I have compiled the material of this biography from a variety of sources. I have taken the thought and opinions of our Shaikh directly from him. I have confined my sources in this case to his general lectures that I was fortunate enough to attend or obtain video or audio recordings of; his speeches and conversations in private sessions that he was generous enough to give me the opportunity to attend; and his published writings. When quoting from his lectures, I have converted the wording from the Iraqi dialect to standard Arabic and edited them, while carefully preserving the original meaning without any change.
I have taken the details of our Shaikh’s biography, as well as a history of the former Kasnazānī Shaikhs, from a number of his relatives and followers who have accompanied him in the various stages of his life, before and after becoming the Shaikh of Ṭarīqa, as well as from his lectures, conversations, and writings. Concerning his relatives, my main sources were Shaikh Sāmān Maʿrūf, who is married to one of our Shaikh’s sisters and whose sister is married to our Shaikh; Shaikh ʿAlī Ḥussein, his nephew; Shaikh Ghāndī, his second eldest son; and Shaikh Ridhā Karīm, his maternal cousin and brother-in-law, being married to one of our Shaikh’s sisters.
I have also taken information from several dervishes who accompanied Shaikh Muḥammad al-Muḥammad closely and have known him since his childhood. They were dervishes from the time his father, Shaikh ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Kasnazān, was the Master of Ṭarīqa. I would like to specifically name caliph Yāsīn Ṣūfī ʿAbd Allah. I would also like to acknowledge the help of caliph ʿImād ʿAbd al-Ṣamad in facilitating the collection of some of the material used in the book.
In the course of compiling material for this book, I was honoured to meet dervishes from the time of the Master of Ṭarīqa before Shaikh ʿAbd al-Karīm, his brother Shaikh Ḥusayn al-Kasnazān. Old age and poor health did not stop them from providing me with the historical information they have, being so keen to help document the lives of our noble Shaikhs. One manifestation of their love for our Shaikhs and commitment to Ṭarīqa is that they did not ask me to visit them at their homes, to spare themselves the effort, which is what I had intended. Instead, they came to meet me in the main Kasnazānī takya in the city of Sulaymāniyya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, even though some of them could not move without help. I would like to particularly mention the eldest of them, Hajj Sharīf, who is over a hundred years old. He said that in the days preceding our meeting he could not even turn in his bed without help, yet his desire to recount the history of the Shaikhs gave him on the day the strength to come to the takya with the help of two of his relatives. I would also like to mention caliph Karīm Mūryās who, despite his weak body and need for others to help him walk, gave me plenty of his time to recount some of the wonders and history of the Shaikhs.
The plan for the book, the methodology of research, and the selection and checking of information required indexing the large amount of material that I compiled from various sources. My brother Faiz conducted this task, which took a huge amount of effort and time. To make referring to our Shaikh’s audio lectures and quoting them easier, it was necessary to transcribe them. My brothers Faiz and Duraid did that. Indexing and transcription made writing this biography significantly easier and faster.
To ensure the accuracy of the information and to make the book as good it can be, a number of my valued sources have reviewed drafts of the whole book or parts of it. The book has also benefited from the immensely valuable corrections and comments of my wife, Dr Shetha Al-Dargazelli, on more than one draft. Finally, several dervishes, in particular staff of the takya in Amman and the takya in Sulaymāniyya, provided me with most of the photos in the book.
Many other caliphs and dervishes helped one way or another in getting this book completed. May Allah reward all those who took part in this project. I would like to express all gratitude and appreciation. Without them, this book would not have come out in its current form.
I have carefully examined the historical details that I did not get directly from our Shaikh. I was instructed by our Shaikh to be particularly careful when examining accounts of supernatural feats of the Shaikhs of Ṭarīqa, to identify those that never happened and any inaccuracies in those that did take place. He asked me to check with him or with Shaikh Sāmān if need be. Many events are tens of years old, and human memory often forgets some details over time or even changes them inadvertently. Additionally, the narrators of some events did not witness them, but they conveyed what they had heard. I compiled and scrutinised these narratives with care, something that I was helped with by the multiplicity of sources. I did not include narratives that I could not feel confident of their authenticity and accuracy. At times, I could not verify certain details of a particular event, so I documented the details that I determined to be accurate and ignored the rest.