Rabat – Locals often call Morocco’s Marrakesh the city of Sabatou Rijal, which literally means "seven men," but is usually translated in English as the "seven saints”.
Rabat – Locals often call Morocco’s Marrakesh the city of Sabatou Rijal, which literally means “seven men,” but is usually translated in English as the “seven saints”.
As such, a trip to Marrakech could be referred to as a visit to the city of seven saints. Their immortalized stories have lasted for hundreds of years, and have become a part of Marrakesh’s history and Morocco’s history as a whole. So who are they?
The seven men of Marrakesh are Awlya (plural of Wali). Awlya is an Arabic word that refers to people who Allah has blessed with a special rank among the Muslims.. It’s been said that these seven saints were the seven men who shone in their times as lights of guidance because of the blessings that Allah showered upon them.
Though Marrakesh is home to the graves of over 200 awlya, the late Alaouite ruler Moulay Ismail allegedly established the pilgrimage to the tombs of the seven saints in the 17th century in order to give Marrakesh extra religious significance.
Since the 17th century, Moroccans from all walks of life have constantly visited the graves of the seven saints in Marrakesh to pray to Allah. They are drawn to the idea that visiting these graves could heal their diseases, help them fulfill their wishes, and allow them to achieve tranquility of their souls.
The practice is no longer as popular as it once was, but many Moroccans still say “I am going to the city of the Seven Men”, meaning they are going to Marrakesh.
Morocco World News presents you the list of those seven saints.
1 – Sidi Youssef Ben Ali
His full name was Abou Yaacoub Ben Ali Assenhaji. He was born in Marrakesh and never left it all his life. He was nicknamed “Moul L Ghar”, or the “Cave Man”. When he was still young, he was afflicted with leprosy and would lose parts of his body, causing people flee from him in fear of contracting the disease. His family, on the other hand, expelled him out of fear of the virus. Afterwards, he went to live in a cave in a deserted place near Marrakesh.
Locals expected him to die any moment, but Sidi Youssef Ben Ali surprised them all and survived for a long time. People started talking about his power to resist hunger and disease, and they began visiting him in the cave to receive guidance and help them solve their problems.
Sidi Youssef Ben Ali died in 1196 and is buried in Bab Aghmat, near the cave.
2 – Qadi Ayyad
Qadi Iyad ibn Musa was born in 1083 in Ceuta, then belonging to the Almoravid Empire. He was the great imam of that city and, later, a high judge in Granada. As a scion of a notable scholarly family, Iyad was able to learn from the best teachers Ceuta had to offer.
Qadi Iyad benefited from the high number of scholars in al-Andalus, the Maghrib, and the eastern Islamic world. He became a prestigious scholar in his own right, and won the support of the highest levels of society.
He died in 1149 and buried in Marrakesh.
3 – Sidi Bel Abbas
Born in Ceuta in 1129, Belabbas Ahmed Sebti is the most important of the Seven Saints, and is sometimes referred to as the Patron Saint of Marrakech.
It’s been said that his father died when he was still a teenager, and then his mother sent him to work. However, his obsession with his studies prompted him to occasionally escape his work in order to attend the classes of Sheikh Abi Abdellah Mohamed Lfakhar in the mosque.
His mother, on the other hand, kept punishing him and sending him back to work, until the Sheikh intervened and suggested giving his mother money in order to let her child study.
Sidi Bel Abbas was a great patron of the poor and particularly the blind in the twelfth century. Even today, food for the poor is distributed regularly at his tomb.
He died in 1204 and is buried in Marrakesh.
4 – Sidi Suleiman Al Jazuli
Abu Abdullah Muhammad al Jazuli was born in a village called Jazoula in Sous Massa Daraa in the 15th century. Nobody knows the exact year of his birth. Historians say he descended from Ali Ibno Abi Talib.
Imam al-Jazouli is better remembered as a character of legend rather than a real human being. “Imam al-Jazuli”, was a Moroccan Sufi leader of the Berber tribe of the Jazulah. He is best known for compiling the Dala’il al-Khayrat, an extremely popular Muslim prayer book. The book is divided into 7 sections for each day of the week.
In June 1465, he collapsed and died while performing his Subh prayer. Because of the suddenness of his death, it was rumored that he was poisoned. His body was buried near Essaouira. Seventy-seven years after his death, his body was exhumed to be transferred to Marrakech.
5 – Sidi Abdel Aziz
Sidi Abd El Aziz was a fifteenth century theologian. His mausoleum is very near to Rue Baroudiyine, a short walk from Marrakesh Riad Cinnamon.
He was born in Marrakesh, and was illiterate during his youth. However, he later made a name for himself in Fez at the Medersat el Attarine, where he was the spiritual successor of Imam el Jazouli.
He died in 1508 and was buried in Marrakesh. It is a local tradition for women to visit his grave, drawn to the idea that he can heal their fertility and facilitate childbirth.
6 – Sidi Abdullah Ghazouani
Sidi Abdullah Ghazouani was born and grew up in Fez. He was a follower of Sidi Abdel Aziz. He died in 1528 in Marrakesh and was buried there.
7 – Imam Souhaili
Imam Abderahim Souhaili was born blind in 1114 in Malaga. He grew up in a poor, but religious and well-educated family. His father taught him Arabic and helped him memorize Quran. Afterwards, he was taught other sciences by the famous scholars of that time, in Malaga and other cities in Andalusia (the southern region of Spain).
He died in 1185 in Marrakesh, and was buried in Bab er Robb, a southern gate of the city of Marrakesh, near Bab Agnaou.
Edited By Elisabeth Myers
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