Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sīdī Būzīdī Bujrāfī (1925-)

His name is al-Yazīd Bujrāfī. He was born in Banī Shikār in 1925. He memorised the Quran under the guidance of his father, who himself had memorised it by heart, was adept in the sciences of Islamic Law and led the prayer in a number of different mosques in the Reef region. His father had taken the spiritual path directly from Shaykh al-‘Alawī. At the age of 19, in the year 1943, accompanied by his father, Sīdī Bin ‘Isā, a muqaddam (representative) of the order, took al-Būzīdī to visit Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. It was from Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj that he took the litany of the ‘Alawī order.

One day, he went with a fellow disciple to visit Sīdī Muhammādī with the intention of invoking the Divine Name. After completing the discipline, Muhammādī told them both to continue their spiritual training with Moulay Sulaimān.

Moulay Sulaimān was overjoyed with his new student. One day, in 1944, in front of all his disciples, he announced, “Bear witness, my Brethren, that today this man has become my son, so venerate him.”

On another occasion, his teacher, Moulay Sulaimān, announced to his disciples that he was changing his student’s name to al-Būzīdī and told them from this day onwards not to address him as al- Yazīd. The reason he chose al-Būzīdī was because Moulay al-‘Arabī al-Darqāwī had a disciple called al-Būzīdī al-Ghumārī, and he was the one who inherited his teachings as stated by Moulay al-‘Arabi himself. Shaykh al-‘Alawī’s teacher was also called Hamū al- Būzīdī; not to mention that changing one’s name for a better has its origins in the Prophetic tradition.

From then on, he served the zāwiya in both body and spirit. He never left his teacher’s side. Moulay Sulaimān appointed him to lead the people in prayer and lead the gatherings, too. He was gifted with such a strong memory that he was able to memorise all the poems of his teacher, which totalled 214. He would memorise them and then choose a melody for each one. He was well-known for his beautiful voice.

On one occasion, Moulay Sulaimān said to Sīdī al-Būzīdī, “Strive and work hard for after 8 days Sīdī Muhammādī will pass away, and we will be establishing a new order.” And it happened just as he had predicted. The news came of Sīdī Muhammādī’s death in 1946. All of his students without exception pledged allegiance to Moulay Sulaimān. One night al-Būzīdī dreamt that his teacher said to him, “Rise and strive and I will marry you (into my family) outwardly and inwardly."

And it happened just so, for in 1947, Moulay Sulaimān married him to his daughter. Moulay Sulaimān took care of the dowry, as al-Būzīdī was much too poor to do so.

He initially worked in the army where he had a great influence on his colleagues. He was able, by the grace of God, to bring great numbers of them into the Order. They would even hold dhikr gatherings in the trenches.

In 1953, he left the army and focussed all his efforts on serving his teacher and the zāwiya after taking his permission. He spent the next two years without work but later worked as a guard for one of the companies in Isutulasi, Nādūr where his teacher’s zāwiya was. Even in his second line of work he was able to bring over fifty of the workers to the zāwiya and they entered the Order.

Now the number of disciples was too much for the size of the zāwiya, so al-Būzīdī decided that they should work on adding an extension to the building. He went around encouraging people to give donations and support for the project. He was able to get the support of a group of Spanish architects who installed water and electricity in the zāwiya. When the zāwiya was finally finished, a great gathering was held in celebration.

Moulay Sulaimān was now 80 years old and was unable to either walk or leave his house. Al-Būzīdī was now responsible for Moulay Sulaimān’s whole family. He would wait on his teacher’s wives and children as well as the affairs of the zāwiya itself, such as organising any events or travels with the brethren.

When Moulay felt his time was drawing close, he gathered his closest disciples and told them, “I will relate to you all what Moulay al-‘Arabi said in his letter wherein he spoke regarding his student al-Būzīdī, ‘No-one has served me like al-Būzīdī, and no-one has supported me financially like he has, and no-one has worked as tirelessly as he. It is my will that within this zāwiya, he shall be the one to lead the people in prayer and be the imam of the brethren. However, Moulay Sulaimān knew that envious eyes were watching al-Būzīdī. He told him, “If they leave the zāwiya to you, then you are its imam. If not, then depart and take your children and wife with you. Wherever you go you will find success.” He also asked him to take his own wife with him and his two sons Sīdī ‘Abd al-‘Azīz and Sīdī Muhammad.

