The Moroccan Kingdom: Hub of Sufism par Excellence
"A group of my community will remain on truth in the Maghreb until Allah commands" (Hadith)
Al-Maghreb al-Aqsa (present-day Morocco) has long been one of the most important crucibles of Islamic mysticism. Moroccan religious and intellectual movements often created ebb tides of intellectual and cultural influence that flowed toward the Muslim East. The wide geographical extent of the Tijaniya, the Shadhiliya Sufi orders underscores the importance of this lacuna. Instead of been merely imitative, many of the doctrines and institutions that were created such as the al-Qarawiyyine of Fez had profound effect on the Maghrib and the rest of the Islamic world. The foundation of Sufism in Morocco came, of course, from the East, as did Islam. Yet the unusual type of Islam in Morocco, its life-style, its calligraphic art, its mosque architecture, and the coherently crystalline nature of its urban architecture—to say nothing of its Malikism—existed from the very early generations of Islam. These general traits where reinforced when, with the rise of the Abbasids in the second/eight century and the foundation of the Idrissite dynasty by the pole of al-Maghreb, the Hassanid Sharif, Mawlana Idriss ibn Abdellah al-Kamil (d. 177/762), Morocco cut itself from the East and began to develop organically in its own fashion.
Sufism therefore was a latecomer in Morocco and not appearing in the historical record until the beginning of the fifth/eleventh century—about two hundred and fifty years after it first appeared in the Mashriq and nearly a century after it was introduced in Muslim Spain (al-Andalus). For the most part, the earliest traditions of Moroccan Sufism depicted in doctrinal and hagiographical works reflected an early emphasis on piety and asceticism well into the Islamic Middle Period. That was in part due to the ethical perspective of the Maliki school of Islamic law, which emphasised a strict complimentarity between inner belief and outer practice. This "show me" attitude of Maliki creedalism is clearly apparent in the works of the earliest Moroccan hagiographers, who conceived of Sufism more as a type of heroic pietism than as a form of mysticism. It was similarly visible in the long-standing popularity of early pietism works such as Sidi Abdellah ibn al-Mubarak's (d. 181/797) Kitab az-zuhd wa'r raqaiq (Book of asceticism and exemplary acts of worship), a treaties on spiritual discipline that was written by a student of the so-called jurist of the Sufis, Sidi Sufyan Thawri (d. 161/778).
Moroccan Sufism first appeared in the form of ethnically oriented tawaif that were centred around important rural institutions known as ribat and/or rabita. Yet, the ribat and rabita differs by size and function. Rabita, the more basic term, referred to a privately built walled or fenced compound that was dedicated to worship or Sufi teaching (e.g. Rabita of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim in Fez; d. 559/1144). The term ribat was based, however, after outsiders settled permanently in the vicinity of a rabita for protection or blessing, thus expanding both the size and the social functions of the institution (e.g. Ribat Sidi Shiker, Ribat Tit al-Fitr). This increase in complexity correlated with the expansion of each ribat's influence beyond its home region. In Morocco, taifa (pl. tawaif) was the most common term used for the institutionalised Sufi order until the modern period, when the word tariqa (pl. turuq) took place. The new concept of tariqa was in general agreement with the model of early Moroccan Sufi tawaif. The Arabic word tariqa referred to hagiographicallly validated mystical tradition or "school" (madhab) while taifa referred to hierarchically organised corporate institution that developed in a later period of Islamic history. The word tariqa was also associated in Morocco with institutional Sufism and denoted an "internationalised" network tawaif (i.e. ramifications) within a single eponymously named tradition.
The first impression that one gets of Moroccan Sufism in the earliest work of hagiography is a no-nonsense pietism, in which a person's privately held doctrines mattered less than did the visible example of his behaviour. For orthodox mystics such as the influential Moroccan jurist and hagiographer Sidi Abu Yaqub Yusuf ibn az-Zayyat at-Tadili (d. 628/1213), a "Sufi" was no more (or less) than a sincere Muslim who dedicated himself to the highest ideals of his faith. What separated the Sufi from his fellow believers was not his mystical doctrine by the extent of his piety. At-Tadili saw no necessary connection between Sufism and mysticism, nor did he show much interest in metaphysics. Instead, his concern was to memorialise regional exemplars of piety and virtue whose defining attribute was their adherence to the beha8vioural example (sunna) of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him), his family (Ahl al-Bayt), companions (Sahaba), and successors (at-Tabi'in).
No work has had more influence on the Moroccan view of sainthood than at-Tadili's Kitab at-Tashawwuf ila rijal at-tasawwuf (Book of insight into the tradition bearers of Sufism). For this reason, it is significant that at-Tadili's view of Islamic sainthood was not based on Maliki model alone, but also on Sufi doctrines that came from outside the Maghreb. Rather than relying on purely local definition of sainthood, he based his precedents on ideal types that originated as far away as the eastern Farisi province of Khurasan. His most importance sources of Sufi doctrine were the hagiographical works of Buyid- and Seljuq-era Sufis such as Sidi Abu Abderrahman as-Sulami (d. 412/1021), Sidi Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani (d. 430/10315), and Sidi Abul Qacem al-Qushayri (d. 467/1052). At-Tadili's debt to al-Qushayri in particular was so great that his entire discussion of Sufism as a distinctive methodology (madhab) in Islam is lifted nearly verbatim from the latter's Risala fi 'ilm at-tasawwuf (Treaties on the discipline of Sufism). This work was made known to him by a mystic of Farisi origin who visited Marrakech in the year 597/1200. At-Tadili's appropriation of al-Qushayri's definition should not be taken to mean, however, that Moroccan Sufism was merely a copy of a Persian original. Quite the contrary. One of at-Tadili's main purposes in writing at-Tashawwuf was to promote a specifically Moroccan fellowship of the holy.
