Sidi Mohamed Ben Slimane al-Jazouli
Sidi Mohamed Ben Slimane
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Shadhiliya brotherhood was closely associated with political and intellectual elites of North Africa. This was to be expected, since Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili (d. 656/1241), Sidi Abul Abbas al-Mursi (d. 686/1271), Sidi Abd an-Nur al-Amrani (b. 685/1286), Sidi Madi ibn Sultan (d. 718/1318) and Sidi Ibn Abbad ar-Rundi (d. 792/1377), all made a point of recruiting followers from the upper classes of urban society. Almost without exception, the Shadhili Sufis who appear in the biographies of the later Marinid period are ulama, courtiers, or sharifs. In the rare cases where one finds an exception to this rule, the person in question is mostly likely to be a skilled craftsperson or a vendor of luxury goods. This absence of a lower-class following indicates that the leaders of Shadhiliya in Tunis, Tlemcen, and Fez were primarily concerned with presenting their order as an alternative to the other elite Sufi orders of North Africa, such as the Sahrawardiya. To become fully integrated into the social life of the region, the Shadhiliya needed a doctrinal orientation that would appeal to people from all levels of society and enable it to transcend its patrician origins. This would be provided by a sharif and scholar from the Moroccan Sus named Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed ibn Abderrahman b. Abi Bakr b. Slimane al-Jazouli.
Like Abu Abdellah ibn Yassin (d. 451/1059), Mohammed ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130) and other reformers who proceeded him Imam al-Jazouli is better remembered as a character of legend that as a real human being. Having spent the majority of his life in rural Morocco, and sojourning only briefly in the urban centres where his biographers were to live, Sidi Mohamed Ben Slimane al-Jazouli was known to the generations following his death for his charismatic reputation than for his Sufi teachings. Even more, because so many of the traditions that detailed his life were transcribed at a much later date from secondary sources or hearsay, none of his biographies can be considered definitive. The same can also be said of Moulay Abdessalam ibn Mashish (d. 622/1207), the teacher of Abul Hassan Shadhili, who despite the absence of any written legacy expect a short prayer called As-Salat al-Mashishiya, has risen to the status of patron saint for all Moroccan Sufism.
Imam al-Jazouli’s present-day reputation is based primarily on a work that was written more than two hundred years after his death: Mumti’u‘ al-asma’a fi dhikr al-Jazouli wa at-Tabba’a wa ma lahuma mina al atba‘ (The Delight of the Hearing in the Recollection of al-Jazouli, at-Tabba’a, and Their Followers), by the Shadhili master Sidi Mohammed al-Mahdi al-Fasi (d. 1109/1694). Although the date of Imam al-Jazouli’s birth is not known, enough information exists to provide a rough outline of his origins and background. His nisba (attributional name) tells us the he came from the Simlala tribe, one of the most important Sanhaja Berber groups in Jazula. The turbulent political environment of Simlala in the fifteenth century forced the Shaykh to leave his homeland because its culture of violence made serious scholarship impossible. As it turned out, the young sharif had to travel all the way to Fez to get an education, since the insufficient intellectual resources of Marrakech, the usual destination for students from central and southern-Saharan Morocco, made study in that city impossible as well.
While in Fez, Sidi Mohamed Ben Slimane al-Jazouli lived at Madrasat al-Halfawiyyin (the present Madrasat as-Saffarin), the oldest of the Marinid madaris, whose rooms were reserved for students from the Sus. While there, he studied the Mukhtasar of Ibn al-Hajib, the standard introductory work on usul al-fiqh. He also studied Al-Mudawwana al-kubra, Sahnoun’s (“Abdessalam ibn Said Tanukhi Qayrawani,” d. 240/854) ninth-century compendium of Maliki law. Although al-Jazouli must eventually have attended lessons at the Qarawiyin and Andalus mosques where many of the greatest ‘ulama’ of Morocco gave their lectures, he lodged and studied, like most students not native to the city, in a madrasa. In his case he attended the Saffarin madrasa which still stands across from the Qarawiyyine, separated from the great mosque by a narrow street named Bu Twil. Of all the madrasas of Fez, the Saffarin was the madrasa most closely associated with the Qarawiyin, so much so that a door to the latrines in the Saffarin is directly across from one of the doors of the Qarawiyin (Bab al-Saffarin), thus enabling students to perform their ablutions in the madrasa before crossing right over to pray in the mosque.
