Back to
Sufi Islam


Doctrines To our knowledge the order's founder, Abu 'l Hasan 'Ali al-Shadhali (d.1258), composed no significant work and, therefore, it is difficult to know exactly what his beliefs were. Most of al-Shadhali's teachings are to be found in the writings of his disciples. These have the purpose of instilling in his followers a higher sense of morality. His ethical system is underpinned by five principles:
  1. fear of Allah in secret and open;
  2. adherence to the Prophet's Sunna in word and deed:
  3. contempt of humankind in prosperity and adversity;
  4. resignation to the will of God in things great and small;
  5. having recourse to God in joy and sorrow.
All this indicates that the beliefs of the order fall strictly within orthodox Islamic doctrine.

History Shadhaliyyah emerged in Tunis, North Africa in the thirteenth century, and is named after its "founder" al Shadhali. It would seem that it was not al-Shadhali's intention to establish a new order since he discouraged his followers from abandoning their normal trades and professions for the sake of spiritual pursuit. The same could be said of al-Shadhali's successor , 'Abu 'l-'Abbas al Mursi , since the latter does not appear to have erected any buildings for his followers. This absence of buildings during the order's early period makes it difficult to discern how the community developed at this stage of its history. The first group of adherents probably lived in Tunisia. From there the order moved to Cairo and then Syria.
In the course of the order's history a number of offshoots developed. In the fifteenth century a reformed Shadilih order called al-Jazuliyyah emerged in Morrocco. From this order two further branches came into existence: the 'Isawiyyah (famous for its sword-slashing ritual) and the Darqawiyyah of Morrocco. Today the community continues to flourish in Algeria, Tunisia and Morrocco.

Symbols The order has no distinctive symbol system.

Adherents There are no figures identifying the number of adherents belonging to the order.

Main Centre
 The order has no headquarters as such. It is spread throughout North Africa and other parts of the Islamic world.