(His tomb lies in Majlis al-Umma Street in Sayyida Zaynab district)
He is a descendent of the Prophet’s pure household.
He was born in Monday, 27 Rajab 1288 AH in Zaghloul Mosque in the town of Rashid. His mother, Amina, was with her husband, Abdullah, in the mosque where she went into labor and subsequently gave birth to him. On account of this, they named him Mohammed after the Prophet. Mohammed Madi Abu al-‘Aza`im’s birth was similar to that of his forefather, Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance) who was born in the noble Ka’ba in the Holy Mosque where his mother, Fatima Bint Asad, went into labor.
Allah honored Imam Abu al-‘Aza`im with the company of men of knowledge, wisdom, and hal (an intermittent spiritual state of mind that comes to the Sufi during his journey towards Allah; it is considered a spiritual gift from Allah). He received from them sanad, spiritual transmission—the paths of most of the Sufi orders at the hands of a continuous chain of teachers. He was greatly influenced by Hasanein al-Husafi who gave him ijaza (license to teach) the Shadhiliya order. This was after he finished his studies at al-Azhar where he learnt Maliki fiqh (jurisprudence), ‘aqida (tenets of faith) based on the teachings of Ahl ul-sunna, akhlaq (ethical conduct) according to the way of Imam al-Ghazali, and tafsir (Qur`anis exegesis), riwaya wa diraya of hadith science (narration and transmission). He later studied maqamat al-yaqin (stations of certainty), commentary on wird (daily practice) and adhkar (invocations) transmitted from Sufi imams under the sheikh of the order.
Mohammed Madi Abu al-‘Aza`im started out as a teacher and moved up the ladder to become a professor of Islamic law in Khartoum University.
Imam Mohammed Abu al-‘Aza`im explains the science of Sufism in its modern meaning as follows:
“Whosoever learns a science, learns a portion of religious knowledge along with other worldly sciences such as human and veterinary medicine, science of adjudication and fatwa (issuing religious edicts) for governance, science of language and composition for speech writing, science of guarding borders, construction of forts, the science of appraisal and state affairs, and military science for military leadership.
A scholar in any of these disciplines is called a scholar of a beneficial science. It is incumbent that these scholars associate with worshippers so that they may teach them these beneficial sciences as it is incumbent upon worshippers to associate with scholars so as to transmit to them whatever is necessary. In this manner, believers will become as one body. The whole body benefits from each individual organ while the body in its entirety benefits each organ. In this manner, believers will have mercy towards each other and consequently Allah will grant them victory over disbelievers and humility to their believing brothers. Consequently, they will be tantamount to a tight structure, each strengthening the other.”
Instead of using the term ‘al-‘Aref Billah”, Mohammed Madi Abu al-‘Aza`im uses the term ‘al-‘Alim Billah’ the characteristics of which are five: khishya (reverence), al-khushu’ (devoutness), tawadu’ (humility), husn al-khuluq (good manners), and zuhd (asceticism). These qualities characterized the sheikh’s dealings with his disciples. He also spoke of ethical conduct and tawhid (monotheism). He pursued the teaching profession and devoted the rest of his time in teaching the masses until he gained a group of aides for his Mawajid which he composed in verse form comprising raqa`iq (subtleties ) and haqa`iq (truths) on several subjects and occasions.
Mohammed Madi Abu al-‘Aza`im disseminated his knowledge to various parts of Egypt and Sudan. The science of tassawuf (Sufism), which he expounded in detail, was his favorite. He defined the science as the discipline through which the good and evil conditions of the self are known and the manner of purifying it from its flaws and defects of its base characteristics, and moral filth which Islamic law teaches one to avoid. According to him, tassawuf also teaches us how to attain commendable qualities required by Islamic law, the manner of suluk (walking the spiritual path) towards God and manifesting glimpses, thoughts, suspicions, insinuations, knowledge, intentions, objectives, wills, beliefs, internal dialogue (with the self) and related rulings.
He was also distinguished in ulum al-yaqin (sciences of certainty) which elevates the faith of the seeker. These are moral sciences that deal with repentance, patience, gratitude, hope, fear, asceticism, reliance on Allah, and affection. Whoever becomes acquainted with Allah through love, Allah will love him and he will consequently attain Divine propinquity. Allah will teach him and make him steadfast; this is the ultimate goal of the [Sufi] path and the objective of the disciple and seeker alike.
Imam Abu al-‘Aza`im enriched the Islamic library with many of his works and psychological sciences.
He died on 27 Rajab in 1306 AH.