At-Tadili's "tradition bearers of Sufism" are a collectivity of men (plus few women) whose rhetorical purpose is to exemplify the Sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). As guarantors and transmitters of normative tradition (rijal al-'ilm), they display a detailed understanding of the requirement of faith that confirms the trust that God has put in them. In return for their sincerity and devotion, God confirms His closeness to them by causing them to produce small miracles (karama, pl.karamat) for the sake of spiritual initiation and/or education (tarbiya). Further confirmation of their status comes from the scholars (ulama) — their fellow rijal al-'ilm— who pass on accounts after their lives, thus allowing hagiographers such as at-Tadili to typify and memorialise their examples in works that arrange them in ranks and categories (tabaqat). Thus validated by God and revalidated by their peers, at-Tadili's "Maliki-Sufi" saints are protégé of God who pay back his favours by bestowing blessings on their fellow believers. Indeed, says at-Tadili, "No era will lack a Wali from among the Awliya of God Most High, through whom Allah will protect the land and bestow mercy on [His] worshippers."
Despite his widespread influence, at-Tadili was not the originator of the Moroccan rijal tradition of sacred biography. This distinction belongs instead to Sidi Mohammed ibn Qacem at-Tamimi (d. 604/12189) of Fez. Recently, eighty notices from at-Tamimi's Kitab al-Mustafad were discovered in a manuscript dating to the year 813/1410. An examination of this work reveals the extent to which at-Tadili was indebted to at-Tamimi in writing at-Tashawwuf. Both collections are organised similarly and include a liberal dose of elegiac and edifying poetry. The two books differ from each other mainly to the extent that al-Mustafad concentrates on the region of Fez rather than Marrakech and is more often told in the first person. At-Tamimi reveals himself to be learned and well-travelled Sufi of the mercantile class who performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was also disciple of Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt (d. 594/1179) and visited Sidi Abu Yaaza Yalnour (d. 572/1157) at Jabal Iruggan. Like at-Tadili, he was heavily influenced by al-Qushayri's Risala. In a first-person anecdote at the end of his notice on Abu Madyan, at-Tamimi brings this work to the Andalusian Shaykh for a lesson, only to be told that he is too immature to appreciate its contents.
Some of the notices that are missing from the extant manuscript of al-Mustafad can be found in a later compilation, Jadhwat al-iqtibas fi dhikr man 'halla minal a'alam madinat Fas (The Torch of learning in the recollection of the most influential notables of the city of Fez), by the Sa'adian-era courtier Ahmed ibn al-Qadi al-Maknasi (d. 1025/1616). Although this work is more of a local history and dictionary of famous personages than a true hagiography, it remains useful because its author made use of a complete manuscript of al-Mustafad then available to him in the library of al-Qarawiyyine university. It is valuably for accounts about Fez's earliest Maliki scholar and saints such as Sidi Darras ibn Ismail(d. 357/942) and Sidi Bu Jida al-Yazghi (d. 365/950).
The third collection to contain information on the early saints of Morocco is Al-Maqsad as-sharif wa manza'a al-latif fi at-ta'arif bi sulaha' ar-Rif (The Notable objective and admirable goal in knowing about the sulaha of the Rif), by Abdehaqq al-Badisi (d. after 722/1307). Written in 711/1296, some forty years after the establishment of the Marinid rule in Morocco, this work provides information of the saints of the Rif mountains between the time of Abu Madyan and the beginning of the eight/twelfth to early fourteenth century. Al-Badisi (literally, the one who comes from Badis, a vacinity near current El Hoceima) conceived al-Maqsad as a supplement of at-Tadili's at-Tashawwuf and saw himself as a continuing along the path of juridical Sufism laid out by eastern doctrinal specialists such as Sidi al-Qushayri, Sidi Abu Naim al-Isfahani (d. 430/1015), and Sidi Abu Talib al-Makki (d. 386/971). The hagiographical anthologies of at-Tamimi, at-Tadili, and al-Badisi contain 316 distinct notices about Rijal Allah (Men of God) who lived prior to the death of the Almohad caliph Mohammed an-Nasir in 629/1214. In general, the study of sainthood as depicted in al-Mustafad, at-Tashawwuf, and al-Maqsad opens a window onto the idea of holiness in one of the most existing periods of Moroccan history. In these works, one can perceive a uniquely a "Western" community of Moroccan Muslim saints whose examples reveals a distinctive blend of doctrine and practice.
Similarly, the history of one of the earliest and most important ribats of Morocco— Ribat Tit al-Fitr founded at the end of the fourth/tenth century by Moulay Ismail Amghar—is detailed in a fourteenth-century manuscript entitled Bahjat an-nadhirin wa uns al-'arifin wa wasilat Rabb al-Alamin fi manaqib rijal Amghar as-salihin (The Delight of observers, the intimacy of the gnostics, and the agency of the Lord of the Worlds in the exploits of the exemplary Amghar Sali'hin). The hagiographic monograph, made up of collected manaqib (exploit narratives), is useful for modern historians because its complier, Mohammed az-Zammuri, a judge from the town of Azammour who was also a member of the Banu Amghar family, includes transcriptions of documents that provide important information about the ribat's social functions and political relations. These texts which include correspondence between the leaders of Banu Amghar and the rulers of their day, offer a rare glimpse into the activities of rural Moroccan Sufis during the Almoravid and Almohad eras.
