Ahmad al-Badawi

Aḥmad al-Badawī (Arabic: أحمد البدوى IPA: [ˈæħmæd elˈbædæwi]), also known as Al-Sayyid al-Badawī (السيد البدوى, [esˈsæjjed-, elˈsæjjed-]), or as al-Badawī for short, or reverentially as Shaykh al-Badawī by all those Sunni Muslims who venerate saints,[3] was a 13th-century Moroccan Sunni Muslim mystic who became famous as the founder of the Badawiyyah order of Sufism. Originally hailing from Fes,[4] al-Badawi eventually settled for good in Tanta, Egypt in 1236, whence he developed a posthumous reputation as "Egypt's greatest saint."[3] As al-Badawi is perhaps "the most popular of Muslim saints in Egypt", his tomb has remained a "major site of visitation" for Muslims in the region.[5]

Aḥmad al-Badawī
Mosque of St. Ahmed El-Badawi.jpg
The Mosque of Aḥmad al-Badawī in Tanta, Egypt, which contains the tomb of the saint within its precincts
Mystic, Jurist
Born1200 CE (596 AH)
Fez, Morocco
Died1276 CE (674 AH)
Tanta, Egypt
Venerated inBy all those traditional Sunni Muslims who venerate saints
Major shrineMosque of Aḥmad al-Badawī, Tanta, Egypt
FeastA few days every October (mawlid)
Tradition or genre
Sunni Islam
(Jurisprudence: Shafi'i)[1][2]


According to several medieval chronicles, al-Badawi hailed from an Arab tribe of Syrian origin.[3] A Sunni Muslim by persuasion, al-Badawi entered the Rifa'iyya spiritual order (founded by the renowned Shafi'i mystic and jurist Ahmed al-Rifa'i [d. 1182]) in his early life,[3] being initiated into the order at the hands of a particular Iraqi teacher.[3] After a trip to Mecca, al-Badawi is said to have travelled to Iraq, "where his sainthood [is believed to have] clearly manifested itself" through the miracles he is said to have performed.[3] Eventually, al-Badawi went to Tanta, Egypt, where settled for good in 1236.[3] According to the various traditional biographies of the saint's life, al-Badawi gathered forty disciples around him during this period, who are collectively said to have "dwelt on the city's rooftop terraces,"[3] whence his spiritual order were informally named the "roof men" (aṣḥāb al-saṭḥ) in the vernacular.[3] Al-Badawi died in Tanta in 1276, being seventy-six years old.[3]

Spiritual lineageEdit

As with every other major Sufi order, the Badawiyya proposes an unbroken spiritual chain of transmitted knowledge going back to the Prophet Muhammad through one of his Companions, which in the Badawiyya's case is Ali (d. 661).[6] In this regard, Idries Shah quotes al-Badawi: "Sufi schools are like waves which break upon rocks: [they are] from the same sea, in different forms, for the same purpose.".[7][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ʿAbd al-Samad al-Miṣrī, al-Jawāhir al-saniyya fī l-karāmāt wa-l-nisba al-Aḥmadiyya, Cairo 1277/1860–1
  2. ^ Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, Al-Sayyid Aḥmad al-Badawî. Un grand saint de l'Islam égyptien, Cairo 1994
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mayeur-Jaouen, Catherine. "al-Badawī, al-Sayyid (search results)". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.
  4. ^ ʿAbd al-Wahhab b. Aḥmad al-Shaʿrānī, Lawāqih al-anwār fī tabaqāt al-akhyār and al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā (Beirut 1988), 1:183
  5. ^ Irving Hexham, The Concise Dictionary of Religion (Regend, 1993), p. 14
  6. ^ Bosworth, C.E. (1960–2005). "Rifāʿiyya". The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (12 vols.). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  7. ^ Galin, Müge (1997). Between East and West: Sufism in the Novels of Doris Lessing. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. pp. xix, 5–8, 21, 40–41, 101, 115. ISBN 0-7914-3383-8.
  8. ^ Taji-Farouki, Suha; Nafi, Basheer M. (eds.) (2004). Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century. London, UK/New York, NY: I.B.Tauris Publishers. p. 123. ISBN 1-85043-751-3. {{cite book}}: |author2= has generic name (help)

Further readingEdit

  • Al-Imām Nūruddīn Al-Halabī Al-Ahmadī, Sīrah Al-Sayyid Ahmad Al-Badawī, Published by Al-Maktabah Al-Azhariyyah Li Al-Turāth, Cairo.
  • Mayeur-Jaouen, Catherine, Al-Sayyid Ahmad Al-Badawi: Un Grand Saint De L'islam egyptien, Published by Institut francais d'archeologie orientale du Caire

External linksEdit