In 1970, at the age of 103, Moulay Sulaimān passed on. Sīdī al-Būzīdī was to remain in the zāwiya for the next two years. Then the tribulations began, so he left, following the instruction of his teacher and established his zāwiya at Zaghanghan. The vast majority of Moulay Sulaimān’s disciples followed Sīdī al-Būzīdī, too.
It has now been 35 years since he assumed the mantle of the order.


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Moulay Sulaiman

His lineage:

Sulaiman b. al-Mahdi b. al-Yazid b. Muhammad b. Umar b. Muhammad b. al-‘Abbas b. Abu al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Musa b. ‘Isa b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Wughiri b. Ya‘la b. ‘Abd al-‘Ali b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. A‘mar b. Sulaiman b. Muhammad b. Moulay Idris II b. Moulay Idris I b. ‘Abdullah al-Kamil b. al-Hasan al-Muthanna b. al-Hasan b. Ali.

His father, Moulay al-Mahdi, was originally from the tribe of Qal‘iyya, Nadur. He was a fine horseman and was highly respected by all the people of the region in the Reef. When there were disputes or conflicts between tribes, he was the intermediary who solved them and reunited the parties. He had a huge influence amongst the people. If he spoke the people fell silent and if he ordered them they followed. His house was open to anyone. People would come from far and wide to ask him for his prayers and he would feed and honour them. Later, he moved to the region of al-Lahyaina just outside of Fez. There he married and settled for some time. He was gifted with two sons whilst resident there; Hashim and Sulaiman. However, after some time, he was forced to leave his sons with their maternal uncles and return to Nadur and was absent for many years. He only visited them once while he was resident in Nadur. When Sulaiman was twenty years of age, his father sent him a letter calling him to attend in Nadur. There his father married Sulaiman to the wife of his brother, al-Hasan, who had recently passed away. Sulaiman returned to his homeland al-Lahyaina accompanied with his new wife.

When he was around twenty eight years of age, in the year 1315, he travelled with some local fuqara to visit the Sheikh of the Darqawi Order in Bu Bareeh, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman, who was the grandson of Moulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi. He was the youngest of the travellers, but when he arrived at the Sheikh’s home, the Sheikh cried, ‘Welcome, my beloved! Welcome, my beloved!’ He sat him at his side and he was given the litany of the order.

Soon after joining the Darqawi Order, he travelled to visit his father in Nadur. He resided there and took his new spiritual allegiance with great sincerity and seriousness, becoming completely engrossed in worship and invocation of God. He loved to visit the brethren of the order and he made his house a place of invocation for the brothers whenever they wished to visit. Wherever he moved, he would bring the brethren together for remembrance of God. He had memorised vast numbers of spiritual odes and poetry and would recite them in the gatherings with power and passion. He would never tire of invoking God and singing His praise. When he went out on his travels, he would always be accompanied by the fuqara and from the moment they left their homes their tongues would not cease from invoking their Lord. At times, they would stay up the whole night until the dawn prayer invoking or in spiritual discussion. He loved to read the books of the previous spiritual masters such as the letters of Moulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi. He would read them out to the fuqara out loud and contemplate over the meanings and express them to his audience. He frequented the scholars of the region and would always inquire about the matters of his religion and act upon what he had learnt. He visited his Sheikh 25 times in his life. When setting off to visit, he would gather the fuqara and travel in groups on foot from Nadur to Bani Zarwal, singing out odes on the road ahead. They would rest from village to village until they arrived at the zawiya of the sheikh. His sheikh always sang his praises. He used to call him the ‘stallion of the order’.

One day he was sitting by the side of Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman in a gathering with the fuqara when the sheikh put his hand on Moulay Sulaiman’s back. He called out, ‘This is the stallion of this order. Everyone repeat after me ‘by God, this is the stallion of the order,’ so they repeated the words of their sheikh. One day he was with his sheikh and he said to him, ‘This order holds direct knowledge of God and I want a portion of that knowledge.’ The sheikh replied to him, ‘Invoke God until the knowledge comes to you.’ From those words, Moulay Sulaiman knew that the future would hold great things for him. He was highly respected in the order and all the brethren loved him and honoured him. When they were in the gatherings, he would never mention a word related to worldly affairs. He detested hearing the brethren talk about matters that did not concern them. He remained like this until his sheikh passed away. He served his sheikh for 35 years.