The Saffarin has 117 rooms with 23 on the ground floor and the remainder in the upper two stories. The largest of the Marinid madrasas in Fez, it tended, with some variation, to follow the standard pattern for Maghribi madrasas in its layout. Thus, it was built around a courtyard with a central pool and fountain. On one side there is an open hall or oratory with a high ceiling for prayer and instruction while the opposite side has an entrance vestibule. Some of the chambers for students are located on the other two sides of the ground floor, hidden from view by ornate lattice-work mashrabiya screens placed between the arcades of the courtyard. Some of the larger madrasas had a second floor for both additional student chambers and additional oratories. The Saffarin was unusual in that it had not only two, but three floors with an oratory and prayer hall on the first floor. That al-Jazouli should go to this particular madrasa is to be expected. Like all of the madrasas of Fez, it was expressly intended to house students from outside of the city, and in the 15th century, students from Jazoula and other areas of southern Morocco tended to go to the Saffarin.
After he was admitted to the Saffarin, he would have been given a room by the overseer (nazir) of the madrasa who made his assignments based upon the needs and seniority of the students. Older students received rooms closer to the center, copyists received more well lighted rooms, and so forth. All students in the madrasa were bachelors, since women were not allowed to enter, and as soon as a student married, he was obliged to find other lodging. Once Ali obtained a room, it would have been neither comfortable nor spacious since the madrasas of Fez were designed to accommodate as many students as possible in the cramped space at hand. Consequently, there were not even any beds that might take up valuable living space. Instead most students slept on mats on the floor covered by a blanket or on projecting shelves below the ceiling that could serve as bunk beds. During the day the blankets and mats could be stowed away and the space used for other purposes. Some of the cells – probably intended for only one student – measured a mere 1.5×2 meters. Most rooms had a small table.
Next to the door of each room there was a narrow slot into which the daily ration of fiat bread could be deposited once a day. The bread was provided by the original pious endowment (waqf) for the madrasa which stipulated, in the case of the Saffarin, that one hundred loaves be distributed every day, or about one loaf per person. In addition to this daily ration, the students probably cooked over charcoal braziers in their rooms, preparing a vegetable stew or whatever else they could manage to scrape together. None of the madrasas of Fez has a kitchen. Finally, a student could possibly have supplemented his meagre rations at times by receiving food from a local merchant or other resident of Fez who fed students as an act of charity.
Al-Jazouli’s room in this madrasa is still known, and can be shown to the visitor by the madrasa’s caretaker. A widely repeated account of al-Jazouli’s student days conveys an image of extreme introspection. During his sojourn at Madrasat al-Halfawiyyin he would spend long periods alone in his room, leaving it only to attend class. While in his room, he would lock the door and allow no one to enter. Because of this antisocial behaviour word began to spread that al-Jazouli was concealing money. When news of these suspicions reached his father at Jazula , the latter hurried to Fez to see what was happening. Upon arriving at the madrasa, Sidi Abderrahman al-Jazouli demanded to enter his son’s room. When he opened the door, he saw the word “death” (al-mawt) written over and over again on the walls. Understanding that his sons was in a deep state of spiritual contraction (qabd), he remarked to the madrasa’s caretaker, “Do you see where this one is and where we are?”
Tracing Imam al-Jazouli’s career after the completion of his studies is problematised by spares and conflicting information. Most sources claim that he composed Dalail al-Khayrat (popular with the name of ‘ad-Dalil’ in Moroccan Arabic), his books of prayers on behalf of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing upon him), in Fez, replying on manuscripts that were available in the library of the Al Qarawiyyine University. His biographers disagree, however, about the exact stage of his life in which this occurred. It is unlikely that al-Jazouli could have written his world-famous collection of devotions as a marginally educated faqih. Instead, this more probably occurred only after he gained a reputation for piety and erudition. Assuming this hypothesis to be correct, and given the dates of other, better known-periods of the Shaykh’s life, it is most likely that al-Jazouli wrote Dalail al-Khayrat sometimes after his participation in the defence of Tangier in 841/1437. This latter conclusion is supported by a tradition recorded by the Jazulite Sufi Sidi Ahmed ibn Abil Qacem as-Suma’i (d. 1013-1604-5), who claims that al-Jazouli was told to return to Fez by a female saliha whom he encountered in Tangier.
Sidi Mohammed al-Jazouli spent the years between 843/1428 and 850/1435 between Fez and Ribat Tit al-Firt while been a disciple of the venerated master Sidi Abu Abdellah Mohammed as-Saghir (d. 850/1435), master of Tariqa Sanhajiya Amghariya. al-Jazouli may have met his Shaykh and spiritual guide while a student in Fez, for the latter—whose tomb is still found in Fez—was making unstopped journeys between the cities of Morocco. This peripatetic (sai’h) Sufi, who recruited also warriors for the anti-Portuguese jihad, initiated Sidi al-Jazouli into a rural variant of Shadhiliya order which he took from Sidi Abu Uthman Said al-Hintati al-Hartanani, who succeeded his master Sidi Abderrahman ibn Ilyas Ragragi, as head of Ribat Shakir after his death.
