Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi

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Abu Ali al-Hassan ibn Masud al-Yusi (1631–1691) was a Moroccan Sufi writer. He is considered to be the greatest Moroccan scholar of the seventeenth century and was a close associate of the first Alaouite sultan Rashid.[1] Al-Yusi was born in a Berber tribe, the Ait Yusi, just north of Fes. He was married to Zahra bint Muhammad b. Musa al-Fasi. Al-Yusi left his native village on a very young age for a lifelong pilgrimage. He received his barakah from Sheikh Mohammed Ben Nasir of the tariqa Nasiriyya of Tamegroute, and studied and taught at the zawiyya of Dila with Mohammed al-Hajj ibn Abu Bakr al-Dila'i.

Of his autobiography, Al-Fahrasa (literally: academic journey), only the introduction and first section have survived and these were, until recently, unpublished.[2] His better known text Al-Muharat[3] also contains many autobiographical passages. Both texts are remarkable for the author's frank discussions of childhood misdeeds, the pleasures of his conjugal sex life, and other intimate details of his personal life. Al-Yusi's Daliyya (poem of praise) of his shaikh Muhammad b.Nasir al-Dari of the Zawiya Nasiriyya of Tamegroute, is famous both in Morocco and West Africa.[4]

Al-Yusi overtly criticised the reign of the Alouite sultan Moulay Ismael. This criticism was expressed in 'open' letters, some of which remain today.

Al-Yusi is especially well-known because he founded the cult of the seven saints of Marrakech at the request of Moulay Ismael.


  • Al-Yusi, Rasa'il Abi 'Ali al Yusi (ed. by Fatima Khalil Qabli), 2 vol., Al Yusi's essays, 1981
  • Al-Yusi, Zahr Al-Akam, 3 vol., Proverbs and famous sayings of al-Yusi, 1981
  • Al-Yusi, Al-Muhadarat fi al Lugha wa al Adab, (ed. by Muhammad Hajji), Essays and reflections by Al Yusi, 1976
  • Al-Yusi, Mashrab al-amm wa-al-khass min kalimat al-ikhlas (Silsilat al-Amal al-kamilah lil-Imam al-Hasan al-Yusi fi al-fikr al-Islami)
  • Al-Yusi, Fahrasat Al-Yusi, The 'fahrasa' (academic journey) of Al-Yusi Al Hasan, 2004
  • Al-Faqih Abu 'Ali al Yusi Al-Mdaghri, a biography of al-Yusi, Abd al Kabir, 1989
  • Kenneth L. Honerkamp, "Al-Yusi, Abu al-Hassan b. Masud" in: J. Lowry and D. Stewart (ed.) Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. Arabic Literary Culture 1350-1830, Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007
  • Jacques Berque, Al-Yousi: Problèmes de la Culture Marocaine au 17e Siècle, Paris, 2001 (reprint of 1958)
  • Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed: religious development in Morocco and Indonesia, University of Chicago Press, 1971, ISBN 0-226-28511-1, p. 29 - 35
  • H. Munson, Jr., "Geertz on Religion", Religion 16(1986): 19-32
  • Abdelfattah Kilito, "Speaking to Princes: Al-Yusi and Mawlay Ismail." In the Shadow of the Sultan, ed. Rahma Bourqia and Susan Gilson Miller. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1999. pp. 30–46. (Translation of Abdelfattah Kilito, "Parler au prince: Al-Yousi et Mawlay Ismail.")
  • Paul Rabinow, Symbolic Domination: Cultural Form and Historical Change in Morocco, University of Chicago Press, 1975
  • Ernest Gellner, Muslim Society (chap. 10), Cambridge University Press, 1981.


  1. ^ Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, Cambridge University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-521-33767-4, p. 223
  2. ^ Selections are cited in Jacques Berque, Al-Yousi: Problèmes de la culture marocaine au XVIIème siècle (Paris: Mouton, 1958), and in ‘Abd al-Kabīr al-‘Alawī al-Mudghirī, Al-Faqīh Abū ‘Alī al-Yūsī: namūdhaj min al-fikr al-maghribī fī fajr al-dawla al-‘alawiyya (Muhammadiyya, Morocco: Mahba‘at Fahāla, 1989). See al-Fahrasa, mss. in al-Khizāna al-Hasaniyya nos. 1183, 5470, and 5995; and ms. in al-Khizāna al-‘Amma, no. 1234 K.
  3. ^ A second and more famous text, Al-Muhāharāt (Rabat: Mahbū‘āt Dār al-Maghrib li-l-Ta’līf wa-l-Tarjama wa-l-Nashr, 1976)
  4. ^ Stefan Sperl, C. Shackle, Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, Brill 1996, ISBN 90-04-03587-7, p. 87

External links[edit]

  • Kenneth l. Honerkamp, al-Hassan ibn Mas'ud al-YUSI, in Roger M. A. Allen, Joseph E. Lowry, Terri DeYoung, Devin J. Stewart, Essays in Arabic literary biography, Volume 2, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009, p. 410-428 Online Google books [1] (retrieved, January 4, 2011)
  • Fatima Ghoulaichi, Of Saints and Sharifian Kings in Morocco: Three Examples of Reimagining History through Reinventing King/Saint Relationship (thesis), 2005, Chapter II "Moulay Ismail and Lyusi: The politics of baraka and sharifism", p. 18-28 [2][permanent dead link]