Although Sufism was introduced into rural Morocco by urban-based mystics and sulaha from abroad such as the Banu Amghar of Tit al-Firt, it soon on took on a local colour that superficially separated it from its urban roots. Even the Almoravid spiritual father Sidi Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 430/1015) attempted to introduce Maliki doctrine in the tribal homelands, which was directed by urban-educated legists such as Sidi Waggag ibn Zallu (d. 445/1053-4), had to incorporate minor doctrinal adjustments in order to achieve its goals. In the case of Sidi Waggag's disciple Sidi Abdellah ibn Yassin (d. 451/1036), the cultural concessions that had to be made in the Islamisation of the Veiled Sanhaja caused the Andalusian geographer al-Bakri to forget that the traditions of Malikism taught by this Shaykh reformer were essentially the same as his own. With the introduction of the Nuriyya tradition of Sufism under Sidi Abdelljalil ibn Wayhan (d. 541/1126), an important shift in emphasis occurred. Through the influence of the pilgrimage to Mecca and the "journey in search of knowledge" (rihla li talab al-ilm), Sufi doctrines who origins lay in the east began to penetrate the rural west. As the doctrines ofusul ad-din and usul al-fiqh began to take hold in the mosques and ribats of rural Morocco, the influence of eastern intellectual trends prompted a renewed interest in scriptural sources and a turn toward Sunni internationalisation among Moroccan ulama.
It was widely accepted in the Mashriq by this time that the most authoritative approach to epistemology, theology, and the law was to be found in the writings of al-Ghazali (d. 526/1111). Because of the influence of his magisterial work Ihya' ulum ad-din, many North African Sufis tried to trace their own usuli roots to either al-Ghazali or his doctrinal forbearers. In Morocco, this tendency was epitomised by an adherence to the so-called School of Baghdad and its two most famous exponents, Sidi Abul Hassan an-Nuri (d. 295/880) and Sidi Abul Qacem al-Junaid (d. 297/882). Once the Nuriyya tradition and the doctrines of Junaidi Sufism had being introduced into this region, the previously localised traditions of local Sufism could now be harmonised with the dominant intellectual currents of the Muslim world as a whole. By "merging the horizons" of the ethnically oriented Sanhaja and Masmuda approaches to institutional Sufism, Moulay Boushayb Sariya (d. 561/1166) and his successors Sidi Abu Yaaza Yalnour (d. 572/1157) and Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt (d. 594/1179)prepared the way for hagiographers to set the doctrinal paradigms of Moroccan Sufism and to define sainthood in ways that accorded with perspectives that were current in the East.
The way of Abu Madyan, as depicted in the Shaykh's extant writings, owes an unmistakeable debt to the mystical traditions of Moroccan Nuriyya and doctrines of Sidi Ali ibn Harzihim (d. 559/1144), Sidi Ali Boughaleb (d. 568/1153) and Sidi Abu Abdellah Daqqaq. Particularly important was the ethical fraternalism of futuwwa which was central in Moroccan Sufism as it was in Sufi classics of Khurasan. Characters similar to the way of Abu Madyan can be found in Kitab al- futuwwa (Book of Sufi chivalry) by Sidi Abu Abderrahman as-Sulami, whose writings were well-known in the Maghreb by the Almoravid period. For Abu Madyan, the behavioural example of the Sufi Shaykh was a matter of paramount importance. The spiritual relationship to his disciples was comparable to that of the Sultan among his subjects or a doctor among his patients. The value of the true "knower of God" was that such a person could intervene in human lives and teach others the way to eternal rapture (sa'ada).
Few of Abu Madyan's disciples were doctrinal innovators. Instead, most were content to provide training for their students and to spread their master's brand of socially conscious mysticism from al-Andalus to Egypt. An exception was a Masmuda Shaykh from central Morocco named Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih al-Majiri (d.631/1216). Although his followers regarded him as a second Abu Madyan, officials of the Almohad state were concerned about the political significance of the Majiriya as a formal institution. Particularly worrisome was the order's use of symbolic signs of group of solidarity, such as shaving the head and wearing distinctive clothing. The Majiriya "uniform" included a number of articles that were adopted from eastern Sufism, such as the patched cloak (muraqqa'a) staff ('asa), pouch (rakwa) and soft felt cup (shashiya). An item that appears to have been introduced by Abu Mohammed Salih himself was a large rosary (tasbih) of a thousand beads that was carried around the neck when not in use.