After the death of Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman, Moulay Sulaiman travelled to take from Sheikh al-‘Alawī. He came to know of Sheikh al-‘Alawī through his friend Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He had met Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj in a gathering with the fuqara. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj had related Sheikh al-‘Alawī’s qualities and teachings and given him a copy of the sheikh’s poetry. On reading it, he became engrossed in its meanings until he lost consciousness. He was carried to his bed without even being aware of his surroundings. When he came to, he found himself drawn towards meeting the Sheikh. He became perplexed what he should do. Every time he thought about visiting him, his mind would play with him. Half of him wanted to visit and the other half would put doubts in his mind.

Whilst in this dilemma, he dreamt one night that his sheikh Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman visited him, saying, ‘Give me my letter that you have.’ Moulay Sulaiman took out the letter and gave it to him. The sheikh then signed it with his signature and returned it to him. When he awoke he interpreted that it meant he had permission to visit Sheikh al-‘Alawī and join his order. He set off towards Mostaghanem with a friend, but before going into Algeria, he consulted Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He was in prison at the time in Melilia. He found Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj with a group of fuqara. On seeing Moulay Sulaiman, Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj rose from the gathering beaming with happiness. Moulay Sulaiman informed him that he wished to visit Sheikh al-‘Alawī to join the order. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was overjoyed on hearing this. He rushed to get a pen and ink to write a letter that Moulay Sulaiman will take with him. He insisted that Moulay Sulaiman give the letter to Sheikh al-‘Alawī personally. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj escorted them out of the prison and on departing embraced Moulay Sulaiman out of his love for him.

The two companions then headed for Mostaghanem. On arriving at the zawiya they found Sheikh al-‘Alawī sitting with a group of his fuqara and scholars. He went to greet him and handed him the letter. The sheikh was overjoyed on reading the letter. Once he had read it, he fixed his gaze on Moulay Sulaiman for a time, and then spoke, ‘From what I have read, Sheikh Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj praises you highly and asks me to take good care of you, so order your beloved friends.’ Moulay Sulaiman replied, ‘Sir, your order requires a dowry, and we are desolate. We have nothing to give you in way of a dowry. Sheikh al-‘Alawī answered with a Quranic verse: ‘Verily charity is for the poor and impoverished.’ Moulay Sulaiman said, ‘We have come to take direct knowledge of God from you but which is accompanied with safety.’ On hearing these words, Sheikh al-‘Alawī rose his hands in prayer for Moulay Sulaiman along with everyone else present, saying, ‘May God raise the veils from our Brethren.’ From this visit on, Moulay Sulaiman felt a spiritual change in his life. He first met Sheikh al-‘Alawī in 1350 at the age of 63. Moulay Sulaiman continually visited Sheikh al-‘Alawī and strived spiritually and physically for the sake of the order.

Once Sheikh al-‘Alawī had passed away, he took his instruction from Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. He would attend the gatherings in the zawiya of Bani ‘All and Melilia. They would hold long conversations between themselves which would at times go on until dawn. They spoke of the spiritual realities and the science of spiritual allusions. They never liked to part from one another’s company. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj said to him one time, ‘I desire the company of he who I can exchange with in understanding of divine realties. If I find one, I wish never to leave his company.’ Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj would come from Melilia on frequent occasions to visit Moulay Sulaiman in Nadur, so they could discuss these subjects which are the very core of Sufism. Moulay Sulaiman would ask Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj permission to go out and visit the fuqara to teach them and visit the neighbouring towns to spread the Order. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj thanked him for carrying this burden off his shoulders on numerous occasions.

When Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj passed away, the overwhelming majority of the fuqara came to pledge allegiance to Moulay Sulaiman. Many more entered the order through his efforts until the regions alongside Nadur brimmed with his followers. He often went out to visit the regions with members of the fuqara and reciters of Quran. Once they had arrived at their destination, he told members of the fuqara to sing out loud the ‘Testification of Faith’ with their beautiful voices. When they came to the door of their host, all the fuqara would sing out aloud in one voice an ode of the order. If the tie of prayer had come they would pray the obligatory prayer first and if not they would proceed with the Hadra. Moulay Sulaiman would lead the singing of the Hadra with his sweet but powerful voice. Once the time of prayer had arrived, they would all fall quiet and he would order someone to perform the call the prayer from the door of the house. Then he would lead the prayer or ask one of the fuqara to do so. Once they had finished the prayer, they would read Sura al-Waqiya, the Latifiyya of Sheikh al-‘Alawī and invoke God’s name ‘Ya Lateef’ 129 times. Then they would proceed with the singing of the odes of the order and finally stand for the Hadra. Once the host had given them permission to leave they would leave the house as the entered, reciting the odes of the order. He lived out his life in this way from beginning to end.

He never used to laugh out loud but always had a smile on his face, and was always full of advice for the brethren. If wealth ever came to him he would spend it on the brethren. He was never harsh but treated the brethren softly and with wisdom. If anyone did something unbecoming in his company, he corrected him gently. The most important thing for him was the performance of prayer. He would make sure he himself and the people around him performed it in its time. If the time came to pray, he would go to the middle of the house and call out to his family to pray, ‘It’s time to pray.’ If he noticed any of his children become lax wit their prayers he would become extremely angry. Whoever came to visit, he would remind them not to neglect their prayers. He would say, ‘whoever squanders his prayer is not one of us nor are we one of them.’ He also advised his companions to constantly invoke God and send blessings on His prophet. He would say, ‘If you send blessings on the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, or hear about his noble qualities, envision him in your minds, so that your veneration and love for him increases. If you do so you will certainly see him by the grace of God.’ He always reminded the fuqara of the closeness of death and that they should prepare for the next world. He constantly reminded them to know the basics of their worship and to ask if they did not know. He said, ‘Ask about matter pertaining to your obligatory and recommended acts of worship and be sure of them because God is not worshipped with ignorance, but rather by knowledge and understanding.’ He loved to discuss matters related to spiritual allusion and inner divine realities. He would say, ‘Whoever does not understand these discussions or does not find out he has no existence in the eyes of the spiritual masters.’ Moulay Sulaiman has many poems related to the spiritual path as well as aphorisms and profound words. He composed around 240 poems related to the unity of God, spiritual allusion, inner divine realities, and praise of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. He used to say, ‘whoever contemplates these poems and really strives to understand them, then lets himself float deep into their meanings, he will achieve spiritual enlightenment soon enough because they suffice one from invoking the Divine Name in spiritual retreat.

If some people came with the intention of refuting him in a gathering, he would remain silent and not speak; he would not even answer them. If reciters of Quran attended he would honour them and respect them and order his followers to do so, too. If he was given a gift he would give it over to them. Every time his ablutions were broken, he would remake them instantly whether it were in the night or day. He often granted his followers permission to recite the Divine Name in addition to the general litany of the path. Great numbers achieved divine enlightenment through his teachings and directions or merely by a glance of approval. He always encouraged the fuqara to never tire of invoking God. He would say invoke until it flows from your tongues and your hearts gain solace through it. Heedlessness is the worst of calamities. If one becomes heedless, Satan takes a grip on one’s heart.

Some of His Sayings

‘Heedlessness is the worst of all calamities. If one becomes heedless, Satan takes a grip on one’s heart.’

‘Gathering with the brethren for the sake of God is a mercy and wandering from their presence is torment.’

‘If the aspirant invokes God, harm flees and if he becomes heedless of invoking God it returns.’

‘If the brethren come together, then they are glorified and full of force, and if they separate they become humiliated and base.’

‘If one sticks to the brethren, he will achieve spiritual enlightenment from his Lord, and if he dallies off from the group, Satan will take hold of him and play with him amongst his colleagues.’

‘I highly detest he who is silent whilst his brethren are discussing with him matters of the spiritual path. The one who engages in conversation of matters of the spiritual path is like running water and the one who does not is like a stagnant pool.’

‘Discuss the matters of the spiritual path as long as you live, for it is the very spirit of the order, and the order without it is like a body without soul.’

‘Bring to your consciousness love and contemplation. One who loves is like one who soars high in the sky and one does not it is like one who travels with his feet on the ground. Love will bring you much closer than acts ever will.’

‘He who has only love for worldly matters will not produce anything. If worldly matters take a grip of him, they will rule over his heart and limbs. If they do so, he has passed on as those who went before with his and our recompense in wait in the next life.’

