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A particularity of early Moroccan Sufism is a phenomenon called Maraboutism. Within two generations after the death of al-Imam Mawlana Idriss al-Azhar (d. 213/798), Maliki Sufi jurists began systematically to introduce Malikism in the Moroccan countryside, first instituted in Fez by the Maliki ideologist Sidi Darras ibn Ismail (d. 357/942). This activity was part of a concerted effort by the ulama of North Africa to Islamise areas that were beyond the reach of the state and hence outside of the practical limits of the Shari'a. Major destinations for these Maliki activists included Tamesna, homeland of Barghwata tribe of Berber pastoralists, who retained a unique and syncretistic form of Islam that may have been related to early kharijism, Ghumara, which despite adhering officially to orthodox (Sunni) theology, remained susceptible to the heretical doctrines of the Berber Ha' Mim, the caravan centre of Sijilmasa, which continued to be influenced by Kharijism, even though it had officially turned Sunni under its Midrarid ruler, Shakir Billah (d. 374/959); and the central Sus valley, whose two tribal moieties practised a ritualised form of feuding that was expressed in sectarian terms: the tribal segment based at Taroudannt adhered to a crudely anthropomorphic version of Malikism, while its rival in the neighbouring caravan centre of Tiwiwin venerated the figure of the Husseinid Sharif, Sidna Musa al-Qadim ibn Sidna Jaafar Sadiq (d. 183/768),
This mission to the countryside was carried out through rural mosques and centres of instruction (ribator rabita) and were created by an ascetic teacher, murabit (from which the French derived the world Marabout), to provide Quran-based literacy and religious education to sedentary and pastoralist people alike. The ribat as a rural institution of instruction is a verbal noun derived from rabata, yurabitu, meaning "to station and stay in place". The word ribat is derived from the word rabt and it comes in the Quran, "Arm yourselves against them with all the firepower and cavalry (ribat) you can muster." (Quran 8:60) And the words of Allah, "O you who believe, be steadfast, supreme in steadfastness, be firm (rabitu) on the battlefield, and have fear Allah, so that hopefully you will be successful" (Quran 3:200). These ribat institutions promoted the praxis-oriented Islam of early Malikism, as well as a more contemporary emphasis on Shafi'i's doctrine of usul al-fiqh ("the sources of jurisprudence")–whose aim was to unify Islamic practice by making legal reasoning based on syllogistic analogy (qiyas) in legal decision-making and binding consensus (ijma'a). This conformed very closely to what was happening at the same time in the Andalus, where Maliki hadith specialists and Sufis were hard at work disseminating on usuli doctrines in the Andalus.
Certainly marabouts played imperative socio-political roles since the early stages of maraboutism. Evidence of this can be found in the fifth/eleventh century edict of the sultan of Fez Tamim ibn Ziri addressed to the sharif Moulay Abu Abdellah Amghar, the founder of the first Moroccan Sufi order. This edict confirms the marabout's role as both a tribal arbitrator and an Islamic imam, and it intimates that virtue above all meant using one's knowledge to establish and maintain justice in a local context. The Marabouts of Tit al-Fitr (located near current El Jadida) have long played the responsibility of social brokers. This means that when Banu Amghar applied Quranic and Islamic legal precepts among the Sanhaja Azammour, their success depended on their ability to translate the elaborated code of universal Arabo-Islamic discourse into the more restricted code of their pastoralist followers. The marabout's ability to practice his vocation was predicated on his skill in bridging the "privatisation of meaning" that divided the urban-based world of normative Islam from the rural world of tribal relations in which he lived. To do so, it was necessary for him, to keep foot on both environments –the local as well as the universal. Although his political role kept him tied to a specific locality, his pedagogical role demanded a relatively thorough knowledge of Islamic of Islamic theology and jurisprudence.
