young lady who converted to Islam was now known as Lalla Yamina. She worked to educate the illiterate men and women and gave precious advice concerning public hygiene in order to combat the epidemics of plague and cholera, and moreover, she was of tireless and providential support against the administration of the colonial authorities and the harassments to which they subjected her noble husband Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with them).
It was also she who advised him to build the palace of Kurdan in order to quash the rumours of his declining authority in this troubled times: a unique palace, one of its kind in all the desert, housing more than three thousand subjects, which enabled him to maintain peace and cordiality between the different tribes. He often left the comfort of this sumptuous palace in order to isolate himself in the harsh mountains nearby that were so difficult to reach, for weeks, or even months, devoting himself to adoration and intimacy with ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted).
Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) passed away in Guemar (near Tamacine) and was buried there. Later his noble body was brought to Kurdan by his brother Sidi Muhammad Bachir and Lalla Yamina, and he was buried beside the tree under which he used to like accomplishing his adoration.
Sidi Muhammad El Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) was very pious, patient, truthful and humble. He recited seventy thousand Salat el Fatihi each day and he is renowned for having remained in the Station of el Qutbaniya el Udhma for thirty years. Among his numerous prodigies, is the fact that during the years of scarcity, he used to increase the food in the plates just by passing his hand over them. Following the death of his brother in 1314 of the hegira, he assumed the role of general Caliph in the Tariqa and was careful to leave a written document appointing Sidi Allal (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), the son of Sidi Ahmed ‘Ammar, as his successor, in order to avoid any disputes over the succession between him and his own son Sidi Muhammad El Kebir although he who was older.
This was an additional show of consideration towards Sidi Ahmed Ammar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) and his descendants. Sidi Muhammad El Bachir (may ALLAH be satisfied with him) passed away one Saturday in Jumada Thani in the year 1329 of the hegira in Kurdan.
The ritual funeral washing and the prayer was performed by Sidi Ali ibn Sidi Lakhdar (may ALLAH be satisfied with him), Imam of the Zawiya and descendant of Sidi Hajj Ali Tamacini (may ALLAH be satisfied with him). Then he was transported to Ain Madhi and buried beside his noble father Sidi Muhammad El Habib (may ALLAH be satisfied with him).