The fate of Moroccan Sufism has since the Idrissid era, been closely connected to remarkable individuals whose achievements were praised in hagiographical literature. The authority of the Idrissids is linked to a specifically Mohammedian tradition of leadership in accounts detailing the imamate of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar b. Mawlana Idriss al-Akbar (may Allah be satisfied with both of them). Moulay Idriss al-Azhar ("The Most Blossomed") was born on Monday the 13th of Rajab or the third 175/791 or 177/792. It was said that he was born with the declaration of Shahada, i.e. ‘There is no God but Allah (La-ilaha illa-Allah) and the saying of al-Hawqala, i.e. ‘There is no Strength or Might except through God’ (La-hawl-a wa-la quwwata-illa-bi-Allah) written between his shoulder blades. His father's servant al-Mawla Raachid took him under his wing. He memorized the Quran by the age of eight. Raachid then taught him the sciences of Hadith, Islamic law, language, poetry, literature, horse riding, archery and other forms of the art of war. At the age of 11, he was ready to take up the responsibility of Imamate. The Berbers pledged al-bay’ah to him on Friday 7th Rabee’ al-Awwal 188/804-5. The Imam addressed the people with a powerful speech calling them to God and His obedience. The exclusivity of Ahl al-Bayt’s claim to the Caliphate continued in the admonition of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar when he pledged their allegiance to his Imamate: "Do not submit to anyone other than ourselves, for the establishment of God's truth (imamat al-Haqq) that you seek is only to found in us."
Mawlana Idriss ibn Abdellah, Zerhoune
This is not to say that Moulay Idriss al-Akbar did not believe that his status as a descendent of the Prophet was important to his claim of political legitimacy. However, Moulay Idriss al-Azhar is more closely associated in the hagiographical and historical record with the innate and personal aspects of the Mohammedian Example (al-qudwa al-‘hasana). The theme of an inherited Mohammedian baraka (blessing), which was to become an important aspect of Moroccan Sufism, appears prominently in the works of Idrissid hagiography, such Nadhm ad-dur wal iqan by the Algerian chronicler Abu Abdellah Tanasi (d. 899/1484). In the following passage from this work, a companion of Moulay Idriss II named Dawud ibn al-Qacem is informed about the qualities which led his master to victory over the Kharajistes (al-Khawarij):
I was amazed by what I saw of Moulay Idriss' bravery, strength, and firmness of resolve. Then he turned toward me and said, "O Dawud, why is it that I see you staring at me so much?" I said, "O Imam, I am amazed at the qualities in you that I have seen in no one else." "What are they?" he asked. "Your goodness, your beauty, the firmness of your intellect, the openness of your demeanour, and your determination in fighting the enemy," I answered. Then he said, "O Dawud, what you have seen in what we have inherited from the baraka of our ancestor the Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him and his family) and from his prayers for us and blessings upon us. This [baraka] has passed on as a legacy to our father, the Imam Ali (may God honour his face).
Upon the death of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar, he left twelve sons, who were sent throughout Morocco by their grandmother Kanza to proliferate the Idrissi-Hassanid sharifism. One Idrissite imam, however, became through his descendents an important figure in the development of the sharifian paradigm of sainthood. Moulay Ali 'Haydara ibn Mohammed, a grandson of Moulay Idriss II, received the bay’ah as Imam and ruler of Fez in 221/836. When he failed to designate his infant son Moulay Ahmed Mizwar as his successor before his own death in 234/849, the Idrissite Imamate passed into the hands of his cousins, the descendents of Moulay Omar b. Moulay Idriss II, who lived in the regions of Habt and Ghumara in northern Morocco. After being passed over for the Imamate, Moulay Ahmed Mizwar became disenchanted with politics and devoted himself to a life of worship and asceticism. Sometime before the turn of the tenth century, or just before the Idrissite state became a bone of connection between the Fatimids of Ifriqiya and the Umayyads of Spain, he moved from Fez to northern Morocco and established himself at Hajar an-Nasr (Escarpment of the Eagle), a fortes situated in the Habt region among the Sanhaja Berber tribes of Ahl Sarif, Banu Yusuf, and Sumata.
Mawlana Idriss b. Idriss - Fez
As his nickname, Mizwar (Berber. lion or leader) implies, this great grandson of Moulay Idriss II was adopted as a spiritual leader by the tribes who lived near his mountaintop stronghold. According to local tradition, when the chiefs of these tribes asked Moulay Ahmed Mizwar to delegate a member of his family to join them and favour them with the baraka of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him and his family) he chose his son Abdessalam (known locally as "Sidi Sellam"). As a means of honouring the young Sharif, who had recently married, the tribesman renamed themselves "Banu Arus" (Sons of the Bridegroom), the appellation by which they are known today. For the next seven generations, the descendents of Sidi Sellam established themselves among the Berbers of Banu Arus while maintaining a reputation for holiness that was based almost exclusively on their Hassanid descent. Around the year 530/1135, a child named Slimane, but later named "Mashish" (Ber. Little Cat"), was born to a Sharif of the Bani Arus known as Abu Bakr ibn Ali. Upon reaching maturity, Slimane Mashish withdrew from the world as an ascetic and built a hermitage that still stands among the ruins of his natal village of Aghyul. In either 559/1146 or 563/1148, he sired a son named Moulay Abdessalam (d. 622/1207), who would become the first patron saint of Moroccan Sufism. His sole student, the Moroccan sharif, al-Qutb Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili (d. 656/1241) was gifted to present abroad the first version of Moroccan Sufism under the banner of Shadhiliya Sufi order.
Among Moulay Idriss’ offspring who had reached high esteem and veneration in Moroccan Sufism the names of:
From Sidna Mohammad b. Moulay Idriss (d. 221/797 in Fez; successor of Moulay Idriss II, the head of 31 sharifian prominent families): Moulay Abdessalam ibn Mashish (d. 622/1207), Sidi Abd an-Nur Amrani (b. 685/1270), Sidi Ali ibn Maymun al-Fasi (d. 917/1502), Moulay Abdellah Sharif Yalmahi Wazzani (d. 1089/1674), Sidi Abderrahman Ben Raysoun (d. 950/1535), Sidi Mohammed ibn Abdewahid Kattani (d. 1289/1874), Sidi Qacem ibn Rahmun (d. 1249/1834), Sidi Qaddur Alami (d. 1265/1850), Sidi Ali ibn Ahmed Shaqur Alami (d. before 1345/1930), Sidi Ali ben Hamdush Alami (d. 1131/1716), Sidi Ahmed Alami Rahouni ("Tijani"; d. 1373/1958), Sidi Mohammed al-Harraq (d. 1261/1846), Sidi Mohammad Ahmed Rkibi Wali, Sidi Abderrahman Mshashti, Sidi Maymun Mahaji, Sidi Jaafar Chibani, Sidi Abu Siba'a ibn Hariz Maashi, Sidi Yahya Azami, Sidi Lamfadal Jarmouni, Sidi Abdellqadir Harakat Kandri, Sidi Mohammed ibn Maluk Kandari (d. 1316/1901), Moulay Abdellah b. Idriss Bedrawi (“Tijani”, d. 1310/1895), Sidi Ahmed Rguibi al-Sahrawi (d. 1074/1665 in Wadi al-Saqiya al-Hamra), Sidi Ahmed al-'Arusi (d. 1002/1587 in Wadi al-Saqiya al-Hamra);
From Sidna al-Qacem b. Moulay Idriss (d. in Tahdart, close to Atlantic Asila; the head of the of 11 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Ali al-Jamal Amrani (d. 1193/1778), Sidi Ahmed Shabih Jouti, Sidi Aissa Wakili Makhoukhi, Sidi Mohammed Wakili al-Karmati (d. 1347/1932), Sidi Abdelhafidh Amrani Jouti, Sidi Abul Hassan Ali Manouni, Sidi Mhammad Janati, Sidi Mohammed Ben al-Khayyat Ruq’i (d. 1115/1700), Sidi Ibrahim Ben al-Khayyat (d. 1241/1826);
From Sidna Aissa b. Moulay Idriss (d. in Tadla; the head of 10 sharifian prominent families): Moulay Abdellaziz ibn Masoud Debbarh (d. 1132/1717), Sidi Mohammed ibn Abdelhafid Debbarh (d. 1291/1876), Sidi Abdelwahid ibn Allal Debbarh (d. 1271/1856), Sidi Omar ibn Mohamed Debbarh (“Tijani”; d. after 1230/1815), Sidi Mohammed Bu-Tarbush Debbarh (d. 1285/1870), Sidi Abdellaziz ibn Ahmed Debbarh (“Hazz”, d. 1321/1906), Sidi Mohammed ibn Masoud Debbarh (d. 1340/1925), Sidi Abdulmajid Manali Zbadi, Sidi Mohammed Bouzidi (d. 1229/1814 in Teouan), Sidi Mohammed Bouzidi (d. 1328/1913 in Tilimsan), Sidi Omar Amrawi Sanwi, Sidi Sharif Yacoubi;
From Sidna Omar b. Moulay Idriss (the head of 12 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili (d. 656/1241), and Sidi Mohammad al-‘Hadri, Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed Ghiyati (d. 1318/1903);
From Sidna Ahmed b. Moulay Idriss (the head of 8 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Ahmed b. Yusuf Genoun, Sidi Mhammed b. Mohammed Genoun (d. 1326/1911), Sidi Mohammed ibn Mansur Sefyani (d. after 914/1499), Sidi Mohammed al-Hadi ben Aissa Sefyani (d. 933/1518), Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi (d. 1239/1824), Sidi Ahmed ibn Ajiba (d. 1224/1809), Sidi Mhammed Kardoudi, Sidi al-Hassan ibn Rahou Laghnimi;
From Sidna Abdullah b. Moulay Idriss (the father of 11 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Moulay Ismail Amghar, Sidi Abdullah ibn Mansour al-‘Huti, Sidi Mohammed al-Hadi ben Aissa al-Siba'i al-Sufyani (d. 933/1518), Sidi Mohammad Dawa' al-Sbai, Sidi al-Makki ibn Abdellah al-Sbai (d. 1372/1953), Sidi Mohammed ibn al-Mishri Sbai ("Tijani"; d. 1224/1809 in Ain Madhi), Sidi Abu Ali Amrou Sharghrushni, Sidi Abdurrahman Sharif Lajjai, Moulay Abdullah ibn A'hsis;
From Sidna Dawud b. Moulay Idriss (the head of 4 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Abu Bakr ibn Ataillah Bouanani, Moulay Abdullah Bouazza Qassari;
From Sidna Hamza b. Moulay Idriss (the the head of 5 sharifian prominent families): Sidi al-Haj Ali al-Baqqal Aghsawi (d. 980/1565), Sidi Mohammed Shahid Baqqali (d. 1018/1603), Sidi al-Haj Bouarraqiya Baqqali (d. 1130/1715), Sidi al-Arbi Baqqali, Sidi Abdellah al-Haj Titwani, Sidi Mohammed Haskuri Baqali, Moulay Boutayyb Missouri;
From Sidi Imran b. Moulay Idriss (the head of 4 sharifian prominent families): Sidi Mohammed al-Mahdi ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130), Sidi Mohammed ibn Ali al-Khattani Sanusi (d. 1274/1859), Sidi Ahmed Abarkan.