It was because he acted as a social broker, and because of some idealised etymology of the word murabit, that the marabout was "bound" (marbut) to a particular locality or tribe. For the Banu Amghar, these ties were affirmed in the form of a social contract that was modelled after the covenant struck between the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) and the people of Medina following the Hijra. According to the terms of this contract, the marabout of Tit al-Fitr undertook to Sanhaja Azammour and to mediate their disputes in return for a formalised "gift" (hiba) that was paid to him in specie or in kind. Eventually, the "actional formalism" of this transaction was recognised by the state and institutionalised in series of written edicts.
During the course of Moroccan history, effective murabitun provided the continuity and the stable framework that the political system of the lay tribes so clearly lacks. For instance: the lay chiefs (qaids) are elective. But elections are procedures that require some kind of institutional background, and this society, needless to say, has no civil services or secretariat or anything of the kind that look after these matters. So the elections take place at the settlement and near the shrine of the hereditary holy men, which is, of course, also a sanctuary within which one must not dispute. Thus the marabouts provide the physical locale and the moral guarantee that make it possible for rival clans to assemble and carry out their elections. They also provide the means of moral persuasion and the meditation that help ensure that the elections, in the end, arrive at a unanimous conclusion.
Again, the murabitun provide the cornerstone for the legal system (or perhaps one should say, arbitration system) of the lay tribes. The legal decision procedures are trail by collective oath, with the number of conjurers dependent on the gravity of the offence. A theft might require two conjurers; a rape, four; a murderer of a woman, twenty; a murderer of a man, forty. The rule is that issues requiring less than ten conjurers are settled on the spot, among the lay tribes but the issues requiring ten or more conjurers are taken up to the shrine of the founding saint of the holy lineage, and settled with the moral assistance of the murabitun who are the progeny of the enriched founder.
The murabitun and their settlements are thus arbitrators between tribes, and between their clans, and they are physically located on important boundaries. This indicates a further important function performed by them: their physical location at important boundaries indicates and guarantees these boundaries. Their moral authority also helps to guarantee the complex seasonal arrangements connected with the transhumance between the high mountain pastures and the desert edge. Their location on the frontiers also greatly assists trade. Tribesmen visiting markets in neighbouring markets can pass through the settlements of the murabitun, deposit their arms there, and be accompanied on their way to the market by a marabout from the settlement or a representative of an importantmurabit. This holy fellow traveller then provides simultaneously a guarantee of their safety from their hosts and a guarantee of their good conduct toward their hosts.
The political life of the murabitun is quite different from that of the lay tribes. There is a neat contrast in almost every aspect. Lay chiefs are chosen by the people: murabitun are chosen only by God. Lay chiefs are, in principle, annual: murabitun are permanent, and in principle permanent over generations. Lay tribesmen ate addicted to feuding and litigation: saints are obligatory pacific and must not litigate. The basic contradiction of in the life of the murabitun arises from the fact that there must not be too many of them: their role and influence hinges on the one-may relationship between them and the tribes, for onemurabitun must arbitrate among many tribes or tribal segments.
The murabit would leave behind a legacy of saintliness and grace (baraka) attaching not only to the place but also to his descendents (awlad sayyid). Fusion with Sufism turned some of these places intozawiyas, presided over by the descendents of the original ribat. When the families were also descendents of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), or the sharifs of Morocco, who were mostly of Idrissid linage, there was an union of Sufism, Maraboutism, and Sharifism revolving around the key term of baraka, the grace that emanates from a person, who can be a holy man or a sharif, or both together at one and the same time. It is at times an inextricable association of Sufism probably speaking, the cult of Awliya, and the honour due to the sharifs as descendents of the Prophet, for all three categories have something to do with baraka in one way or another, not only in Morocco, but elsewhere in the Islamic world. But what makes for Maraboutism, especially as it manifested itself in late medieval Morocco, was the combination of all these elements.
