Warriors as Saints
There are some of the zawiyas where the shaykhs resisted the invaders and did jihad with weapons or the pen or the tongue. It is not our aim to examine all the mujahidun Awliya here. We simply want to provide some evidence for those who say that not all the Sufi orders submitted to colonialists. These are but a few of the Sufi Shaykhs among those who liberated the Moroccan coasts and resisted the colonialists in the east and west, and some of them were killed as martyrs. Many Shaykhs who were martyred while defending Islam were not mentioned, like the saints of Banu Amghar allied with Sidi Abdellah ibn Sasi who went out in jihad in Azammour when it was occupied by the Portuguese in 947/1532; the Jazulite Shaykh Sidi Aissa Misbahi who as martyred in a battle at Tangier in 928/1513; the Sufi Shaykh Sidi Rahhal al-Kush (d. after 945/1530), the murabit Sidi Abdellah ibn Omar al-Mdaghri (d. 927/1521) who skirmished with the Portuguese near the feitorias of Massa and Agadir; the greatest murabit in the lands south of the Atlas mountains, Sidi Ahmed ou Mbarak al-Aqqawi (d. 924/1509), a Jazulite master from the emporium centre of Aqqa in the lower Dar'a valley; the Sharif Sidi Mohammed ibn Abderrahman Zaydani (d. 723/1517), allied with the Murabit Sidi Abdellah ibn Omar al-Mdaghri (d. 927/1521) and Sidi Barakat ibn Mohammed Tidasi (d. 917/1555), leaded the attack against the Portuguese feitorias of Tafant in 916/1501; Sidi al-'Iyyachi ibn Abderrahman Skirej al-Fasi -father of al-Allama Sidi Ahmed Skirej, the companion of Mawlana Shaykh Abul Abbas Tijani, who fought the Spanish in Tetouan in the war of 1266/1859 and died from his wounds in the city of Fez.
Sidi Mohammed ibn Slimane Jazouli (d. 869/1454)
Six years before his martyrdom, the venerated Sufi Shaykh, founder of the Jazouliya Sufi order, Sidi Mohammed ibn Slimane Jazouli, moved from Asafi and headquarter himself south to Haha, a foothill region of the High Atlas mountains midway between Dukkala and the Sus and a strategic location to the defence of central Morocco. The Imam established his new ribat at Afughal, in the Aït Dawud tribal region east of the present town of Tamanar. In fact, he maintained two ribats in the region: one for use in the summer and one for use in the winter. The Imam's summer ribat have been near the pass of Sidi Ali Mashu in Jabal Igran, where the High Atlas mountains rise to an altitude of over 6,000 feet. His winter ribat, by contrast, have been located nearer the coast—below Jabal Amsitten near the present town of Smimou—where the Atlas foothills reached no more than 300 feet in elevation. The military force of the Imam based in these ribats have served as a buffer against Christian incursions by threatening the Portuguese at both Asafi to the north and Massa to the south. On the fourth day of Dul-Qi'ada 869 (28 June 1454), the Imam collapsed and died while making his Subh prayer. Because of the suddenness of his death and the fact that he gave no sign of illness beforehand, it was immediately assumed that the Portuguese had poisoned him.
Sidi al-Haj Ali al-Baqqal Aghsawi (d. 980/1565)
Sidi al-Haj Ali al-Baqqal (d. 980/1565) is the founder of the famous Baqqaliya Order which spread widely in north-western Morocco. He studied Sufism under the Jazulite Shaykh Sidi Abdellah Habti (d. 963/1548) but the Zarruqite Sufi Sidi Mohammed ibn Ali Kharroubi (d. 963/1548) was his main spiritual guide. The descendents of the Shaykh was knows for their jihad against the colonialists. One of their stands against colonialism occurred after the death of the Saadi ruler, al-Mansur, in 1012/1597, an event that led to civil war between his three sons. One of the sons, Mohammed, fled to Spain in 1017/1602 to incite the Spanish against his brother, Zaydan. The Spanish responded to his request, stipulating that he hand over Larache after evacuating its Muslim inhabitants, to which he agreed. He sent his qaid who evacuated Larache, killing a number of its residents who refused to leave their homes. The Spanish were then able to occupy it in 1019/1604. When that happened, that sharif Sidi Ahmed al-Imrani went to the gatherings in Fez calling for a jihad and the expulsion of the Spanish. Before that Mohammed had asked for a fatwa from the scholars of Fez allowing him to surrender Larache to ransom his sons from the unbelievers and some scholars gave him that fatwa. Some scholars went into hiding and others fled from Fez. The most courageous of the scholars and the firmest in standing for the truth was the Sufi Shaykh Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed ibn Abi Ali Baqqali. He did not flee nor hide, but answered with the truth and clearly stated that allegiance to this man was void, even going to the office of the Sultan to state that. As a consequence of taking this stand, he was killed in 1017/1602.