Although most sources agree with Mira’t al-Mahasin (The Mirror of exemplary qualities), a hagiographical monograph written two generations after prior to Mumti’u al-asma’a by al-Fasi’s great uncle Sidi Mohammed ibn Yusuf al-Fasi (d. 1052/1637) who was master of the Shadhiliya in Fez, that al-Jazouli was initiated into the Amghari-Shadhiliya only after he had completed Dalail al-Khayrat, the spiritual maturity of this latter work, as well as the well known doctrinal orientation of Ribat Tit al-Firt and Ribat Shakir, cast doubt upon this assertion. The Sufis from these ribats practiced spiritual methods that stressed, like al-Jazouli’s, the veneration of Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him). Further evidence of a “Mohammedian” perspective at Ribat Tit and Shakir can be found in reports that in the later Marinid period the leading families of these institutions recognised the doctrinal supremacy of the Majiriya Sufi order at Ribat Asafi. The Shaykhs of the Majiriya, who maintained links with the Qadiriya Sufi tradition in the Mashriq, required aspiring disciples to pass extended periods of time at the Prophet’s mosques in Medina. al-Jazouli himself held Ribat Asafi in such high esteem that he built his own zawiya on its ruins and appropriated Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih Majiri’s (d. 631/1216) rules of Sufi practice for his Sufi order.
Al-Qutb al-Imam Sidi Mohammed ibn Sulayman al-Jazouli
Al-Qutb Sidi Abdellaziz Tabba’a (d. 914/1499)
Al-Qutb Sidi Abul Abbas Ahmed Sufyani Harithi (d. 918/1513)
Al-Qutb Sidi Abdellah Ghazwani
Al-Qutb Sidi Abdelkarim al-Fallah (d. 933/1518)
Sidi Mohammed Misbahi at-Taleb
Sidi Ali Salih al-Andalusi (d. 903/1488)
Sidi Abi Mohammed al-Qarwani (d.after 914/1499)
Al-Qutb Sidi Shaykh al-Kamil Mohammed al-Hadi Ben Aissa
Sidi Mohammed Misbahi at-Taleb (d. 964/1557)
Al-Qutb Sidi Abu Amr al-Qastali (d. 974/1559)
Sidi Mohammed Zaytouni (d. after 900/1485)
Sidi Abdellah ben Sasi (d. 961/1554)
Sidi Abu Ruwayin Belmahjoub
(d. before 960/1553)
Sidi Ali ibn Ahmed Karfiti Sarsari (d. 1027/1618)
Sidi Abu Bakr Majjati Dilai (d. 1021/1612)
Sidi Mohammed al-Ghumari al-Maliqi al-Fasi (d. 998/1583)
Sidi Mohammed b. Abderrahim Ibn Yajbash Tazi (d. 920/1505)
Al-Qutb Sidi Mohammed Bou’abid Sharqi (d. 1010/1495)
Sidi Abderrahman al-Majdoub (d. 976/1561)
Al-Qutb Moulay Abdellah Sharif Wazzani (d. 1089/1697)
Sidi Mohammed al-Fasi (d. after 1021/1612)
Sidi Ahmed al-Habib
al-Andalusi al-Rundi al-Fasi (d. 1013/1598)
Sidi Abul Abbas Ahmed al-Shabih Juti (d. after 935/1520)
Al-Qutb Sidi Mohammed al-Muati Sharqi (d. 1092/ 1681)
Sidi Abul Mahasin Yusuf al-Fasi (d. 1013/1598)
Al-Qutb Sidi Mohammed ibn Abdellah Wazzani (d. 1120/1705)
Al-Qutb Sidi Mhammed ben Nasir Dar’i
Sidi Ahmed al-Habib
al-Andalusi al-Rundi al-Fasi (d. 1013/1598)
Sidi Abderrahman al-Majdoub (d. 976/1561)
Al-Qutb Sidi Mohammed al-Salih Sharqi (d. 1193/ 1727)
Despite the conclusions of al-Fasi and others, it is doubtful that al-Jazouli would have found that it necessary to join the Amghariya after having written an influential book pf Prophetic devotions. A Sufi who is spiritually advanced enough to produce a work like the Dalil is more likely to attract his own disciples that to search for a master. It is thus more plausible to assume that al-Jazouli composed the Dalail al-Khayrat after becoming a disciple of Sidi Abdellah Amghar, and not the other way around. If this is correct, then one might date his association with the Amghariya to the period immediately prior to his participation at the relief of Tangier in 841/1426. it is even possible that al-Jazouli fought at Tangier in the company of Amghariya, for the Banu Amghar were strong supporters of jihad and their base in northern Dukkala abutted the territory of the Shawiya Arabs, who also participated in the Tangier campaign.