Not that Sufism in Morocco was uniquely in alliance with Sharifism; on the contrary, as in other parts of the Muslim world, it had its own independent existence as a contemplative path and was in no need of maraboutism. Nevertheless, side by side with that completive version of Sufism is the socio-religious phenomenon of Maraboutism that has left its imprint on the Moroccan scene. Even dynasties of a political nature, notably the Almoravides (al-Murabitun) and Almohads (al-Muwahhidun) came to power with the help of the famous marabouts of Sidi Abdellah ibn Yassin Jazouli (d. 451/1036) and Sidi Mohammed al-Mahdi ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130) respectively. Yet, the Saadian dynasty of the tenth/sixteen century came to power backed by the Jazulite leaders of Sharifian status. Sooner or later, the entire religio-political structure of the country was tinged by Sharifism. Only the Sharfa, descendents of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) could be entrusted by ruling powers, and this covered into other domains, affecting even Sufism.
Morocco's Most Famous
Ribats and Marabouts
Most of the Moroccan ribats of the fourth/tenth through the seventh/thirteenth century were privately built and locally maintained. Contrary to the case of al-Andalus and Ifriqiya (Tunisia), where ribats were built for military purposes, the ribats of Morocco were primarily centres of instruction in Islamic dogma (i'tiqadat) and practice (mu'amalat). Ribats also served an important secondary role as communication hubs, facilitating interaction between economic and political networks in rural areas. For these reasons they were often located where their founders could most effectively exploit the physical and human resources of the surrounding region. Not surprisingly, many of these sites had been meeting places in pre-Islamic times, such as tribal markets and former religious sites.
Certainly, the first constricted ribat in Morocco is that of Tit al-Fitr, established by the sharif Sidi Abu Jaafar Ishaq Amghar (d. 475/1060); followed by the ribat of Sidi Yaala ibn Mussalin Ragragi of ribat Sidi Shiker in the bank of the Wadi Nfis in the vicinity of Marrakech; the ribat Dar al-Murabitun of Sidi Waggag ibn Zallu al-Lamti (d. 445/1030) at the coastal hamlet of Aglu, near modern-day Tiznit; the ribat of Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt s (d. 594/1179) successor, Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih al-Majiri (d. 631/1216) in Safi, the ribat of Tin Mal in the Great Atlas which was the house of Sidi Mohammed ibn Tumart (“Almohad’s Madhi ”d. 524/1130), the ribat of Sidi Abdelljalil ibn Wayhan (d. 541/1126), founder of the Nuriya tradition at Aghmat, northeaster Marrakech, and the ribat of Sidi Bannour (d. 550/1135) whose tomb is still visited at Ribat Iliskawen, in the present-day town of Sidi Bannour, southern of El Jadida.
From the other widely known ribats that were established in the dawn of ninth/fifteenth century is the ribat of Afughal, in the AÃ?t Dawud tribal region east of the present small town of Tamanar, by the Qutb Sidi Mohammed ibn Slimane Jazouli (d. 869/1454), founder of the great Shadhilite Jazouli Sufi order. Christian incursions on the Mediterranean and Atlantic shores have led many Jazoulis to establish new ribats to defend the country. Among these the ribat of Sidi Abderrahman ben Raysoun (d. 950/1535) in Tazrut, Tetouan; the ribat of Sidi al-Haj Ali al-Baqqal Aghsawi (d. 980/1565) in Tangier, and the ribat of Sidi Abu Salim Abdellah Ayyashi (d. 1091/1676) in SalÃ?.
Other ribats of great importantce is those of Sidi Abdellah ibn Hussein Amghari (d. 977/1562) in Tamaslouht, outside of Marrakech; of Sidi Mohammed Bou'abid Sharqi (d. 1010/1495) in Abil Jaad, in Khuribgha; of Sidi Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr Dilai (d. 1046/1631) in Dila’, in the middle of the Atlas mountains, of Sidi Mhammed ben Nasir Dar'i (d. 1085/1674); and, the ribat of Sidi Mohammed Maa' al-Aynayn (d. 1325/1910) in Tan-Tan. Until today, the tombs of the leaders of these ribats remain the focus for annual musims fairs, and are places of pilgrimage where the intercession of the murabit, or hisbaraka, may be obtained to gain benefit.
