Shaykh Hassan Cisse
Shaykh Hassan Cisse
Shaykh Hassan in Medina Baye, Senegal.
Born December 4, 1945
Died August 14, 2008
Shaykh Hassan Cisse (1945–2008), also written Cheikh Assane Cissé or Shaykh Hasan Cisse (also Sise or Seesay), was an Islamic scholar, Sufi shaykh and humanitarian activist who served as Imam of an international Muslim community in Medina Baye (or "Baay") in Kaolack, Senegal, West Africa.
He is the son of Sidi Ali Cisse and Fatima Zahra Niasse; and grandson of Ibrahim Niass, also spelled "Niasse" (died 1975), who was a Shaykh of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order and head of the largest Muslim community in twentieth-century West Africa and initiator of the largest branch of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order. Shaykh Hassan himself became one of the preeminent leaders of Tijaniyyah, leading millions of followers in more than 40 countries and unifying diverse cultures under the banner of Islam. Also a devoted humanitarian, he campaigned against disease (especially polio, malaria and HIV-AIDS), poverty and gender, and racial and religious discrimination throughout the African continent and beyond. He died on August 14, 2008 in Kaolack, Senegal.
Shaykh Hassan memorized the Qur’an at an early age and was educated in the traditional Islamic sciences (Qur’an, Prophetic narrations (hadith), Arabic grammar and literature, jurisprudence, theology, poetry, logic, rhetoric and Sufism) at the hands of his grandfather, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, and a number of other West African scholars (‘ulama), such as Ahmad Thiam and his own father, Sidi Ali Cisse, in Medina Baye. He also spent years studying in Mauritania and in Egypt, and he obtained a B.A. in Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies from Cairo’s Ain Shams University. More recently, Al-Azhar University recognized his credentials as an Islamic scholar of distinction with an honorary degree. During his early travels in Mauritania, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Ghana, he received more than 600 scholarly authorizations, or ijaza, from prominent Islamic scholars. But his most cherished education remained that at the hands of his grandfather, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse. It was Shaykh Ibrahim who sent him Britain to learn English. He received his M.A. in English from the University of London in 1974. Later, he began a PhD in Islamic Studies at Northwestern University (Chicago, U.S.A.), but was forced to suspend his studies when his father died in 1982, and he returned to assume the imamate in Medina Baye in Kaolack, Senegal. He was fluent in Arabic, French, Hausa, English, and Wolof, his native language.
In addition to serving as Imam of Medina Baye, Shaykh Hassan Cisse was the Founder and former Chairman of the African American Islamic Institute (AAII), a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the highest consultative status recognized by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The mission of AAII is to develop a capability for sustainable human and natural resource development that focuses on human rights, education, health care, food and water availability, alleviation of poverty and the promotion of peace. One of his important achievement has been the establishment of interfaith dialogue between the U.S. and West Africa. He was President of El-Hajj Ibrahim Niasse University in Dakar, Senegal; President of the Network of African Islamic Organizations for Population and Development; Special Advisor to the vice President of the Republic of Ghana on Islamic affairs; and Honorary Member of the Ulama League of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
As a distinguished Shaykh of the worldwide Tijaniyyah Sufi order, he has followers within and outside of sub-Saharan Africa in such diverse places as Libya, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Trinidad. He has been especially influential in spreading Islam and the Tijaniyyah in the United States, the Caribbean and South Africa. The Shaykh has a track record of working with diverse Islamic organizations (Organization of the Islamic Conference, Azhar University) governments (Senegal, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria), international aid organizations (WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International) for the promotion of his stated mission of the education, well-being and mutual understanding of humankind.“Investing in humanity is an investiture in God”.
- “Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse”, Introduction to Pearls from the Divine Flood: Selected Discourses from Shaykh al-Islam Ibrahim Niasse (African American Islamic Institute, 2006).
- “Khutbat al-Kitab”, Introduction to Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse: Kashif al-Ilbas. Cairo: Sharikat al-Dawliyya, 2001.
- Sincere Advice. New York: MIJ Publishing, 2000.
- Spirit of Good Morals of Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, Translation and Commentary. Detroit: African American Islamic Institute, 1998.
- Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse: Revivalist of the Sunnah. Tariqa Tijaniyya of New York, 1984.
- Flash Tourisme, “Hassan Ali Cisse: Le Cheikh Mystique de Kaolack”, No. 10, November 2007.
- Nouvel Horizon, “Cheikh Hassane Cisse, Imam de Medina Baye,” No. 522, 18 May 2006.
- Black Pilgrimage to Islam, Robert Dannin, Oxford University Press: US, 2005. p. 82, 251.
- African American Islam, Aminah Beverly McCloud, Routledge Press: 1994. p. 93.
- On the Path of the Prophet, Zachary Wright, African American Islamic Institute, 2003.
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