Tijaniyya Tariqah is one of the contemporary forms of the Sufi movement which came from the teachings Sidi Ahmad al Tijani in North Africa but now increasingly prevalent in West Africa, predominantly in Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Northern Nigeria. Its devotees are called Tijānī.
To be converted into a Tijani, one has to receive the Tijānī wird, or a string of holy sayings to be repeated twice daily, from a muqaddam, or a courier of the sect. There are only two actual distinctions in the ideology of Tijaniyya which distinguishes it from other forms of Islam. The primary difference is that a Tijānī is required to carry out the Tijaniyya wird every morning and evening. The wird is an invocation of forgiveness from Allah 100 times, reciting a prayer for the Prophet (pbuh) followed by a recitation of haylala 100 times. The second distinction is that a member of the Tijaniyya Tariqah performs a wazīfa at least once in the morning with fajr. Also Tijanis are not allowed to be part of any other Sufi group while they are still a member of the Tijaniyya Tariqah.
The founder of Tijaniyya Tariqah, Sīdī ‘Aḥmad al Tijānī, was an Algerian scholar, born in 1737. In 1772, he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca after studying hadith in Fez. After he returned, he proclaimed that the Prophet (pbuh) had tasked him to form a new Tariqah. Shortly after his proclamation, he publicized his novel Tariqah. Al Tijani considered himself superior to other Sufi leaders (awliyās) and Tijaniyya and its followers superior to all other sects and their respective followers which instigated his declaration that it is prohibited to be engaged in any other Tariqah once you become a Tijani. With this declaration, he went against the sufi custom which resulted in major disputes with other Sufis. Al Tijani went as far as to say that he was on the same rank as the Prophet and proclaimed that he was the only way God could reach his people and vice versa. He also gave himself the title of kutb which refers to the person that holds the highest rank in Sufi religion.
Another Dissimilarity the Tijaniyya Tariqah had with other Sufis was that it concentrated more on the sublime relationship with the Prophet whilst other Sufis mainly concerted on the spiritual relationship between the believer and Allah. The Tijānī also accorded a lot of significance to education and culture.
Tijaniyya and its views were widely spread although not extensively accepted mainly because its concepts were seen as radical by other Muslims. From the onset, Tijaniyya and its founder was censured and condemned. The condemnation escalated to the point that open discussions had to be held between Tijaniyya leaders and leaders of the French colonization. A protest was also organized against the Tijaniyya in Nigeria in the 1970s as a means to unite Muslim sects in order to secure political powers.
Despite the opposition, Tijaniyya is one of the most widely accepted Islamic sect in the world which is due to the fact that they allied with foreign colonists and accepted their assistance. The sect also became popular in North Africa, more so in West Africa.