IMAM CHEIKH TIDIANE ALI CISSE
 
Imam Cheikh Tidiane b. Ali Cisse holds the Imamate of the Grand Mosque in Medina-Baye, Senegal.  As Imam of the spiritual heart of the followers of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass(RA), Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse represents some one hundred million Muslims around the world.  He succeeds to the position after a lifetime of personal instruction and companionship with some of the twentieth century’s most eminent scholars of the Tariqa Tijaniyya:  Shaykh Ibrahim Niass (RA) (d.1975), Shaykh Sayyid ‘Ali Cisse (RA) (d.1982) and Shaykh Hassan b. Ali Cisse (d.2008).  
 
The installation of Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse at the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Medina-Baye was unanimously agreed upon by the leading representatives of the legacy of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass (RA).  His August 15, 2008 inauguration was attended by by delegations from Nigeria, Mauritania, Ghana  and America, and by Shaykh Ibrahim’s (RA) most eminent sons:  Shaykh Ahmed Dame Ibrahim Niass (current Khalifa of Shaykh Ibrahim’s (RA) family,, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Niass, Shaykh Muhammad Ma’mum Niass and Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin Niass (widely known as Baba Lamine).  Other significant individuals who confirmed his appointment included Professor Ibrahim Diop (former traveling companion and secretary of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass (RA)
 
Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse is a scholar, a consummate Gnostic, a spiritual trainer endowed with startling insight into the aspirant’s condition, a committed humanitarian and a Sufi ascetic whose heart never leaves the presence of the Real, but whose existence in the world follows the movement of time.  He is the reviver of the Muhammadan Sunnah, the khalifa of Shaykh Ahmad Tijani al-Hasani, the bearer of the Tijani Flood in this generation and the paradigmatic servant of Allah (“Abd-Allah) of the time.  May Allah be pleased with him and be pleased with us on account of him.
 
Imam Cheikh Tidiane (b. 1955) is the second son of Shaykh Ibrahim Niass’ (RA) most beloved student, Shaykh Sayyid  ‘Ali Cisse (RA), and his first daughter, Seyyida Fatima Zahra Niass.  After memorizing Qur’an in Medina-Baye, Imam Cheikh Tidiane himself became a Qur’an teacher in Medina-Baye while continuing his Islamic studies.  In his late teens, he devotedhimself full-time to personal instruction (majalis al-ilm), first under his father, Shaykh Seyyid ‘Ali (1971-1972), and then under his grandfather, Shaykh Ibrahim (1973).  He was the last student to be personally instructed by Shaykh Ibrahim Niass (RA) in the classical texts, fosusing mainly on Arabic literature and poetry.  He would later receive the highest of licenses from his father, Shaykh Seyyid ‘Ali Cisse (RA), who told him, “Whatever Shaykh Ibrahim gave me, I am giving you.”
 
After having completed his early education in Senegal, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse traveled to Egypt where he lived with Shaykh Hassan Cisse (RA) during
his elder brother’s last year of study in Cairo.  Like his brother, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse excelled in his formal studies there., which he attributes to the rigor of the informal instruction he received in Senegal.  He graduated first in his class in the Azhar Preparatory School, receiving his diploma in Arabic Language in 1974.  He received his Baccalaureate in 1977 in Arabic Language, graduating fourth in his class.  By 1981, he had distinguished himself at the University of Azhar with a degree in faculty of Usual al-Din (theology), department of Hadith (Prophetic Traditions).
 
Upon completion of his studies in Egypt, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Middle East and America, attending conferences, participating in religious debates and calling people to Islam. He devoted himself to editing and publishing several important works, including Shaykh Ibrahim Niass’ (RA) Kashf al-Ilbas and a collection of Shaykh Ibrahim’s writings, which e named Sa’adat al-Anam.  He also aided the publication of a Shaykh Ibrahim’s (RA) supplications, kanz al-Mansun.  One Ashar scholar reportedly told Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse that his work identifying hadith citations in the 2001 publication of Kashif al-Ilbas would have been enough to complete a doctorate at Azhar University.  In the introduction to Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse’s reprinting of the Kashif, Shaykh Hassan Cisse(RA) wrote, “I thank my dear brother, the master, the Shaykh, Cheikh Tidiane ‘Ali Cisse, who spent of his efforts for the success of this pious work and appreciated endeavor…..”
 
The high scholarship of Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse  was  recognized by the government of the Republic of Senegal in 2001, when it appointed him Senegal’s General Commissioner for the Hajj.  In 2006, he was again recognized by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and appointed Special Missions Ambassador, a position he continues to hold.  In this capacity, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse is responsible for diverse missions to the United States, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African nations.  Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse is fluent in Arabic, French, English, Hausa and Wolof.  In 1993, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse received the Republic of Senegal’s distinguished award,  the Orde de Merite.  The high esteem in which he is held by his country was revealed in 2008 by the personal visit of President Abdoulaye Wade to the Imam’s home in Medina-Baye.
 
Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse was the closest confidant and traveling companion of his brother, Shaykh Hassan Cisse.(RA)  Many of the illustrious representatives at his inauguration as Imam recalled how whomever was speaking with Shaykh Hassan Cisse , even if a government official, would have to leave when Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse entered the room and had a matter to discuss.  Many of the miraculous occurrences during Shaykh Hassan Cisse’s (RA) were shared by Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse.  For example, when a great scholar in Medina (Saudi Arabia) gave Shaykh Hassan (RA) an ijaza to teach select hadith by command of the Prophet (SAW) in a visionary encounter, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse received the same ijaza from him. The extent of his intimacy with Shaykh Hassan (RA) is confirmed by Shaykh Hassan’s calling his younger brother to his bedside to be the last person with him before he returned to Allah.
 
On August 15, 2008, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse assumed the presidency of the African American Islamic Institute (AAII),  the international humanitarian, non-governmental organization founded by Shaykh Hassan Cisse (RA) in 1988. Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse brings a distinguished background of religious leadership, international business and diplomacy to the presidency of AAII (www.aaii.info).  As AAII’s President, Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse shares the vision of its Founder and is committed to AAII’s mission and priorities.  Under his able leadership, AAII will strengthen its strategic partnerships and pursue new ones to increase its capacity to develop innovative initiatives to achieve universal education, access to health care, empowerment of women, protection of children, alleviation of hunger and poverty and promotion of peace.   Imam Cheikh Tidiane Cisse’s education, professional background, Islamic knowledge and character have prepared him to provide the vision and leadership that will permit AAII to fulfill its commitment of “Islamic Knowledge Benefiting Humanity” in the 21st century.
 
Zachary Wright, Primary Author
Hajja Ashaki Taha-Cisse, Secondary Author and Editor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Inauguration of the Grand Mosque, Medina-Baye, Senegal
Inauguration of the Grand Mosque
and Mawlid 1431, Medina-Kaolack, Senegal