The death of Sidi Abu Abdellah Amghar in Fez in 850/1446 have freed al-Jazouli to travel to the Mashriq, where he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and visit the Prophet’s Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) mosque and tomb in Medina. He next travelled to travelled to Cairo and studied at the al-Azhar University under a mystic named Sidi Abdellaziz al-Ajami. According to Sidi Abdellah Ghazwani (d. 935/1520), the third paramount Shaykh (Shaykh al-jama’a) of the al-Jazouliya, al-Ajami had been initiated into the Shadhiliya Sufi order without intermediary (bila wasita) by Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili himself. This practice can be explained by the saying of Abul Hassan, “Al-Khadir said to me, ‘O Ali I will be there for your companions after you.’ To which I replied, ‘No, I will be there for my companions, both the living and the dead.’ He also said, “I have companions born of men and women that have not yet been created, their spirits (arwahuhum) have already made the pact with me (baya‘ni).”
According to an authoritative manuscript of Dalail al-Khayrat at the Bibliothéque Ben Youssef in Marrakech, al-Jazouli presented the final version of this work to his disciple Sidi Mohammed Sahli (d. 917/1511). This so-called Sahli copy (an-nuskha as-Sahliya) is the standard upon which all the copies of Dalail al-Khayrat are based. Since al-Jazouli presented the definitive version of his most famous work to Sidi Sahli a mere seven years before his death, it is hard to believe that he could have written it as early as the 840s (1425) and then carried it around the Arab World in rough-draft form for nearly two decades. A more plausible scenario is that al-Jazouli began the collection of Dalail al-Khayrat upon his return to Morocco and then revised it during the period in which he organised the al-Jazouliya Sufi order. Besides being more in agreement with the evidence at hand, this assumption also assumes, as one would normally expect, that Dalail al-Khayrat was a miracle of doctrinal talent than the product of a long-term Sufi training.
Upon his return to Morocco in 857/1442, al-Jazouli’s innovative doctrines and charismatic personality caused a stir in Sufi circles. al-Jazouli’s doctrine of mahabba (mystic love) found in the fragments of his treaties on Sufism, An-Nush at-tamm li-man qala rabbi Allah thumma istaqam (Complete advise for one who says, “My Lord is God” and follows the straight path), in particular was so powerful that it was believed that he occupied a unique station at the feet of Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him). What sets al-Jazouli’s Risala fi’l mahabba apart from others of its type in the Maghrib is that its version of the story of Joseph (Yusuf) and Potiphar’s wife Zulaykha is highly atypical. Rather than adhering closely to the Quranic text of Surat Yusuf, as is usually done in the Maghrib, al-Jazouli presents this romance in a way that recalls the Persian classic Yusuf u Zulaykha by the Naqshabandi Sidi Abderrahman al-Jami of Heart (d. 898/1483). In al-Jazouli’s version Zulaykha embraces the religion of Islam out of love for the handsome prophet. After realizing, however, that she can attain the full consummations of her desires only by loving God alone, she abandons her desire for Yusuf and says: “O Yusuf, I used to love you before knowing God the Exalted. But once I had come to know the One-and-Only Conqueror (al-Wahid al-Qahhar), love for anything apart for Him could not remain with [my] love for Him. Now I desire nothing but Him!”
Imam al-Jazouli most likely spent the first year after his return to Morocco in Fez, where he composed the initial draft of Dalail al-Khayrat and reassessed the social and political situation of his country. Then he travelled via Ribat Tit al-Fitr to his natal village of Tankarat in Jazula. After recruiting his first disciples among the Awlad Amr and Banu Ma’aqil Arab tribes in the Sus, he moved to the city of Asafi (which had by then grown in importance to become the port of Marrakech) and established a zawiya on the sight of the ribat of Sidi Abu Mohammed al-Majiri. al-Jazouli clearly thought of this master as the inspiration for his own model of institutional Sufism. In another fragment from an-Nush at-tamm he encourages his readers to use al-Majiri’s treaties Ma’adin al-jawahir (The Mine of Jewels) as a manual of Sufi practice.