‘Oh Lord, we have neglected and squandered your rights, so please grant us your grace and mercy, Oh Most-Merciful, Lord of the worlds.’

‘Invocation of God is a fire that burns away wrongdoings, refines one’s character, replaces blame worthy traits with praiseworthy ones.’

‘Whoever does not find himself in increase, is in decrease and whoever finds himself so, then death is more fitting for him.’

‘Who venerates the brethren gains provision from them and is indeed victorious and whoever belittles them, his own self will debase him and will reap only loss.’
He was frequently known to weep. If he wept he would wipe the tears into his face and say, ‘these are the tears of love.’ He liked to keep himself unknown and did not try to make himself known amongst the people or raise himself up. Anyone that came to him constricted or plagued by worries would get up from sitting with him relieved and joyful. He was constantly concerned with the affairs of the Muslim community. He would rejoice at their rejoicing and become saddened at their situation and what afflicted them. If he was informed of tragic event that had occurred for the community he would pray for them and order the brethren to read the litany of ‘Ya Lateef’. If he heard of anyone’s death, be it man or woman, he would order them to invoke the ‘Basmala’ 11, 000 times for them, splitting the number up between the brethren and he would pray that God has mercy on them and forgives them.

One day he was sitting under a tree when all of a sudden a man approached him. The man was tall in stature with a rosy face. He was wearing was ornately designed and of many colours. When I managed to get a good look at him, he looked back and I fell into a faint. When I came to, I found no one there. When I began to think who he could have been, a notion came to me that this must have been al-Khadir (al-Khidr), peace be upon him.’

Near the end of his life, his body became extremely frail and had lost all his strength. One day he went to make his ablutions and he fell breaking his left leg. From then on he was bedridden. The brethren used to carry him and his bed on their shoulders out with them. They could not bear to be apart from him in the gatherings. They would delight in seeing the light in his face. Just to stare in his face would increase their state and lift their spirits. Despite his weakened state he would order to be taken out to travel or visit the brethren.

After he had reached 100, he would spend the whole day without food because of his weakened state. When he felt his time draw near, which was eight days before his death, he called his grandson Sidi al-‘Arabi al-Waryashi, and dictated to him how he wished his will to be. From amongst the things he stipulated in his will was that he be buried in the zawiya, and that Sidi Buzidi remain the imam of the zawiya, that he lead the people in prayer, and that he remain to take care of the its affairs. He died Thursday 17th if Shawwal 1390 17th December 1970 at the age of 103, may God be pleased with him and grant him His mercy.


Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj

His father was from the tribe of Banī Sa‘īd but moved later on to the tribe of Banī Shikār. His father was a follower of the Qādirī order. He was highly respected by the heads of this order in the zāwiya of Wark. The followers would come and visit him in his home and he would host them and show them great generosity. He was made a representative (muqaddam) of the order and they married him. He had many children and one of them was Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj.

When Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was seven years of age, his father entered him into a Quranic School to memorise the book of God. He memorised the Quran very quickly, but soon after, his father died and he was left an orphan along with his other siblings. One day, he felt the urge to travel to perform his duty of the pilgrimage across land, so he headed off to Algeria. However, he soon ran out of provisions and he was forced to move from mosque to mosque, offering his services in teaching the children or leading the people in prayer. One day, a disciple of the ‘Alawī Order, who had come from Mostāghanem, came to visit the mosque he was frequenting. The man spent the night with Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj relating to him the qualities of Shaykh al-‘Alawī and his methods of teaching. His words struck a chord within Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj so much that he asked the man to take him to visit the sheikh as soon as possible.

When they arrived at the door of the zāwiya in Mostāghanem, the disciple sung out at the top of his voice the words, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship besides God.’ The sheikh heard his voice and came out to greet him. The man introduced Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj to Shaykh al-‘Alawī and he kissed the sheikh’s hand. It was now time for the prayer, so the sheikh invited him to call the people to prayer. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj had a very powerful but sweet voice. After the prayer, the sheikh gave him the litanies of the order. He then immediately entered him into khalwa, and he quickly achieved results. The sheikh ordered him to stay at his side so as to be of service to him. He would teach the children the Quran and at other times watch over the cattle.