Amid the prominent Sharifian Sufis of Morocco who descends from the nephews of Imam Moulay Idriss ibn Mawlana Abdellah al-Kamil;
From Sidna Ahmed b. Mohamed Nafs Zakiyya: Al-Qutb al-Maktum Mawlana Abul Abbas Ahmed ibn Mohammed Tijani (d. 1230/1815);
From Sidna al-Qacem b. Sidna Nafs Zakiyya: Moulay Ali Shrif Alawi (d. 847/1432), Mawlana Sultan Sulayman Alawi (d. 1238/1823), Sultan Sidi Abdellhafid Alawi (d. 1366/1940), Sidi Mohammed ibn Abi Nasr Alawi (d. 1273/1858), Sidi al-Arbi Alawi Lamdaghri (d. 1309/1894), Sidi Ahmed Alawi Dbiza (d. after 1230/1815), Moulay Taher ibn Mutawakkil Alawi (d. 1300/1885), Sidi Abdelmalik Alawi Darir (d. 1318/1903), Sidi Hachimi ibn Abdellqadir Alawi (d. 1280/1865), Sidi Ibrahim Mohammed Yazidi Alawi (d. 1322/1907), Sidi al-Arbi al-Mu'hib Alawi (d. 1351/1936);
From Sidna Musa al-June b. Abdellah al-Kamil: Sidi Mohammed ibn Mawlana Abdellqadir al-Jilani (d. in Fez), Sidi Mohammed ibn Mohammed Qadiri al-Andalusi (d. 950/1535 in Fez), Sidi Ahmed Qadiri Yamani (“Shaykh of Sidi Ahmed ibn Abdellah Ma'in; d. 1113/1689 in Fez), Sidi Mohammed ibn Idriss Qadiri (“Disciple of Shaykh Ma’ al-Aynayn”, d. 1350/1937 in Tangier).
The Almoravid Era
Equally important, early Moroccan saints such as Sidi Darras ibn Ismail (d. 357/942), Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 430/1015) and Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1116), are mostly remembered for their work to introduce the two most important features of Moroccan Islam, the Maliki school of jurisprudence and Sufism. The Sufi Master Sidi Waggag ibn Zallu al-Lamti (d. 445/1030), disciple of Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 430/1015), presided over a network of mosques and educational centres on the mountainous fringes of the pre-Saharan desert. The most famous of these educational centres was his headquarters, Dar al-Murabitun (house of marabouts), which he established at the coastal hamlet of Aglu, near modern-day Tiznit. It was he who instructed Sidi Abdellah ibn Yassin al-Jazouli (d. 451/1059) to teach Islamic dogma and Maliki doctrine to the Veiled Sanhaja warriors becoming the spiritual leader of Almoravid state (“al-Murabitun”; 1061-1147). The brothers Sulayman and Abul Qacem ibn Addu, the eventual successors to Ibn Yassin as Almoravid imams, were also students of shaykh Waggag and continued to maintain close contact with Dar al-Murabitun even after their teachers death. The most distinguished king in this dynasty Emir al-Muslimin Sidi Yusuf ibn Tashafin became ascetic in his dress, diet and mode of government.
Almoradives Dome, Marrakech
The marabouts of Ribat Sidi Shiker and Ribat Tit al-Fitr contributed heavily to the Almoravid Morocco. The Almoravid sultants appear to have regarded the Hassani-Idrissi sharif Moulay Abu Abdellah Amghar as a semiofficial spokesman for all of the Sanhaja Berbers of Morocco. Az-Zammuri reports that prior to the year 522/1128, Ali ibn Yusuf b. Tashfin and his vizier Abul Walid ibn Rushd (the noted Maliki jurist and grandfather of the famous Andalusian philosopher) solicited the blessings of the murabit for the construction of new defensive walls for their capital of Marrakech. After approving the construction and being the first to make a donation to the project, it is said that its expenditures were accounted seventy thousand golden dinars. Another letter, dated 527/1112 and also written in the name of Ali ibn Yusuf, is the earliest to officially acknowledge Moulay Abdellah Amghar as a descendant of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. In light of this communication, it is significant that when the Sufi Shaykhs and sulaha' (righteous men) of Morocco were summoned to Marrakech to confirm their oath of allegiance to Ali ibn Yusuf, Moulay Abu Abdellah demurred, citing as his reason, an "extreme lack of care for the world".
The Banu Amghar of Tit al-Fitr enjoyed a pre-eminent position among the rural Sufis of Morocco throughout the Almoravid and Almohad periods. Moulay Abu Abdellah Amghar in particular maintained friendly relations with many of the most important religious figures of his day. These included the jurist Sidi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d. 543/1128) who wrote a work dedicated to the murabit entitled Siraj al-muhtadin fi adab as-salihin (Lamp of the guided in the conduct of the Salihin). Another correspondent was Sidi Qadi Iyyad al-Yahsubi (d. 544/1129), a noted jurist and Hadith specialist from Sabta, author of Kitab Shifa bita'rif huquq al-Mustapha (The Antidote in knowing the rights of Chosen Prophet), a highly influential work on the veneration of Prophet Sidna Mohammed, peace and blessing be upon him. Az-Zammuri also claims that Moulay Abu Abdellah exchanged letters with Sufis in Iraq, and after his death a delegation of sulaha' from Yemen came to visit his tomb.
The Almohad Era
With regard to the Almohads, the Imam Sidi Mohammed Ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130), invoked the principles addressed by Imam Sidi Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 526/1111) to dispute power to the Almoravid Sultan. Ibn Tumart's political activity in the mountains and his followers' eventual defeat of the Almoravides has been described by many writers. More important to the present discussion, however, is the initial makeup of the Almohad leadership (“al-Muwahhidun”; 1130-1269). All sources agree that Almohad political structure was pyramidal in nature and that the companions who accompanied Ibn Tumart from the Central Maghrib (called al-Muhajirun al-Awwalun) following the example of the Holy Prophet's career (peace and blessing be upon him) formed the nucleus of the movement. The main decision-making body, or "Assembly of Ten" (al-Jama'a al-'Ashara), comprised those (some from among the Muhajirun, some not) who first acknowledged Ibn Tumart as Mahdi when he received his "call" in a cave near his home town of Igli-n-Waraghan (Igli of the Argan Trees) after his return from the East.
Al-Mahdi ibn Tumart, Tin Mal, Aghmat Urika
Among the members of this body al-Baydhaq has listed the sultan Sidi Abdelmumin Ibn Ali b. 'Alwi b. Ya'li al-Qaysi. Al-Baydhaq claims both patrilineal and matrilineal Arab descent for the future khalifa of Ibn Tumart. His ancestral tribe was purported to be Sulayman Ibn Mansur of Qays 'Aylan and his direct ancestor was said to be an Andalusian Arab fleeing political repression who entered into an adoptive relationship with members of the Matmata Berber tribe and adopted their culture and lineage. While at first glance this claim sounds uncertain, the practice of adoption of outsiders has been common up till this century among Berbers in the Rif and Middle Atlas regions of Morocco. Thus al- Baydhaq’s story is, at least culturally speaking, plausible. It is further claimed that Abdelmumin was a sharif via his mother, Talu bint Atiyya, who was descended from Lalla Ganuna, daughter of Moulay Idriss II, the founder of Fez. Indeed the Bani Ganuna clan of the Gumiya tribe of western Algeria did have a reputation for leadership and literacy throughout the hinterlands of Tlemcen.
The Almohads gradually took over Morocco, extinguishing the Almoravids there and making Marrakech their own capital. In al-Andalus, there was a vacuum of power after the decline of the Almoravides, in which some local groups like the Taifas of the previous century reappeared (e.g. Valencia, Cordova and Murcia); then in 540/1145 Abdelmumin despatched an army to al-Andalus and soon occupied all the Muslims territory there. A powerful Almohad kingdom, now with its capital at Seville, was constituted; Abdelmumin concurred as far as Tunis and Tripoli, and the Ayyubid Salahu ad-Din (Saladin) sought his alliance and naval assistance against the Franks. According to Ibn Abi Zar's Rawd al-qirtas:
Abdelmumin ruled with wisdom and goodness. He excelled over all the Almohads in his virtue, knowledge, piety and horsemanship. The colour of his skin was white, and his cheeks were reddish; he had dark eyes, a tall stature, long and fine eyebrows, an eagle nose and a tick beard. He was fluent in speech, familiar with the sayings of the prophet, well-read and indeed learned in the things of the faith and of the world, and a master of grammar and history. His morals were beyond reproach and his judgement sound. He was a generous warrior, enterprising and imposing, strong and victorious. Thanks to God's help he never attacked a country without capturing it, nor an army without vanquishing it. He was particularly fond of men of letters and scholars, and was himself a good poet… He was as infallible in his judgement as he was powerful. He was so modest that he gave the impression that he possessed nothing. He liked neither diversions nor distractions and never rested. The whole of the Maghrib was subject to him, and Spain feel into his hands, from the Christians he took Mehdia in Africa and Almeria, Evora, Baeza, and Badajoz in Andalusia.
The venerated saint, Sidi Abul Abbas as-Sabti (d. 601/1186), was present in Marrakech during the final weeks of the Almohad siege of the city. For a number of years he lived on a cave in a hill of Igilliz outside of Marrakech, only coming into town on Friday in order to perform the obligatory Friday prayer. The Shaykh first gained official notice when one of his disciples went to collect the wages that were due to him for helping to build a house. When the owner of the house refused to pay him, the house collapsed, and its owner was told that it could only be restored by Sidi Abul Abbas. When the man apologised to the Shaykh, paid the disciple's back wages, and gave a large donation to the city's homeless, the house was miraculously restored to its former condition. The news of this miracle spread rapidly through the streets and alleys of Marrakech, until a delegation led by no less a personage than the Almohad caliph Abdelmumin paid their respect to Sidi Abul Abbas at his hillside cave. This official recognition was a far cry from the persecutions suffered by Sufis who were not recognised as Almohad supporters, such as Moulay Boushayb as-Sarya (d. 561/1166), and the Qutb Sidi Abu Yaaza Yalnour (d. 572/1157).