Sidi Mohammed ibn Yajbash Tazi (d. 920/1505)
The Qadirite Sufi of Taza Sidi Mohammed ibn Yajbash (d. 920/1505) was deeply concerned at what the Moroccan coast had to suffer from the humiliation of occupation by the Christians. He wrote a treaty which he called Kitab al-jihad li kulli man qala Rabbi Allah thumma istaqam (Holy War to all of those who say My Lord is God' and follow the Straight Path). Kitab al-jihad is an overtly political work that was inspired by the fall of the Atlantic port of Asila to the Portuguese in 876/1471. It was written to exhort the ulama of Morocco to awaken the social and political crises that plugged their region and to undertake the reforms that were necessary to unite the Muslim community in its defence. The book consisted of admonition, encouragements and summons to Jihad, and ended with a poem of 170 verses which urged the Muslims to engage in jihad. The beginning of Kitab al-jihad is written in the style of khutba, a Friday sermon, and evokes a stark image of impending doom:
Worshippers of God! What is this great negligence that has fixed itself in your hearts, upon which the ego relies, and which has negated proper guidance and God's favour? Are you not aware that your enemies are investigating you and are employing every strategy in order to get you? They have gathered together in numbers and too large to count and have sent their spies and scouts to every land in order to inform them of what your numbers are, as well as your strengths and convictions. They have told their leaders of your foolishness and negligence, and that your numbers, compared to theirs, are as insignificance and as weak as can be. For you are divided against your Muslim brothers and care nothing about debasing the religion of the Lord of Messengers and taking [as captives] the believing worshipers of God.
Once they have known everything about your conditions, your lack of care, and preoccupations, they will crave… to attain their goals. Then they will gather… and go out into these lands. But they will be satisfied neither with possessing it nor with obtaining wealth and slaves. Instead, they will cause glory and happiness into debasement and sorrow. They will cause despair and expulsion to prevail, both in feeling and in fact. [The people of this land] will be shackled with chains and irons and everyday they will suffer grievous agony; they will become like chattel and slaves and those who only yesterday were rich and secure will be poor and afraid. They will be robbed of their possession, their material conditions will be upset, their women will be separated from them, their daughters will be taken from them, and the unbelievers will complete over the prices at which they will purchase them.
So what is this negligence about your brothers, oh Muslims? Even now, [the unbelievers] are watching you at every moment in time. They are not satisfied with food, nor they do find rest in sleep. What is the condition of one who lies fettered in chains or shackles and under arrest? These [unfortunates] only serve [their masters] beneath reprimands and blows, with abuse, slaps, and insults; they will find neither pity nor mercy; they cannot imagine the sorrow and affliction that they undergo; their tears will pour down their cheeks and they will be overcome by sadness that knows no relief! Is there anyone who can cool these embers? Where is the compassion of the people of Islam? Where is the mercy of Sidna Mohammed's (peace and blessing be upon him) umma, who are characterised by the noblest of qualities—the devotees of the one who is famous for his excellence and the instrument of attainment of God?
Sidi Abu Hassan Ali ibn Uthman Shawi (d. 925/1510)
The venerated mystic Sidi Abu Hassan Ali ibn Uthman Shawi recited the Quran in battles and sometimes recited the Burda of the Moroccan origin Shadhilite master Sidi Sharafuddin al-Busairi Sanhaji (697/1298). He was martyred close to al-Qasr Lakbir in 925/1510.
Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed Yahya Bahlouli (d. 965/1550)
The Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Bahlouli was devoted to jihad and composed many poems. He used to think that the prayer of an Imam who did not take part in jihad.
Sidi Abul Mahasin Yusuf al-Fasi (d. 1013/1598)
The Shaykh Abul Mahasin al-Fasi has himself attended the famous Wad al-Makhazin (or the Battle of The three Kings) which occurred in the 4th of August, 1578, along with the Jazulite masters Sidi Abdellah Benhassoun (d. 1013/1598) and Sidi Mhammed ibn Ali ibn Raysun (d. 1018/1603), which took place in 986/1571 between the Moroccans and the Christians (Portuguese and Spanish) under King Sebastian who attacked northern Morocco with 125.000 men and 200 cannons. They wanted to occupy Morocco and christianise it as they have done with Andalusia. The Muslims won the battle, as history records, but we want to mention the three positions of the Shaykh of the Zawiya, Sidi Abul Mahasin al-Fasi, before, during and after the battle.
The first position was when people were alarmed by the army of the Portuguese which was occupying Moroccan lands, and which had almost reached al-Qasr all-Kabir, the birthplace of Shaykh Abul Mahasin. People decided to leave the land and flee to the mountains since the Sultan of Morocco was still in Marrakech about 100 kilometres from there. Shaykh Sidi Abul Mahasin spoke to people and encouraged them to remain firm. He said: "Stay in your towns and homes. The King of the Christians is confined where he is until the Sultan comes from Marrakech'. The Christians will be booty for the Muslims. Whoever wishes will be able to receive 50 uqiyyas for each Christian," indicating their price.