Later on, he was sent with a representative (muqaddam) of the order to the region of Zawāwā to gather donations and gifts for the mother zāwiyah to be built in Mostaghānem. Their presence was immediately felt and people came from all around to donate and listen to their teachings. Many people entered the order through their efforts. However, the local authorities became suspicious of their activities, so they were imprisoned and held for three months. After his release, Shaykh al-‘Alawī used his services again in the zāwiya. Then after some time he told him to head back to his homeland and gave him permission to spread the tea chings of the order there.

He initially arrived in Farkhāna where his sister lived, who was married to a man from the region named al-Hajj Hammū. He was appointed an imam in a mosque there. He soon moved to another mosque named Moulay Idrīs and there he called people to join the order. People would come in great numbers both men and women. It was at this time that one of his students, Sīdī ‘Allāl Zaryūh, married Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj to his niece, so he moved to the village of ‘Atītan where Sīdī ‘Allāl’s family lived. He would hold the dhikr gatherings in his house there, but later they moved them to his father’s house in Bāni Shikār.

More and more people were entering the order and the head of the Qādirī order grew jealous of his success and feared that their followers would leave them and enter into this new order. They had ties with the Spanish government at the time, so they were able to chase him out using physical force if necessary. He was forced to flee the region, so he headed to Mostaghānem to consult his sheikh what he should do. Sheikh al-‘Alawī told him to return, bear patience and be steadfast. He went back to the region teaching children Quran in local mosques. He continued to spread the teachings of the order, so his enemies came back to attack him. They complained to the Spanish authorities and spread lies about him, so that he was eventually arrested and imprisoned in the Taztūtin where he was held in the caves there deep under the land. There he found solace in his Lord. He would spend the night and day engrossed in invocation of God as witnessed by soldiers who were guarding him there. Later they moved him to Zāyu and finally to Melīlia. He remained imprisoned in Melīlia for the next seven years, but he was steadfast and faithful to his sheikh, in complete adoration for him. Throughout his time in prison he would not move unless he had consulted his sheikh.

This was how he obtained the contentment of his sheikh and thus his Lord. He gained the wisdom of his teacher due to his patience throughout his tribulation as expressed in the proverb, ‘It is through tribulation that a man is made noble or is humiliated.’ He strived on the path to God, giving up his soul for the sake of his Lord. There was no other disciple of Shaykh al-‘Alawī who had been tried like he had. He spent years far away from his family and children, who were but infants when he left them. He sacrificed all this out of love of God and in order to give victory to his teacher’s order. By doing so, he gave root to the ‘Alawī order in the Reef region despite the number of initial enemies there. The Spanish authorities throughout his time in prison promised him they would free him if only he would join another order, but he refused and told them to return him to his cell. Once they had seen his sincerity and how adamant he was to remain loyal to his teacher, the Spanish gave him certain dispensations whilst he was in prison. They allowed him to have visitors whenever they wished and the fuqarā were free to sit with him. They came from all over the region to learn from him or ask him to pray from them. He also granted some of the fuqarā the permission to recite the Divine Name with him within the walls of the prison.

On his arrival to Melīlia prison, he found his fellow inmates ignorant of God and heedless. They ridiculed him for occupying his time with meditation and worship. They told him he was wasting his time and to give up his worship and join them in playing cards and so forth. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj saw his opportunity. He agreed to join them on condition that if they spend one day playing cards, the next day they sit with him and do as he does. On the first day, he humoured them by playing cards with them. The second day he called them to sit with him and recite after him the invocations he read. The days passed on until the inmates no longer wanted to play cards and everyday was a day of invoking God. He taught them the basics of their religion and gave them the litany of the order to recite. The prison now began to resonate with the sound of invocation of God and soon was embellished with the rites of Islam such as the call to prayer, the five prayers in congregation, gatherings of invoking God and the ‘hadra’.

This great man was the first to bring the ‘Alawī order to the Reef region and was fundamental in establishing it there. Whilst in prison, he would give out the litanies to followers, appoint representative for the order in the region and establish zāwiyahs there. The first zāwiyah he established was the zāwiya of Sheikh Sīdī Bil-Qāsim al-Sa‘īdi, who was an ancestor of the great Sīdī Muhammad bin Qaddūr al-Wukīlī. He established the zāwiyah while he was still in prison. At the time, he directed the representatives of the order secretly, fearing the Spanish authorities would catch wind of their activities. Many of his followers were imprisoned and tortured, too for their joining the order. However, they never submitted to the torture; in fact it only made them firmer and more faithful to their teacher Shaykh al-‘Alawī.