Imam al-Jazouli borrowed heavily from the institutional repertoire of Majiriya Sufi Order and required his disciples to adopt the patched cloak (muraqqa’a), staff (‘asa), pouch (rakwa) and soft felt cup (shashiya) of Majiri fuqara. An important difference between the al-Jazouliya and the Majiriya, however, was the nomadic mystics (salihun) of the al-Jazouliya were encouraged to visit other saints in Morocco instead of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. This emphasis on visits to living Shaykhs and the shrines of local saints was in part due to the fact that the pilgrimage centres of the Mashriq were often inaccessible to fifteenth-century Moroccans. The Falls of Sabta to the Portuguese, the dissolution of governmental authority in the central and western Morocco, and increased corsair activity in the western Mediterranean all conspired to cut off most of the sea and land routes used by North African pilgrims on their journeys to the East. One can assume, however, al-Jazouli also had a more instrumental purpose in ordering his followers to stay at home. His emphasis on visiting local religious leaders prepared an already-established Sufi network for political mobilisation and promoted a distinct, regional identity for the al-Jazouliya that set it apart from other Sufi orders in the Maghrib.
Imam al-Jazouli also appropriated Abu Mohammed Salih’s three doctrinal pillars of repentance (tawba), invocation (dikhr), and virtue (sala’h). the male aspirant who wished to join the al-Jazouliya first had to demonstrate his repentance by shaving off his “hair of unbelief” (sha’ar al-kufr)—in the manner of a Meccan pilgrim—as a symbol of his desire to break with the past. This custom, which was based on the Prophet’s practice of cutting off the coiled locks of Arabs who converted to Islam from polytheism, was used by al-Jazouli as both a rite of passage and a symbol of initiation into Tariqa al-Jazouliya as an institution. Once tonsured, and after a forty-day regime of fasting and seclusion, the faqir became a full member of the order and swore an oath of allegiance (bay’a) to Shaykh al-Jazouli as his personal imam.
Simply becoming a member of the al-Jazouliya, however, was not enough for one to become a full-fledged Sufi. It was still necessary for the faqir to acquire personal discipline, eliminate discord (both within the individual and between the individual and others), and establish brotherhood (ukhuwwa). To help in the accomplishment of these goals, Imam al-Jazouli required the faqir to follow a fourteenth-step programme, which he called his “Rules of Repentance” (shurut as-tawba). After following these rules for a sufficient amount of time, the Jazulite initiate, who has now advanced to the stage of the “sincere discipline” (murid sadiq), must complete his training by acquiring ten attributes that summarise the essence of the Jazulite way. To eliminate any feeling of self-importance that might remain to the faqir, these attributes are specifically related to the example of a dog:
In the dog are ten praiseworthy attributes that are found in the sincere disciple: (1) he sleeps only a little at night; this is the signs of the lovers of God (muhibbin); (2) he complains of neither heat nor cold; this is a sign of the patient (sabirin); (3) when he dies, he leaves nothing behind which can be inherited from him; this is a sign of the ascetics (zahidin); (4) he is neither angry nor hateful; this is a sign of the faithful (muminin); (5) he is not sorrowful at the loss of a close relative, nor does he accept assistance; this is a sign of the secure (muqinin); (6) if he is given something, he consumes it and is content; this is a sign of the contented (qani’in); (7) he has no known place of refuge, this is a sign of the wanderers (sai’hin); (8) he sleeps in any place that he finds; this is a sign of the satisfied (radiyin); (9) once he knows his master, he never hates him, even if he beats him or starves him; this is a sign of the knowers (‘arifin); (10) he is always hungry; this is a sign of the virtuous (salihin).
The cornerstone of Jazulite praxis was the daily recitation of prayers on behalf of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) from Dalail al-Khayrat and the morning and noon recitation of al-Jazouli’s Hizb al-Falah (Litany of good fortune). To these were added Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili’s Hizb al-Barr (Litany of the land) and Al-Musabba’at al-‘Ashr (The Ten sevens), a collection of Quranic invocations complied by Sidi Abu Talib al-Makki (d. 386/996) but attributed to Sidna al-Khadir. Imam al-Jazouli also composed another litany, Hizb al-Jazouli (The Litany of al-Jazouli) or Hizb Subhana ad-Daim (The “Glory Be the to the Eternal), which was reserved for the use of his family. In the generation after his death, this litany was appropriated by his indirect disciple Sidi Mohammed al-Hadi Ben Aissa (Patron Saint of Meknes; d. 933/1518).
The authority of the spiritual master in the al-Jazouliya was absolute. al-Jazouli and his successors expected unquestioning obedience from their followers, and they were looked upon as inerrant sources of divine knowledge. “One must cleave to spiritual masters”, said Imam al-Jazouli, Even if they are in Baghdad, for going to them brings illumination, mercy, and the Secrets to hearts.” The fully actualised Jazulite Shaykh (Shaykh al-Wasil) “has arrived at the station of direct perception (maqam al-mushahada) and has disappeared into the lights of perfections, such that he is concerned with nothing but the King of Truth. When he returns among humankind, he returns with illumination (anwar), knowledge (‘ulum), and laws (ahkam). He who follows him is educated and inspired, and understands what those who are cut off from him will never understand.”
