Abu al-Abbas as-Sabti

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Sidi Bel Abbas or Sidi Ahmed abu al-Abbas al-Khazraji as-Sabti (Ceuta 1129 - Marrakesh 1204) is the patron saint of Marrakesh. He is also one of the "Seven Saints" (Sabʿatou Rijal) of the city. His festival was founded by Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi at the instigation of Moulay Ismael.[1]

Al-Abbas was born in Ceuta, but moved to Marrakesh in 1145-6, during the final weeks of the Almohad siege of the city. For a number of years he lived in a cave on the hill of Igilliz outside Marrakesh, only coming into town on Fridays for the communal prayer.[2]

The Almohad sultan Yaqub al-Mansur was a disciple of al-Abbas. He asked him to come and live in the city and provided him a house, a hostel for his disciples as well as a madrasa for study. Teaching was maintained by the sultan's own funds. Whenever Yaqub al-Mansur visited al-Abbas he made a point of behaving in a humble manner and acting "as a servant".[3]

To al-Abbas, every act of human mercy (rahma) evoked a merciful response from the all-merciful God (ar-Rahim). Al-Abbas summed up his theory of reciprocity with the maxim: "[Divine] Being is actualised by generosity" (al-wujud yanfa ilu bi'l-jud). The Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd visited al-Abbas several times in Marrakesh.[4]

When al-Abbas died in 1204, he was buried at the graveyard of Sidi Marouk, near Bab Taghzout.[5] In 1605, the Saadian sultan Abu Faris erected a mausoleum for al-Abbas, hoping that the saint's power would help him recover from his epilepsy. In 1998, sultan Hassan II improved the sanctuary. It is also the place of his zawiyya.

Al-Abbas's hagiography, Akhbar Abi'l-Abbas as-Sabti, written by Abu Ya’qub Yusuf ibn Yahya at-Tadili, was in part composed by al-Abbas himself and contains many autobiographical passages.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vincent J. Cornell. Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1998, "The Power of Compassion: The Imitanda of Abu'l-Abbas as-Sabti", p. 79
  2. ^ Vincent J. Cornell. Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1998, "The Power of Compassion: The Imitanda of Abu'l-Abbas as-Sabti", p. 79
  3. ^ Chniber, Les murmures de la palmeraie, Volume 39 of Écritures arabes, Editions L'Harmattan, 1988, ISBN 978-2-7384-0075-8, ISBN 978-2-7384-0075-8, page 162, online books
  4. ^ Vincent J. Cornell, Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism, p. 91.
  5. ^ http://www.dar-sirr.com/sultans.html Moroccan Sultans and Sufis retrieved 24 April 2008.