1. Ribat Nakur
Although the term murabit, as presently understood in Morocco, is of comparatively recent vintage, the ribat is much older. Textual evidence suggests that the ribat was conceived as a formal institution in Morocco as early as the middle of the ninth century. An account of one of the earliest ribats in Morocco can be found in Kitab al-masalik wal mamalik by the Andalusian geographic al-Bakri (d. 487/1072). This work details the history of the ribat and city of Nakur, which lasted for two centuries at al-Mazimma (near modern El Hoceima) in the Rif mountains. The origins of Nakur may date back as far back as the first century of Islam, when, during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid ibn Abdelmalik, a South Arabian holy warrior known as Sidi al-Abd Salih ibn Mansur al-Himyari began to call the Sanhaja and Ghumara peoples of Northern Morocco to the Islamic faith.
In the year 240/825, al-'Abd Salih's grandson, Sidi Said ibn Idriss, founded both Ribat Nakur and the town that shared it name. Al-Bakri informs us that this ribat was built as a rural mosque, and that its design and supporting endowments were modelled after the initial mosque of Alexandria in Egypt. By the time Said ibn Idriss was succeeded by his son Sidi Abderrahman ash-Shahid (d. before 305/890), Nakur had grown into a modest city-state. To counteract the growing influence of their political rivals, the Idrissid sharifs of Fez and the nearly region of Ghumara, the Banu Salih intermarried with the sharifs of Banu Sulayman clan of Tlemcen. This matrimonial policy helped the Banu Salih maintain a religiously legitimated principality, allied with the Umayyads of Spain, that was similar in administrative organisation to the mini-states founded by the Idrissids themselves.
Unlike the Idrissids, however, whose well-established Mohammedian origins enabled them to enjoy the fruits of an ascribed nobility, the Banu Salih had to depend on a more unstable form of acquired status that demanded continual reaffirmation. Throughout his turbulent career, Abderrahman ash-Shahid, despite his training as a jurist and the completion of no fewer than four pilgrimages to Mecca, had to deal with numerous Berber uprisings and reassert his claims to legitimacy by conducting jihads against a variety of enemies. Unfortunately, as his nickname, ash-Shahid (the Martyr) implies, the only uncontested nobility he was ever able to attain was that of a heroic death, for he was killed in al-Andalus while aiding his Umayyad patrons in their suppression of the revolt of Omar Ibn Hafsun.
2. Ribat Dar al-Murabitun
One of the most important disciples of the Fasite Maliki scholar Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 430/1015) was Sidi Waggag ibn Zallu al-Lamti (d. 445/1030). A member of the Lamta (Oryx) tribe of Sanhaja Berbers from the Wadi Nun region of central Morocco, Waggag 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, which he established at the coastal hamlet of Aglu, near modern-day Tiznit. Sidi Waggag achieved supremacy in relation matters in the regions south of the Atlas mountains and remained in close contact with Abu Imran al-Fasi until his teacher's death.
