Ibn Ata’ Allah Al-Iskandari
Ibn Ata’ Allah al-Iskandari was born in the middle of the 7th century AH/13th century CE and grew up in Alexandria during the Mamluk era. Although not much is known about his life, he had the best teachers in all branches of traditional sciences and became known as a great master of Islamic law of the Maliki School. His lifetime witnessed the great flourishing of several Sufi brotherhoods, including the Shadhiliyya, the Mawlawiyya, the Chishtiyya and the Ahmadiyya. His father was a student of Imam al-Shadhili, though it is unlikely he ever met him. Initially Ibn Ata’Allah was not so drawn to the Sufi path, preferring to concentrate his energies on jurisprudence. Yet, in spite of his early antipathies, he did become a disciple of Shaykh Abu ‘l-Abbas al-Mursi, (d. 686/1288). As his most important and principal work, the Hikam, attests, he had become a Sufi master in his own right, and was already a shaykh when al-Mursi died. He became the third great master of the Shadhiliyya order, which grew from Morocco and spread throughout North Africa and beyond. With his career as a scholar in Cairo under the Mamluks in full flourish, he died at around 60 years of age in 709 AH/ 1309 CE and was buried there in the Qarafa cemetery.
One of the great sufi imams who was also known as a muhaddith, preacher, and Maliki jurist, Abu al-Fadl Ibn `Ata Allah al-Iskandari (d. 709) is the author of al-Hikam (Aphorisms), Miftah al-falah (The key to success), al-Qasd al-mujarrad fi ma`rifat al-ism al-mufrad (The pure goal concerning knowledge of the Unique Name), Taj al-`arus al-hawi li tadhhib al-nufus (The bride’s crown containing the discipline of souls), `Unwan al-tawfiq fi adab al-tariq (The sign of success concerning the discipline of the path), the biographical al-Lata’if fi manaqib Abi al-`Abbas al-Mursi wa shaykhihi Abi al-Hasan (The subtle blessings in the saintly lives of Abu al-`Abbas al-Mursi and his master Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili), and others. He was Abu al-`Abbas al-Mursi’s (d. 686) student and the second successor of the Sufi founder, Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili.
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