Sudanic Africa 1, 1990
Ahmad ibn Idris
Recent and Forthcoming Publications
The earlier neglect of the Moroccan mystic and teacher, Ahmad b. Idris (1749-50
to 1837), is being made good. A number of studies have been or will soon be
published that taken together greatly enrich our understanding of his life,
teachings and influence.
Ahmad, Hasan Makki Muhammad, al-sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi.
Khartoum, al-Markaz al-Islami al-Ifriqi bi `l-Khartoum, 1986.
A modern assessment of Ibn Idris from a "Salafi" viewpoint by a Sudanese
scholar [copy in Bergen].
Hofheinz, Albrecht,"Encounters with a Saint: Al-Majdhub, al-Mirghani
and Ibn Idris as seen through the Eyes of Ibrahim al-Rashid", Sudanic
Africa, i, 1990, 19-59.
Ibrahim, Yahya Muhammad, "Madrasat Ahmad ibn Idris wa-atharuha fi'l-Sudan",
Ph.D. thesis, University of Khartoum 1990, 435pp.
This is a major study in seven chapters with a conclusion based on a wide
range of new sources. In particular, Dr. Ibrahim has made a major advance by
recovering many hitherto unknown or inaccessible manuscripts of writings by Ibn
Idris or his direct or indirect students, particularly those in the possession
of the Adarisa of Luxor, Egypt. The dissertation has four main sections; the
first is a detailed discussion of the writings ascribed to Ibn Idris (pp.
7-29). I say "ascribed" because Dr. Ibrahim emphasises the uncertainty
surrounding the degree to which any particular work represents the actual words
of the Moroccan. Next comes a biography of Ibn Idris (pp. 30-77), followed by a
long section - the heart of the dissertation - on his teachings, both mystical
and exoteric (pp. 79-249). Dr. Ibrahim stresses the continuity of Ibn Idris'
teachings within the Sufi tradition and his rejection of taqlid. The
final section comprizes a series of biographical notices of Ibn Idris'
students, with particular emphasis on those from the Sudan. The bibliography
(pp. 413-35) gives a comprehensive listing of the Arabic primary and secondary
Dr. Ibrahim's dissertation is rich in detail and insight; of particular value
are the precise and full descriptions he gives of the many new manuscripts he
has discovered. His thesis signals a major new step forward in our
understanding of Ibn Idris and his tradition. Dr. Ibrahim intends to publish
his dissertation soon.
al-Idrisi, Ahmad b. Mustafa b. 'Abd al-'Al, al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris,
al-Uqsur 1406/1986, 81 pp. handwritten and privately distributed.
representing presumably the current state of knowledge and understanding among
the Adarisa of Luxor, is undoubtedly the single most important "traditional"
source for Ibn Idris' life [copy in Bergen].
Martin, B.G., "A short note on Ahmad Ibn Idris al-Fasi", The Maghreb
Review, 10, 1985, 114-7.
Massignon, Louis, "Ahmad ibn Idris", EI 2, i,
Reprinted from EI 1.
Mårtensson, Ulrika, "Ahmad ibn Idris' Etikett".
undergraduate dissertation, Uppsala University, 1990, 90pp.
annotated translation into English (but with the introduction in Swedish) of
Ibn Idris, Kimiya` al-yaqin fi mushawwaq al-muttaqin. O'Fahey, R.S., "The Writings by, Attributed to, or on Ahmad Ibn
Idris", Bibliotheca Orientalis, xliii, 5/6, 1986, 660-9.
This is now superseded by the bibliography in O'Fahey, Enigmatic
-- "Ahmad ibn Idris and Northeast Africa. Notes on a Theme", Islam et
Sociétés au sud du Sahara, 3, 1989, 67-89.
Concentrates mainly on the Idrisi tradition in Somalia.
-- Enigmatic Saint. Ahmad ibn Idris and the Idrisi Tradition, London:
Christopher Hurst and Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990, xvii +
This book, in nine chapters, attempts to present as detailed a
biography of Ibn Idris as the sources permit (pp. 27-106), followed by chapters
on his principal students, Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Sanusi, Muhammad 'Uthman
al-Mirghani and Ibrahim al-Rashid. Chapter Eight sketches out the spread of the
Idrisi tradition in Somalia, the Ottoman Empire and southeast Asia, while
Chapter Nine gives a brief introduction to his teachings. The bibliography (pp.
210-40), when combined with the material brought together by Dr. Yahya Muhammad
Ibrahim, provides a basis for further studies of Ibn Idris and his tradition.
-- and Karrar, Ali Salih, "The Enigmatic Imam: the Influence of Ahmad ibn
Idris", International Journal of Middle East Studies, 19, 1987,
Reissner, Johannes, "Die Idrisiden in 'Asir. Ein historischer ~berblick",
Die Welt des Islams, xxi, 1981, 164-92.
An informative history of the
Idrisi state in 'Asir and its demise.
Spaulding, Jay, "The Fall of a Wayward Saint", Northeast African
Studies, v/3, 1983-84, 43-50.
On the relationship between Ahmad b. Idris
and Muhammad 'Uthman al-Mirghani.
Thomassen, Einar, "Ahmad ibn Idris og den såkalte nysufismen",
Svensk Religionshistorisk Årsskrift, 3, 1988, 25-38.
Norwegian; an introduction to Ibn Idris and his teachings.
Vikør, Knut S. and O'Fahey, R.S., "Ibn Idris and al-Sanusi: the
Teacher and his Student", Islam et Sociétés en Afrique au sud
du Sahara, i, 1987, 70-82.
Voll, John O., "Two biographies of Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi (1760-1837)",
International Journal of African Historical Studies, vi, 1973,
Translations of two manaqib, one anonymous, the other
ascribed to the Yemeni scholar, 'Abd al-Rahman b. Sulayman al-Ahdal.
Karrar, 'Ali Salih, Athar al-ta'alim al-Idrisiyya fi `l-turuq al-sufiyya
fi `l-Sudan, MA thesis, 1977, University of Khartoum.
valuable discussion of the Idrisiyya tariqa in the Sudan in the present
century and its relationship with other brotherhoods. To be published by Dar
O'Fahey, R.S., "The Idrisi Tradition: Some Organizational and Political
To be published in French in a book on Islam and Politics in the
Sudan edited by Gérard Prunier.
Karrar, Ali Salih,The Sufi Brotherhoods in the Sudan until 1900, with
special reference to the Shayqiyya Region, dr. philos. thesis, 1985,
University of Bergen.
To be published in revised form by Christopher Hurst,
London, and Northwestern University Press, Evanston.
Thomassen, Einar & Radtke, Bernd, editors, The Letters of Ahmad ibn
A collective volume containing the texts and translations of 35
letters to and from Ibn Idris; the contributors are Albrecht Hofheinz, Ali
Salih Karrar, R.S. O'Fahey, B. Radtke & Einar Thomassen. Publication
probably by Christopher Hurst, London.
© The author and Sudanic Africa.