According to Al-Minhaj al-wahid, a memorial to Abu Mohammed Salih written by the Shaykh's great grandson (ca. 696/1297), the disciples (fuqara) of the Majiriya wasted no opportunity to publicise their order. Forming a procession upon reaching the outskirts of a settlement, they would chant, Ya Allah, ya Rahman, ya Rahim (O God, o Beneficent, o Merciful) until they arrived at their lodging for the night. Often, groups of local boys or young men would follow the pilgrims, attracted by the commotion that they caused or by their displays of Sufi fellowship. These hangers-on would be invited to eat supper with the fuqara, at which time they would be introduced to the teachings of Abu Mohammed Salih and Abu Madyan. Whenever possible, new recruits were encouraged to continue on to the Mashriq as pilgrims. Upon arriving in Alexandria, Cairo, or the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, the Majiriya pilgrims would stay at funduq al-Maghariba or buyut al-Maghariba (hostels or houses of the Moroccans), which were founded by Abu Mohammed Salih's son Sidi Ahmed (d. 660/1262) during his eleven journeys to the East. As chief administrator of the funduq al-Maghariba in Alexandria, Sidi Ahmed al-Majiri appointed his own son Sidi Ibrahim (the father of Abu Mohammed Salih's biographer) whose descendents managed the Egyptian terminus of the pilgrimage for several generations.
Perhaps the most important innovation of the Islamic world in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was the institutionalised Sufi order (tariqa). Between 1150/565 and 1250/665, communities of mystics that had heretofore consisted of loosely organised groups of disciples following individual spiritual masters were transformed into corporate and increasingly hieratical entities. Although the exact origins of thetariqa are unknown, the region of southern Iraq was important to its development. This was particularly true of Baghdad and the environs, which, in the century preceding its destruction by the Mongols in 656/1241, was a major source of social and doctrinal ferment. From out of this chaotic but generative environment grew three mystical orders that were to influence Sufism throughout the Muslim world: the Qadiriya founded by the Hassanid Sharif, al-Qutb Moulay Abdellqadir Jilani (d. 563/1148); the Sahrawardiya, eponymously linked to Sidi Abu Najib as-Sahrawardi (d. 563/1148) but founded by his nephew, Sidi Shihabudin Omar as-Sahrawardi (d. 632/1217); and the Rifaiya, founded by the Hassanid Sharif, al-Qutb Sidi Ahmed ar-Rifa'i (d. 678/1236).
At present no one knows exactly what caused these orders to institutionalise to a greater extent than did the majority of their predecessors. That this transformation was linked to the increasing institutionalisation of Islamic society is probable. That it was a direct outgrowth of the attempt by the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir Din Allah (d. 662/1225) to bureaucratise (and hence control) the Sufi organisations of Iraq is less likely, because Moulay Abdellqadir al-Jilani's successors had already turned the Qadiriya into an 'international' Sufi order before an-Nasir ascended the throne. In addition, as early as the beginning of the seventh/thirteenth century, adherents of Tariqa Rifaiya were propagating their doctrines in regions as far removed from Iraq as the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. The first textual evidence of this arrival can be found in al-Badisi' notice of the Rifian Shaykh Sidi al-Haj Malik Hassun al-Baqquwi (Patron Saint of current El-Hoceima; d. first quarter of the seventh/thirteenth century), who sought to link the way of Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt with that of the Rifaiya.
Yet despite the presence of Rifai Sufis in the Rif, no Sufi order called "Taifa Rifaiya" or "Taifa Ahmediya" appears in Moroccan historical or hagiographical sources from this period. A lacuna of this magnitude is too important to ignore and leads one to suspect that the Eastern innovation of the "international" Sufi tariqa had yet to take root in Moroccan soil. This insularity of Moroccan Sufism may have been due to the fact that the Sufi way had already being institutionalised by home may have been due to the fact that the Sufi way had already being institutionalised by home-grown tawaif such as the Amghariya of Moulay Abdellah Amghar and the Majiriya of Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih al-Majiri. It was therefore in conformity with previous patterns that when the "international" tariqa first came to Morocco, it did so in the name of a Sufi from the Maghreb.
The Shadhiliya Sufi order, named after the Moroccan Idrissid-Hassanid Sharif, Sidi Abul Hassan Ali Shadhili (d. 656/1241), the disciple of Mawlana Abdessalam ibn Mashish al-Idrissi al-Hassani (d. 622/1207), was the vehicle of this innovation. Since the death of Abu Madyan in 594/1179, no subsequent body of Sufi doctrines had been able to exert a dominant influence in either North Africa or Muslim Spain. Even the Majiriya order whose pilgrimage society provided a framework for the expansion of Sufi contacts throughout the Mashriq, remained regionally localised institution that failed to gain many adherents beyond the confines of Morocco and al-Andalus. This was not the case, however, with the Shadhiliya. Apart from the Qadiriya and Naqshbandiya (after Sidi Mohammed Bahauddin Shah Naqshband; d. 791 /1388) Sufi orders, it is hard to find any other tariqa that was to have such a widespread influence. By the end of the eight/fourteenth century, the network of Shadhili lodges (zawaya; sing, zawiya) extended from Iran to the Atlantic ocean.
After the ninth/fifteenth century, the Shadhili branches in Morocco, i.e. the Jazouliya, the Zarruqiya, the Aissawiya, the Wazzaniya, and the Nasiriya gradually took on a stronger institutional life that was certainly much more complex and rigid than was the case for the earlier Shadhiliya in order to correspond to read adaptations and readjustments of the original Shadhili message. Very often these arose because historical and social circumstances called for a Sufi response of a special type. It is not easy to determine in every single case what might have been the fundamental relationship between the historical milieu and the rise of one of these branches.
