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He is known as Maulana Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al-Yarwawi (RTA). He was nicknamed Abul-Abbas following the tradition of Sufi elite of designating it, to whoever is named Ahmad, if he attained the elevated rank of Spiritual Guide or Murshid. Moreover, the prestigious Sheikh (RTA) is also better known by his famous and unique nickname – Abulfathi, Abulfutuhi or Abulfutuhaati because of his role in spreading Islamic knowledge and virtues among the Ummah as well as Tariqa Ahmadiyya-al- Tijaniyya.

Birth, Hometown and Upbringing The Sheikh Abulfathi (RTA), was born in 1919 in one of the villages of Konduga local government area called Sandiya (formally known as Shanduwa), which is about 25km to the southeast of Maiduguri Metropolitan of Borno State, Nigeria. The esteemed Sheikh grew in his rural village (Sandiya), where he learnt horsemanship, animal rearing, and other rural life necessities.

Lineage Maulana Sheikh Abulfathi’s lineage from his father’s side reaches with the noble Alhassan Bin Ali Bin Abi Talib (RTA), the grandson of the Holy prophet (SAW), it’s as follows: ‘’Ahmad bin Aliyu bin Ahmad bin Aliyu bin Muhammad Mustapha bin Muhammad Mukhtar bin Adam bin Dawud bin Abdulganiyyu bin Zubair bin Abbas bin Hissain bin Sulaiman bin Ishaq (it’s here where his lineage meet with Maulana Sheikh Ahmad Tijjani RTA) bin Ali Zainnul Abideen bin Ahmad bin Muhammad Nafsu-Zakiyya bin Abdullahi Kamill bin Hassanul Musanna bin Hassannul Sibdi bin Aliyu bin Abi-Dalib (RTA)’’ Maulana’s known ancestors from his Mother’s side ends with Prince Zubair of Adamawa Emirite,its as follows ‘’ Sayada Aisha bint Alh. Muhammad bint Hauwa’u (popularly call Modibbo Hamra or Humairatu) bint Ameer Zubairu’’

