Popular Sufi leader in Morocco dies aged 95

2017-01-18 20:30

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Rabat - The head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, with tens of thousands of followers at home and abroad, died on Wednesday aged 95, an official and local media said.

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was the spiritual leader of the Qadiriya Boutchichiya order.

He died in the northwestern city of Oujda and was to be buried in the nearby town of Madagh where he was born and his order is based, local media reported.

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.

Sufism is an offshoot of mainstream Islam which focuses on meditation, inner purity and finding a mystical pathway towards 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.

Followers of Salafist and Wahhabist interpretations of Islam see Sufism as heretical.

Read more on:    turkey  |  morocco  |  north africa
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