In 541/1146, the latter figures were both summoned to Marrakech at the order of Abdelmumin ibn Ali, who had just wrested the capital city from the last of its Almoravid rulers. To be fully understood, their inquisition must be seen in the context of the fact that Moulay Boushayb's own Shaykh Sidi Abdelljalil ibn Wayhan (d. 541/1126), had resisted the Almohads during their siege of Marrakech. Desiring to commandeer the houses of Aghmat for his troops, Abdelmumin sent a crier through the streets of the nearby town, proclaiming that all the residents had to evacuate, with the exception of Sidi Abdelljalil. The unfairness of this order so disturbed the Shaykh that he too, prepared to move out of Aghmat. When it was reported to Abdelmumin that Sidi Abdelljalil was leaving, he sent his crier to inform the people that they were permitted to return to their homes. A short time later, an order came that the Shaykh should present himself at the caliphal headquarters at Jabal Igilliz. He first tried to excuse himself on the grounds that he was ill, to which that caliph's messenger replied, "You must go there, even if we have to carry you in a litter!" He then obtained permission to delay his departure until the time of the afternoon prayer. By the time the muezzin called the prayer, Sidi Abdelljalil died and his funeral procession was winding its way through the streets.
While under arrest, Abu Yaaza was kept apart from his master at the minaret of the Kutubiyya mosque. However, during his trial, he followed the same strategy as Moulay Boushayb by answering all of the questions that were put to him with quotations from the Quran. Although the details of his interrogation are not available, a mutual understanding appears to have been reached between Abu Yaaza and the Almohad caliph, for upon his release he ordered his followers to cease their criticisms of Abdelmumin, saying "Leave him alone. You have no recourse against him." Despite his dislike for the Almoravids, Moulay Boushayb never forgot his sense of justice. This caused him to speak out against the massacres of Veiled Sanhaja that were carried out by the Almohads after their conquest of Marrakech. The Shaykh's interference resulted in his arrest at the order of Abdelmumin. Rather than defending his actions, Moulay Boushayb boldly used his trial as a pretext to intercede for the wives and concubines of the Almoravid ruling family. Abu Yaqub Yusuf ibn az-Zayyat at-Tadili's (d. 628/1213) reports in his celebrated Kitab at-Tashawwuf ila rijal at-tasawwuf (Book of insight into the tradition bearers of Sufism),
[Moulay Boushayb] went to Marrakech in the year 541, brought there at the order of Abdelmumin ibn Ali. But when the [Almohad caliph] saw his colourless countenance, he took pity upon him. He wanted to interrogate him, but feared him because of the powers of clairvoyance that he perceived in him. So he delegated the questioning to a merchant who was a companion of Imam al-Mahdi [ibn Tumart]. He first asked the Shaykh about the doctrine of divine unity (tawhid), which had a particular definition among [the Almohads]. The Shaykh answered [the questions] with the answers of the as-Salaf as-Salih, using verses from the Quran. It is related that when he was asked [about tawhid] Moulay Boushayb answered [with the Quranic verse]: "God. There is no God but He, the Living, the Eternal…" to the end of the verse. Then [Ibn Tumart's companion] u-Asnar (Wasnar) asked again, "What is tawhid?" and Moulay Boushayb answered: "I [hope that] God will not cause you to die because of this!" Abdelmumin was shocked by this response and knew that Moulay Boushayb's curse would certainly strike [u-Asnar]. After some time, he questioned him [again], saying, "What is tawhid oh Shaykh?" So [Moulay Boushayb] said to him: "God bears witness that there is no god but He and the angles and the foremost in knowledge…" until "the Glorious, the Most Wise" then the Shaykh repeated the curse against him and sought protection in God. After some time he said [again], "What is tawhid oh Shaykh?" and Moulay Boushayb said to him: "God, the Exalted, the Almighty, said: 'Say: He is Allah the One, Allah the Incomparable'…" to the end of the sura. He repeated the first answer, and the Shaykh reaffirmed his course. Suddenly, a great tremor shook Abdelmumin's palace. He blanched at this and knew that it could not have taken place except for the Shaykh. So he praised Moulay Boushayb profusely and commanded that he be the object of ziyara [ritual visiting] and all of his needs be fulfilled. But the Shaykh said, "I have no need for anything, except that you allow me to intercede for the wives of Ali ibn Yusuf [b. Tashfin] and the wives of his sons, and [that you] allow them to go wherever they wish."
About two decades before his death, Sidi Abul Abbas as-Sabti regained the official approval that he had formally enjoyed under Abdelmumin. In 584/1188, at the end of his campaign against the Banu Ghaniyya (a particularly troublesome group of Almoravid holdouts in present Tunisia), the newly installed Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur was forced to execute his uncle for refusing to surrender the city of Tlemcen to his authority. A short time later, the same fate befell his brother, the governor of Murcia, who had concluded a treasonous alliance with Alfonso VIII of Castile. The caliph was paralysed with remorse at having to carry out these executions. In consolation, he turned to the Sufis of Morocco for both personal solace and political support. The recognition accorded Sidi Abul Abbas by Yaqub al-Mansur was part of this policy. Amid great fanfare, the caliph brought the saint down from his cave on the hill of Igilliz and installed him in a large house that had been constructed near the Kutubiyya mosque. Later, he provided a hostel for Sidi Abul Abbas' disciples as well as a madrasa for study and teaching that was maintained by the caliph's own funds. Whenever Yaqub al-Mansur visited Sidi Abbas Abbas he made a point of behaving in a humble manner and acted "as a servant" in the saints presence. When Abul Abbas died, he was laid to rest in a grave that had originally been reserved for the philosopher Ibn Rushd ("Averroes", d. 1198), who preferred to be buried in his native city of Cordoba instead.
The Marinid Era
The thirteenth through to ninth/fifteenth century, which witnessed the institutionalisation of Moroccan Sufism in the context of corporately organised Sufi orders, was also parallel to the golden Marinid renaissance (1244-1398) that witnessed the return to Sharifian politics, the Arabisation of religious education, the reinforcement of Maliki jurisprudence, the introduction of Maliki Madrasa, and the adoption of Mukhtasar pedagogical techniques. The influence of the universal Sufi masterpieces, which were created, is still perceptible to this day and age. The Idrissids have meanwhile played an important role and with a pronounced mythical dimension that was symbolized by the miraculous discovery of the body of Moulay Idriss in Fez and the extension of his sanctuary. Sufism has then being significantly encouraged. Sidi Ahmed b. Achir al-Andalusi (d. 764/1349) is among the prominent saints of the Marinid era. When the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris, who had come to power by deposing and eventually murdering his father, sought Sidi Ibn Achir's counsel in 757/1342, the Shaykh went to extraordinary lengths to avoid meeting him. Sidi Ibn Achir's reclusiveness, however, did not prevent him from speaking out on matters of principle. Soon after Abu Inan's aborted visit, the Shaykh wrote a brutally frank letter to the sultan, in which he criticised the deposition of Abu Inan's father, Abul Hassan al-Marini, and condemned Abu Inan's luck of social justice. After disavowing any political motives of his own, Sidi Ibn Achir admonished the Sultan with this warning:
Abul Hassan Marini, Chellah, Rabat
"Know that God watches over you at every moment in time, at every hour, at every breath, and at every blink of the eye. [Know that] you must encounter Him, that He will ask you about what you have done, and that His justice will envelop you. He will also ask you about the affairs of your subjects and what you have done for them."
To prevent Abu Inan from failing further into error, Sidi Ibn Achir advised his to study al-Muhasibi Kitab ar-ri'aya li huquq Allah, so that "perhaps through the baraka of this [book] God will enable you to acquire the fear of God and mercy, which will be the means of your deliverance." Finally, the Shaykh gave the Sultan some practice advice: "The Commander of the Faithful must remember that neither his servants nor his bodyguard will save him. Instead, they will flee from him on the Day of Judgment as he will flee from them. God will not grant you anything unless you maintain Him in your heart and act according to what He has commanded and forbidden you to do. In a reply to Sidi Ben Achir, Abu Inan accepts the Shaykh's criticisms but offers the excuse that "all who hold power are unjust and despotic, are delivered by their confidants, and allow their intimates to carry them away with their passions." Less than two years later, in 759/1358, the Sultan would be assassinated by these very intimates, the "Shaykhs of Banu Marin," who feared his attempts to replace the Marinid system with an Almohad-style centralised state.
In Ramadan 869/1465), the Marinid sultan Abdellhaqq II, who despised the elite of Fez for their pro-Wattasid (former governors of Fez) sympathies, instructed his Jewish ministers to collect taxes from the previously exempt categories of the sharifs and the ulama. Infuriated at this revocation of their prerogatives, a scholar from the al-Qarawiyyin mosque named Sidi Abdellaziz al-Waryaghili (d. 880/1475) incited the inhabitants of Fez against the sultan, who had his throat cut. Next al-Waryaghili selected a new sultan –the leader of Fez’s community of sharifs, the Idrissid Sidi Mohammed al-Hafid al-Imrani al-Juti. For the first time since the downfall of the Idrissids, a sharif assumed power in Fez. This time however he was chosen by an alliance of urban notables and was not beholden to any tribally based power behind the throne. Although the sharifian state of Sidi Mohammed al-Hafid was to last for only six years, his assumption of power marked the beginning of the end for tribally based rule in Morocco.
The Saadian Era
After the demise of the Marinid dynasty at the end of the eight/fourteenth century, Sufi masters appeared on the political scene to compensate for the absence of a central government, decline of the cultural influence of the cities and moral uncertainties. This period spanned the entire ninth/fifteenth century and is generally referred to as the maraboutic crisis. The fruits of the sharifian programme of Sidi Mohammed ibn Sulayman al-Jazouli (d. 869/1454) and his indirect disciple under Sidi Abdellah Ghazwani's (d. 935/1520) would eventually be seen in the emergence of the Saadian state. The Saadian sultan Abu Abdellah al-Ghalib Billah (d. 981/1574) had the Jazulite shaykh Sidi Ahmad ibn Musa as-Samlali ("Sidi Ahmad u-Musa"; d. 971/1563-4) as a master. The latter called the sultan as the "Ruby of the Sharifs" (yaqutat a-shurafa). On another occasion, Sidi Ahmad ibn Musa declared that his royal protégé" was more of a sali’h than a sultan— a strong testament, as al-Ghazwani might have said.
