Muhammad al-Ghali was one of the elite companions of Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad through Sayyidina Hassan. According to Shaykh Ahmad Sukayrij, Sidi al-Ghali was one of ten companions of Shaykh Tijani whom Allah blessed with the grand illumination (fath al-akbar) at the hand of the Prophet Muhammad. Shaykh Tijani was very fond of Sidi al-Ghali, and it was him whom he called to pronounce the famous words, “These two feet of mine are on the shoulders of every saint of Allah.” Shaykh Tijani also let it be known that it would be necessary for Muhammad al-Ghali to perform the funeral prayer over him when he passed. At the time of Shaykh Tijani’s passing, however, Muhammad al-Ghali was traveling. Upon burial, the children of the Shaykh dug up the body of their father to take it back to Algeria. When the disciples in Fes prevailed upon the noble descendants of the Shaykh to let the blessed body be reburied in the Zawiya in Fes, Muhammad al-Ghali was there to perform the final funerary rites – thus fulfilling the prediction of Shaykh Tijani.
Muhammad al-Ghali was endowed with immense spiritual zeal and concentration. He used to spend hours in his prayers and remembrances; and it is reported he used to glorify Allah twenty-seven times in a single prostration. He once was so deep in concentration during his litany that he failed to notice his own daughter fall off the roof of his house in front of him. Once, one of his disciples happened to visit him after he had just finished his remembrances. The disciple noticed Sidi al-Ghali’s body was strangely hot, as if he was in the midst of a steam bath. When he touched his hand, the disciple felt his hand burned as if he were touching hot coals. Shaykh Sukayrij explained, “Such a phenomenon is not uncommon among the people of Truth, considering what they are authorized to recite. Some may burn their tongue uttering the Magnificent Name.”
Among his visionary encounters was a meeting with the Prophet Muhammad, who told him, “You are the son of the beloved one of Allah, and you have taken the spiritual path of the beloved one of Allah.” He also met Shaykh Ahmad Tijani after his passing and asked him, “O Sidi! You went away and left us alone!” The Shaykh replied, “I am not distant from you and I did not leave you; I have only moved from an earthly dwelling place to an abode of light.”
After his training with Shaykh Tijani, Sidi al-Ghali went to the Hijaz to propagate the Tariqa. There he met al-Hajj Umar al-Futi, trained him and granted him license to spread the Tariqa Tijaniyya in West Africa. Al-Hajj Umar’s Kitab al-Rimah describes Muhammad al-Ghali as being in frequent visionary contact with the Prophet and Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and traveling often between Mecca and Medina.
Sidi al-Ghali died in 1244 (1829) in Mecca, and was buried in the same graveyard as Sayyida Khadija, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad.
Ahmad Sukayrij, Kashf al-Hijab; Umar al-Futi, Kitab al-Rimah.