The Jazouliya, for example, which goes back to the famous figure Sidi Mohammed ibn Sulayman Jazouli (d. 869/1454), one of the patron saints of Marrakech, seems to have arisen largely as the powerful devotional manifestation of love for the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), as we can see in his well known litany on the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), Dalail al-Khayrat, which has been recited since his day in great parts of the Islamic world. By then, the spiritual substance of Morocco was in need of powerful symbol to allow it to dedicate itself once again to the roots of its collective well-being. And what more regenerative a source could be than the love of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him)? Especially was this the case in view of the jihad that was then going on against the Portuguese colonies on the coast that threatened the security of Dar al-Islam. But also —and this needs to be stressed— the devotional passion generated by the Dalail al-Khayrat, was a testimony to its otherworldly origins; and thus it was a kind of divine message that the Jazouliya were destined to spread over other Islamic lands.
If we look at the causes that might have given rise to the Zarruqiya, named after its founder Shaykh Sidi Ahmed Zarruq al-Fasi (d. 899/1484), they probably have to do with the restoration of piety and conformity to the Dine Law (Shari'a). Not only was the Shaykh an indefatigable commentator on Kitab al-Hikam (The Aphorisms) of Sidi Ibn Ata'Allah Sakandari al-Misri (d. 709/1294), writing something like thirty glosses, but he was also a great traveller. Wherever he went, inspired the strict observance of the Shari'a as a necessary accessory to the thoughtful path. His works on Sufism, like Kitab Qawaid at-Tasawwuf (The Principles of Sufism), demonstrate a careful regard for legal rules that strikes one at first glance as inappropriate in a meditative esoterist, but, after reflection, once distinguishes here and there in his book that he is seeking to re-establish some kind of balance between the Shari'a and theHaqiqa, so that neither of the two will impinge on the other's domain. The Zarruqiya, no doubt, considered the balancing of Sufism and the Shari'a as crucial quality in the would-be-faqir, something that he had to be aware of, or something that he had to incorporate.
The branching out of different orders from the original Shadhili trunk also implied adaptations to a variety of spiritual vocations although the Shadhiliya retained through the centuries of a characteristic intellectual orientation, with time, some of the orders, like the Aissawiya, established by the tenth/sixteenth century master Sidi al-Hadi Ben Aissa ("Shaykh al-Kamil," d. 933/1518), wereMalammati-oriented and barely intellectual in nature. Like the Qadirite Jilala or the Shadhilite ‘Hmadsha (after Sidi Ali ibn Hamdush al-Alami; d. 1131/1716), the Aissawiya engaged in practices designed to demonstrate the immunity of their adherents to fire, swords, scorpions, and so on. No doubt all of this had a certain disciplinary function with some of the Majdubs (fools in God) of the order; but sooner or later, the pursuit of such immunities became an end in itself, so that the order was reduced simply to a kind of exhibitionism in the minds of many Muslim. It drew into its ranks a particular mentality, not only in Morocco, of course, where it originated, but also in Egypt and elsewhere.
It is generally the likes of the Aissawiya that, on a popular plane, give to Sufism a circuslike ambiance that was certainly not intended by its founders. But it was easy for the critics of Sufism, particularly the ulama of puritanical twisted, to point to such orders as examples of the deviations and subversions of Islam which Sufism produces. Nevertheless, and whatever might be the opinions of the straight-laced believers and scholars concerning such orders, the served the purpose of integrating into Sufism various classes of society that might otherwise have been left out of its zones altogether. In any case, not all such deeds as characterize the Aissawiya, for example, can be attributed to motivations that are incompatible with the spiritual life: everything depends on the teacher and how such unusual practices are seen by him within the deeper perspective of the order. Without him, of course, the practices yield easily to the charge of charlatanism or fraud and lose their real value.
In the early twelfth/eighteen century the Shadhilite Sufi branches in Morocco were popular to the degree that to be a Muslim —especially in the urban areas— was all but synonymous with being affiliated in one manner or another with the orders (i.e. the Wazzaniya after Moulay Abdellah Sharif Wazzani; d. 1089/1674/ the Nasiriya after Sidi Mhammed ibn Nasir Dar'i; d. 1085/1670). It has been said that the formal following of the orders actually reached an all time high at this point in time rather than in earlier centuries. One of the factors that facilitated this environment was the convergence of the al-Qarawiyyine university and Sufi orders. Although much is made up of the inescapable tensions between the Sufi or esoteric dimension of Islam and the exoteric and Shari'a dimension, up until the modern colonial and post-colonial periods, these dimensions overlapped to a great degree at al-Qarawiyyine. The ulama of the Islamic sciences typically served as shaykhs or asfuqara of Sufi orders. Al-Qarawiyyine scholars have also served as administrators of Sufi related institutions such as the shrines of Awliya and the extensive properties endowed (awqaf) to support the orders.
The student-teacher networks of al-Qarawiyyine that reached into every corner of the Moroccan countryside and well beyond to other Arab centres of scholarship and religious activity in Africa and Asia often developed into parallel networks for the diffusion of the Moroccan based Sufi orders. Thus it was inevitable that the thirteenth/nineteenth-century Sufi revivalist founders, be they reformist as in the case of Sidna Shaykh, al-Qutb al-Maktum, Mawlana Abul Abbas Ahmed ibn Mohammed Tijani al-Hassani (d. 1230/1815), Sidi Ahmed ibn Idriss al-Idrissi al-Hassani (d. 1252/1837), or traditionalist as in the case of Moulay al-Arbi Darqawi al-Idrissi al-Hassani (1239/1823), also found followings in Morocco. Simultaneously the impact of these revivalist orders was great in other areas of the Arab world, in which the interpretation of orders, Sunni religious establishment, and ruling circle was not as complete as in Morocco and in which the reformist motivations of many of the new lines were more likely to be challenged by the firmly entrenched traditionalist orders.