Bu this was not all. Shaykh al-Wasil was essential to the disciple because he drew his wisdom from the divine source of prophecy itself: “Write down what you hear from me, for I am an intermediary between yourselves and the Truth. The Truth illuminates and the slave understands. He who is inspired toward the right (as-sawab) has an obligation to speak, and [his guidance] is a benefit to others.” The fact that Shaykh al-Wasil possessed such as quasi-prophetic knowledge made obeying him a near-canonical obligation: “He who follows the example of his Shaykh follows the example of his Lord. For the sacredness of (‘hurma) of the Shaykh before his disciples is like the sacredness of the Prophet before the Companions.”
Because of his charismatic personality and penchant for uttering ecstatic statements (shatahat), few of those who came into contact with Imam al-Jazouli were able to remain neutral. The Imam justified his ecstatic statements by asserting that he was the Mujaddid, the Renewer of his age, whose prerogatives included a sort of poetic licence in regard to divinely inspired utterances. The tradition of the Renewer in Islam is based on a hadith from the Sunan of Abu Dawud which states: “God will send to this community at the turn of every century someone who will restore religion.” This person is most is most often described in Muslim sources as a scholar who will restore the original purity of Islam by returning Muslims to the Prophetic Sunna. It was not difficult for the juridically trained al-Jazouli to portray himself as a Mujaddid. By composing Dalail al-Khayrat and thus focusing attention on the specifically “Mohammadian” aspects of divine inspiration, he was in a favourable position to cast himself as a reviver of the Sunna.
Imam al-Jazouli demonstrated his closeness to Allah and the Prophet Sidna Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) through divine inspirations (ilhamat), divine addresses (muhadathat), and divine conversations with God (mukalamat). These attestations of divine favour also served as proofs of his wilaya (sainthood) by confirming his exalted ranks as the Khalifa (successor) of the Prophet, Mahdi, and Qutb az-Zaman (Axis of the Age). Many of al-Jazouli’s statements consist of bold declarations of unparalleled spiritual supremacy, both among his contemporaries and in comparison of old generations of Sufis. Unlike the mahdist leaders of past generations, however, al-Jazouli’s doctrines were attractive to all classes of society; poor and rich, illiterate and educated. Eventually, the political potential of his followers was to provoke the Marinid Sultan Abdellhaqq II (d. 869/1454) into opposition against the Shaykh and his supporters.
Several of Imam al-Jazouli’s muhadathat call for the revival of Islam under a divinely guided imam. These discourses are replete with double meaning and make use of ambiguous and highly provocative vocabulary:
Reputation is not gained through possessions or sons. Instead, reputation comes from one’s repute before the Lord of Lords. One is not great because of the glory of wealth and children. Rather, one is great because of the glory of God and His attributes. One is not great because of the greatness of his tribe or his love of high rank. Instead, one is great because of the greatness of nobility (sharaf) and lineage (nasab). I am noble in lineage (ana sharifun fi-n nasab). My ancestor is the Messenger of God (peace and blessing be upon him) and I am nearer to him than all of God’s creation. My reputation is eternal, dyed in gold and silver. Oh you who desire gold and silver, follow us, for he who follows us dwells in the heights of ‘illiyyun in this world and the Hereafter!
Past nations (umam) have asked to be included in our polity (dawlatuna). Yet no one can be included in it unless he has already attained salvation (sa’ada). Our polity is the state (dawla) of those who strive (mujtahidin) and struggle (mujahidin) in the path of Allah—fighters against the enemy of Allah. The kings of the Earth are in my hands and under my feet!
Oh assembly of Muslims! Look at your Master, for He is with me! I have no perception (nadhar) except through Him. His perfection (kamal) has encompassed my chest and my life. Indeed, it has encompassed me for all of my life! His perfection has annihilated me from everything other than him. Oh you who would see me on earth! See me instead in Heaven, on the Throne, and even above it! Do you not know that the axial saints (aqtab) are needed by every created being? They are in the station of prophethood (maqam an-nubuwa), revealing the divine secret (yafshuna as-sirr)!
Oh assembly of Muslims! Do you know that the Chosen One (peace and blessing be upon him) is near to me (qaribun minni) and that his authority (hukmuhu) is in my hands? He who follows me is his follower, but he who does not follow me will never be his follower. I have heard [the Prophet] say (peace and blessing be upon him): “You are the Mahdi! He who desires to be saved (man arada an yus’ada) must come to you!”