No sooner had Mohammed ash-Shaykh seized power in Fez than the Sufis of Morocco realized that they had been outdone by a monster of their own making. In 956/1549, the sharif ordered all of the shaykhs of northern Morocco to formally pledge their allegiance to him in the conquered Wattasid capital of Fez. Those called to Fez included the Ghazwaniya Sufis al-Yastuti, al-Habti, and Ibn Khajju, as well as the Zarruqiya shaykh Sidi Mohammed Shutaybi (d. after 960/1553). Only al-Habti and Ibn Khajju saw fit to demonstrate their loyalty by complying with Mohammed Shaykh's command. As it turned out, al-Habti had to return to Shafshawan alone, for Ibn Khajju died in Fez of natural causes.
Panorama: Medersa Bou Inania - Fez
In 958/1551 sharifian suspicion fell on the followers of the Jazuilite shaykhs Sidi Abdelkarim al-Fallah and Sidi Abdelmumin al-Hahi who were accused of withholding from the state the valuables entrusted to them by Wattasid officials. The resulting persecution of the Tabba'aiya faction of the Jazouliya was especially hard on the Ha’hiya. Many of this branch's most important figures were either executed by the Sa'adians or driven out of Morocco on the pretext of heresy. Although the initial excuse for this assault on the Jazouliya was pecuniary, the real reasons for sharifian opposition appear to have been twofold. In the first place, the charismatic populism of Tabba'aiya doctrine posed a threat to the Sa'adian state, despite this faction's professed aversion to politics. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the most famous follower of Abdelkarim al-Fallah to be persecuted by the Sa'adians was Abdellah al-Kush (d. 961/1553), a shaykh of sub-Saharan African origin who enjoyed a broad following among the lower classes of Marrakech. Second, both the Tabba'aiya and the Hahiya were charged by the Sa'adian ulama with rejecting the authority of the four Sunni schools of law. Although this accusation did not represent the actual views of the Tabba'aiya, Hahiyya reformism did pose a threat to the hegemony of the Maliki school of jurisprudence, because it advocated abandoning the precedent of a single madhhab in favour of unanimity among the four Sunni schools in general.
The popularity of the Jazulite masters' relief programmes and the possibility that lodges might wield their dominance to give voice to their increasing political ambitions have in addition made the Saadian court suspicious of any development likely to strengthen their influence. In 958/1551, the sultan Mohammed Shaykh Saghir (d. 964/1549) initiated a clamp-down on Sufi orders. Among the zawaya subjected to censorship were some that had excelled at providing relief in times of famine. The zawiya of Sidi Rahhal a-Kush was closed down at the order of the Sultan in 960/1552. The Jazouli Sidi Abu Amr al-Qastali was kept under house arrest in Marrakech because rulers feared his game—partly derived from the fact that his zawiya ran a renowned couscous and soup-kitchen—and large following. The Jazouli chief of Tamaslouht, Sidi Abdellah ibn Hussein al-Amghari (d. 977/1562), also suffered repression; he was expelled from the capital in times of sultan Abdellah al-Ghalib. It seems as though lodges in which the practice of relief programmes was more systematic bore the brunt of official harassment. Hagiographers point out that the main targets of this campaign were Shaykhs suspect of nurturing political ambitions, those capable of rallying many partisans round them.
Mohammed Shaykh's persecution of the shaykhs of the Jazouliya prompted a remarkable letter to the sharif from Sidi Musa ibn Ali al-Wazzani, a follower of the Jazouliya-Ghazwaniya faction and disciple of Sidi Abdellah al-Habti (d. 963/1548). This response of a fourth-generation Jazulite shaykh to the actions of the Sa'adian autocrat provides a fitting symbolic epitaph to the Jazouliya’s involvement in Moroccan political life. It also illustrates the ambiguity that pertains when both Sufi saint and sharif lay claim to the same Prophetic Inheritance. In his letter, al-Wazzani uses the metaphor of the tree of life to describe the relationship between the Sufi saint and the state. He begins by quoting Sidi Mohammed ibn Yajbash Tazi (d. 920/1505), who stated that "the obedience of a land and its people depends on a leader to whom they can turn in all affairs." According to al-Wazzani, the leader referred to by at-Tazi is the qutb, the axial saint— the very person whom Mohammed Shaykh and his advisers most feared as a potential rival. Rather than fearing the qutb, he responds, the just Islamic ruler should welcome this saint and cleave to him. Comparing the state to a tree, al-Wazzani argues that the qutb is the water that brings the state to life. Were it not for the water, the soil around the tree would not soften, thus preventing the tree from taking nourishment.
Were it not for the life-giving soil, the tree's roots would not remain fixed and its branches would not grow. Were it not for the branches, the tree would produce no fruit. In this way, every part of the tree acts in concert with the other members to maintain the life of the tree as a whole. Thus, the place of the qutb in the overall scheme of things is not to impart to the state its outward form, but rather to provide its life-giving essence. In like manner, the qutb does not desire to assume outward political power, but rather is content to provide spiritual sustenance and moral guidance so that the state may live. Every leader, says al-Wazzani, is a qutb, an axial figure for those who depend on him. For this reason, it is fully proper to consider the saints and Sufi shaykhs who sustain Morocco with heir baraka as the aqtab ad-dawla, "axes of die state." The same is true of the major Sufi orders such as the Jazouliya, which provide the means by which the saints and shaykhs disseminate their baraka to others. Rather than being enemies to the state, the Sufi orders help sustain and preserve it by keeping its political leaders on the right path, so that the state may benefit the land and its people for generations. The greatest source of this spiritual sustenance is the qutb az-zaman—the Axis of the Age or paradigmatic saint—who derives his powers alchemically from the light of the Prophet Mohammed. "Next to prophecy itself" concludes al-Wazzani, "there is no other light that can illuminate the face of the earth."
The Alawid Era
The movement which brought the Alawi dynasty to power was originally a coalition of central Moroccan pastoral peoples under the leadership of Sufi reformers. The advent of the dynasty of Alawi sharifs was a good omen according to a vision by a Sufi Master called Sidi Ben Taher Hassani Sijilmasi. The forefather of Alawi Sultans, Moulay Ali Shrif Alawi (d. 847/1432), received the announcement as a charisma from this Sufi master. This prophecy is not an isolated case. Historical sources abound on the strong ties that existed between Alawi Sultans and Sufi masters. The fact that Shaykh Sidi Ibrahim al-Luwati Sabti's (Ibn al-Fasi d. 513/1098) grandson Sidi Abu Abdellah al-Luwati rallied to the Alawi Imam and admirable warrior Moulay Rachid ibn Mohammed (1666-1672). Under the Alawis, Sufism had become important in Morocco as the organizing basis of Moroccan resistance to Spanish and Portuguese occupation of the coastal who combine in themselves the personal religious authority of Sufi masters and their reputation for baraka (the ability to channel God's powers and blessings into the world), who lead the country in festival celebrations such as the birthday of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) and Ramadan, and who enjoy the executive authority of caliphs in political administration. The Moroccan ruler is at once head of state and head of religion (Emir al-Mouminin).
As a natural result of this consideration granted them by the state many of the Sufi Shaykhs and order leaders were pushed forward into a position of some political importance. The Sultans respected the tradition that made many zawiyas inviolate asylums for fugitives from justices. Since the powers of baraka were believed usually to be passed on from father to son in certain sharifian families continued to enjoy political power. They might serve as advisers to tribal leaders, qaids, or even the Sultans themselves. Often they would act as intermediaries between governmental authority and the people. The support of a Sufi Shaykh might assure an uncontested collection of taxes due or facilitate the recruitment of young men for the new regular army. The Sultans were respectful of the moral influence, so readily convertible into real political power, held be the Sufi masters, and where possible without derogating from their own political authority they showed them difference and special consideration. There were limits, though, and when necessary the marabouts and Sufi leaders, like the ulama class, treated as subjects who must be made to realise where political sovereignty resided. In 1668, Sultan Moulay Rachid organised a military expedition to put down the political power of the Dilai Zawiya led by the Jazulite master Sidi Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr Dilai (d. 1046/1631). The Sultan forced the leaders and noted ulama of the Dilaiya into exile in Fez. At the end of 1660's, Moulay Rachid was able to seize power. He completed the conquest of the major part of today's Morocco and Mauritania and the Eastern Desert of today’s Algeria (including Tuwat) and organised the administration of this immense empire after he raised the Jazoulite headquarters of Dilaiya and that of Tazrerwalt headed by Sidi Ahmed ou Moussa in 1668 and 1670 respectively. He also repeatedly threatened the prominent Sufi Sidi Ahmed Ben Nasir Dar'i (d. 1129/1714), though he did not live long enough to carry out these threats.
