By Jamal Saidi
By Jamal Saidi
Morocco World News
Casablanca, May 28, 2012
Anir left to Ankara. He wanted to visit the Zawiya which was in the outskirts of the city. It was two houses surrounded by huge garden, with different kinds of orange and olive trees. The flowers were seemingly flourishing and there was a stream just down from the garden. Nature had the last word here. The first house was for the spiritual master, his family and ladies; the second was devoted to men. Anir was warmly welcomed by a person who seemed to be responsible for receiving new-comers. He was given tea and some bread. He was astonished, for people were wearing and behaving in a way reminiscent of ancient times. Most of the men had long beards, wearing turbans and old fashioned clothes. Their skin color, among other things, indicated they came from every single area of the world. “United Nations in the middle ages,” he thought.
The disciples gathered in the prayer room, waiting for their spiritual master to come. A moment later, a voice was heard,” Mawlana is coming.” Sheikh Mehmet was a short old man, not less than eighty years old. He had a long white beard. He was wearing a green turban and he used a stick to walk, yet two men were helping him. “We have a guest from Morocco, Mawlana,” a worshipper said. The Sheikh looked straight at him. He put his stick on the ground then replied cheerfully, “Welcome Anir Afendi.”
Now, the Sheikh sat and so did the followers. And they sat in a circle. They brought prayer beads of about three meters to count the number of times the name of Allah was recited. There was a little light and a Morid started to sing about divine love while another was making a whirling dervish dance by turning round and round. Anir felt more relaxed than ever.
Anir became a familiar face in the Zawiya. He made friends from all over the world as many people from different nationalities came for a visit to experience Sufism. The sheikh himself was always advising them, “Your ego is your horse. If you want to be in the divine presence, leave your horse first, before entering the palace so that you can see the King, Allah almighty.” Once, Anir asked him about suicide bombers who killed innocent people in the name of religion and Jihad, “They are working for the devil, for God did not order us to kill but to love,” the Sheikh answered.
In the morning, he woke up one our earlier before Morning Prayer. He went down to the bathroom. He found there a tall man with large shoulders, washing his face. He greeted him and so the man did too, but with a strange look in his eyes. Anir could notice that there was an axe lying beside him. Later, he left the bathroom and went for a walk. However, just after a few minutes, a loud voice was heard, “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar!” At the beginning, he thought it was just a worshipper’s way to express his joy as usual, but once he remembered the sharp axe, he began to doubt whether it was a disciple’s joy or rather a man`s last words before taking his journey to the next world.
A follower was attacked by a sharp axe on his head, legs and arms. He was covered in his own blood. It was obvious that he was meant to be cut into pieces. The disciples were waiting for The Sheikh to come. What would be his reaction? Nobody knew. Eventually, he came. He put his hands over the victim’s head and started to utter some words that only the Sheikh could know the meaning of. Everybody was looking at Sheikh Mehmet as he closed his eyes for a couple of minutes. There was a terrible silence. While waiting for a reaction, the followers were almost breathless. They believed their Sheikh would say something of crucial importance. “The angel of death came to take his soul but I refused, then he returned,” the sheik said and left. Though the injured man was almost dead, the believers were relieved, for they were sure that “the angel of death” would obey their master’s order.
Now, Anir was full of sadness. He started to lose his trust in the place he had come to. The Zawiya was supposed to be a place of safety and shelter. It was now rather a place of a great danger. Many people with mental illnesses came to visit the sheikh in order to be cured; however, instead of being cured, they committed crimes. The last incident was obvious proof. Anir did not only lose his trust in the Zawiya, but also in the Sheikh himself .The death of the injured man raised thousand of questions in his mind. The disciples kept their belief even after the failed claim of the Sheikh. However, Anir could not believe whatever he was told especially when it appeared to be nothing but illusion. He himself took a knife and engraved on the wooden gate of the Zawiya in large letters, “The Sheikh is dead!”
Jamal Saidi is a Moroccan student currently enrolled in a master program majoring in Moroccan-American Studies at Hassan II University, Faculty of Humanities/Ben M’sik. He is Morocco World News correspondent in Casablanca. You can follow him on Facebook.
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