Opposite the traditionalist model of Sufism which saw from poverty (faqr) and invocation of the Supreme Name of Allah (al-Ism al-Mufrad) the ultimate path to taste the meanings of tawhid (Oneness of God), the revivalist movements were characterized by a development of the concept of Tariqa Mohammediya, which strives for union (wusul) with the Essence (ad-Dat) of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) instead of union with God, through powerful formulas of litanies. However Sidi Ahmed Tijani and Sidi ibn Idriss had a few things in common –besides many differences– that distinguished them from most earlier founders of orders. Both were opposed to the saint veneration of their days and sympathetic to the usuli-reforms of the Moroccan sultan Mawlana Sulayman ibn SultanMohammed b. Abdellah (d. 1237/1822). Both, finally, affirmed to have actually met the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) himself in daylight (yaqadatan) and received instruction from him - directly in the case of Sid Ahmed Tijani, through the intermediary of Sidna al-Khidr (peace upon him) in that of Sidi Ibn Idriss. The orders deriving from them have correspondingly short initiatory chains (silsila), no names intervening between the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) and Mawlana Ahmed Tijani, and only those of Sidna al-Khidr, Moulay Abdellaziz Debbarh al-Idrissi al-Hassani (“al-Qutb Abdul Aziz Dabbagh” on whom Kitab al-Ibriz was written; d. 1132/1717), and Sidi Abdelwahhab Tazi al-Fasi (d. 1198/1783) in the case of Sidi Ahmed Ibn Idriss.
Sidna Shaykh Abul Abbas Mawlana Ahmed Tijani is by far the most important reformer of Moroccan Sufism. The Shaykh announced that the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) appeared to him in a waking vision (yaqadatan) and authorized him to establish his own order, the Ahmediya Mohammediya, which came to be known as the Tijaniya. The Prophet informed him that he is himself his Shaykh and Supporter; “No Shaykh has favor on you; as I am your true intermediary and supporter”. One year upon his permanent entrance to Fez in 1212/1797, the Shaykh declared himselfthe "Seal of all the Sufi Masters" (Khatm al-Awliya) in the historical cycle inaugurated by Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). The Khatmiya and Mohammedian refinement of the Tijaniya appear in doctrine and rituals. A beautiful example of the Mohammediya-Khatmiya complex of Tariqa Tijaniya isthe unique prayer of Jawharat al-Kamal (Gem of Excellence) taught by the Prophet to Shaykh Tijani, which according to the Shaykh, results into the very physical presence of the Prophet after seven recitations. This exclusiveness and sole authority of the Mohammedian Tariqa on the founder's vision of the Prophet is a very radical departure from any other order, reformist or not, in past and present.
According to Sufi traditions, the Khatm al-Awliya is the last and most perfect personality in the historical process of sainthood. With this person, evolution of perfect sainthood (wilayat al-khusus) has found its end, just as perfect Prophethood had their seal; the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him). As previously revealed by Sidi Hakim Tirmidhi in his work, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyiddin ibn Arabi al-Andalusi (d. 636/1221) explores the Khatmiya stage explicitly in his chronicle, Kitab Anqa’ al-Maghreb fi-khatm al-awliya wa shams al-Maghreb (The Moroccan phoenix in the sealhood of sanctity and sun of the Maghreb). The Shaykh introduces Khatm al-Awliya as, “The inheriting saint (al-wali al-warith), who receives from the source (al-akhid ‘ani al-asl),who recognizes the degrees (al-mushahid li-l-maratib) and ascertains the entitlement of their holders(al-‘arif bi istihqaqi as’habiha), in order to give each creditor his rightful due, for that is one of the virtues of the Chieftain of the Envoys, the Captain of the Community." In Durar al-Ghawas, Shaykh Abdellwahhab Shaarani (d. 905/1490) has reported his Shaykh Sidi Ali al-Khawas have said:
“Almighty Allah Has Bestowed His Bounty on this [Islamic] Ummah when He allocated two Absolute Seals [i.e. the Khatm and awaited Mahdi]. These saints congregate the divine ranks, stages, bequests, and sanctities in every spiritual domain and sphere. Every saint there has ever been, or will ever be, can only receive from these two Seals, one of whom is the Seal of the sainthood of the elite (wilayat al-khusus), while the other is the one by whom the common sainthood (wilayat al-umum) is sealed, for there will be no saint after him until the advent of the Final Hour."
Yet, unlike any other Sufi, Shaykh Ibn Arabi went too far in his Khatmiya discussion, “The meaning of the Prophet's saying: I was a Prophet while Adam was between the water and the clay is 'I was a Prophet in actual fact, aware of my Prophethood, while Adam was between the water and the clay’… None of the other Prophets was a Prophet, nor aware of his Prophethood, except when he was sent (on his mission) after his coming into existence with his material body and his complete fulfillment of the preconditions of Prophethood… The Seal of the Saints (Khatim al-Awliya) was likewise actually a saint, aware of his sainthood, while was between the water and the clay, and none of the other saints was a saint in actual fact, nor aware of his sainthood, except after his acquisition of the Divine characteristics that are stipulated in the definition of sainthood."