The second position was during the battle itself. We read in Ahmed ibn Khalid Nasiri's (d. 1312/1897) Kitab al-Istiqsa, "On that day Shaykh Abul Mahasin was in one of the flanks. I think that there was some movement by the Muslim army and there was a break on that side. The Muslim lines broke and the Christians attacked them, but the Shaykh stood firm as did those with him until Allah give victory to the Muslims." The third position was when Shaykh Abul Mahasin was present on an expedition in which he fought, but refrained from the booty (ghanima), not taking any of it because it was looted and not taken in legal manner due to the death of the Sultan that day.
Sidi Mohammed ibn Abi Bakr Dilai (d. 1046/1631)
The Shadhilite Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Majjati was born in 997/1582 in the famous Dila Zawiya situated in central Morocco where he grew up and engaged in study along with his brothers. His masters included Sidi Ahmed Slasi and Sidi al-Arbi al-Fasi. He took the Jazulite tariqa from his father, the Pole of the Time, the Great Succour, Sidi Abu Bakr ibn Mohammed Majjati Dilai (d. 1021/1606), who took the path from the great master Sidi Abu Amr al-Qastali (d. 974/1559), from Sidi Abdelkarim al-Fallah (d. 933/1518), from the Patron Saint Sidi Abu Faris Moulay Abdellaziz Tabba'a (d. 914/1499), who had it from the Supreme Saint of Marrakech Mawlana Mohammed ibn Slimane Jazouli (d. 869/1454). In 1041/1626, he went to Makka and Medina with a number of men of knowledge and met many more in the course if the journey. He studied in Medina and stayed there as a khatib and Imam, and then he later stayed in Egypt for a time where he held classes in tafsir, hadith and other subjects.
As well as his scholarly abilities, his political and military abilities became clear while his father was still alive when he sent him at the head of the army of Dila' beyond the Mouliya river. He succeeded his father after his death and the all the nearby tribes united under his subjects. The Saadi Sultan was afraid that this man would put an end to what influence he still enjoyed in Morocco. The people of Fez offered him allegiance as khalifa in the Qarawiyyine. As for the Zawiya of Dilaiya he grew up, he turned it a centre of science and education. Among the major scholars who graduated from the zawiya are the names of Sidi al-Hassan ibn Masoud al-Yusi (d. 1102/1687). In times of scarcity, the zawiya set up poor relief schemes and dispensed stocks of food to starving peasants. Relief programmes were not only set in motion in response to particularly adverse circumstances; more often than not they were a regular feature of charitable policies. Historians state that everyday 75 qantars of grain were ground and every day 7.000 poor people would be fed. On the Mawlid, there would be 70.000 thousand who were fed.
The jihad of Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Majjati Dalai was directed against the Spanish on the Atlantic coast. He called on holly warriors of all areas to fight, and among those who responded to the call was the famed venerated Shadhilite master of Fez Sidi Mohammed ibn Abdellah al-Fasi (d. 1062/1647)—the student of Sidi Abul Mahasin Yusuf al-Fasi (d. 1013/1598) and his brother Sidi Abderrahman al-Fasi (d. 1027/1612)—as well as his son Sidi Ahmed ibn Abdellah al-Fasi (d. 1129/1714). This latter was the master of Moulay Abdellaziz ibn Masoud Debbarh (d. 1132/1717) whose Sufi experiences are described in Kitab al-Ibriz. The Shadhilite masters endured great hardship in the fight against the enemy and encouraged people. One day, Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Dalai was too weak to climb up the side of the Maamoura due to his age so his son carried him so that they could reach the dangerous positions. In the siege of this port from 10 August to 2 September 1644, the Moroccan army numbered 8.000, lightly armed. After several land and naval engagements between the Dilai army and the Spanish fleet sent by Spain to relieve the siege, the Dilai army were forced to lift the siege.
Sidi Mhammed ben Nasir Dar'i (d. 1085/1674)
The Revered Shaykh, the Imam of Knowers, Sidi Mhammed ben Nasir Dar'i (d. 1085/1674), the founder of the great Shadhilite Nasiri Order headquartered in Tamagrout in the district of Zagora, wrote a supplication, known as the Du'aa an-Nasiri, which begins, "O you who flee to His mercy." He wrote it during the Crusade attack on the shores of Morocco. It is the greatest evidence of his love for jihad and reliance on Allah in hardships, as well as showing the adab (courtesy) of a servant of God, and his humbleness before His hardship, and encouraging jihad against the unbelievers and praying to Allah against them. Shaykh Sidi Mhammed ben Nasir Dar'i begins by asking for help for those who fled to His mercy in hardship. It is if he were saying, "O You to whose mercy one can only flee from pains and hardships." The people of Fez call it, "The Unsheathed Sword of Ben Nasir" since they taught it to their children in schools and madrasas and they repeated it after recitation of the Holy Quran every day after the Friday prayer in the call to jihad:O You to Whose mercy one flees! You in Whom the one in need and distress seeks refuge! O master, you Whom pardon is near! O You Who help all who call on Him!