The success of Waggag ibn Zallu's religious activism depended on the social and economic ties maintained by Sanhaja pastoralists in the desert regions of the western Maghrib. Like any successful pairing of dissimilar entities, this marriage of convenience between Maliki reformism and tribal social mores involved compromise on both sides. Sources document the frustration felt by Shaykh Waggag and his disciples at the reluctance of their pastoralists followers to give up long-held practices and beliefs. In the following passage from Abu Yaqub Yusuf ibn az-Zayyat's (d. 628/1213), Kitab at-Tashawwuf ila rijal at-tasawwuf (Book of insight into the tradition bearers of Sufism), the Berber's of the Nafis valley ignore Waggag's attempt to portray himself as a little more than a teacher of the Shari'a and Prophetic Sunna. Instead, maintaining a stubborn (and ultimately well-justified) belief in his ability to work miracles (karamat), they treat him as a broker or a middle man who is well positioned to plead their case before God:
I heard Abu Moussa Aissa ibn Abdellaziz al-Jazouli say: a drought occurred among the people living along the river Nafis. So they went to Waggag ibn Zulu al-Lamti in the Sus. When they reached him he asked, "What had happened to you?" They replied, "We have suffered drought and have come so that you might ask God to provide rain for us." "Verily" he exclaimed "you are like a group of people who see a honeycomb and assume that it contains honey! However, stay with me, for you are my guests." So he was their host for three days [the term mandated by the Sunna]. When they have resolved to leave and came to him to ask permission to return to their lands he said to them, "Be careful not to take the road that you came on, but take another instead, so you can take refuge from the rain in hollows and caves." When they left him God sent them clouds full of rain, which fell so copiously upon them that they did not arrive at their homes for six months."
Waggag ibn Zallu was himself the teacher of Sidi Abdellah ibn Yassin al-Jazouli (d. 451/1036). He instructed this latter to teach Islamic dogma and Maliki doctrine to the Veiled Sanhaja warriors becoming the spiritual leader of Almoravid movement. The ties that bound Almoravids to Sidi Waggag appear to have been as close as those between the disciples of Abu Imran al-Fasi and their master in al-Qayrawan. The brothers Sidi Sulayman and Sidi 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.
3. Ribat Aghmat Urika
Another renown disciple of Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 430/1039) from the Masmuda members of the High Atlas mountains, was named Abul Mawahib Sidi Abdellaziz Tunsi (d. 468/1053). Unlike Sidi Waggag al-Lamti (d. 445/1030), who founded mosques and ribats of learning in sparsely populated rural areas, Abul Mahawib Tunsi established a ribat at Aghmat Urika, then the premier urban centre of the Nafis valley, just south of the new Almoravid capital of Marrakech. In the sixth/twelfth century the geographer al-Idrissi depicted Aghmat as a town hidden in the shadow of the new empirical city but still prospering from the profits earned by its merchants. He tells us during Aghmat heyday in the early eleventh century the merchants of the town traded copper, brass, glass buttons and beads, turban cloth, woven textiles, spices, and iron tools for the gold, skins, and slaves of the middle Niger region. He also reports that their caravans could comprise as many as 187 camels, and that the wealthy of Aghmat advertised their riches on carved columns erected by the doors of their houses.
Of Tunisian origin, Sidi Abul Mahawib Tunsi was so vexed by the mercantile ethics of highland Masmuda culture that he once exclaimed: "By giving them knowledge we have become like one who sells weapons to a thief!" A particularly irritating characteristics of these Berber merchants was their desire to turn any advantage, including their knowledge of the religion, into a profit –a detail which is remarked upon by at-Tadili in at-Tashawwuf:
It is said about Abdellaziz that the Masmuda learned jurisprudence (fiqh) from him and then returned to their homelands, [where they] went about among their people with what they had learned, becoming judges, notaries, preachers, and other occupations. [Once] Abdellaziz went on one of his journeys to the farthest Morocco, and whenever he passed by a group of people they came out and meet him. He found that his students had used what they had learned from him to gain authority and high positions. So he discontinued his teaching of jurisprudence and ordered his students to read the Ri'aya of al-Muhasibi and other of its type among the books of Sufism, until he found that, out of ignorance of jurisprudence, some of his students had began to practice usury. "Glory to God!" he said. "I disapproved of teaching jurisprudence out of fear that you would attain the material word with it, but you have [instead] lost the knowledge of right and wrong (al-halal wal haram)!"