Education Maulana Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi (RTA) studied the principles of reading and basic obligations of worship at the onset from his father before the age of five, afterward, he joined Qur’anic School in company of Malam Ali, a year after, his father passed onto the next life (in 1924). Thereafter, the Sheikh migrated to Maiduguri and continued with the Qur’anic study briefly under Sheikh Goni Garba; the Father of Sheikh Abba Goni. Thereafter he travelled to Gonori Garuwa village and successfully completed the memorisation of the holy Qur’an there. He then journeyed to Bunkure village in Kano State where he studied complete commentary of the holy Qur’an (Tafsir) in the hand of Malam Abubakar Dawaki. Also, at Bunkure he learnt basic principles of Arabic grammar and Islamic sciences at the hand of its scholars. In the same village alongside his studies the young Sheikh ventured into commerce. This, however, did not last long for he suddenly dreamt with the noble Prophet (SAW) instructing him to abandon commercial activities for the pursuit of further Islamic knowledge, an instruction which he obeyed without delay. After relinquishing trade and in line with carrying out the divine order, Maulana set out to many grand scholars of his time in different cities of northern Nigerian, such as Zaria, Kastina and Kano. In Zaria the Sheikh (RTA) learnt from glorified specialists such as the renowned scholar of Fiqh, Malam Na’iya, the celebrated Imam Ahmad Bin Ibrahim, and the noted Sheikh Ishaq Nama’aji. In Kano he studied Sharia jurisprudence and mysticism under the famous scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Atiku Sanka (RTA), whom he stayed with for a long time and benefited from both educationally and spiritually. Although the Sheikh was initiated into spiritual path (Tariqah) by Sheikh Malam Aala (RTA) in 1357 AH, it was Sheikh Atiku that elevated him from Murid or Salik to Muqaddam of Tariqa Tijaniyya. IJAZAH (Certificate) Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi had the opportunity to study from leading Ulama of his time. He obtained many certificates of authorization (IJazah) from them. For instance, his Ijazah in reading the holy Qur’an issued to him by Sheikh Adam Arze (RTA) of Damagaram village. He also obtained the certificate in Hadith from Sheikh Muhammad bin Alawi Al-Maliki (RTA). In addition to the ones he obtained in the fields of Qur’an and Hadith, Maulana Sheikh Abulfathi obtained several Ijaza in Tariqa Tijaniyya, among them is the SILSALAH ZAHBIYYA issued to him by the prestigious Sheikh Ibrahim Niass (RTA). Students and Establishment of Islamic Schools A lot of knowledge-seekers had benefited enormously from Maulana Sheikh Abulfathi, men and women, the young and old, in various fields of Islamic knowledge and Sufism. During his life time the Sheikh was holding a couple of direct teaching sessions for adults; morning session and evening session at his second parlour and Garden respectively. In normal days at both sessions Maulana (RTA) teaches several subjects from jurisprudence (Fiqh) to Divine Unity (Tawhid), Arabic Grammar (Nahwu & Saraf) to Hadith and Mustala’a Hadith, Quranic Commentary (Tafsir) to Ilmu Tasawuf, etc. During holy month of Ramadan, however, the morning sessions were dedicated to commentary (Tafsir) of the Holy Quran only. In order to facilitate education among children and the youths Maulana Sheikh Abulfathi (RTA) established the first school, in entire Borno State, that teaches both Islamic and western subjects simultaneously, under the name Madarasat-ul-Anwar-ul-Islam Fita’alim Wa Nizam at Hausari quarters, Maiduguri in the year 1956. Not long after this, the Sheikh moved to Lamisila district along with the school and later it was relocated to Abba Ganaram neighbourhood in 1970. In this same year the school was expanded and developed and its name changed to Ma’ahad Alhaji Ahmad Abulfathi. In 1991 the Sheikh (RTA), in his efforts to further expand educational provisions for the sons and daughters of Muslims, set up another College for Higher Islamic and Science Education named Thanawiyatu Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi. Subsequently after 3 years he established a Qur’anic Memorization School in his founded district and home; Madinatu. Finally, Maulana Sheikh Abulfathi (RTA) established a foundation – Ahmad Abulfathi Foundation, to oversee the administration of the schools and other activities such as preaching, humanitarian assistance, resolving of disputes etc. It’s worth mentioning here that Sheikh Abulfathi (R.T.A) was the first to enact the celebration of Maulud Nabiyi (SAW) in Borno state on the level of preaching and guidance. Before him Maulud was celebrated only by scholars and royal members of the Borno Emirate, where in the night of 11th Rabiu Auwal , they celebrate it by reciting Qasida Al-Burda and followed by large royal procession the following day.

Spiritual Tours Sheikh Abulfathi (RTA) made several spiritual voyages in his life for the Hajj, Umrah and visit to Ulama’ for seeking blessing (Madad). He commenced the travels since the mid-fifties of the twentieth century and he never ceased them until his demise, may Allah (SWT) bless him.