Sidi Abu Salim Abdellah Ayyashi (d. 1091/1676)
We read in Ahmed Nasiri's (d. 1312/1897) Kitab al-Istiqsa, "Abdellah Ayyashi ("Sidi Abu Salim Abdellah ibn Mohammed Ayyashi; d. 1091/1676) remained firm in jihad against the enemy, being familiar with military tactics, taking an advanced position against the enemy in attacks. He was taciturn, not given to speaking much. He constricted the Christians of El Jadida to much extent that he kept them from planning and grazing their animals. The Christians sent the Sultan gifts and he, in turn, dismissed the Shaykh, and sent an army and ordered him to be imprisoned and killed." This was the treachery to a hero. Perhaps they were among the ones who attack Sufism, because history repeats itself and this is how who deceive behave.
Sidi Mohammed Maa' al-Aynayn (d. 1325/1910)
The venerated Moroccan Qadirite Shaykh and Idrissid Sharif Sidi Mohammed Mustafa Maa’ al-Aynayn was born in 1251/1831 in the Hawd of southern Mauritania and died at Tiznit in central Morocco in 1328/1910. He was a Sahrawi religious and political leader and is considered to be the father of Moroccan Sahrawi nationalism for his inspiration and leadership of a Sahrawi resistance movement in a six years holy war (1904–1910) against French and Spanish colonization in Morocco. His father, Sidi Mohammed Fadil ibn Mamin (1212/1797-1285/1870), created the Qadirite Fadiliya Sufi order. After Sidi Mohammed Fadil's death in 1869, the survival and growing importance of the Fadiliya order continued to be based on its leaders' charisma, passed from father to son. Indeed, ever since Mohammed Fadil chose to give priority to his biological sons, succession in the Fadiliya movement remained a family matter. Hence, after his death, a few of his sons took over the order's leadership, which resulted in some fragmentation within the Hawd, but also in expansion in other regions. In the Hawd, two of Sidi Mohammed Fadil's sons managed to maintain unity within the order, but their almost simultaneous deaths marked the end of an era for the Fadiliya history in this Mauritanian region. Meanwhile, two other of Sidi Mohammed Fadil's sons were successfully spreading the Fadiliya order’s influence-symbolically, religiously, socially, and politically-onto new territories: Sidi Mohammed Maa’ al-Aynayn, in the Moroccan Sahara, and Sidi Sa'ad Buh in the Gibla (Trarza) – a region located in South West Mauritania. By the end of the thirteenth/nineteenth century, the Fadiliya order had spread from Senegal all the way to Morocco.
In 1859, Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn—this nickname he received as a child, meaning that of watered eyes in Arabic—settled in the Moroccan oasis of Tindouf, whose inhabitants were originally hostile to his father’s religious discourse. Yet, also taking advantage of the lack of a strong political and religious power in the region, like his father had done, the Shaykh quickly became known for his extraordinary theological production (about 50 of his books were lithographed at the end of the nineteenth century in Morocco), and his exceptional intellectual and religious capabilities, as well as for his magical powers. Besides, Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn was also known for his political abilities and his active involvement in creating matrimonial alliances, alliances with influential political forces in the region, as well as the establishment of cities. As a result, his nomad encampment attracted many students of Islamic law and Bedouins asking for his blessing.
Increasingly disturbed by Western penetration of the area, which he viewed both as an intrusion by hostile foreign powers and as a Christian assault on Islam, Shaykh Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn started to advocate resistance. Sahrawi tribes performed raids against the foreign forces even before that, but French troops drew ever closer, conquering one local ruler after the other. In 1904, the Shaykh proclaimed himself imam, and called for a holy war (Jihad) against the colonizers. His charisma as both a religious and political leader allowed him to gather tribes around him. Very importantly, he proclaimed that the trab al-beidan—a desert area that includes today's Mauritania, Moroccan Sahara and large swaths of Mali and Algeria—was under the Moroccan Sultan Moulay Hassan's rule. While the Shaykh was appointed as the Sultan’s representative in the Sahara and given control over his forces, this display of effective cooperation helped assemble a large coalition of tribes to fight the colonizers. Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn began acquiring firearms and other materials, both through channels in Morocco and through direct negotiations with rival European powers such as Germany and Spain, and quickly built up an impressive fighting force.