Oh assembly of Muslims! Cleave to the community of the Chosen One (peace and blessing be upon him) and do not cleave to his enemies because of your rejection of the faith, disputes, cheating, or treason! Oh assembly of Muslims! God has created one to guide you at the end of time, so praise him! Oh assembly of Muslims! No one hates us for our covenant with God except the one who possesses neither this world nor the hereafter, and no one is jealous of our obedience to God (the Glorious the Mighty) except the one who has no fortune with God (the Glorious the Mighty)!
Oh my Murid! Do not resent what I have given you of my speech (haditi) and my words (kalami). For I have spoken to you in pre-eternity (azal) before your existence. I have renewed your understanding after your creation and illuminated your heart before your existence. I have illuminated your essence after your creation, I have made known to you the details of my knowledge, and I have honoured you among the best of my creation. I have inspired you to hearken into me, I have given you authority over the finest of my creatures, and I have bestowed on you the greatest secret. Oh my Murid!, all of the ulama are in your grasp!
It is not difficult to imagine the fear that such proclamations, coming from a man who attracted more than 12,000 followers in less than thirteen years, provoked in the ruler of a Marinid state that was disintegrating from within. The doctrines of Imam al-Jazouli scandalised the ulama of Fez and even some of his fellow Sufis. Since the Imam’s openness were particularly concerned about his use of institutional symbology, such as shaving the head wearing the distinctive garments of the Majiriya brotherhood, and reaffirming the ethos of Moroccan Sufism through the practice of visiting spiritual masters, it is clear that what was most threatening to vested interests was the idea of Jazulite corporateness. al-Jazouli was little concerned with these fears, however, and even condemned the ulama of Morocco for their hypocrisy and irrelevance, especially with regard to their failure to arouse the Muslim masses in defence of their religion. “Say to the ulama,” he told his disciples, “How happy you would be if only you were sincere!”
The Shaykh reserved his most bitter invectives for those scholars who, while criticising rural Sufis for their lack of religious knowledge, allowed the masses of Morocco to slip into ever deeper levels of ignorance and corruption. By living off the wealth of their sinecures and doing little to spread their knowledge to others, these ulama shared responsibility for the rise of Christian-inspired customs and social deviance in the Moroccan countryside. In his ‘Aqida (creedal manifesto), Imam al-Jazouli lays such problems as hooliganism, the indiscriminate mixing of the sexes, and full body tattooing squarely at the feet of the scholarly establishment. Rather than wasting their time making pronouncements about the permissibility of minor variations in Islamic practice, the ulama should instead teach the fundamental values of Islam to everyone: “Teach… the women and children, the Sufis and the masses, whether free or slave, especially if they are closely tied [to you] by contract or personal relationship, such as family or others. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said: ‘God has not charged anyone with a sin greater than the ignorance of his people.'”
By the end of 863/1459, Imam al-Jazouli and his followers had begun to wear out their welcome in the city of Asafi. The year had already been one of the worst in recent memory. It began with the Portuguese conquest of the Mediterranean stronghold of al-Qasr as-Saghir, which removed the last hope of reinforcing the kingdom of Granada in al-Andalus, and marked the resumption of the Christian Reconquista that had temporary been blocked at Tangier in 852/1437. If this disaster were not enough, the same year witnessed an orgy of political conspiracy and bloodshed in the Marinid capital of Fez. The regent Abu Zakariyya al-Wattasi, the commander of the relief expedition to Tangier and symbolic leader of the Moroccan jihad, was long absent from the scene, having being captured and executed by Banu Ma’aqil’ Arabs.
News of the unrest in Fez must certainly have reached Asafi, where Imam al-Jazouli had been calling for jihad since his arrival. The merchants of the city, who at the time numbered as many as six hundred individuals, were loath to abandon the profits they were earning from the Portuguese, who used Asafi as a source of the trade items that they exchanged for gold on the West African coast. These dealing were severally criticised by al-Jazouli and his disciples, who resided in a great circle of tents around Sidi Abu Mohammed Salih’s ribat. This restless mass of Sufis and Arab tribesmen, who at the time numbered half of the population of Asafi itself, posed an unacceptable threat to the city’s elites. Cognizant of the fact that they could not assert their independence with impunity, the merchants forced the Marinid governor of Asafi to summon al-Jazouli to an audience. “fearing him because of the number of people around him (muhibbin) and fearing that the Shaykh’s followers (muridin) might push them out of their world.” The governor challenged Imam al-Jazouli with an ultimatum. “If you do not get away from me, I will red myself of you!” To which the Shaykh’s replied: “I am the one who will get away from you, but you will follow me as well!” This prediction came true only two years later, when the merchants of Asafi, now in league of the Portuguese, proclaimed their city independence from Fez and forced the hapless governor to flee for his life.
