Sidi Abu Mohammed al-Majiri (d. 631/1216)
Few of Shaykh Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt's (d. 594/1179) disciples were doctrinal innovators. Instead, most were content to provide training for their students and to spread their master's brand of socially conscious mysticism from al-Andalus to Egypt. An exception was a Masmuda Shaykh from central Morocco named Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih ibn Yasranen al-Majiri. Although Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih's tomb in the Moroocan city of Asfi remains one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Dukkala and Ragraga regions, his historical significance lies in the creation of a yearly, Sufi-led pilgrimage caravan known as ar-Rakb as-Salihi. When his sons transformed this caravan into a full-fledged pilgrimage society, they created the most important institutional innovation in Moroccan Sufism since the Banu Amghar's establishment of the Sanhajiya Sufi order in Ribat Tit al-Fitr in the sixth/twelfth century.
Born into a prominent family of Banu Majir Berbers from the hill country of southern Dukkala, Abu Mohammed Salih spend nearly twenty years in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which he used as home based for his travels in search of knowledge. While in Alexandria, he was a disciple of Sidi Abderrazaq Jazouli (d. 592/1177), a prominent student of Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt and one of the first Moroccan Sufis to attract a following in Egypt. The most interesting aspect of Jazouli's teaching was his doctrine of the "first impression" (al-khatir al-awwal). In order to attain an advanced level of mysticism, the disciple would have to enjoy in advance a "good intention" (an-niyya al-hanasa) that arose in his heart and mind. Although information about Sidi Abderrazaq Jazouli's version of this method is missing from extant sources, its preparatory stages including as-sawm (fasting), khalwa, and dikhr, disciplines with figure prominently in Abu Madyan treatise, Bidayat al-murid.
Toward the end of his stay in Alexandria, Abu Mohammed Salih was stuck by the possibility of using the institution of the pilgrimage as a means of increasing his people's knowledge of Islam. Since the yearly Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca gathered together believers from all parts of the Muslim world, if offered a unique opportunity for Muslims to interact with and learn from one another. This situation was doubly advantageous. It not only brought peoples from the periphery of the Islamic world into contact with the Muslim heartland, but it also fostered the standardisation of interpretation that the ulama of the period so ardently desired.
Upon returning to Morocco through Bujaya where he met and took from Shaykh Sidi Abu Madyan at his house at the beginning of the seventh/thirteenth century, Abu Mohammed Salih founded a ribat on the coast of southern Dukkala at Asfi, an ancient fishing village that had recently began to be used as a port for the Sus. Shortly thereafter, he made this ribat the headquarters of multi-ethnically based Sufi order which he named Taifa al-Majiriya. Little explicit information survives about the doctrines of the Majiriya, except that its members confirmed to Abu Madyan's teaching on tawakkul and that its disciples were based on repentance and the remembrance of God. Abu Mohammed Salih's doctrines were apparently so similar to those of his Andalusian predecessor that his noted disciples (e.g. Sidi Malik Baqqiwi of El Hoceima) considered him the principle successor to Abu Madyan in Morocco, even to the extent of minimising the role of his actual master, Sidi Abderrazaq Jazouli.
Although his followers regarded Abu Mohammed Salih as a second Abu Madyan, officials of the Almohad state were concerned about the political significance of the Majiriya as a formal institution. Particularly worrisome was the order's use of symbolic signs of group of solidarity, such as shaving the head and wearing distinctive clothing. The Majiriya "uniform" included a number of articles that were adopted from eastern Sufism, such as the patched cloak (muraqqa'a) staff ('asa), pouch (rakwa) and soft felt cup (shashiya). An item that appears to have been introduced by Abu Mohammed Salih himself was a large rosary (tasbih) of a thousand beads that was carried around the neck when not in use.
While these symbols of institutionalisation aroused the suspicion of the Almohad authorities, they had no objection to Abu Mohammed Salih's creation of a Sufi-led pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. In organising and maintaining this yearly caravan, the Shaykh relied on a the wide spread North African network of Abu Madyan followers and their disciples, who supplied and protected Sufi pilgrims in regions beyond the range of governmental authority. All aspirants to the Majiriya were required to perform the Hajj before being initiated as fuqara. As the number of his disciples grew, Abu Mohammed Salih sent the more able of them to the towns and cities of the central and eastern Maghrib, where they joined Sufis from related groups and created support networks that provisioned and provided shelter for pilgrims travelling on their own. Aspirants to the Majiriya who did not have the money to finance their own pilgrimage were supplied with provisions by Ribat Asafi and travelled to the Mashriq in groups, spending the night in friendly Bedouin encampments or in hostels that had been established for this purpose.