In 1907, the Moroccan Sultan accepted the Treaty of Algeciras, granting French colonial control over much of Morocco. In 1910, anarchy spread through Morocco, as European pressures were making Moroccan Sultanate weaker and weaker. On March 4, 1912, the Sultan Moulay Hafid signed the Protectorate treaty with the French. Meanwhile, Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn was writing a theological text titled "Hidāyatu man Hārā fī Muhārabat an-Nasāra" (Guide for the One who Doubts the Legitimacy of the War against the Christians) in which he was inciting to Jihad and calling its adversaries traitors or even miscreants. The following year, the French began interrupting the flow of arms to the Jihadists. The uprising crumbled, as French forces—then under colonel Gouraud’s control—pushed forward. Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn retreated to Tiznit. The Shaykh concerned that Morocco would fall into European hands, decided he would try to seize the country. He was proclaimed Sultan of Morocco in June, and immediately appointed head of an army of several thousand men, whose mission was to overthrow Moulay Hafid. He was intercepted on June 23, and his forces were destroyed by the modern French army. Sidi Maa’ al-Aynayn, then about 80 years old, fled back to Tiznit, where he died in October.
Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Maa' al-Aynayn was succeeded by his son Sidi Mohammed Loghdof ("al-Aghdaf"; b. 1290/1875). As both marabout and leader of the Reguibat tribe, he soon became known to the French as 'our bitter enemy'. Another of Sidi Ma' El Aynayn's sons, Sidi Ahmed al-Hiba (d. 1336/1921), achieved the virtually impossible in 1912 by storming the colonial jewel of Marrakech. Although Sidi al-Hiba was forced out of the city within a month, by his act of defiance he achieved immortality, and became known as the 'Blue Sultan'. In 1912, the French burned Smara; but the city still remained the symbolic centre of the resistance. Shaykh Sidi Merebbi Rebbu, another son of his, then rose in revolt, as would several of his grandchildren. Sidi Merebbi Rebbu his father's work as dissident leader, fighting with considerable success in the Sahara and Anti Atlas until 1934, when he was finally beaten and the South succumbed to European control.
Sidi al-Haj Mohammed al-Boudali (d. after 1228/1813)
The jihad of the Darqawiya order founded by the Shaykh Moulay al-Arbi ibn Ahmed Darqawi (d. 1239/1824) becomes apparent during the reign of Sultan Moulay Mohammed b. Abdellah and Mawlana Abu al-Rabi'a Sulayman. Some disciples of Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi were very politically active on several occasions. The Shaykh Sidi al-Hajj Mohammed Ahrash al-Boudali was one of them. He was a Moroccan who went to the Hijaz on pilgrimage. On his return (c. 1214/1799) from the East, he stopped in Egypt, at that moment under attack by the French. He gathered a force of Tunisians and other Maghribis—of whom there was a large colony in the late eighteenth century Cairo—to fight the invaders. Here Shaykh al-Boudali won fame for his personal bravery. After leaving Egypt, Shaykh al-Boudali stopped at Tunis, making the acquaintance of the Bey, Abu Mohammed Hammuda Pasha. The Bey entrusted him with the role of fomenting a rebellion against the Ottoman Bey of Constantine and gave him money for that purpose.
In provoking a rising, Shaykh al-Boudali's connections were significant. He also called himself Sahib al-Waqt, "Master of the Time," hinting that he might be a Mahdi or at least the forerunner of a Mahdi. He soon won resounding military successes. Hundreds of Kabyle tribesmen joined his forces. About 1218/1803, Sidi al-Boudali ambushed the incautious Bey of Constantine and massacred his army in a narrow defile. Despite the rage of the Dey at Algiers over this disaster, which was followed by intensified Ottoman military activity against him, Shaykh al-Boudali was able to hold out in the mountains of Eastern Algeria for a long time. Much of the region was in perpetual uproar over his raiding and resistance to the Dey in Algiers. However, when the Dey enlisted a qaid who knew the country and led a new army against him, Shaykh al-Boudali fled westward toward the Oran (Wahran) region, where he joined the camp of Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Benshrif, another disciple of Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi. At this point, Sidi al-Boudali vanished from history. A number of different versions exist of his final exploits and his flight to Morocco.
Another figure very much like Shaykh al-Boudali was Sidi Mohammed Benshrif ("Abu Mohammed Abdellqadir ibn ash-Sharif al-Falliti"), a Kassasa Berber from Wad al-'Abd district east and south of Oran (Wahran). He had studied at the Zawiya of Emir Abdellqadir's family at Qaytana, and was personally acquainted with Emir Abdellqadir's father. On leaving Qaytana he went to Fez where he met Moulay al-Arbi and joined his brotherhood. At this time, Moulay al-Arbi was an important political alley of the Sultan of Morocco. As a result of this connection, Sidi Benshrif returned in 1217/1802 to his own district proclaiming himself the Mahdi. He obtained quick support from the impoverished local people, who only too willing to sack and plunder under his leadership when he laid waste to adjoining areas.
