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Course Overview

This Level Two spirituality course covers one of the most important spiritual manuals in Islam, al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir, authored by the great Shadhili sage, Imam Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari. Through the careful analysis and explanation of this text provided by Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary, students will learn about the practical translation of belief in the Divine Decree and the meaning of spiritual liberation through absolute submission to Allah.

The course explores the relationship between creation (khalq) and provision (rizq) and explains how one can safely deal with the world and its wealth without becoming spiritually impure. It also discusses the nature of relying upon Allah as well as saving up provision for the future (iddikhar). Through this course, students will also acquire knowledge about the proper courtesies in seeking one's provision from Allah and understand the spiritual dispositions that protect them from the anxieties our time projected by the viciousness of neoliberal capitalism.

Al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir, also known as Kitab al-Tanwir, is one of the most important spiritual manuals in Islam, authored by the great Shadhili sage, Imam Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari. It provides a practical translation of belief in the Divine Decree and explains in great detail the meaning of spiritual liberation through absolute submission to Allah.

The intention of Imam Ibn Ata’illah in his work is to free the spiritual traveler from the pains and worries of “what ifs” by establishing absolute trust in Allah. Through his commentary on selected verses from the Qur’an and words of the Prophet, peace and blessings are upon him, as well as, the litanies and counsels of the sages, particularly the Shadhilis, Imam Ibn Ata’illah demonstrates a spiritual understanding that is well-versed in the tradition of Islam.

Kitab al-Tanwir, despite the fact that it was written about seven centuries ago, is very relevant to the concerns of our present day. Imam Ibn Ata’illah in his piercing critique of self-absorption provides deep insight for many people who are exploring “spirituality” in the age of neoliberal capitalism with its debt-fueled conspicuous consumption and suppression of wage growth.

Imam Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari lived in Egypt during the period of the Mamluks. Originally from Alexandria, and hence was called al-Sakandari, he moved to Cairo, where his scholarly life involved teaching the Sacred Sciences in various mosques and schools, including al-Azhar al-Sharif. He also led a concurrent existence as a Master for the disciples of the Shadhili Order in specific and Islamic Spirituality in general. He was the spiritual grand-son of al-Imam Abu al-Hassan al-Shadili, as he was brought up spiritually by Imam Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi, who was the direct inheritor of Imam Abu al-Hassan.

Who is this course For

• This course is for adults.

• It is particularly beneficial for Muslims in general and students of knowledge in particular.

• It is a level Two course. In order to successfully complete this course, students should take Ibn Ata’illah’s Key Aphorisms and/or any Level 1 Spirituality course as well as a Level 1 Theology course.

• This course can also be taken by anyone who is interested in learning about the practical application and the spiritual implications of belief in the Divine Decree.

Learning Outcomes

• Learn about the nine stations of certainty.

• Learn about Prophet Ibrahim’s model of pure surrender and servitude.

• Distinguish between praiseworthy and blameworthy “tadbir.”

• Grasp how one can safely deal with the world and its wealth without becoming spiritually impure.

• Recognize the differences between having worldly means of livelihood and being divested of them.

• Learn how to avoid anxiety over one’s sustenance.

• Understand the relationship between creation (khalq) and provision (rizq).

• Identify the proper courtesies in seeking one's provision from Allah.

• Understand the nature of relying upon the Divine as well as saving up provision for the future (iddikhar).

Course Outline

Lesson One: Imam Ibn Ata’illah and His Book al-Tanwir

Lesson Two: The Path of Liberation

Lesson Three: Submission and Abandoning Tadbir

Lesson Four: Complete and Total Submission

Lesson Five: The Stations of Certainty

Lesson Six: The Means of Abandoning Tadbir with Allah (1)

Lesson Seven: The Means of Abandoning Tadbir with Allah (2)

Lesson Eight: The Abandonment of Tadbir is the Noblest of the Divine Miraculous Gifts

Lesson Nine: Prophet Ibrahim’s Model of Pure Surrender & Servitude

Lesson Ten: The Types of Tadbir

Lesson Eleven: The Divested of Means and the One of Means

Lesson Twelve: Tadbir in the Daily Provision

Lesson Thirteen: The Purpose Behind the Creation of Mankind

Lesson Fourteen: The Guarantee of Sustenance by Allah

Lesson Fiffteen: The Coupling of Creation (Khalq) and Sustenance (Rizq)

Lesson Sixteen: Commanding the Family to Prayer & Divine Sustenance

Lesson Seventeen: The State and Nature of Rizq

Lesson Eighteen: The Wisdom in Taking a Means of Livelihood

Lesson Ninteen: Reliance on Allah and Saving for the Future

Lesson Twenty: The Explanation of the Litany of Shaykh Abul-'Abbas al-Mursi (1)

Lesson Twenty One: The Explanation of the Litany of Shaykh Abul-'Abbas al-Mursi (2)

Lesson Twenty Two: The Necessity of Abandoning Worry Over Provision

Lesson Twenty Three: Utterances of the Realities

Lesson Twenty Four: Concluding Supplications

Study Effort

Pre-requisites: Completion of Level 1 Spirituality and Level 1 Theology.

Weekly hours recommended: 3-5 hours

Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary is a researcher in Islamic intellectual history and a teacher of Islamic traditional sciences. He’s currently a teacher of Hadith, Usūl, Logic, and Kalam at Rawdatul-Naīm under the supervision of Habib Ali al-Jifrī; and at Madyafat Shaykh Ismaīl Sadiq al-Adawī (RA), a prominent learning center by al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Shaykh Ahmed studied Anthropology at American University in Cairo and received his training in Leadership Communication from Tulane University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also a life-long learner. He holds a diversified portfolio of almost 50 certificates in a variety of subjects – extending from Teaching Character and Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People to Complexity Theory, Model Thinking, and Conflict Analysis.

Shaykh Ahmed began his journey of studying traditional sciences about 20 years ago. In addition to studying with scholars from al-Azhar, he had the privilege of studying with visiting scholars from Algeria and India in a one-on-one format, and was thus given an exceptional opportunity to study and discuss advanced-level texts of different sorts and over a long period of time. Shaykh Ahmed has more than 70 Ijazas from scholars from all over the Muslim world.

Besides a number of edited works about to be released in Islamic pedagogy, linguistics and Hanafi Usūl, Shaykh Ahmed has authored Rūh al-Ilm – a treatise in the art of scientific investigation, based on a survey of roughly 200 traditional Islamic texts, and has been endorsed by Dr. Jamāl Fārūq, the Dean of Islamic Dawah College at al-Azhar University and Dr. Ahmed Mamdūh, the Chair of Research Division at Dar al-Iftaa’ al-Masrīyah. Rūh al-Ilm will be published by Tabah Foundation in the early of summer of 2019.

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Short Intro: This course explores the relationship between creation and provision and explains how one can safely deal with the world and its wealth without becoming spiritually impure. It is based on a spiritual manual by Ibn ‘Ata’illah al-Sakandari.
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Weightage: 12.1
Skill Level: Beginner
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