Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, the founder of Khidmatul Khadim

Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba – the founder of the International Sufi School – is a Sufi Master and leader born in Senegal in 1853, during the French occupation. 

He was a Peacemaker devoted to the ideal of peace and non-violence, and his life is a testimony of his commitment to the revival of authentic Islam in accordance to the Prophetic Model.

In order to actualise the essence of his teachings and his ideal of peace and service, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba founded the spiritual path called Muridiyya – this is referred to as the path of ‘those who seek the Truth’. At the same time, he didn’t deny any of the other spiritual traditions that existed in those days – he was committed fully to an ideal of being in service to the whole of mankind, irrespective of differences.

In 1883 he laid the foundations of Khidmatul Khadim, known as the International Sufi School – a school for those who choose to be in service of the ‘servant’, for Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba defined himself as the ‘Servant of the Prophet’. And in 1887, he founded the city of Touba, envisioning a city based on the principles of peace and non-violence; a city which continues to grow and flourish spiritually today.

Living under French occupation, he saw the oppression of the Senegalese as a symptom of the spiritual diseases present among the people. The creation of the Muridiyya was a way to call back Muslims in Senegal to the authentic teachings of Islam, the religion of Peace, and his non-violent approach would eventually become the most effective tool in overcoming the effects of imperialism on the country and its people. 

Over the years, the Muridiyya continued to attract large numbers and began to emerge as a formidable resistance against the French occupiers. Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba remained steadfast in his non-violent approach and continued to call the people back to the path of God, rather than struggle along the path of trying to achieve ‘independence’. The French saw Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba as a threat to their rule over Senegal, and fearing a rebellion, they took him to trial in 1895, resulting in his exile to Gabon in Central Africa. They did this in the hope that this would quell the growth of his following and help the Senegalese to forget all about him.

In complete commitment to his ideal of non-violence, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba did not retaliate when sent into exile, where he survived the dangerous terrains of Gabon, only to return in 1902 and then be exiled again. The Sheikh’s dedicated following continued to grow in number, strength and commitment to his message and so, he was put under house arrest for a further fifteen years, amounting to a total of 33 years of his physical liberties being taken away. His dedication to his path never wavered however, and he retained his inner freedom despite it all. 

Significantly, in 1919 he was accepted by the French administration and given the award, ‘Knight of the Legion of Honor’ – the highest honour that they could award, to which the Sheikh kindly declined.

Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba devoted his entire life to awakening human consciousness, both among the oppressed and the oppressors, and he never made any distinction between the two. For him, service to the whole of humanity was the best expression of the love of God which he made visible through non-violent action to bring about change.

Sheikh Sidy Ahmed, the Wise One of Temerkaye

Sheikh Sidy Ahmed Ibn Ismouhou Deyman also known as “The Wise One of Temerkaye” was the second leader of the International Sufi School and was born in Mauritania. He was an illustrious leader of the Tuareg tribe of the Deyman, a well-educated and enlightened Mauritanian, and was well-versed in religious knowledge.

Sheikh Sidy Ahmed devoted his life to the service of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba of whom he became a humble disciple. Their meeting was magnetic, akin to the relationship of the two great spiritual leaders Rumi and Shams of Tabriz who show the power of the Master-Disciple relationship.

The fidelity and love of Sheikh Sidy for his Master was such that it was to him only that Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba gave the supreme trust – a few words noted on a sheet of paper which Sheikh Sidy had to hand over to someone from the country of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba. Sheikh Sidy had to wait for many years – even after his beloved Master had returned to his Lord – for a young man from Saint Louis in Senegal to come to him. His name was Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye. He became the one who would actualise the visionary words: “Fifty years after my death, I will go and address the white people in their own lands”.

Sheikh Sidy Ahmed was privileged to bring the universal message of service to humanity, with love and compassion for all. This was his khidma, or service, which was and still is vital at a time when the planet is subjected to so many ills, resulting in acute problems for our environment and survival.

Though Sheikh Sidy Ahmed grew up among prestigious people including ministers and intellectuals, he lived modestly with gratitude and satisfaction. He was also appreciated and loved for his charismatic virtues and his gifts of healing.

His life truly was a fulfilled one, inspired by the concept of Khidma of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and his service, devotion and dedication to the path of Love will continue through the International Sufi School and its ongoing work.

Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye, the expander of the message

Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye became the third successor of the International Sufi School and was born in the town of Saint Louis in Senegal in 1938. He belonged to the Sufi Order of Muridiyya and was the disciple of the great Deymani Mauritanian Saint, Sheikh Sidy Ahmed Ibn Ismouhou, who was a disciple of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba.

Having been passed the torch from Sheikh Sidy Ahmed, Sheikh Abdoulaye travelled the world sharing the message of truth, love and peace to people of all creeds. He was a member of the organisation ‘Islam and the West’ and a staunch believer of interfaith dialogue which he promoted for building bridges of tolerance and harmony among people.