The khatmiya in Tijani doctrine is best understood in the concept of overflowing (al-fayd). Shaykh Sidi Ahmed Tijani reports that the descending overflowings (al-fuyudat) from the Presence of the Prophet (al-‘Hadra al-Mohammediya) is solely distributed through the Presence of the khatm over the whole span of the history of the world. Sidi Ali Berrada Harazem al-Fasi (d. 1218/1803) documents in Kitab Jawahir al-Ma’ani fi-Fayd Abil Abbas Tijani (Gems of Indications in the overflowing of Shaykh Abil Abbas Tijani) various adages of Shaykh Sidi Ahmed Tijani that indicate such holistic rank of khatmiya:
"If someone receives from me the well-known wird, which is essential to the Tariqa, or he receives it from someone I have authorized to teach it, he will enter the Garden of Paradise (“Jannat 'Illiyyine”; that of prophets and saints) -he and his children, his wives, and his descendants- without reckoning and without punishment, provided that they are not guilty of any insult, hatred, or enmity, and that he persists in loving the Shaykh until death.” “The bounties that flow from the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) are received by the natures of the prophets, and everything that flows and emerges from the natures of the Prophets is received by my own nature, and from me it is distributed to all creatures from the origin of the world until the blowing on the trumpet”; “No saint drinks or provides water to drink, except from our ocean, from the origin of the world until the blowing on the trumpet”; “The of the Prophet and my spirit are like this'--pointing with his two fingers, the index finger and the middle finger. 'His spirit supports the Messengers and the Prophets and my spirit supports the poles, the sages, the saints, from pre-existence to eternity (mina al-azal ila abad)”; “These two feet of mine are upon the neck of every saint of Allah, from the time of Adam until the blowing of the trumpet”;“All the saints will be incorporated into our Circle, take our Wird and be initiated into our Path from the origin of the world until the doomsday. Even al-Imam Mahdi will receive our Path when the end of times arrives, and he will enter our company after our death”;“'Our station in the Presence of Allah in the Hereafter will not be attained by any of the saints, and it will not be approached by anyone, whether his importance is great or small. Of all the saints among from the very beginning of creation until the blowing on the trumpet, there is not one who will attain to my station.”
In Fez, Sidna Shaykh brought together the blazing light of the Hidden Pole, the Seal of Saints, the Pole of Poles, the Isthmus of Isthmuses. Input from every perceptual domain leads to the conclusion that Fez was honored in the end by the light of this Mohammedian Seal who shines and glides over the image of every saint. The episode of Moroccan saints' plea shows that Sidna Shaykh’s presence in Fez creates a doctrine that links the reality of the Mohammedian Seal with this part of the world, then undergrids it with the relationship of Moroccan Sufism in the Sufi hierarchy. This extends the shining of the realm's moons upon the east and the west. It gives also brilliance to the hadith,
"On the Night of Ascension
(mi'araj), the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) saw sparkles of light from the edges of an ashen domain. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said, 'Dear Beloved Jibril! What is this ashen domain that sparkles of light in the Maghreb?' Jibril (peace be upon him) replied, 'It is a city that belongs to your nation at the end of time (madina li-ummatika fi-akhiri z-zaman). Knowledge is gushed forth from the chests of its men as water is gushed forth from its walls'.”
The glad tidings of Jibril might have otherwise revealed the secret of the victorious group of the Maghreb. In the authority of Muawiyah, the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said, "A group of my community will remain on truth in the Maghreb until Allah commands." Saints, like Ibn Arabi, believed that it refers to the people the Maghreb. This is much vindicated in his title, Anqa’ Maghreb fi khatm al-awliya wa shams al-Maghreb (The Western Phoenix in the Seal of Saints and Sun of Magherb). More precisely Bilad al-Maghreb al-Aqsa (present-day Morocco). A famous adage: “The Mashriq is the land of prophets (anbiya) and the Maghreb is the land of saints (awliya). Morocco is the land of saints par excellence since a significant majority of axial saints are buried in the realm. The axial saint, who is usually used as a synonym for the ghawt, qutb, al-qutb al-jami'a, or qutb al-aqtab, represents the generative authority of sainthood. Sidna Shaykh said in the Jawahir: Allah has said: Surely the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one of you who is most truly devout (49:13). And in the whole of Allah's creation, absolutely and without exception there is no one among humankind and the angels after the Prophets, who could possibly attain to as much as one thousandth part of the true devotion of the Pole of Poles (Qutb al Aqtab), however much he might achieve. He is the most excellent of all the Muslims in every era, apart from any Keys of the Treasures (Mafatih al-Kunuz ot the Afrad) that may exist, for he is superior to them in some respects, and they are superior to him in some respects.”
