Ibrahim Niass

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Ibrāhīm Niass (1900–1975)—also written Ibrahima Niasse in French, Ibrayima Ñas in Wolof, Shaykh al-'Islām al-Ḥājj Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ḥājj ʿAbd Allāh at-Tijānī al-Kawlakhī in Arabic, شيخ الإسلام الحاج إبراهيم إبن الحاج عبد الله التجاني الكولخي in Arabic alphabet—was a major leader of the Tijānī Sufi order of Islam in West Africa. His followers in the Senegambia region affectionately refer to him in Wolof as Baay, or "father." He is the founder of the Ibrāhīmiyyah branch of the Tijānī order, whose adherents designate themselves in Arabic as the people of the Faydah Tijāniyyah (Tijānī Flood) or in Wolof as Taalibé Baay (disciples of Baay). Outsiders often refer to his disciples as Ñaseen, which in Wolof means "of or pertaining to the Ñas family," although his disciples do not generally use this designation.


Born in 1900 in the village of Tayba Ñaseen (spelled Taïba Niassène in French), between the Senegalese city of Kaolack and the border of Gambia, he was the son of Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas (1840–1922), the main representative of the Tijānī Sufi Order, often referred to asTareeqat al-Tijjaniyyaa, in the Saalum region at the beginning of the twentieth century. During his youth, Sheykh Ibrahim relocated with his father to the city of Kaolack, where they established the zāwiya (religious center) of Lewna Ñaseen. After his father's death in Lewna Ñaseen in 1922, Shaykh Ibrāhīm's elder brother, Muhammad al-Khalīfa, became his father's successor or Khalīfa. The 22-year-old Shaykh Ibrāhīm spent most of his time farming in the family's fields and teaching a growing number of disciples in the nearby village of Kóosi Mbittéyeen. Although Shaykh Ibrāhīm never claimed to be his father's successor, due to his charisma and precocious knowledge, he gained a large number of disciples, and tensions arose between his disciples and those of his elder brother, Muhammad al-Khalifa. In 1929, while on the farm in Kóosi Mbittéyeen, the youthful Shaykh Ibrāhīm announced that he had been given the Key to Secrets of Divine Knowledge, and thus became the Khalifa of Sheykh Tijani in the Tajaniyya Order, a position yet to be attained by anyone as of the time. Sheikh Ibrahim then declared that whoever wishes to attain ma'arifa, a level of Divine Certainty in the Sufi Order must follow him. In 1930, after the prayer of ʿĪd al-Fiṭr (the end of the month of Ramadān), a fight broke out between Shaykh Ibrahim's disciples and those of Muhammad al-Khalīfa The incident made Shaykh Ibrahim to immediately decided to relocate with his disciples to a new place. That evening, he set out with a small group of his closest disciples to find a new place to live, and the next day they established a new zāwiya in Medina Baay, a village that was later incorporated into the growing city of Kaolack. In the following years, Shaykh divided his time between teaching during dry season in Madina Baay and farming during raining season in Kóosi Mbittéyeen. During the summer of 1945 he reestablished himself in his father's house in his natal village of Tayba Ñaseen, rebuilding and reorganizing the village after a fire outbreak destroyed much of it.

Shaykh Ibrahim's fame quickly spread throughout the countryside and most of his father's disciples ultimately became his disciples in spite of his junior status in the family. Although his disciples remain a minority within Senegal, Ñas’s disciples form the largest branch of Tijānīs worldwide. In an unlikely role reversal during the 1930s, several leaders of the Arab 'Idaw ʿAli tribe in Mauritania—the same tribe that introduced the Tijānī order to West Africa—declared to follow Shaykh Ibrahim and became his disciples. Notable among the included Shaykhāni, Muḥammad Wuld an-Naḥwi, and Muḥammad al-Mishri. Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya, as Shaykh's disciples came to known, flourished and gained large number of followers throughout the 1930s and 1940s across North and West Africa. In the 1937, on meeting with Shaykh Ibrahim during a pilgrimage to Makkah, the Emir of Kano,Alhaji 'Abdullahi Bayero (Nigeria) made a declaration to follow and became his disciple. That incident made Shaykh Ibrahim to gain the allegiance of many of the prominent Tijānī leaders of Northern Nigeria and lots of those who were non-Tijanis during the time. One of his closest disciples and father of Sayyida Bilkisu( one of the youngest wives of the Sheikh), was a Prince from Okene, the first High Commissioner of Nigeria to the UK, Alhaji Abdulmalik Atta. Shaykh Ibrahim became a renowned Shaykh al-Tareeka (Master of Sufi Order) throughout Hausa areas of West Africa and in fact ended up with far more disciples outside of Senegal than within it. By his death in 1975 in London, Shaykh Ibrahim Ñas had millions of followers throughout West Africa. His branch of the Tijāniyya, Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya has become the largest branch in the world. After his death the community was led by his closest disciple, Shaykh Aliyy Cisse and Ñas's eldest son, Alhaji Abdulahi Ibrahim Niass. The current Khalīfa in Medina Baye is his eldest surviving son, Sheikh Ahmad Tijani he became the khalifa in 2010 after the death of his brother khalifa Ahmadu Ñas (known as “Daam”) on Tuesday 18 May 2010. Shaykh Ibrahim's role as principal Imam of the Medina Baye mosque has been carried out by the Cisse family. While serving as Medina Baay's Imam, Shaykh Hassan Cisse (Shaykh Aliyy Cisse's son and Shaykh Ibrahim's maternal grandson) carried Shaykh Ibrahim's teachings to the United States, United Kingdom and many other western countries. Shaykh Hassan Cisse was generally regarded as the Leader of Tareeqa al-Tijaniyya al-Ibrahimiyya worldwide until his sudden death in August, 2008. Since then, Shaykh Hassan's younger brother Shaykh Tijānī Cisse has been given the position of Medina Baay's Imam.


Shaykh Ibrahim Ñas's many works include:

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