Informed of Benshrif's activities, the Bey of Oran raised an army against the revel. But Shaykh Benshrif was too powerful for the Bey, who was heavily defeated by the Darqawi forces on the plain of Gharis between Mascara and Qaytana. The beaten Bey fled to Oran for cover. As they pressed their pursuit, Benshrif's men obtained much booty. Eventually they besieged Oran. A relief army was sent overland from Algiers by the Dey, commended by Ali Agha. Along the route, in the Wadi Shalif, the army was so harassed by the Darqawi forces and fell so short of food and water that it had to turn back to Algiers.
The Bey sent a letter asking for the help of the Moroccan Sultan. Since the rebellion was in the name of the Darqawi order, the aid of the order's head, Moulay al-Arbi, in settling the conflict would be most helpful. The relations between the two states had on occasion been less than friendly, and there had been a number of clashes and conflicts in the border region. However, a successful Moroccan intervention would evidently be a diplomatic fain for the Sultan, so he sent Moulay al-Arbi to Oran. But upon arriving among his brothers, the Shaykh, who was in his sixties, decided to join them and denounced the behaviour of the Bey, at which the latter sent a fairly irritated letter to the Sultan concerning the kind of aid he had provided.
In the end, the siege was broken and the Turkish forces moved to Tlemcen and laid siege to it. Tlemcen is near to the Moroccan border, and both the scholarly people and the tribes there had close contacts with their neighbours. Thus they decided to break free from Turkish rule and proclaimed their allegiance to the Moroccan Sultan. According to the Moroccan historian Ahmed Nasiri (d. 1312/1897), when Mohammed Benshrif took Tlemcen he significantly ordered the Khutba to be said in the name of the Sharifian Sultan Moulay Slimane ibn Mohammed. Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi was still in Tlemcen and must have had a decisive influence. He was sent at the head of a delegation to the Sultan with the message of allegiance.
The Turks now considered this to be a war between themselves and Morocco and were with an extra effort able to enter Tlemcen, fighting a pitched street-by-street battle with Benshrif's Darqawi forces. Initially the Sultan accepted the allegiance, but as the trial of strength was prolonged, he did not wish to commit forces in a head-on struggle with the Ottomans. So he sent a new delegation to Tlemcen to try to stop the fighting and to arrest Benshrif if he did not desist. Moulay al-Arbi, now back in Tlemcen, refused to support this, and called for the continuation of the struggle. The delegation was however successful and relations between the two countries were re-established. Fearing repression, many of the people of Tlemcen fled west cross the border and settled in the Bani Snassen (north-eastern Morocco). The Pasha of Algiers appealed to the Sultan to send them back, nut now the Sultan refused to cooperate and allowed the Tlemcenis to stay. However, Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi was imprisoned because of his disobedience, where he was to stay for two years, being only released after Sidna Shaykh Abul Abbas Tijani’s direct intervention. When released, he was later confined to Fez.
The rebellion was apparently not at end, and eight years later Sidi Benshrif was again able to inspire such fear in the Bey of Oran that he refused to travel to Tunis when requested so by his superior, as the rebel might come after him. In the same year (1228/1813), another letter of allegiance reached the Sultan, this time from the people of Tlemcen, Oran, Mostaghanam and Balida, that is all of Western Algeria. However, we do not know what the response was. Shaykh Sidi Benshrif stayed in the neighbourhood of Oran and Tlemcen until 1228/1813, when the Dey dispatched another army that managed to divide Benshrif's following and then defeat him. Sidi Benshrif fled to Morocco and took refuge in Figuig where he later died.
Sidi Mohammed ibn Hamman Wazzani (d. after 1335/1920)
The genealogy of Sidi Mohammed ibn Hamman Wazzani goes back to the founder of the autonomous Wazzaniya brotherhood founded by the Yalmahite sharif Moulay Abdellah Shrif Wazzani (d. 1089/1674). Moulay Abdellah Shrif and his successors established branches in Algeria, Tunis, Tripoli, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Yemen. His Sufi order became famous throughout history for its many mujahid masters in the past and in modern times, including Shaykh Sidi Abu Ishaq Ibrahim, the son of Moulay Abdellah Wazzani who went on jihad in Larache and Mahdiya against the Portuguese in the eleventh/seventeenth century. He was wounded in the battle and died of the wound. He was taken to Wazzan and buried with his father there.
The brotherhood continued to engage in jihad and resist colonialism from that time until 1912 when the French and Spanish protectorates were imposed on Morocco. Then the Sufi mujahid, Sidi Mohammed (d. after 1335/1920), the son of the great mystic Sidi Hammed Shadhili Tuhami Yalmahi Wazzani, took action. He was a man of jurisprudence, a religious scholar, a man of scrupulousness and devotion to his land and religion, loving jihad in the Way of Allah and helping Islam and Muslims.
