Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye` received transmission for this and many other texts of Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq; along with all the ahzaab (litanies) of Shaykh Abu’l-Hassan as-Shadhali from Shaykh Jibril ibn Umar after his return from the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1787. As for Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq, he was Abu’l-Abass Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa al-Burnusi al-Fasi as-Shadhali. He was known as ‘Zaruuq’ or ‘Burnusi’. His birth occurred during sunrise on a Thursday the 25th of Muharram in the year 846 A.H. His mother died three years after he was born, and his father died five days later.

Amazingly his paternal uncle died thereafter and by age seven he was a complete orphan without any support except Allah ta ala. Nevertheless, Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq became the composer of innumerous scholarly works. He, may Allah be merciful to him, died in the year 899 A.H. and is buried in Misrata in the desert; may Allah sanctify his spirit and cause his baraka to overflow upon us.

Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq had major influence upon the thinking of Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye, may Allah ta ala be pleased with both of them. Each of these sages rose to eradicate the particular heretical innovations that had emerged among the people in the path of tasawwuf and the general heretical innovations that had emerged in the remainder of the Islamic sciences. I am grateful to the learned Shaykh Nuuh Ha Mim Keller for his publication of the Usuul’t-Tareeqa which he annotated and included in his Awraad at-Tareeqa as-Shadhaliyya where meticulously transcribed in his own hand with the most elegant calligraphy style I have seen.

Many people assume that the text Usuul’at-Tareeqa of Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq is a comprehensive study and detailing of the foundations of the Shadhaliyya Path in particular. However, it is a clarification of the foundations of the overall spiritual path to Allah ta ala. All of the principles therein are the fundamental sources of all the spirituals paths of tasawwuf. It is for this reason that Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq said:

“The Paths to Allah are as numerous as the breadths of all created things.”

Subsequently, Shehu Uthman entitled this abridged work with the same name; to indicate that his Usuul’t-Tareeq is a text concerning the universal spiritual Path to Allah which is the foundation of all the diverse spiritual paths. The distinction between the two names should be noted. Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq entitled his work Usuul’t-Tareeqa with taa’ al-marbuuta (the feminine letter taa’), while the Shehu named his abridgment Usuul’t-Tareeq. The distinction between the two is clear.

The expression tareeqa can be construed to apply to a specific spiritual path, such as the Shadhaliyya, Qaadiriyya, etc. It was this expression which induced many scholars to conclude that Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq’s work was about the principles of the Shadhaliyya Path particularly. It was for this reason that Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye` entitled his abridgment of his work with the expression ‘tareeq’, to indicate that both texts were a crystallization of the fundamental principles of the sufic path in general and constituted the foundation of all the diverse spiritual paths.

Shyakh Muhammad Shareef

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