Throughout the time of tribulation and torture, Shaykh al-‘Alawī would constantly pray for Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj and his compatriots. Many people bore witness that Shaykh al-‘Alawī would single out the fuqarā of Reef for special praise. If any faqīr from the Reef came to visit Shaykh al-‘Alawī he would ask them about Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj inquire whether they had visited him or not. If they told him they had visited him or came bearing his greetings to the Sheikh he would bear them good tidings and warmly welcome them, telling them to hold nothing but love for this man and to be loyal to him, but if they told him they had not seen him or came with no news about him, he would turn his back on them and ignore them. On another occasion, he was sitting amongst members of the order and a group of scholars and at the end of his address he proclaimed, ‘This Sheikh, Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj, even if he were to claim his own order, then he has truly paid out its dowry in full.’ Another time during a talk he was giving before his followers, he said, ‘This sheikh, Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj from the Reef, is in prison because of this order of ours. When he is brought before the Spanish judge in court, he is asked to turn his back on the ‘Alawī order and take on another order and he can walk free. He replies to them, ‘Take me back to my cell.’ By God, if I were in his place, I would have thrown this rosary to the floor,’ and the Sheikh at that point threw his rosary to the floor. One time, Shaykh al-‘Alawī said, whilst hosting a group of fuqarā from the Reef, ‘Brethren, if any one of you is unable to visit me for any reason then he should visit Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj, for he is our hand in the Reef. These are but few of many testimonies of Shaykh al-‘Alawī regarding the station of Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj in the ‘Alawī order.

While Shaykh al-‘Alawī was in the east performing the pilgrimage, he met with some Moroccans who had positions of authority in the Reef region and were employed by the Spanish. He spoke to them regarding Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj’s predicament and he asked them to use their influence in order to get the Spanish to release him. When the Moroccans returned, they spoke to their superiors in Tetoun and managed to convince them to issue his immediate release. When Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was released from prison, the fuqara came from all around the region to celebrate the event. The Spanish authorities called him to Nādūr and asked him to pardon them. They explained that they were given false information from his fellow Muslim brothers who were jealous of him. He forgave them and said he forgave those who plotted against him. They thanked him and told him that from now on that if anyone appeared carrying animosity for him and attempted to harm him, he could call them to court and he could take his full rights from them. He replied, ‘I have no enemy other than Satan himself.’

When he was released, the annual celebrations in Mostghānem had arrived. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj headed off to Algeria with 500 fuqarā by his side. They went bearing many gifts for the zāwiya. When Shaykh al-‘Alawī saw them, he was taken back with such happiness and joy. He came out to greet them with the rest of the fuqarā of the zāwiya and hugged him. He was smothered by the fuqarā that day as they all pushed their way through to greet him. It was an unforgettable celebration that year was full of intense energy and love amongst the brethren. Once the celebrations had finished, Shaykh al-‘Alawī called Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj to visit him in his house, so that he could speak to him in confidence. When they were alone, Shaykh al-‘Alawī gathered all the financial gifts from the celebrations and passed them over to him. He told him to establish a zāwiya with the money in the Reef like that of the mother zāwiya in Mostaghānem. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj did as his sheikh told him, building the zāwiya in Banī Shikār. He made it a centre for the fuqarā so that they could gather and call others to the path. When the structure was finished, they held a big celebration that lasted for three whole days. At the end of the celebrations, the fuqarā all prayed to God to grant Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj long life, this man, who by the grace of God, had established this fresh new order in the Reef and brought meaning back to the people’s lives there. Every Thursday night, around 200 fuqarā would gather to invoke God and rejoice in the blessings He had bestowed upon them. The regions of Banī Shikār and Farkhāna were changed dramatically by the fuqarā’s activities. At this time, it was rare to find a man or woman not invoking God. The people came from all around the region to receive teachings from Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj. The people there become known for their exceptional character and their abidance to Islamic character and attire. In their gatherings, no-one would raise their voices and would not speak about anything besides God. Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj had organised them and educated them. They were tireless in their worship. They would spend hours performing the Hadra. He would stand in the middle to inspire them. Once they finished, he would recite some verses of Quran that were appropriate for the ambience of the moment. Everyone would have their heads bowed in front of him humbled by the setting. Moulay Sulaiman would sit by his side in the gatherings. He would give the talk in the gatherings. His words had a great effect on the hearts of those present and he would repeat the same talk two or three times and clarify it for the fuqara.

Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was very humble. He did not speak unless necessary. He would serve the fuqarā himself and prepare the beds for them at the time of the festival. When the fuqarā came to the zāwiya he would come out and greet them himself and then sit amongst them. He would never raise himself above them nor raise his voice over them. He would never get angry at those who mistreated him. He would teach them with compassion and a gentle nature. He would spend his own money on the fuqarā. When there was a festival, he would send out all the invitations to all the fuqarā himself. On numerous occasions he would go out and visit the fuqarā from around the region. Moulay Sulaiman would carry out this responsibility for him at most times, though. He would travel with the fuqarā to Tetoun, Tangiers, Qasr Kabir and Salé just to mention a few.

After Shaykh al-‘Alawī’s death, some of his followers who had bore jealousy and contempt for Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj plotted against him with the support of some notables in the region of Bāni Shikār. Their efforts failed, but Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj felt it was best to move from Bani ‘All and build a new zāwiya in Melilia. From then on he would hold his circles there. People came from far and wide and he entered many there into spiritual retreat and invocation of the Divine Name.

When his time had drawn near, he was of good health and had no illnesses or ailments. On that fateful day, he made his daily ablutions, walked out from his house but suddenly ran quickly back. He ordered the teacher of the children in the zāwiya to prepare his bed and he laid down facing the direction of prayer. There his soul left him. The news soon spread throughout the city. The fuqarā came straight away, and both men and women were struck with grief by the news. Moulay Sulaiman came with a group of fuqarā and sat by his head. He uncovered his face, kissed his forehead and bid him farewell for the last time. He died on Thursday the 13 of July 1946 and was buried on the Friday the day after.

Some of the Many Scholars who Bore Testimony that Sīdī Muhammādī Bil-Hājj was a Sheikh in the Alawi Order

Moulay Sulaiman
Sheikh Muhammad al-Madani (Major scholar in the ‘Alawi Order from Tunis)
Hajj Salih bin ‘Abd al‘Aziz al-Qadiri (First man to submit his full services and time to the Order in Mostaghanem)
Sheikh ‘Ali al-Budilmi (Major scholar in the ‘Alawi Order resident in Tilimsan)
Sheikh ‘Abu Madyan al-Bushishi from Barkan
Sheikh Muhammad bin Qaddor from Karkar (A descendent of Muhammad bin Qaddur)
Sheikh al-Mukhtar al-Ghumari from Chefchouni
Sheikh Ahmad al-Hassar from Tangiers
Sheikh Ahmed al-Malusi from Qasr Kabir
Sheikh Muhammad Bil-Hajj al-Sinhaji from Fez
Moulay al-Tahir al-Timasmani (The grandson of Sidi Muhammad bin Qaddur)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fuqara of Fes

The Fuqara of Fes do their thing at the Mawlid celebrations in Nador. Masha Allah, most of these singers are still teenagers. They do a bit of the Burda as well!

Fuqara of Fes.mp3

Aya Laimi Da'ni and other Qasidas

From the Mawlid celebrations in Nador, Morocco

Aya Laimi Da'ni and others.mp3


Hadra from the Mawlid celebrations of the Alawi Darqawi Shadhili Tariqa in Nador, Morocco, with the presence of our Sheikh, Sidi al-Buzaydi.

Imara 1.mp3

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Waqaftu fi 'l-Bab

'Waqaftu fi 'l-Bab', a Qasida by Sheikh Muhammad ibn al-Habib al-Buzaydi, from the Zawiya Alawiya in Nador, Morocco, December 2006

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sheikh Abdullah Siraj al-Din

Biography of the great Scholar of Halab, Sheikh Abdullah Siraj al-Din, whose book on the noble characteristics of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has just begun being translated.

'Arrafani Mahbubi

'Arrafani Mahbubi', a Qasida by Sheikh Ahmad al-'Alawi, from the Zawiya Alawiya in Oujda, Morocco, Autumn 2006