He disseminated the seeds of Khidmatul Khadim, the school of Peace and Service, by creating daaras or centres of learning, which he brought to fruition all around the world. These daaras extended from the Indian Ocean in the countries of Reunion Island, Mauritius and Madagascar all the way to Europe in England and France, as well as  South Africa, the USA and India. In the daaras old and young alike are trained to discover their inner selves, to find harmony between the spiritual and the temporal, and to ultimately serve humanity as agents of peace.

Sheikh Abdoulaye also laid the foundation of the humanitarian organisation, Third World Family Humanitarian (TFH), which aims to restore human dignity throughout the world. Members of this organisation are active in giving solace to the underprivileged and implementing social projects for the wellbeing of needy people in different parts of the world, by empowering communities to play an active role in shaping their own futures.

All the actions of Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye were guided by Love for humanity and he endeavoured to sow love and compassion in the hearts of man. For him, true religion is the religion of Love and he believed that all men are flowers in the garden of God and must be nurtured with love and compassion.

He reminds us through his extraordinary life that each and every one of us has the potential to be a Peace Being and a peace-builder if only we choose to embark on the journey to our innermost being and thus, rediscover the treasure that lies within.

Sheikh Aly Ndaw, the embodiment of Love in Action

Sheikh Aly N’Daw was born in Senegal in 1951 and is the most recent leader of the International Sufi School. 

He was a student when he met his Spiritual Master, Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye, who initiated him to hidden sciences, metaphysics and Sufism. He gave up his profession as a lecturer of Mathematics to exile himself to Reunion Island on the orders of his Master, and propagated Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba’s message across the countries of the Indian Ocean. He then began travelling to different parts of the world to teach people to become liberated human beings in order to accomplish their mission on earth.

He was truly a spiritual man of action, who had a planetary vision for the whole of humanity but who was always rooted in local social and economic actions. Coming from the spiritual tradition of Khidmatul Khadim where work is equal to worship, he saw work as the Love of God made visible. He actually never thought of his actions as work but as selfless service to all and he was very fond of this prophetic saying:

Humanity is one family under the command of God. And the one most loved by God is the one who makes himself most useful to this family.”

His love for this human family saw him travel to many countries, from Europe to the USA; from the countries of Asia to those of the Indian Peninsula; from the Latin continent to many countries of his motherland, Africa. 

A firm believer in the principle of Peace, he laid down the foundation for a just economy to benefit the less fortunate of our society. This is the EcoPeace project – the first of his many projects that places the human being at the centre of all initiatives, rather than profit.

He also expressed his love for humanity through a number of written books including The Initiatory Way to Peace and Liberation Therapy which are step-by-step guides on how to achieve true inner transformation, in order to achieve peace and change in the outer world. 

The crux of his message is, “be peace to build peace and serve the whole of humanity” and he placed a huge importance on the choice of the human being “to BE, in order to DO, in order to HAVE” for the welfare of all. He urged his disciples to promote inter-faith dialogue and make the path of non-violence their creed.

In his last public talk, he said that he commits his life and his death to this first and last human revolution: to free man of his pride that makes him think of himself as superior to another man and to free human beings of their prejudices and their superstitions that make them go against the divine and natural flow of life. He said that the fight for this kind of freedom, to restore the honour and the dignity of the human being through justice and equality, is for him a divine duty and a prophetic responsibility.

He was 69 years old when he made the transition to the next stage of his journey, on 17th February 2021, and right up until his last moments he taught, through his radiant example, that to serve humankind is to serve the Lord Almighty.

Sheikh Ally Peerbocus: The Current Leader

Sheikh Ally Peerbocus is the current head of the International Sufi School, continuing on the work of Sheikh Aly N’Daw after his transition in February 2021.

Born on the island of Mauritius, Sheikh Ally Peerbocus joined the Sufi path of Muridiyya when he met Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye during one of his visits to the island. He subsequently joined the daara of Reunion Island, where he walked the experiential path of consciousness under the guidance of Sheikh Aly N’Daw. 

Sheikh Ally then headed to Paris where he pursued his studies in Information Technology as instructed by Sheikh Dieye. Fully dedicated to the service of his spiritual master, he has been actively engaged in interfaith dialogue and spreading the message of peace and service in Europe.

In 2005, during an international exhibition-conference in London, entitled ‘Non-violence, a choice’, Sheikh Aly N’Daw designated Sheikh Ally Peerbocus as the next leader of Khidmatul Khadim – the International Sufi School – to continue on with his vision after him. 

In 2006, Sheikh Ally Peerbocus moved to Canada where he is currently based to pursue his mission on this blessed path.

Today the companions of Sheikh Aly N’Daw, under the guidance of Sheikh Ally Peerbocus are carrying forward the mission entrusted to them by Sheikh Aly N’Daw.