His successor, the sultan Sidi Mohammed ibn Abdellah, on the other hand, preferred negotiations to violence. However in the case of the Sharqawi Zawiya of Boujaad, the sultan did not hesitate to obliterate the sanctuary. As an important shrine for pilgrims with a renown seasonal festival, the Zawiya had also a reputation as an important center of learning that went back to the days of al-Wafrani. It also became a prosperous lodge with large estates rivaling those of the Sultan. Consequently Sidi Mohammed lost no time in denouncing the Zawiya as "immoral" for preaching Ash'arism (in accordance with his neo-Hanbali views). He then transferred the Marabout Abu Abdellah Sidi Mohammed al-'Arabi al-Sharqawi (d. 1235/1819) to Marrakech after having leveled a good part of the zawiya in 1200/ 1785. The sultan Moulay Ismail (1672-1727), the third king of the Alawite dynasty and founder of the city of Meknes, who extended the borders of the Moroccan empire south to Ivory Coast, during which it is often reported that during his reign a woman or a Jew could travel alone from the farthest south of the country to its farthest north without being in fear about his/her safety, has undertaken major renovations throughout his reign in support of Sufi masters. The situation changed however with the growing prestige, of the Shadhilite Tuhamiyyin of Wazzan. In the seventeenth century, the sultan Moulay Ismail proceeded against the influential Idrissid Sufi Moulay Tuhami b. Mohammed b. Ali Wazzani (d. 1127/1721), who was based in the mountainous region of Wazzan. The Idrissid hagiographer Sidi Mohammed b. Jaafar Kattani (d. 1345/1930) reports in Salwat al-anfas that a saint from Fez called Sidi al-Haj Mohammed al-Khayyat (d. 1115/1700), a disciple of Moulay Ali Sharif Wazzani Shadhili (d. 1089/1674), appeared after his death to the sultan to prevent the further maltreatment of the Wazzaniya order:
The sultan Moulay Ismail, issued a search order for Moulay Tuhami. Moulay Tuhami however came from Wazzan to Meknes (the residence of the Sultan) and there entered the Green Mosque, so that the people feared for his safety. When, one morning, the Sultan had just breakfast, the Shaykh al-Khayyat stepped into the bay with a sharp sword in his hand, held it over the Sultan's head, and said: 'if a single hair of my Shaykh' son is harmed, I shall cut you in pieces with this!' The Sultan asked: "Who are you?' and he replied: 'Al-Khayyat'. The Sultan asked further: 'And who is the son of your Shaykh?' He replied: 'Moulay Tuhami who even now is in the Green Mosque.' Thereupon he disappeared. The Sultan stood up and called for the guards on the doors; they maintained, however, that no one had got past them. Everyone in the castle said the same: no one had seen the man with the sword. The Sultan became angry, called for his horse, and wanted to ride to the mosque. But the horse went backwards and would on no account allow itself to be driven forwards. At that the Sultan had Moulay Tuhami informed that he could returned home, with God's peace. The Sultan called for Abdellah ar-Rwisi, the governor of Fez, and asked him: 'Is there in your city a man named al-Khayyat?' 'Yes' replied ar-Rwisi, he is buried in the Zrabtana district and is called the lord of the valley.'
Panorama: Moulay Ismail's Hri Swani - Meknes
As Emir al-Muminin, legitimized by his 'natural' as well as 'earned' baraka, Moulay Ismail exhibited an uncompromising devotion. He made it a point to remind his subjects of his moral superiority by an ostentatious display of religiosity at his court in Meknes ("the exemplary center"), reminiscent of the later 'Abbasid period. It was designed to project a daunting image of a cosmic order personified in the Sultan. Concurs Mohammed El-Fasi: "C'est (Mawlây Ismâ'il) ... qui a veillé à l'extension de la loi musulmane dans toutes les contrées du Maroc, afin d'assurer à ce pays l'unité religieuse." Moulay Ismail was aided in his task by pro Makhzan 'Ulama, particularly the Qadi of Meknes, Ahmad b. Abd al-Wahhâb al-Wazir al-Ghassâni", and by his vizir Abu al-'Abbis Ahmad al-Yahmadi". After all, the seat of Ismail's government was in the market town of Meknes, traditionally in competition with Fez and away from the inquisitive eyes of the Fasis. With a minimal administrative apparatus, Moulay Ismail delegated power to hand picked Quwwâd (S. Qâ'id) or governors (themselves representing "Makhzan sub-dynasty"), with a handful of 'Abid whose task was the collection of taxes; their presence was enough to remind the recalcitrant that the Sultan's authority was vigilant. Moulay Isma’il attempted also to limit the number of claimants to Sharifism by training Kuttâb (S. Katib) specialized in genealogy. This in turn led later to the office of Naqib al-Shurafa'.
When Sufism was at the height of its popularity, during the reign of the sultan Moulay Ismail, the festival of the Seven Saints of Marrakech was founded by the Allama Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi (d. 1102/1687 in Sefrou) at the request of the sultan. The tombs of several renowned figures were moved to Marrakesh to attract pilgrims in the same way Essaouira (Mogador) did at that time with its Ragraga festivals. The Seven Saints is now a firmly established institution, attracting visitors from everywhere. The Seven Saints include Sidi Yusuf ibn Ali (d. 593/1178), Sidi Abderrahman al-Suhayli (d. 581/1166), al-Qadi Iyyad (d. 544/1129), Abul Abbas Sabti (d. 6o1/1186), Sidi Muhammad al-Jazouli (d. 869/1454), Sidi Abdellaziz at-Tabba'a (d. 914/1499) and Sidi Abdellah al-Ghazwani (d. 935/1520). A special ritual was established to pay tribute to the holy memory of these saints. This practice became a national religious institution, to the point where many Moroccans say "I am going to the Seven Men, meaning that they are traveling to Marrakech even though, except for the annual Mawsim of the Seven Saints.
Moulay Ismail issued decrees (dahirs) to the leaders of sharifian families (naqibs) that authenticated their sharif pedigree. These facts indicate that the sharif pedigree in Morocco was an important basis for the symbolic system of authority that was closely linked to the interrelationships among various political powers. This typical Moroccan phenomenon is best perceived in the following dramatic event between Sidi Ahmed Ben Nasir’s disciple, Sidi al-Hassan ibn Masoud al-Yusi (d. 1102/1687) and the sultan. The scene occurred while the sultan was busying himself with the construction of his new city’s wall,
When al-Yusi (…) arrived in Meknes, Moulay Ismail received him as an honored guest, fed him and housed him, and brought him into his court as his spiritual advisor. The Sultan was at the time building a large wall around the city, and the people working on it, slaves and others were being treated cruelly. One day a man fell ill while working and was sealed into the wall where he fell. Some of the workers came secretly to al-Yusi to tell him of this and to complain of their treatment generally. Al-Yusi said nothing to Moulay Ismail, but when his supper was brought to his chamber he proceeded to break all the dishes, one by one, and he continued to do this, night after night, until all the dishes in the palace had been destroyed. When the sultan then asked what had happened to all his dishes, the palace slaves said, “that man who is our guest breaks them when we bring his food.” (…) The Sultan ordered al-Yusi to be brought to him:
- “Salam ‘Alykum.”
- “‘Alykum Salam.”
- “My Lord, we have been treating you like the guest of God, and you have been breaking all our dishes.”
- “Well, which is better—the pottery of Allah or the pottery of clay?” (…) and he proceeded to upbraid Moulay Ismail for his treatment of the workers who were building his wall. (…) The Sultan was unimpressed and said to al-Yusi, “All I know is that I took you in, gave you hospitality [a deeply meaningful act in Morocco], and you have caused me all this trouble. You must leave my city.” Al-Yusi left the palace and pitched his tent in the graveyard just outside the city near where the wall was being built. When the Sultan heard of this he sent a messenger to the saint to ask why, since he had been told to leave his, the sultan’s city, he had not in fact done so.
- “Tell him,” al-Yusi said, “I have left your city and I have entered God’s.” Hearing this, the Sultan was enraged and came riding out himself on his horse to the graveyard where he found the saint praying. Interrupting him, a sacrilege in itself, he called out to him, “Why have you not left my city as I ordered?” And al-Yusi replied, “I went out of your city and am in the city of God, the Great and the Holy.” Now wild with fury, the Sultan advanced to attack the saint. But al-Yusi took his lance and drew a line on the ground, and when the sultan rode across it the legs of his horse began to sink slowly into the earth. Frightened, Moulay Ismail began to plead to God, and he said to al-Yusi, “God has reformed me! God has reformed me! I am sorry! Give me pardon!” The saint then said, “I don’t ask for wealth or office, I only ask that you give me a royal decree acknowledging the fact that I am a sharif, and that I am a descendent of the Prophet and entitled to the appropriate honors, privileges, and respect.” The Sultan did this.
In his drive toward centralization, Moulay Ismail summoned all Marabouts to transfer their headquarters to Fez and required them to put their services at his disposal. Like his brother al-Rashld, Isma'il endeavored to curb the Zawiyas' politico-religious ambitions. However, in the case of the Idrissid Shurafa', who remained a potential threat to the Makhzan, the Sultan did his utmost to win their support by including some of them in his court and also by protecting their privileges. But he did not hesitate to persecute them when the security of the 'Alawite Dynasty was at stake. Moulay Ismail’s attitude toward the Zawiyas was not characterized by systematic persecutions. If his major aim was to limit their influence in the Siba, he allowed many of them to enjoy their prerogatives, as soon as their loyalty to the -Makhzan was established. As a matter of fact the pacified Zawiyas, which had outgrown their local character, came to play a political role, principally by serving the Makhzan as intermediaries. With time, these Zawiyas were reduced to depend solely on Makhzan generosity (Futuhat [revenues from lodges], 'Azib, Hubus land, tax exoneration) so much that they became, in effect, part of the central administration.
Broadly speaking, the sultans of Morocco played a key role in maintaining the importance of the Sufi Shaykhs and orders. Most of the Sultans were members of at least one tariqa. Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (1736-1738) constantly paid tribute to Sufism as he wrote extensively on the beliefs he shared with Sufi masters, e.g. Majmu'at Rasa'il al-Sufiyya. For one thing he believed in the sanctity of certain Awliya and consequently was an assiduous visitor of Moulay Abdessalam ibn Mashish's mausoleum, and encouraged the building of shrines. Sidi Mohammed was also affiliated with the Shadhilite Tariqa al-Nasiriya which he considered a strictly orthodox order. In that sense he did not differ from the early Hanbalis who had strong Sufi links nor with the Sufis generation that emerged in the eighteenth century in Egypt and the Haramayn. He also insisted on the study of Shaykh al-Jazouli's Dalail al-Khayrat, which was always recited during military campaigns. However, Sidi Mohammed was merciless in his effort to undermine the influence of small Maraboutic powers suspected of heterodoxy and dissidence. To counteract their particularist and fissiparous ways, he denigrated them publicly, charging that the Marabouts had espoused a systematic defense of the most primitive type of animism which had paralyzed the country's true Islamic spirit (e.g. the incident of Sidi Ibn 'Ali 'Azuz b. Hussayn 1174/1760): "Kana min ahl al-sirr wa al-zandaqa… wa mukhalif li al-Shari’a”. Other heretics such as the Marabout Abu al-Sukhur from the Ghumara (d. 1172/1758), the imposter Ibn al-Hajj al-Yammuri (d. 1198/1783) or the Da'i al-Kalki were all crushed and executed by the Sultan.