There was resistance to French and Spanish colonialism in Wazzan and the neighbouring tribes between 1912 and 1020 when French forces occupied the city of Wazzan with the support of Spanish forces. The resistance continued from 1912 to 1928. When the Sufi leader Sidi Mohammed ibn Hamman learned of the Spanish occupation of Larache in the middle of 1911, followed by Qasr Lakbir, and that the French had sent its armies to the plains west and south of Wazzan, he got in contact with the inhabitants of Wazzan, Masmuda, Rhamna, Ghazwana and Bani Marnisa. He was convinced of the sincerity of their intention for jihad, their eagerness to fight the colonialist armies, their desire to resist and their readiness to undertake that. Therefore he formed a revolutionary council from them which began to rule the mountainous city of Wazzan, and he took over leadership there and over the neighbouring tribes.
Then Sidi Mohammed Wazzani went around the tribes to consult them, encourage them and unify them in the fight of against the occupiers. He went from the tribe of Ghazwana—the birth place of the grand Jazulite master Sidi Abdellah Ghazwani (d. 935/1520)—where he was a guest at the scholar and Qadi Si Mohammed 'Abudi who welcomed his call to jihad and summoned the members of the tribe, and encouraged the inhabitants of Wazzan to make gunpowder, prepare riffles and to collect weapons. The Sharif Raysouni sent a substantial amount of modern weapons to Wazzan.
The armies of the revolt, led by Sidi Mohammed Wazzani, advanced toward the French armies and met them in fierce battles after taken up positions west and south of Wazzan, like Ein Defali and Had Kourt. Thy utilised an attack followed by retreat, in which the mujahid Sidi Mohammed Wazzani was able to halt the mass of the French army and their attack on Wazzan, the stronghold of the Wazzani zawiya and its sharifs, and so the French were completely unable to reach Wazzan for a long time.
The mujahidun continued to fight the French armies under the leadership of Sidi Mohammed Wazzani. They would turn up at military barracks and attack them at night and inflict great losses on them despite the size of the enemy army and its superiority in weapons. This continued until an alliance was formed between France and Spain who agreed to assist one another in the military arena to occupy Wazzan and the mountain regions since that would defeat the mujahidun. France occupied Wazzan. This is mentioned by Professor al-Bu'ayyashi in The Rif War of Liberation:
On June 25 June 1920 the Spanish army occupied the house of Ibn Quraysh, the original cradle of jihad, and then went on to occupy the city of Chefchaouen. At this date the Spanish and the French armies worked together to occupy Wazzan, and (General) Sylvester prepared to carry out an attack on it from all sides… The occupation (of Wazzan) took place on Saturday, 18 Muharram at 10 0'clock.
This was endured by the men of the Wazzani zawiya who resisted the armies of occupation. A large number of them were martyred and many were wounded and more than 200 captured. The remainder retreated, led by Sidi Mohammed Wazzani to the mountain of Bu Kanas at Ghazawa where they fortified themselves and then were joined by men from the tribes. The French advance stopped in Wazzan and they were content with fortifying it, disarming it and establishing security. The army entered the home of Sidi Mohammed Wazzani and seized its contents, confiscated all his possessions, and arrested all of his relatives and made an example for them. Of the noble sons of Wazzan, about 200 remained in captivity until Qadi Abudi ransomed them in exchange for a French pilot who had been captured in the region of Dar al-Wadi in the tribe of Ghazawa when the sons of Abudi shot down his plane.
Sidi Mohammed Wazzani moved to the region of Abudi with a number of fighters and some members of the Wazzani bureau of resistance and continued the struggle for another eight years. The revolt of Mohammed ibn Abdelkarim Khattabi started and then ended while the revolt of Sidi Mohammed Wazzani with the mujahidun continued among the Ghazawa until 1928. When it became clear to the Wazzani leader that nothing would come of it and some notables interceded from him with the French authorities, he returned to the city of Wazzan and stayed in his house until he died. As for the property which was confiscated by the authority of the Protectorate, it was not returned—other than the house he lived in. The rest was put in the Makhzan (governmental authority) and is still being claimed by his heirs.
Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir ibn Abil Abbas Tijani (d. 1238/1823)
Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir ibn al-Qutb al-Maktum Mawlana Abil al-Abbas Tijani was born in the village of Abi Samghoune. His mother is Sayida Mabrouka. He died as a Martyr with more than 300 persons from Abi Samghoun against the Bey’s Turkish forces near the city of Mascara (Mu’askar, western Algeria) in 1238 /1823. The great scholar Ben Mohammed al-Alawi Chinquiti described this battle in his book Rawdh Shamail Ahl Al-Haqiqa” (The Narratives’ bliss of the truth’s community): Then Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir went to Mascara where the Turks were settling and during the fighting Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir fell as a martyr with more than 300 men from Abi Samghoun. In the aftermath of this battle, the Turks beheaded Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir. Sidna Shaykh Tijani was aware through the kashf (foresight) about his son’s fate. That is why he implored Almighty Allah that the Turks will meet the same fate as that of the Andalusians in Spain. Sidi Ahmed Skirej documents in Rafa’a an-Niqab vol.1, page 239,
“It was reported to me by a trusty person that Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir ibn Sidna Shaykh when he entered the khalwa (seclusion) in Abi Samghoune, he heard a voice calling him to stand up firmly and to fight the invaders in Algerian territory. As such he consulted Sidi Belkacem al-Annabi Tunsi. Sidi Belkacem responded in an advise to Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir that truly he was on the right path and must carry on, still he should divide the fighters in two distinct groups one will remain in Abi Samghoune with the younger brother Sidi Mohammed al-Habib (d. 1269/1854), so did Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir by following the terms of Sidi Belkacem’s advise and there was a last farewell between the two groups as well as with Sidi Mohammed al-Habib and Sidi Mohammed al-Kabir”.
