Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi, the head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, died today aged 95
Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was the spiritual leader of the Qadirriyya Boutchichiyya Sufi order which has tens of thousands of followers in Morocco and abroad, and which he had been leading since 1972.
The Qadiri order's origins go back to Abd al Qadir al-Jilani(1083–1166) which become very important a few decades later with his descendants. The Boutchichi branch of this order came into being in the eighteenth century in the North-west of Morocco. Its headquarters principal zaouia is in the small village of Meddagh near Berkane but Sidi Hamza himself has built another zaouia near Naima in the province of Oujda
Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi died in the northwestern city of Oujda and will be buried in the nearby town of Madagh on Thursday. He named his eldest son, Sidi Jamal, to succeed him, according to a spokesman of the brotherhood, Mounir Al Buchichi.
Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, Hamza was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders. Visitors came from across the world to hear him teach, and every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather in Madagh to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.
With hundreds of millions of followers around the world, Sufism permeates popular culture in many countries, especially in Morocco. The French rapper Abd al-Malik is one of the Boutchichiyya followers and sang the Sheikh's praises in his album "Gibraltar".
Sufism is the "heart" of Islam, its spiritual path, an initiatory path of inner transformation where self-knowledge leads to that of the other and to that of God.
For the Sufis, God is both near and inaccessible. It is a hidden treasure whose sign is found at the heart of all beings. Guided by a master, the Sufi student wants to rediscover this divine reality, to forget his ego to get lost in the love of God.
Sufis spend time studying the Quran, chanting and dancing to enter a spiritual trance.
With hundreds of millions of followers across the world, Sufism has deep roots in popular culture in Morocco and across West Africa.
Various Sufi orders are active in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. However, followers of hardline Salafist and Wahhabist interpretations of Islam see Sufism as heretical.