The mosques and educational ribats established by the students of Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi were widely distributed throughout Morocco. Through the efforts of teachers such as Shaykh Waggag and Abul Mawahib Tunsi, the disciples of Abu Imran were able to assert doctrinal authority over the rural inhabitants of Morocco south of the Atlas mountains. This was particularly the case with regard to the Veiled Sanhaja Almoravids, who had recently come to dominate the caravan trade across the Sahara desert. The righteous men who taught Maliki doctrine to these aloof and aristocratic imashaghen ("free" camel nomads) retained the loyalty and venerations to their disciples until the fall of Almoravid dynasty in 562/1147. Sidi Abdessalam Tunsi, a nephew of the above-mentioned Shaykh of Aghmat, was a favour advisor to the Almoravid ruling elite, despite his ascetic behaviour and disregard for social pretensions. Famous for both his exactness and his violent temper in defence of moral principles, the younger Tunsi once refused an inheritance of 1,ooo dirhams brought to him by his sister, saying: "[Why] have you come to me with these devils? I have no need of them!" When she insisted that he at least take the share allotted to him in the Quran he replied, "It is yours because it is in your hands" As for me, I have no idea what it is and will not take it from you!"
Sidi Abdessalam's association with the politically powerful did not mean that he considered himself subservient to them. It is related that while the Shaykh was tending his garden, the emir Mazdali ibn Tiliggan, a noted companions of the Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashfin, rode up to him. After only the most perfunctory of greetings, the emir dismounted from his horse, put his burnous on the ground, and sat on it, expecting words of wisdom. Noting his student's lack of respect, Tunsi rebuked him, saying: "What are these actions, oh Mazdali? And where will you find a mantle to sit on tomorrow?" A similar story is told about Abu Zakariyya ibn Yughar (d. 537/1122), another "emir of Sanhaja" and disciple of Sidi Abul Mawahib Tunsi. When he first met this Shaykh, the Sanhaja notable was told that to provide his sincerity he would have to go to the countryside beyond the walls of the city, gather a load of wood, and carry it on his back into the middle of the government house, the Dar al-Imara, where he could be observed by all the members of his matrilineal clan. After Abu Zakariyya complied with these demeaning requirements, Abdessalam was so pleased with his new disciple and he honoured him by calling him malik az-zuhd (King of Asceticism).
4. Ribat Tin Mal
Eighty years after the rise of the Almoravids, in 1130, a second, and even more powerful wave of Bedouin Berbers, burst into North and West Africa and al-Andalus. This time the movement came in the form of the semi-nomadic tribes of the High Atlas, the Masmuda; they called themselves al-Muwahhidun, 'the testifiers of (Divine) Unity', which via Spanish has become 'Almohads'. The mission of the Almohads had deeper content and wider applications than that of the Almoravides. In contrast to their literal and outward interpretation of the Quran, which had encouraged an all too human conception of God and a merely quantitative of Divine Oneness, Sidi Mohammed al-Mahdi ibn Tumart(d. 524/1130), the great saint and spiritual founder of the Almohads proclaimed a metaphysical interpretation of Tawhid, the Quranic doctrine of Oneness, according to which God is one, not merely in terms of number, like one thing amongst many, but is His very Essence; He is unique, because there is nothing that can be compared with Him.
This adamantine teaching, free from all representation, was both the message and the battle-cry of the Almohads; for, according to their conviction, all those who called themselves believers but thought of God as an anthropomorphic being endowed with various faculties, were no better than heathens: their literal unitarianism, which placed God on the same level as differentiated things, was unwitting polytheism, and therefore the very error that the Quran seeks to oppose. Shaykh Sidi Mohammed Ibn Tumart travelled for knowledge between the years 500 and 501/1085-1086, seeking to educate himself on various scholars in different part of the Mashriq and went as far east as Damascus. There he met with his first mentor Sidi Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 526/1111) studying with him the sciences of Asharite theology and Sufism. In Baghdad, he attended the circles of the theologian al-Mubarak Abdelljabbar and the Sufi Sidi Abu Bakr Shashi. Finally he met in Alexandria the famous Maliki jurist Sidi Abu Bakr Yusuf Turtushi (d. 525/1110).