Among the predecessor saints of the Maghreb who gained reputation with the Qutbaniya among the Sufi community are the following: Sidi Abu Yaaza Yalnour (d. 572/1157), Sidi Yusuf b. Ali Sanhaji al-Mubtala (d. 593/1179), Sidi Abu Madyan al-Ghawt (d. 594/1179), Moulay Abdessalam b. Mashish (d. 622/1207), Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili (d. 656/1241), Sidi Muhyiddin b. Arabi (d. 636/1221), Sidi Abul Abbas al-Mursi (d. 686/1271), Sidi Mohammed al-Jazouli (d. 869/1454), Sidi Abdellaziz Tabba'a(d. 914/1499), Sidi Abdelkarim al-Fallah (d. 933/1518), Sidi Abdellah Ghazwani (d. 935/1520), Sidi Ahmed ou Moussa Samlali (d. 991/1576), Sidi Mohammed Sharqi (d. 1010/1595), Sidi Mhammed Ben Nasir Dar'i (d. 1085/1674), Moulay Abdellah Sharif Wazzani (d. 1089/1674), Sidi Mohammed b. Abdellah Wazzani (d. 1120/1705), Sidi Tuhami b. Mohammed Wazzani (d. 1127/1712), Sidi Ahmed Sqalli (d. 1177/1762), Sidi al-Mu’ati b. Salih Sharqi al-Umari (“Author of Dakhirat al-Muhtaj”; d. 1180/1765), Sidi Tayyeb b. Mohammed Wazzani (d. 1181/1766), Moulay Ahmed b. Tayyeb Wazzani(d. 1195/1780). It is understood now why the saints of Morocco refused to mislay the radiance and splendour of Sidna Shaykh among them.
The secret that nobility and truth are related to the group of the Maghreb until the Hour comes is the core of this Ahmedi Mohammedi Tijani Path. Sidna Shaykh Abil Abbas Tijani lived 30 years in the Qutbaniya. Add to this, his Katmiya-Khatmiya nature which he was aware of while Adam was between the water and the clay. One of the gifts which Sidna Shaykh had been promised was that his companions would inherit the Qutbaniya till doomsday. Thus the Pole of Poles would always be found in the midst of this Mohammediya Tariqa. Among the known Maghrebi Tijani masters that sat on the chair the Qutbaniya after Sidna Shaykh are the names of: Sidi al-Haj Ali ibn Aissa Tamasini al-Hassani (d. 1260/1845), Sidi Mohammed ibn Abi al-Nasr al-Alawi, Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed Akansus al-Jaafari (d. 1294/1879), Sidi Mohammed al-Arabi ibn Sayeh al-Umari (d. 1309/1894), Sidi al-Haj al-Ahsan ibn Ahmed al-Ifrani al-Hassani (d. 1328/ 1913), Moulay al-Arabi al-Mu’hibb al-Alawi al-Hassani (d. 1351/1936), Sidi al-Haj Mohammed ibn Abdelwahid al-Nadhifi (d. 1366/1940), Sidi al-Haj al-Ahsan al-Baaqili al-Hassani (d. 1368/1953), Sidi Mohammed ibn Mohammed al-’Hajuji al-Hassani (d. 1370/1955), Moulay al-Hassan al-Kathiri al-Hassani (d. 1409/1994). Most of the direct companions and confidents of Sidna Shaykh achieved high ranking in sainthood. But let us recall that ten of them received glad tidings from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing be upon) to attain a higher degree in mystic Opening (al-Fath al-Akbar). They are Sidi Mohammed ibn Abi Nasr al-Alawi (d. 1273/1858),Sidi al-Ghali Boutaleb, Sidi Moussa Benmazuz (d. after 1244/1829), Sidi al-Haj Abderrahman Berrada (d. 1234/1819), Sidi Abdelwahhab b. al-'Ahmar (d. 1269/1854), Sidi Abu Yaaza b. Ali Berrada (d. after 1303/1891), Sidi Mohammed ibn Ahmed al-Jabiri al-Qasri (d. after 1273/1858), Sidi Mohammed b. al-Ghazi (d. after 1269/1854), Sidi al-Abbas b. Ghazi (d. after 1270/1855), Sidi Abdelwahid b. Abi Ghalib (d. after 1270/1855). Nine of the latter names are Fasis.
The Alawid 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(d. 1205/1790) constantly paid tribute to Sufism as he wrote extensively on the beliefs he shared with Sufi masters. The Sultan Moulay Sulayman al-Alawi (d. 1233/1818) was an active disciple of Shaykh Sidi Ahmed Tijani. Sultan Moulay Abdelhafidh was also committed to the spiritual path. He made a contribution to the debate raised by Sufi practices by authoring important treaties. In fact, he was deeply affiliated to the congregation of his Tijani master Sidi Ahmed Skirej al-Fasi (d. 1366/1940). Emir al-Muminin King Mohammed VI, as did his illustrious forefathers, continues to offer his royal patronage to the Sufi orders. Today, religious ceremonies, ritually organized by His Majesty, as part of an age-old tradition, honours Sufi practices such as sama' and madih. International Sufis meetings are held annually under his direct noble patronage.
Al-Maghreb al-Aqsa continues to this day to be a major centre of Sufism. It is sufficient to visit the shrines of Moulay Idriss al-Azhar (d. 213/798) in Fez and Moulay Abdessalam ibn Mashish (d. 622/1207) in Jabal al-Alam to become aware of the degree to which Sufism is still alive in the land which has been witness to some of the greatest Sufis over centuries. Nor is Sufism confined to the masses, as can be seen by witnessing the annual Eid al-Mawlid in the shrine of Khatm al-Awliya Mawlana Ahmed Tijani in Fez, which draws dozens of thousands of adherents from the globe (more than 300 million Tijani adherents worldwide). Sufism in Morocco, moreover, remains closely tied to the West and the Muslim world to such countries as Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Java, many of whose orders are directly linked to those of Morocco.