samedi 27 septembre 2008

Sufistic tourism

I left Fez for Oujda on Saturday 19 Ramadan 1429. I took the 10.55 train with Sherif and Maryam, both from Fez. I embarked on this journey on their invitation, thinking it would be nice to visit the new Alawi zawiya of Oujda. I sat silently in the train, continuing my daily remembrance. After an hour of silence (I was really tired after a sleepless night), I asked Sherif what was the plan and who would receive us. To my surpise he replied that no one was expecting our arrival! That is something that would not have surpised me back in Mauritania, where people do not expect to be told when they will have guests, but I had the idea that in Morocco the protocol was a bit more sophisticated. Alas I had boarded the train, there was no going back!

This is the only photo I took of Oujda, and to be honest, I didn't see much more than that, except the Zawiya of course!

Upon our arrival, we quickly jumped in a taxi. Maryam said to the driver: "Al Hudud!", meaning the border! Indeed Oujda is only few kilometres west of the border with Algeria; and the new zawiya is on the road going to the country of Sidi Ahmed Alawi.

Very fortunately - a miracle some would call it- Sidi Nabil, the muqaddam, was actually in the zawiya, as if he was waiting for us. He welcomed us and made us sit on the floor. We talked a bit inside the new place built for remembrance of God: a big room with a few pillars, a nice carpet and a few cushions around the walls. Very simple and modest, with no photos and a few dozen quran on a shelf at the back of the room, painted in white and tiled half way up the wall if I remember...

We broke our fast in a random place, haha I mean I have no idea who the host was! We then came back to the zawiya and prayed Isha and night prayers.

The following day, 'The Fez group' completely split up! Sherif went back to Fez, Maryam stayed, and I decided at the last minute to go to Nador to visit some friends and Sidna Buzidi. I took a bus at around midday.

When I reached Nador, Si Ismail and two of his "wahhabi friends", as he sometimes called them, came to pick me up.
I was initially thinking of taking a bus back to Fez the following day, or the day after at the latest. It has now been close to a week! I should be on my way back tomorrow God willing.

Although the city of Nador itself lacks beautiful buildings and history, in comparison with Fez for example, the surrounding countryside is absolutely amazingly beautiful! The sea and the mountains, two amazing features of God's creation, make the location of Nador unique. Property developers and investors know it, and the place is becoming apparently really expensive! But it's ok, just take out a mortgage with one of the Moroccan banks!

Throughout my time here, I have been visiting Sidna Buzidi in his zawiya, where I had the oportunity to ask him few questions, like what is the barzagh, can a shaykh tarbiyah be fully shaved, can we shake hands with a marriageable sister, or what does one have to do to see the Prophet in one's dream, and if it was possible to see him in a wakeful state? I finally asked him permission to visit the shaykhs of the past from our spiritual lineage, Moulay Abdes Salam bin Mashish, and Moulay Darqawi. Sidi Buzidi is a very humble and simple man, and you will not get much out of him, except if you are looking for someone that talks about God and sufism!

I went to Melilla twice. The first time to break fast at Sidi Ahmed's, a relative of the Shaykh, with a beautiful voice mashallah! He is the second from the left in the photo beneath. The second from the right is Haaj Maymoon, a son of bilHaaj and the shaykh of the zawiya of Melilla.

The first thing that struck me in Melilla was the immense wire fence all around the city! Melilla is indeed a Spanish town on Moroccan lands. This fence strangely reminded me Palestine... I felt sad for a moment, as sidi Ahmed was driving me around the city, thinking about the sinister situation the Muslim community is in... Melilla is also very clean compared to Morocco. A sad fact, since we know that Muslims are more entitled to cleanliness...

The second time I went to Melilla, last Wednesday evening I believe, was because a Moroccan from Melilla was throwing a party. 50-odd brothers attended the gathering. I had a really nice time, listening to the qasidas and chanting the chorus with everybody.

Prior to the gathering, we all went to pray tarawih in the zawiya of sidi Muhammadi bilHaaj, one of the Shaykh of the initiatic chain of sidi Buzidi. The zawiya is absolutely beautiful, and as one of the mureeds of Nador told me, as we were walking towards it: "Zawiya is big, but fuqara are little". Indeed the tariqa Alawiya has moved from Melilla to Nador, and not much of it remains, apart from this majestic building, the entrance of which can be seen below.

It is now Saturday 26 Ramadan, and the night of decree, as some scholars have said, could be tonight! Some people will come to the zawiya of sidi Buzidi from afar, for tonight's gathering, that seems to be very promising. We hope Allah accepts everybody's deeds done solely for his countenance in this blessed month of Ramadan! Amin.

vendredi 19 septembre 2008

Let me explain...

On my arrival in Morocco, I was surprised to see men shaking hands with women, as if the sharia, the scholars, the prophet, let us in complete darkness regarding this ruling.

As I was about to leave Mauritania, towards the end of July, for a vacation until the end of Ramadan, I had this feeling that challenges were ahead of me, notably with interactions with the opposite sex, and especially shaking their hands and kissing them (non-mahrams relatives).

On the very eve I left the Islamic school of Nabbaghiya, I asked my fiqh teacher, Mukhtar, about it. I wanted to hear from him that there was an opinion within the Maliki madhab, or outside it as a matter of fact, that allows it...

Shaykh Mukhtar (Shaykh Hadd Amin from Twemret also I remember...) was categorical: it is not permissible to shake the hand of a marriageable woman. I was asking him questions, to see if I could go around the ruling without doing something which the blessed divine law forbids. As I was loosing all hope of having an opinion favorable to my request, he recited the quranic verse who states that whoever fear Allah, He will make for him an exit and provide for him from where he had not imagined.

Based on the context, I understood that Allah will help me to apply this ruling with ease. Praise be to Him, it has so far... At least it was when I was in France!

As I arrived in Morocco, my belief was challenged by people who do not see it forbidden.

So I felt obliged to phone my teacher Mukhtar, for reassurance that it was indeed forbidden. I then did a little research about what scholars had to say about the issue. Here they are on my blog...

On the first entry, Imam Nawawi, people said my position was too shadid ("strong"), even though I never stated my position. I was even told that I was not qualified to translate! Maybe true...
Then when I published the opinion of Shaykhs Qaradawi and Bin Bayah, others told me I had weakened. Haha hello?? Did I stated my position. No.

All I did was publishing different texts treating the subject.

My position? Here it is: the scholars of the past have laid down the sharia, which is the sunna of the Prophet, peace be upon him, which can be found in the four sunni schools of Imam Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi'i et Ahmed Ibn Hanbal.
The Usuli scholars, from what I have understood, divide people into two categories: the mujtahids, and the muqallids. Anybody who hasnt got the qualifications to deliberate Islamic rulings (mujtahid), should follow and apply the most prominent opinions of the madhhab he is following.

To shake the hand of a marriageable woman is forbidden in the Maliki school of thoughts, as it is in the other 3 madhhabs.
Also I respect the fatwas of our shiyookh and think, whatever their opinions, that people should not write negative comments about their fatwas. This is adab.