The Impeccable Imam, Shams al-Iman, Rabi'a al-Qulub wa al-Azman, the holy sultan Mawlana Abu al-Rabi’a Sulayman (1792-1822) is one of the most enigmatic figures in Moroccan history, a figure as shaded as his time. Known for his extreme piety, staunch puritanism and sense of justice, he is often referred to as the Omar ibn Abdellaziz of his period; a rather significant comparison indicating the lasting effect of his father Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah's reformist spirit. His advent was then the culmination of all the energies that Sunnism (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a) had generated since the reforms of Sidi Muhammad in its protracted campaign against Taqlid and popular Islam alike. The Sultan viewed the revival of 'orthodox' Sufism as totally compatible with the doctrine of the Salaf, and certainly in accordance with the early Hanbali position on mysticism. Moulay Sulayman then, did not reject the Tariqa format, nor did he reject that of the Nasiriya, the Wazzaniya or even the Sharqawa orders, so long as it complied with the Tariqa Mohammediya spirit.
Certainly Sidna Shaykh, al-Qutb al-Maktum, Mawlana Abul Abbas Ahmed ibn Mohammed Tijani (d. 1231/1815) had best characterize the Sultan's posture on Sufism: an aversion for syncretism. The sultan took the Ahmediya Mohammediya Tijaniya following the authorization of his grandfather (peace and blessing be upon him) who testified to him that he was of his lineage. He witnessed prodigies from Sidna Shaykh which strengthened his belief in him. It has been reported he often asked Sidna Shaykh to allow him to see the Prophet (peace and peace be upon him) while being awake. Sidna Shaykh answered: "I am afraid you might no be able to withstand it.” He persisted in his request until Sidna Shaykh finally accepted his wish. First of all, he advised him to keep it secret and specially reserve a pure and empty place for this encounter, and to be alone. When, after he prepared everything in accordance with the recommendations of Sidna Shaykh he decided to enter the place, an intense fear mixed with respect seized him. He therefore was unable to stay inside alone to do the particular dhikr he received from Sidna Shaykh. Under the effect of his emotions, he asked Sidna Shaykh to personally assist him. Sidna Shaykh agreed to go with him inside that place devoted to welcoming the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). It was while he was reciting the dhikr that an intense light, springing from Mohammadian lights, filled up the place. Being unable to withstand the intensity of that light, the sultan fainted. When he awoke, he found Sidna Shaykh’s palm rest on his chest. Sidna Shaykh told him: "You are well, and the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) guarantees you this and that." The sultan replied, "May Allah reward you in blessings. Indeed you warned me that I would not withstand the encounter, which I personally experienced."
Shaykh Tijani's letter to Moulay SulaymanRabi'a al-Qulub wa al-Azman, the Sultan Mawlana Sulayman
It has been reported that when Sultan Sulayman and Sidna Shaykh met, the Sultan highly honoured him and offered him a residence known as the “Mirror Residence” (Dar Lamraya) in Fez. But Sidna Shaykh declined the offer because of a deep feeling that annoyed him. Sultan Sulayman noticed it and talked to him to reassure him and to remove any doubt on the matter. Sidna Shaykh informed his close companions he would live in that residence with the approval of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered him to give the equivalent of the rent to the poor. Thus, he kept on giving the value of the rent in bread to the poor all the time he stayed in the residence until his death. When Sidna Shaykh got the official authorization from the Sultan Suleiman to build the Zawiya of Fez, the latter sent him two purses containing each a thousand riyals, and told him: "Use this money for the construction." But Sidna Shaykh returned the gift arguing that “all matters pertaining to him rest between the hands of Allah.” The sultan really insisted to have him accept the money. Sidna Shaykh finally accepted, but refrained from spending the it on the construction of the Zawiya. He ordered that the money be distributed to the poor and the needy.
The sultan Moulay Sulayman was importantly adamant in his declared war against maraboutism or what he termed "al-Ghuluw min ahl al-bida'". Sulayman's attitude vis-a-vis the popular Tariqas was perhaps more blunt and less tolerant than that of his father: "Wa kana shadid al-nakir 'ala ahl al-fasad… wa kana yanza'ij idha sami'a fahisha." He also rejected hereditary Maraboutism. To be sure, Moulay Sulayman's approach to Sufism was still traditional in nature and in a sense somewhat parochial. He believed for example in tomb visitations so long as it was done in conformity with the Shari'a (tombs of Ibn Mashish and al-Yusi): "Ziyarat al-maqabir min al-sunna li annaha nafi'a li al-qulub, wa hiya min afdal al-mandubat." Moulay Sulayman admitted also the possibility of Karamat on the part of some deceased Awliya'. Maraboutism however was deemed diabolical and was thus attacked as a cause of decadence and as a corrupter of faith, for it incorporated rituals not found in orthodox Zuhd. The Sultan who had a profound aversion for anything resembling a Bid'a did more than simply discredit certain illicit practices. In 1223/1808, after learning that orgiastic ceremonies were taking place at the Zawiya of Ibn Tuzin, he immediately sent an expedition to punish the heretics. Earlier, in 1210/1795, Qa'id al-Jilani b. al-Mufaddal, accused, under orders from the Sultan, the Marabout Sidi Ali b. Ahmad al-Hassani for having allowed his Zawiya to become 'a pole more sacred than Macca or Madina'.
As for the two major Tariqas of the time, the Tijaniya and the Darqawa, Moulay Sulayman joined the former and seems to have adopted initially a forbearing stand towards the latter. In renewing the spiritual forces of the time, the Tijaniya was widely supported by the elite (Shurafa, ulama, kibar al-tujjar) in the major centers of the kingdom and the Maghreb. In turn the Darqawa began by attracting new followers among the affiliates of the Shadhiliya. In Algeria it had acquired a reputation for sedition which proved later to be detrimental to Moulay Sulayman's rule. In 1220/1805, following al-Muqaddam Mohammed Benshrif al-Falliti al-Wahrani’a mutiny against the Dey of Algiers, the latter solicited Moulay Sulayman's intervention in the dispute. The Sultan ordered the Shaykh Moulay al-'Arabi al-Darqawi (d. 1239/1823) to leave for Oran accompanied by al-Hajj al-Tahir Badu, with the task of persuading the rebellious Muqaddam to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict. But Moulay al-'Arabi al-Darqawi, hoping to please the Sultan, joined the rebels in Oran and Tlemcen and convinced them to say the Khutba in the name of Moulay Sulayman, thus infuriating the Dey. The delegation then returned to Fez accompanied by a deputation from Tlemcen to offer the Bay'a to the Sultan.
Although flattered by the request, Sulayman rejected it as being unworthy of him in the light of al- 'Arabi's deceptive methods. He sent the mission back to Tlemcen after recommending its members to the clemency of the Dey. As for Moulay al-'Arabi al-Darqawi, the Sultan enjoined him to remain in Fez. In the absence of the sultan the people of Fez declared Sulayman’s nephew Ibrahim ibn Yazid sultan of Morocco. Not all the scholars or other people accepted this interpretation, but among the people who pledged allegiance to the new ruler were al-Arabi al-Wazzani and al-Arabi al-Darqawi who was to avenge himself by joining the Fez rebellion which almost engulfed the Dynasty. The Sultan was taken aback; if it had ever been his intention to abdicate, this was no longer the case, so he laid siege to Fez to reassert his authority. He has the support of some circles in Fez including his master Mawlana Shaykh Tijani. The pro-Ibrahimic circles sent al-Darqawi to Fez al-Jadid to ask them to join their side. Instead, they put him in prison where he was to stay for two years, being only released after Sidna Shaykh Tijani's direct intervention. The siege of Fez lasted for more than ten months, maintaining an effective blockade and in the end bringing the rebels to defeat. Only in 1237 was this series of Fez revolts over, just a year before the Sultan died and was replaced by a nephew, Moulay Abderrahman ibn Hicham.
The sultan Moulay Abdelhafidh (d. 1352/1937), as did his illustrious forefathers, committed to the spiritual path. He made a contribution to the debate raised by Sufi practices by authoring important treaties. He chose to be affiliated to the congregation of his master, al-Khalifa al-Tijani al-Akbar, al-Qadi Sidi Abul Abbas Ahmed b. al-'Iyyachi Skirej ("Sukayraj"; d. 1361/1946). Within the context of profoundly spiritualising revival of Tijani Sufism that the Tariqa was leveraged in the life and work of Shaykh Skirej. He had took the Tijani wird in his twenties from Sidi Mhammed b. Mohammed Genoun (d. 1326/1911). However, Sidi Ahmed b. Mohammed Abdellawi (d. 1328/1913) had much influence on him. Shaykh Abdellawi was the main heir of both al-Qutb Sidi Abul Hassan Tamacini (d. 1260/1845) and Sidi Mohammed al-Habib ibn Shaykh Abil Abbas Tijani (d. 1269/1854). In addition, he obtained an ijaza from al-Qutb Sidi Mohammed al-Arbi ibn Sayeh al-Sharqi al-'Umari (d. 1309/1894). After he supervised Mawlana sultan Abdelhafidh's training, he gave him an open ijaza to teach the Tijaniya. The latter became one of the Tijaniya's best prolific authors. Among his writings the kitab of al-Jami’a al-‘irfaniya fi-shurut wa jull fadail ahl Tariqa Tijaniya (The Obsolete Divine Exposition in the Introduction of the Conditions and Narratives of the Followers of the Tijani Path).Emir al-Muminin H.M. King Moulay El Hassan b. Mohammed accompanied by his sons-the then-Cronw Prince- Sidi Mohammed and Prince Moulay Rachid
On May 16, 2003, twelve suicide bombers hit Western targets in Casablanca—the economic capital of Morocco, killing thirty-three civilians and wounding more than a hundred people. The bombers were all young Moroccan men believed to be members of an Islamist fundamentalist group called Salafia Jihadia. The then novice king (only four years in office) Emir al-Miminin King Sidi Mohammed ibn El Hassan took it upon himself to ameliorate the image of Moroccan Islam. Not only did he implement a new religious policy, but he also generated a consistent discourse, in his speeches and letters, wherein he invoked Sufism as the alternative to terror-inciting Islamism. Sidi Mohammed VI’s promotion of Sufism was coterminous with an international call for the revival of Sufism after 9/11.