Trips of Preaching & Guidance Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi made several travels to different communities, villages, states and countries to guide the Muslim Ummah. In his early thirties the trips he made were mainly for spreading Tijaniyya Ibrahimiyyah or the Faydha in Sokoto, some part of Niger Republic, Chad and the Republic of Cameroon. At the last phase of his life, the Sheikh (RTA) also made many trips but this time in company of his sons and followers, implicitly guiding them on preaching and Islamic counselling. The Sheikh commenced the latter trips after he performed laser hajj (Umrah) and visited the mausoleum of Holy Prophet (SAW) twice. In first time, he was accompanied by 55 (adadul Mujib) followers and by 66 (adadul Lafz-ul-Jalalatu) followers in the second one. Maulana held preaching sessions at Madinatul Munauwarah, Mecca and Jeddah in both trips; he lectured devotees on etiquettes of Prophet’s mausoleum visit at the Abu Khalid Hotels in Madinah Munauwarah. In Mecca he delivered lectures in the house of the custodian of religious science in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Muhammad bin Al-Alawi Almaliki Alhassani (RTA), in the house of Sharif Hilal Hadramy, in Al-Ansar Hotel and in Jeddah he delivered at the house of Sayyed Habib Badali. Among the countries he visited on his guidance journey are republic of Chad, Cameroon and Sudan, he also visited a number of cities and villages in Nigeria. In Chad the Sheikh (RTA) had preached in Ndjamena, Ammat-Timan, Abashah, Bull and Bongura among others. The Sheikh passed through Cameroon on his way to Chad Republic, preached in villages of Banki, Dibili, Kusri, Gilfe and cities of Marwa and Garwa. He visited Sudan in 1432 AH as both murshid to the love one’s and guest to Islamic nation in general. The Nigerian towns and villages that the Sheikh (RTA) visited to spread Islamic virtues and Tariqa are as follows:

  • In 1419 AH with delegation he visited Gwandu, Jega, Gusau and Azare.
  • In 1419 AH also with his delegation he visited Njawoy,Mayo ndaga,Gembu, Ngoroje,Mai Samari,Ganye,Yola and Gudummiya.
  • In Safar 1421 AH he visited with his entourage the cities of Zaria, Jos and Bauchi
  • In Sha’abban 1421 AH he visited Gombe, Akko, Bajoga, Biriyel and Tom also with his entourage.
  • In 1422 AH he was received at Bidda by Emir Umar Sanda Ndiyako at outskirt of the Bidda city. He also visited Agaye, Suleja and Abuja.

These trips were all recorded in poetry and prose.

Work Sheikh Abulfathi (RTA) authored several religious books; some are printed, while others are only available in manuscript. Amongst the published ones are: 1. Ifadatul Kiram Fi’tarih Maulid Khairul Anam 2. Al’ajiwiba Ahmadiyya Limasa’il Duniya Wa Tariqa Ahmadiiyya Tijaniyya 3. Al’ajiwiba Ahmadiyya Fi Mas’ala Ibrahamiyya 4. Alqatamas Fi sharhi suratul Ikhlas 5. Tuhfatul Adfal Fi Nahwu 6. Takrib Qawa’id Irab Limubta’idina Minal Dulab 7. Jawahir Rasa’il 8. Hilasatu Jawhar Fi Qawa’id ilmi Ma’ani Wal Bayan 9. Rihilatu Ahmad Yarwa Litalbiyati Da’awatu Turk Sufiyah Fi Biladi Maghribiyah 10. Risalatu Faydha Rabaniya Fi Taqyid Shrud Tariqa Tijaniyya 11. Risatu Fi Sujud Sahwu 12. Rihilatu BaRriya Wa Bahriya Liziyarutu Sahibil Asar 13. Ziyadatu jawahir 14. Shaddu Rihal Fi Hajj Wa Umrah 15. Sharhu Jawharatu Kamal 16. Fathu Al’ali Kareem Fi Salati Ala Nabiyul Azeem 17. Kanzul Rashad Fi Wa’azu Wal Irshad 18. Mu’ayin Dalib Alragib Fi Ma’arifatu Mustala’a Hadith 19. Nata’ij Asfar Fi Salati Ala Sayedina Muhammad Nabiyi Mukhtar 20. Wamdatu Min Durar Sheikh Abulfathi

Demise Maulana Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi (RTA) passed onto the next world on Wednesday 21st Safar 1424 A.H equivalent to 23rd April 2003, in a car accident on Kano-Maiduguri road. He was returning from condolence visit of Late Sheikh Modibbo Baba Nafada and visit of Sheikh Abubakar Atiku’s grave. He was buried the following day (Thursday) at his founded neighbourhood, Madinatu. His funeral prayer, which was led by Sheikh Abubakar Elmiskin was attended by people from within and outside Nigeria.

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