Sidi Mohammed al-Habib ibn Sidna Shaykh Tijani had the same fate of his brother. He was martyred in a battle against the French. His grandson Sidi Taher ibn Sidi Ahmed A'mar was in turn exiled to France.
Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed Hajjami (d. 1362/1947)
The Shadhilite Shaykh Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed Hajjami was born in 1282 in the tribe of Jaya in the Zawiya of Bu Walid near the great city of Fez and died in 1362/1947. The Shaykh fought the French for fifteen years, driving their armies out of the plains, mountains and valleys of Morocco. On 25 May, 1912, forty-five days after the establishment of the Protectorate, he attacked the French armies in Fez, the scholarly and political capital at that time. At 10pm, the neighbouring tribes surrounded Fez under the leadership of Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Hajjami who was 46 at that time. The volunteers, who numbered 20,000, attacked the city. Some of them broke through the walls, some of them climbed the walls and some entered through the water courses. They surrounded the city on all sides and there was a bloody battle known as the Bloody Days of Fez.
The Shaykh first gathered these forces in the zawiya and then they advanced on Fez divided into five squadrons. The French had no scruples about entering some of the mosques and going up the minarets where some of them opened fire on the fighters of the Zawiya from above, so a group of faithfuls attacked the minarets and killed the officers and soldiers inside. The French army turned their attention to the seat of the leadership of Shaykh Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed Hajjami to cut off the resistance at its sources and to sever the head of the lion from its body.
In July 1912 a group of French officers surrounded the camp of Shaykh Hajjami in a place known as the Kahila Rock and set it on fire. In Shaykh Hajjami's tent they found a letter containing the details of military operations and maps for them, and this document still exists in the Vincennes Museum in Paris. The General left Fez and made for the Hajjami Zawiya before the news could spread through the neighbouring tribes and was able to demolish it, disperse its inhabitants and attack them with weapons as its opponents attacked it with lies. The French forces met with stiff resistance despite the element surprise since a group of the Fuqara of the zawiya were there and climbed into the trees and concealed themselves in the branches and began to shoot at the French forces.
History records eight expeditions undertaken by the Hajjami Zawiya, seven against the French forces and one against the Spanish in different parts of Morocco. Some of the disciples who were present are still alive and remember the tragedy. They still recall events and their ferocity while they were reinforcing the strategic positions of the leader of the zawiya, their Shaykh. The French recorded these battles, led by Marshall Lyautey in his book, Lyautey of Africa, p. 68, and there are still some documents connected to the jihad of the zawiya preserved in Paris under the following numbers: Attacks against Fez, May 7, 1912, no, 6, document 410; newspapers dating from 2nd to 26th May, 1912, in the Museum of the Army in Vincennes, Paris.
The Moroccan leader, Allal al-Fasi -grandson of al-Allama Sidi Allal b. al-Khatib al-Fasi Fihri (d. 1314/1899); the companion of Mawlana Shaykh Abul Abbas Tijani- wrote about it in his book, Independent Movements in Morocco. "Almost as soon as news of the Protectorate spread about the city of Fez, individuals from the royal army rushed to kill their French officers. The agitation spread to the people and battles continued under the leadership of Hajjami. General Gourand found at the Kahila Stone about 15 km from Fez a map containing the prepared operations in the best manner which he could hope for from a military point of view. It contained detailed of the movements of the army and the tactics it was following, and it contained a call to struggle to liberate the homeland." The movement of Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Hajjami and the revolts of the Moroccans produced uproar in France in the session of the Assembly of Representatives held on Friday, 28 January and 85 members voiced their opposition to the Protectorate. The same occurred in Senate. Poincaré gave a speech on 11 June, attributing the events occurring in Morocco in the treaty of the Protectorate.Al-Allama Sidi Hammad Skirej with Allal al-Fasi Sources: "Sufis and Sufism: A Defence" by By Shaykh Abdellhay Amrawi & Shaykh Abdelkarim Murad (Translation Aicha Bewley 2001); "Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism" by Dr. Vincent Cornell; and others.