Panorama: Mosque Hassan II - Casablanca
In a letter to the inaugural meeting of the International Sidi Shikr Sufi convention held in Marrakech in September 2004, just like elsewhere in the royal discourse after the attacks, the king clearly aims to restore the image of Morocco in the international community as an open, tolerant society. Sidi Mohammed VI valorizes the mystic Sufi as an exemplary figure, and opposes him to the politically engaged Islamist whom he indirectly denigrates as the Sufi’s antithesis—an epitome of bigotry, fanaticism, and grudge. He implicitly blames the attacks upon the waning of the Sufi spirit in Moroccan society, and encourages the participants in the conference to revive this spirit as a counter-measure against extremism and in
tolerance. From the perspective of King Sidi Mohammed, the promotion of Sufism on the part of Moroccans would be a return to the norm. Indeed, he defines Moroccan history and society in terms of Sufism. In a moralistic piece of history, he informs the participants in the conference that
The people of this good land were aware, since their embracing of Islam, that the essence of faith is the purification of the soul from selfishness, grudge, and bigotry (…) and the exercise of self-control and supervision of daily behavior, for the attainment of the kind of spiritual perfection that is termed Sufism.
Throughout another letter to the three-day Assembly of the Followers of the Tijani Path that kicked off on June 27, 2007, in Fez under the aegis of his majesty, the king extols the values promoted by Sufism in general—purification of the soul, spiritual elevation, self-control, tolerance, etc… He devotes, however, a long paragraph to explicating a special feature of Moroccan Sufism; namely, the educational and social commitment of the Moroccan Sufi. Throughout Moroccan history, the latter has been active in teaching the Quran, finding madaris8 and libraries, serving as a referee, mediating tribal and ethnic differences, etc… However, the king singles out three roles as worthy of special praise. These are: 1) the support and assistance of the ‘imama in carrying out its duties, 2) the purification of souls from power-thirst, selfishness, and tyranny, and 3) the upbringing of (Sufi) leaders whose universal aspirations did not clash with their nationalistic10 feelings.
الرّسالة السّامية لأمير المؤمنين صاحب الجلالة الملك محمد السادس نصره الله الموجّهة إلى الاجتماع العام للطريقة التجانيةMawlana Emir al-Muminin Sidi Mohammed VI
الحمدلله وحده، والصلاة والسلام على مولانا رسول الله وآله وصحبه، أصحاب الفضيلة، حضرات السيدات والسادة، إنه لمن دواعي ابتهاجنا، أن ينعقد هذا الاجتماع المبارك الهام، على أرض المملكة المغربية، في هذا اللقاء الذي يضم صفوة من أتباع الطريقة التجانية والمنتمين إليها، لتدارس شؤونها والقضايا المتعلقة بزواياها، عبر العالم الإسلامي بل والعالم كله .وإن رمزية المكان، الذي اخترتموه لملتقاكم، وهو مدينة فاس لتضفي على لقائكم جوّاً روحانيا مشرقا بنفحاته الربانية. ذلكم أن هذه المدينة ظلت منارة إشعاع للثقافة الإسلامية عبر العصور، بفضل جامعة القرويين العريقة، التي ما فتئت محجا للعلماء، وملتقى لأقطاب الصوفية والمريدين. ويحتضن ثراها رفات مئات الأولياء والعلماء والصلحاء، عبقا بذكرهم الطيب وآثارهم الشامخة. ومن بينهم مؤسس الطريقة التجانية وعلمها الأنور، العارف بالله الأشهر، الشيخ سيدي أحمد التجاني، رضي الله عنه، الذي ما يزال ضريحه فيها مزاراً موقراً للوافدين عليه، من شتى بقاع العالم.
لقد اتخذ هذا الولي الصالح مدينة فاس، داراً له ومقرّاً لزاويته الأم ، ومحجا لمريديه بعد طواف علمي وصوفي في غيرها من البلدان. فكان اختياره لها راجعا إلى اعتبارات علمية وروحية واضحة لديه. وعندما وفد إلى هذه الحاضرة، تلقاه سلفنا المنعم، السلطان المولى سليمان بالترحيب والتوقير، وأحاطه بكريم العناية والتبجيل، على المعهود في أسلافنا الميامين، من رعاية العلماء والصالحين .ومنذ ذلك الحين، وملوك الدولة العلوية الشريفة، المتعاقبون على عرش المغرب، يرعون مشايخ الطريقة التجانية، ويصدرون ظهائر توقيرهم، ويمدونهم بأسباب القيام بنشر التربية الروحية، وترسيخ قيم الإسلام المثلى، ومكارم أخلاقه العليا، في أوساطهم الاجتماعية، وبخاصة في بلدان الساحل والعمق الإفريقي، حيث يتشبث هؤلاء الأتباع بتلك الروابط، مقرّين بإمارة المؤمنين التي يمثلها ملك المغرب.
كما كانوا يرسخون، في نفس الوقت، صلات الأخوة والتضامن الإفريقي، بين المغرب وأشقائه. ولا عجب في ذلك، فقد ظل المغرب، ولله الحمد، على مدى العصور حصنا حصينا للإسلام السنّي الوسطي، الملتزم بمذهب الإمام مالك، رضي الله عنه، إمام دار الهجرة، ومشرق الهداية المحمدية على الدوام. وقد ظل هذا البلد الأمين، راعيا للطرق الصوفية السنية، البعيدة عن البدعة والشعوذة والغلو في الدين. والتاريخ يشهد بأن المغاربة، صوفية وعلماء وصلحاء، قد جمعوا بين الشريعة والطريقة والحقيقة، في توازن وانسجام وتكامل والتحام. وقد كانت الطريقة التجانية من هذه الطرق الصوفية، التي قامت على أساس الالتزام باتباع الشريعة والسنة المحمدية، والتربية الروحية والتزكية النفسية. مما جعلها تحظى بالإقبال الواسع على موردها الشرعي الصافي، من العلماء وغيرهم، لتنتشر في القارة الإفريقية وفي العالم أجمع عبر ألوف الزوايا المعروفة بإشعاعها. فنشرت الإسلام في ربوع إفريقيا، وأنقذت الملايين من أبنائها من ظلمات الوثنية والجهالة، وفتحت قلوبهم لتلقي أنوار الهداية الربانية.
فتاريخ الإسلام بإفريقيا، ولاسيما في بلدانها جنوبي الصحراء، يؤكد أن هذا الدين لم ينتشر إلا بفضل مشايخ الطرق الصوفية والتجار المسلمين المغاربة الأتقياء، والدعاة بالتي هي أحسن إلى مكارم الأخلاق، وفي مقدمتهم شيوخ الطريقة التجانية وأتباعها، الذين أشاعوا بين المسلمين في هذه الربوع فضائل الإسلام، في الطهارة السلوكية والانضباط، والالتزام بالفرائض، والمواظبة على ملء الوقت بالذكر، والالتزام بالجماعة، والترفع عن الضغينة، والعفو عند المقدرة والتسامح والتعايش مع الغير، والتصافي والصفح الجميل، والتنافس في أعمال البر وترسيخ وشائج الأخوة الدينية، حتى إنهم كانوا يتنادون بينهم بلفظ "الأحباب ".كما أنه بفضل هذه الطريقة صمد المسلمون في هذه البلاد في وجه الغزو الاستعماري والإلحادي، وظلوا بعيدين عن التطرف والانغلاق والغلو في الدين. فامتلأت ألوف الزوايا والمساجد بالمؤمنين منهم، عامرة بتلاوة القرآن الكريم وأوراد الذكر ووظائفه. وبذلك غدت هذه الطريقة منهجا تربويا فعالا، مشعّا بالهداية والتوجيه على هدي السلف الصالح.
وتلكم حضرات السيدات والسادة الأفاضل الرسالة
السامية، التي تعملون اليوم على خدمتها اتباعا
لهدي أسلافكم، من أجل توسيع دائرة
انتشارها، وترسيخ مبادئها وقيمها ولاسيما في عصر اهتزت فيه القيم الروحية،
التشكيك في المرجعية الدينية، بفعل طغيان النزعات المادية، والانجراف مع
المغرب، الذي يستقبل اليوم، فيكم حضرات السادة
والمريدين التجانيين، من كل حدب وصوب، شموعا
مضيئة على درب التقوى والصلاح،
الربانية إلى كل خير وفلاح، لعازم على أن يبقى وفيا لتراثه الروحي
الحضاري، حريصا على أن يظل هذا البلد الأمين قطبا للطريقة
التجانية، مدعما ومسانداً
لكم في العمل على مدّ إشعاعها، خدمة للتضامن الإسلامي
المغاربي الإفريقي، جاعلا
منها أحد أعمدة الوحدة الإفريقية وآلياتها
حضرات السيدات والسادة الأفاضل، إذا كان اجتماعكم بالمغرب يمثل، بدون شك، فرصة ثمينة للتعارف والحوار فيما بينكم، واستشعار جوهر الرابطة الروحية التي تجمعكم في هذه المدينة، برمزيتها القوية التي لا تضاهى، والمتمثلة في ضريح مؤسس الطريقة، أكرم الله مثواه، والذي هو محج أتباعها من كل بقاع العالم، فإننا نعتبر هذا الاجتماع، بمثابة مرحلة جديدة لتفعيل منهجكم التربوي الروحي، وترسيخ قيم الإسلام في التسامح والمحبة وبذل السلام. كما أننا سنواصل رعايتكم، باعتبارها جزءاً لا يتجزأ من خدمة المملكة المغربية للتضامن الإسلامي. وهي الأمانة التي نتقلدها، بكل صدق والتزام، بوصفنا أميراً للمؤمنين، متمسكين بها خلفا عن سلف، منطلقين من دعم الوشائج التاريخية القوية الجامعة بين المغرب وأشقائه، ولاسيما البلدان الإفريقية. وإننا لنتطلع في نفس الوقت، إلى دعم كل أسباب التقارب بين المسلمين، في المشرق والمغرب، وتوحيد كلمتهم، واسترجاع رسالتهم الحضارية، عن طريق تقوية الأخلاق الإسلامية، التي هي الرصيد الذي لا ينفد، لكل تقدم وازدهار، ونهضة واستقرار.
ولن يتحقق ذلك إلا بتفعيل قيم الإسلام المثلى في مجالات العمل المنتج والتعاون الموصول والإخاء الصادق، والانخراط الفاعل في جميع أوراش التنمية البشرية، بكل ديار الإسلام، للقضاء على الفقر والخصاصة والتهميش، وتحقيق العيش الكريم اللائق بالإنسان المسلم، بل وبكل إنسان حيثما كان، رجالا ونساء وأطفالا. وهذا ما يسهر المغرب اليوم على تفعيله بقيادتنا، في جميع الميادين، متعاونين مع أشقائنا في كل البلدان الإسلامية الأخرى، متطلعين إلى تحقيق التكامل فيما بين دول الجوار، من أشقائنا المغاربيين، على درب الاتحاد البناء، وترسيخ أسباب التضامن والإخاء.