According to Al-Minhaj al-wahid, a memorial to Abu Mohammed Salih written by the Shaykh's great grandson Sidi Ibrahim (ca. 696/1297), the fuqara of the Majiriya wasted no opportunity to publicise their order. Forming a procession upon reaching the outskirts of a settlement, they would chant, Ya Allah, ya Rahman, ya Rahim (Oh God, oh Beneficent, oh Merciful)!" until they arrived at their lodging for the night. Often, groups of local boys or young men would follow the pilgrims, attracted by the commotion that they caused or by their displays of Sufi fellowship. These hangers-on would be invited to eat supper with the fuqara, at which time they would be introduced to the teachings of Abu Mohammed Salih and Abu Madyan. Whenever possible, new recruits were encouraged to continue on to the Mashriq as pilgrims. Upon arriving in Alexandria, Cairo, or the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, the Majiriya pilgrims would stay at funduq al-Maghariba or buyut al-Maghariba (hostels or houses of the Moroccans), which were founded by Abu Mohammed Salih's son Sidi Ahmed (d. 660/1262) during his eleven journeys to the East. As chief administrator of the funduq al-Maghariba in Alexandria, Sidi Ahmed al-Majiri appointed his own son Sidi Ibrahim (the father of Abu Mohammed Salih's biographer) whose descendents managed the Egyptian terminus of the pilgrimage for several generations.
By the time of Abu Mohammed Salih's death in 631/1216, ar-Rakb as-Salihi had developed to such an extent that the Shaykhs sons decided to open it up to pilgrims who lived beyond the confines of Dukkala and Ragraga. This strategy appears to have being conceived by Abu Mohammed Salih's son and heir, Sidi Abdellah (d. 651/1235), who directed his brother Sidi Ahmed to set up centres for the assembly and instruction of pilgrims at Dades, Haskura, Sijilmasa, Aghmat, Hintara, and northern Dukkala. After succeeding to the leadership of the ribat in his own right, Sidi Ahmed ibn Abi Mohammed Salih decoupled ar-Rakb as-Salihi from the Majiriya Sufi order and created a separate organisation called at-Taifa al-Hujjajiya (the Pilgrims' Society). To oversee it, he appointed a separate network of officials, whose primary functions was to facilitate the flow of pilgrims back and forth from the Mashriq rather than to guide disciples in Sufism.
الفقيه الكنسوسي رحمه الله :وقد كنت
أخبرتك أن الشيخ أبا محمد صالح وجهه
شيخه أبو مدين الغوث إلى الشيخ مولانا
عبد القادر الجيلاني رضي الله عنهم
أجمعين. فذهب أبو محمد صالح إلى بغداد.
فأدخله الشيخ الجيلاني الخلوات. ثلاثة
أربعينات. وهي مائة وعشرون يوما. فلم
يظهر له شيء زائد في حاله. فرده إلى شيخه
أبي مدين. فلازمه مدة مديده حتى بلغ
الوقت. ففتح عليه. واعلم أننا إنما نذكر
له حكاية الصالحين تلذذا بذكرهم.
ولتطمئن القلوب الحية. ويزرع فيها الشوق
إلى فضل الله تعالى. وإن كان هذا الزمان
الذي نحن فيه لا يحتمل شيئا من تلك
المجاهدات. ولا يمكن السلوك في تلك
المهامة البعيدة. فقد سدت جميع تلك
الأبواب كما قال الشيخ زروق وغيره.
By the time that Sidi Ahmed al-Majiri passed away in 660/1262, the Majiriya Sufi order and the Hujjajiya pilgrimage society had become so fully integrated into the social life of rural central Morocco that Ribat Asafi became the defacto capital of this region. This prominence caused members of the Banu Abi Mohammed Salih family to suffer imprisonment or destitution at the hands of the Almohad rulers of Marrakech, who feared them as rivals from the allegiance of the Masmuda Berbers who made up the majority of the Hujjajiya pilgrims. However, the Marinid dynasty reaffirmed the status of this family after their conquest of Marrakech in 667/1286. in this year Sultan Abu Yusuf al-Marini appointed Aissa (d. 698/1299), the last and youngest of Abu Mohammed Salih's sons as governor of Asafi and its surrounding region. Another interesting figure of the Majiriya is Sidi Abul Qasim Ibrahim ibn al-Hussein al-Majiri, author of Uns al-wahda fi sharh al-Burda (The Intimacy of union in the exegesis of al-Burda), a commentary of Sharafuddin al-Busairi's (697/1298) panegyric poem. As for the Majiriya itself, the recognition of its preeminence by the Banu Amghar saints of Ribat Tit al-Fitr ensured that it would remain the most influential ribat-based organisation in central Morocco.