After being expelled from the city, Imam al-Jazouli and his entourage moved south to Haha, a foothill region of the High Atlas mountains midway between the economically important Dukkala and the Sus and a strategic location to the defence of central Morocco. The Imam established his new ribat at Afughal, in the Aït Dawud tribal region east of the present town of Tamanar. In fact, he maintained two ribats in the region: one for use in the summer and one for use in the winter. The Imam’s summer ribat have been near the pass of Sidi Ali Mashu in Jabal Igran, where the High Atlas mountains rise to an altitude of over 6,000 feet. His winter ribat, by contrast, have been located nearer the coast—below Jabal Amsitten near the present town of Smimou—where the Atlas foothills reached no more than 3,00 feet in elevation. The military force of the Imam based in these ribats have served as a buffer against Christian incursions by threatening the Portuguese at both Asafi to the north and Massa to the south.
For Sidi Mohammed ibn Slimane al-Jazouli, social consciousness was part of the very essence of Sufism. For this reason, he promoted social activism in his ‘Aqida. A genre of religious literature that is usually devoted to doctrinal matters alone. In this short treaties, he calls on his followers to everything possible to improve the moral standards of their communities. Addressing the Arab pastoralists who resided near his ribat at Afughal, he condemns their drunkenness, immorality, and body tattooing, and he criticises those who engage in such behaviours as “madmen (majanin), enemies of God, the Messenger, and religion, and enemies of those God-fearing souls who call [people] to Him.” As a remedy for their sins, he suggested that they give up their nomadic lifestyle and take up farming (hiratha). This perception indicates that the Imam wanted his pastoralist followers to abandon their predatory ways for a livelihood that fostered creation and nurturance rather than destruction and theft. It may also indicate that he sought to institute a policy of sedentarisation, since the stability of fixed adobe made Sufi training and socialisation easier to accomplish.
Imam al-Jazouli was to spend no more than six years at Afughal. According to the testimony of his closest disciples, on the fourth day of Dul-Qi’ada 869 (28 June 1465), he collapsed and died while making his Subh prayer. Because of the suddenness of his death and the fact that he gave no sign of illness beforehand, it was immediately assumed that the someone had poisoned him. Almost as soon as the Shaykh’s body was wrapped in its burial shroud, a dispute arose between the Sufi adepts in the Shaykh’s entourage and his pastoralist followers of Banu Ma’aqil, who revered him not as a teacher and mystic but as a divinely appointed leader and man of power. This confrontation was lost by the Sufi adepts, who were forced to leave Afughal and take up residence elsewhere in Morocco. The departure of al-Jazouli’s most learned companions now meant that both his ribat and mortal remains were under the control of unlettered Banu Ma’aqil bedouins. On the advise of the marginally educated Amr ibn as-Sayyaf, al-Jazouli was placed in a movable ark (tabut) rather than being buried in the ground.
The sudden death of the Imam and the revolt of Ibn Sayyaf in the regions of Haha and Shyazma are the most significant plot reversals in the narrative of al-Jazouli’s life. Rather than been buried, al-Jazouli’s body was left in an ark so that it could be taken on campaigns as a talisman of victory. When not in the field, the ark that held the Shaykh’s remains was placed in an open-air ribat on the summit of a hill near Qal’at al-Muridin, where it was guarded around the clock and illuminated at night by large torches. al-Jazouli Sufi biographers, who wished to avoid tainting his reputation while at the same time blackening that of Ibn as-Sayyaf, are anonymous in asserting that this rebel never lost a battle while the ark containing the Shaykh’s body was with him. The employment of the al-Jazouli’s career as a saint comes to an end in 890/1485, with murder of Ibn Sayyaf at the hands of his wife after finding him in bed with her daughter.
The biographers of Imam al-Jazouli state that the fear of another uprising, in which al-Jazouli’s body would once again be dug up by restive tribespeople, was the main reason why the Saadian sharif Ahmed al-Araj moved the Shaykh’s never-corrupted body to Marrakech in the year 940/1525, including him hence in his Sab’atu Rijal project to the city. Furthermore, it is an open secret that Imam al-Jazouli’s shrine in the district of Riyad Laarous that the Shaykh’s body is not buried under the catafalque where most visitors pay their respects. Instead it is located deep beneath the wall behind the catafalque. Jazulite Sufis thus pay their respects to the left of the catafalque, facing the wall behind the muqaddam’s seat. In the following century of Imam al-Jazouli’s death, under the influence of his disciples and allied mystics, the violent paradigm of political authority would be replaced by a sharifian doctrine that created a distinct identity for Morocco and laid the ideological foundations for the country’s Alawite present monarchy.