ولا شك في أن للطريقة التجانية، عبر إفريقيا والعالم الإسلامي كله، دورها التربوي في التنمية الأخلاقية والروحية، وتطهير النفوس من نوازع الفرقة والانقسام، وجمعها على الألفة والالتحام. إنها رسالة التصوف المعاصر بكل طرائقه ومشاربه، والهدف الأسمى من كل مناهجه، التي قامت على مداواة النفوس من عللها، وكبح شهواتها. فما أحرى هذه التنمية الأخلاقية والروحية بدعمنا ورعايتنا، في كل زمن كالزمن الذي نعيشه، حيث حاجتنا فيه إلى علاج الأبدان والحفاظ على صحتها، ليست بأولى من حاجتنا إلى مداواة النفوس وتهذيبها. فهذه هي القاعدة الصلبة لكل بناء مجتمعي متماسك متضامن سليم، والمنطلق الأساس لبناء كيان الأمة الإسلامية، كما أرادها الله تعالى أمة وسطاً، ورضي لها الإسلام دينا قيما، وهداية سرمدية.
وإننا إذ نرحب بكم حضرات السيدات والسادة الأفاضل، في بلدكم الثاني المغرب، وفي مدينة فاس، العبقة بتاريخ العلماء والأولياء، فإننا نرجو لكم مقاما طيبا بين إخوانكم وأهليكم، داعين لكم بكامل السداد وموصول التوفيـق. " قل هذه سبيلي أدعو إلى الله على بصيرة أنا ومن اتبعني ". صدق الله العظيم. والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله تعالى وبركاته .
In striking similarity to the approach of his ancestors who placed orthodox Sufism inside the framework of Shari‘a, Sidi Mohammed VI aligns Sufism with the high tradition of juridical Islam. Ironically, while the saintly institution, from the perspective of Moulay Slimane, promotes bida‘ and corrupts Muslim society, according to King Sidi Mohammed VI, it fights bida‘, extremism, and corruption, and promotes pacifism and high morals instead. Indeed, King Sidi Mohammed VI goes as far as stating that the values and ways of mystics and saints are derived from the Quran and Sunna, therefore they should not be looked upon as a frozen, outdated tradition. He depicts the kind of perfection achieved by saints as the model which everyone should strive to emulate.
King Sidi Mohammed VI is clearly aware that the saintly tradition creates more of a cultural heritage than a lived reality while politically active Islamism is taking over. It is the activist Islamist who now poses a threat to the monarchy. The saint has ceased to pose any real political threat since the King Moulay El Hassan II domesticated him. A word on Hassan the Second’s policy towards the saintly institution is in order here. During his rule, Hassan II started by centralizing the administration of all the major mausoleums of the country. Then, at a later stage, he relegated the administration of each to a delegation of select descendents of its patron saint. These delegations were affiliated with the Ministry of Interior. As for the secretary general of the Idrissids, Morocco’s most prestigious sharifs by virtue of their descent from Idriss I, he was put under the direct supervision of the minister of Interior. Furthermore, one of the king’s official advisors, Moulay Ahmed Alawi, himself an Alawite sharif, took on the role of supervising and attending the big mawasim.
Besides inheriting a politically domesticated saint from his father, King Sidi Mohammed VI came to power in a historical moment when the saint had lost his ability of miraculous intervention in the world, although he still resonated in Moroccan culture. As the influence of the saint waned, the allure of the Islamist gained ground. By the time King Sidi Mohammed VI was enthroned, it was religious parties and groups rather than religious brotherhoods which were attracting the youth, the downtrodden, and the dispossessed. After 9/11, the Islamist groups became even more active. Ultimately, terror-proof Morocco was brought into the cycle of international terrorism by its own citizens, a group of youths from the poor masses. The return to sainthood seemed a good alternative to the kind of Islam that propelled the attacks. King Sidi Mohammed VI portrays the saint as an exemplary figure. He extols “the white hands of mystics upon Islamic civilization.” The grand narrative of the king’s discourse opposes the pacifying, purging influence of the Sufi to the disquieting, “criminal” impact the politically motivated Islamist. Significantly enough, when reconstructing the history of the Moroccan saint, King Sidi Mohammed mentions the latter’s social and educational commitment and ignores the political potential of the saintly institution. Moreover, he aligns the saints directly with juridical Islam in order to thwart the Islamists’ contention that sainthood is a form of heterodoxy.
To sum up, Sidi Mohammed valorized the saint as an exemplary figure in his post-the-Casablanca-attacks discourse as part of his general policy of promoting Sufism that targeted both domestic and international audiences. On the international level, his policy was intended to restore the image of Moroccan society as an open, tolerant one that is practicing a moderate form of Islam. Furthermore, his policy converged with an international move towards reviving the culture of Sufism. On the domestic level, his move was meant to provide the Moroccan people with a spiritual model to look up to in a time of deep disorientation, and to strengthen their faith in their culture as well as governing institution. In the absence of any substantial threat from a domesticated saintly institution, Sidi Mohammed tries to revive a centuries-old tradition and activate the symbolic capital of the saint in order to prevail upon the newly acquired influence of the Islamists. The image he invokes is that of a supportive saint who “deepened the love of Ahl al-Bayt in people’s hearts.” Now that the saint had substantially lost his influence and was forced to resign to cultural archives, the sharifian king appropriates his symbolic capital, and affirms his overall authority over the religious domain as “Prince of the Faithful.” If the saint is to return, he has to do so in the manner that best suits the needs of a modern sharifian state surviving the post 9/11 turmoil.
Clearly, King Sidi Mohammed VI is capitalizing on a rich tradition of king/saint relationship in order to consolidate his religious and political authority, and promote a pacifist moderate form of Islam as the true Moroccan Islam. In 1420/2005 the king was celebrating the circumcision of his son, the crown prince, Moulay El Hassan at the shrine of Idriss II in Fez, as his father Moulay El Hassan had him circumcised at the shrine of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1116), in compliance with the Moroccan royal tradition. Compliance with the royal tradition as far as the public celebration of the circumcision of the crown prince in the mausoleum of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar stands in sharp contrast to Sidi Mohammed VI’s many departures from the royal tradition. Yet, it converges with his general policy of promoting the Moroccan saintly heritage. A few days after the celebration of the circumcision at the Moulay Idriss al-Azhar’s Mausoleum, the king moved to the nearby city of Meknes to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) at another great mausoleum; that of the Jazulite master Shaykh al-Kamel ("Sidi Mohammed al-Hadi b. Aissa al-Fahdi al-Hassani al-Idrissi”; d. 933/1518). The King has chaired a similar ceremony at the Mausoleum of Sidi Mohammed ibn Sulayman al-Jazouli (d. 869/1454).HM. King Mohammed IV celebrating the Mawlid Nabawi of 1420/2005 in the Shrine of Sidi al-Hadi ben Aissa, Meknes
The unique Ramadan's religious ceremony of Durus al-Hassaniya is another part of an age-old tradition that honours Sufi presence and practice. What might seem static about king/saint relationship, however, and the cultural constructs upon which this relationship rests, resembles in fact the undertaking of major renovations throughout the royal reigns in support of Sufi masters. Dozens of prominent mosques and zawiyas were renewed during the seventeenth through to twentieth century. Sultan Moulay Rachid renovated the tomb of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim who also built himself a tomb in the complex. In 1670, The sultan Moulay Rashid has, in addition, built Fez’ ever largest madrasa, the Sharratin. The madrasa may have housed up to 150 students, whose rooms are unusual for their disposition around small interior courtyards rather than disposed around the main courtyard, as in the majority of madrasas in the Maghrib.
One of Morocco’s most famous builders, Sultan Moulay Ismail, whose aim it was to build Meknes as the new capital of the kingdom, also sought to make Fez the Jewel of the Maghreb. There, he renewed the shrines of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar and Sidi Abdellqadir al-Fasi (d. 1091/1676). Once again, the zawiya of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim was renewed after a visit by the sultan. He has also issued a royal dhahir to allocate the revenues of the latter to the Debbarh Sharifs. Though the shrine of Moulay Idriss al-Akbar at Zerhoun is Morocco’s holiest sanctuary, it was Moulay Ismail who ordered the building of its current structure. At the same time, he built himself in Meknes a tomb alongside that of Moulay Abderrahman al-Majdoub (d. 976/1561), where he also was buried after his death.
The sultan Moulay Sulayman who founded many mosques such as the Fez Boujloud Mosque, has also reconstructed that of the 12th century Ali b. Yusuf (Marrakech). The fine Fez tombs of Sidi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d. 543/1128) and Sidi Abdellaziz b. Masoud Debbarh ("Dabbagh"; d. 1132/1717), and Sidi Ali al-Sadrati al-Fasi were re-erected to their memory under the aegis of the sultan Sidi Mohammed V ibn Yusuf (1909-1961). His succour Moulay El Hassan has followed the footsteps of his ancestors renovating the sanctuaries of Sidi Abul Abbas as-Sabti (d. 601/1186) of Marrakech and Sidi Abdellah Ben Hassoun (d. 1013/1604) of Salé to mention very few. The same can be said about the current king Sidi Mohammed VI. The Qarawiyyine mosque, the Wazzaniya main lodge, the Attarine/Bouananiya/Sharratin madrasas, and others, were in a bad state before Sidi Mohammed renewed them.
Sidi Mohammed VI, Moulay El Hassan II, Rabat
The Fez shrine of Mawlana al-Qutb al-Maktum Sidna Shaykh Abul Abbas Tijani was in bad need of repair. Therefore, when Emir al-Mouminin Mawlana Mohammed VI visited it he ordered that the zawiya be renovated. As part of this renovation program, the zawiya was once again rebuilt by the king Sidi Mohammed in the beautiful Moroccan-Andalusian style. According to a Royal desire, the necessary alterations were made to reserve all the quarters of the blessed zawiya, i.e. street façade, entrances, walls, octagons, ceiling, columns, windows, floors, doors, domes, square, courtyard ablutions fountain along with the lavatories. A special attention has been paid to the cataphalque of Sidna Shaykh. The intention was to rebuild it in a royal fashion. The construction was completed in 2006. It would seem that the high cost of renovation paid for the very exquisitely beautiful Zawiya Tijaniya stands today as a lasting memory to a 300 million community’s most beloved saint.
© 2008 Dar Sirr