On returning to Morocco Ibn Tumart begun to criticise the ways of the Almoravids and to attack the scholars whom they approved, until he was persecuted and had to flee with his followers into the High Atlas, to the tribe of Masmuda, who were hostile to the Lamtuna, and over whom, by his preaching, by politics, and later also by confrontation, he acquired an enormous influence. He led an acetic life. In support of his role as a leader, he had recourse to the mystical tradition, according to which, in all ages, a spiritual heir of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, would preserve the doctrine in all its purity. The Masmuda saw him as the Mahdi, the 'rightly-guided one', of whom the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) had said that he would renew Islam towards the end of time. Based in his ribat, which he founded in the unassailable high valley of Tin Mal on the Wadi Nafis, and supported by the Berber chiefs and noted mystics such as Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1144), the power of Ibn Tumart and his disciples grew as if in a reservoir, and finally burst forth with irresistible force and overflowed into the whole of the Maghrib. Ibn Tumart did not himself live to see the overthrow of the Almoravid empire. His gifted disciple Sidi Abdelmumin ibn Ali (d. 551/1136) who later took the title of caliph, carried out the task.
9. Ribat Iliskawen
Perhaps the most prominent successor of Sidi Abdelljalil ibn Wayhan (d. 541/1126) who renewed the Nuriya tradition after the death of the Shaykh was Sidi Abu Innur ibn Wakris al-Mashanzai (d. 550/1135). Known today as Sidi Bannour (Berber. the Illuminated One), he is still revered as one of the most important saints of Dukkala. His tomb at Ribat Iliskawen, in the present-day town of Sidi Bannour, southern of El Jadida City, continues to draw pilgrims from throughout Morocco. The tales recounted about this murabit are redolent with them of power and authority. His main function was to protect the Masmuda farmers and merchants of northern Dukkala, who, after being caught between Barghwata raids from the north and Sanhaja migrations from the south, found their livelihood threatened. Hagiographical anthologies such as at-Tadili's at-Tashawwuf reveal that the Masmuda saints of Dukkala played an important role in their sedentarist client's strategy for survival, since their supernatural powers could be used to compensate for the military and political weakness of the sedentarist themselves. The protection afforded by men of wilaya from their own ethnic group gave the Masmuda an enhanced status in the eyes of their Sanhaja rivals and allowed them to find alternative niches in the changing socioeconomic structure of the origin.
The themes of patronage, protection, and "broker-client intersubjectivity", all of which are well-known concepts to transaction theorists in the field of Social Anthropology are clearly discernible in the hagiographical accounts of Sidi Bannour's activities. Ibn Qunfudh, for example reports that Sidi Bannour survived the Almoravid conquest of Morocco and continued to protect his people well into the reign of the second Almoravid sultan, Ali ibn Yusuf. During this period the Almoravids, who displayed a clear ethnic bias in the pattern of their conquests and subsequent rule, sent a force of Veiled Sanhaja to punish Iliskawen for nonpayment of the kharaj tax that had levied on the Mashanzaya as a conquered people. Sidi Bannour went before the inhabitants of Iliskawen as the raiding party approached and announced, "God had expelled them from you!" At a distance of only half a Roman mile from the town the commander of the expedition suddenly fell ill and died, and the raid was called off.
At-Tadili also recounts a story about one of Sidi Bannour's successors, Sidi Abu Hafs Omar ibn Tsuli al-Mashanzai (d. 595/1144), who played a similar role by protecting Ribat Iliskawen from the predations of Banu Hilal Arabs:
A group of Arabs entered the land of Dukkala. One of them went to the garden of Abu Hafs and took some grapes from it. When he put them into his mouth, he was stricken by cramps that nearly killed him. He went to Abu Hafs to tell him about it. Abu Hafs rubbed the [Arab's] throat and that which had stricken him left him. Then he asked, "What made you enter my garden?" "I used to enter to eat [at will] from the gardens of the people of Tamasna," [the Arab] replied, "and nothing happened to me, so I thought that your garden was like those others."