HAMZA al Qadiri
The Living Master - Biographical Notes
Madagh in 1922 Sidi Hamza BOUTCHICHI showed signs of
spiritual stature very early in his life. He quickly
attracted the attention of the
Majdubs (One who
is Intoxicated in GOD) of market (Souk)
Ahfir, well known for their spiritual perception. They
embraced him and told Sidi al-Hajj Abbas to take good care
of him. Sidi Boumadiane had also told him that Sidi Hamza
would be someone exceptional. He spent an ordinary
childhood for one born into a rural family. His time was
divided between activities on the land and religion. His
father would take him to the fields so that he might be
familiar with the earth. “In my childhood I received a
religious education. I grew up imbued with respect for people
and the principles of the Quran”.
his studies along the lines of the traditional education of
the time in the Zawiya at Madagh and Quranic school. His early
disciplines entailed four main pursuits:
Quran (from 3/4 years until 8/9 years)
religious sciences (Mutun)
for six years.
death of his uncle and teacher, Sidi al-Makki in 1936, Sidi
Hamza went to Oujda to continue his studies at the
to the Zawiya in Madagh, where for a further four years he
deepened his knowledge in the company of two religious
from the city of Fes.
the traditional sciences of the Hadith, expounding of the
Quran, Jurisprudence, theology, mathematics, rhetoric and
logic, in all of which he excelled and mastered. From the
exoteric sciences he went on to master the esoteric
is always quoting the words of his principle teachers many
of whom are also members of his family and of the Beni Snassen
such as Sidi Ali Qadiri the descendant of (see the
initiatory chain) Sidi
Moulay Abd-al Qadiri al Jilani (470H/559H -1077/1166 AD) and
it is from here that Sidi Hamza has inherited the name of el
years devoted to the study of the religious sciences, Sidi
Hamza then turned his attention to the esoteric sciences
at the hand of Sidi Abu Madyan, a distant uncle, who
became his spiritual master, but who was hitherto little known
to him. It was after the death of one of Sidi Hamza’s
sisters that the two were destined to meet.
important year. Within the space of one month both Sidi Hamza
and his father both became disciples of Sidi Abu Madyan. They would remain so for the next fourteen years. At the
time Sidi Al Hajj Abbas was 40, traditionally the required
age. Sidi Hamza was only 19, and had hardly completed his
education. In the course of those fourteen years in the
company of their spiritual master they took note of everything
the master said and of every detail of his comportment and
actions. “During the fourteen years we spent near to our
master we assiduously followed our devotions which consisted
mainly of the reading of the Quran and to remembering GOD
“I loved him dearly and greatly admired the simple majesty of
his manners and of his words” notes Sidi Hamza.
died, Sidi Abu Madyan appointed Sidi Hajj Abbas as his
successor and inheritor of his spiritual heritage (Sirr).
Sidi al-Hajj Abbas rejected this for five years. He only
took up his destined direction in 1960 after he had three
times had the same premonitory dream. In the dream angels
exhorted him to take the appointment (Idhn)
seriously and that if he did not he would be erased from the
book of Saints (Awliya).
In fact Sidi
Hamza also had received the appointment (Idhn)
from Sidi Abu Madyan but after his death, he made
allegiance to his father and became his disciple for seven
years. “A black beard does not grow from a white beard”.
The son cannot precede his father. This is an essential part
of the respect of Sufi good manners (adab).
el-Hajj Abbas died he bequeathed all his spiritual
authority to Sidi Hamza and exhorted his disciples (fuqara)
to follow him.
The Renewal of Sufism (Tassawuf)
Hamza continued the work of his father towards a
renewal of Sufism. This renewal process is derived
from a more subtle spiritual orientation than that of
traditional Sufism known for its rigorous practices
and disciplines. This is epitomised by the transition
from the majestic (Jalal)
aspect to the beautiful (Jamal)
aspect of spiritual orientation. “Sufism has
changed” In the old days the masters subjected
their disciples to rigorous tests and exercises to
help them to vanquish their own souls and to venerate
the spiritual secrets that they would thereby acquire.
“Dhikr takes the place of tests and exercises. And
nowadays it is up to the teacher (Shaykh)
thanks to his spiritual standing to raise his
disciples to their highest possible degree of
spiritual accomplishment by means of love (Mahabba)
and orientation (tawwajjuh).”
The reasons for this
change are both historical and social especially men’s
natural attractions to the material world and the
imbalance of the spiritual and the physical aspects of
life which has altered religious consciousness. On the
one hand modern man is prone to a multiple array of
distractions from spiritual awareness and on the other
hand there has been massive destruction of all that is
religious and of spiritual value in modern times.
Sufism has thus adapted to these new realities
prevalent in the modern world.
are witnessing three important changes.
In former times the
spiritual master addressed his message to an elite
seeking spiritual enlightenment, and was little
concerned with the “ordinary” Muslim. Nowadays
because of the state of spiritual crisis in the modern
world, where even the practice of the five pillars is
endangered, Sidi Hamza addresses himself to every one
on his own level.
between the master and the disciple has also been
transformed. Formerly it was the disciple who sought
the master. Now it is the master who seeks out the
disciple. The notion of disciple (murid)
is derived from the word ‘will’ (irada).
Embodied in this will is the quest for spiritual
achievement, the aspiration that seeks satisfaction
and the thirst that must be quenched.
Indeed formerly it
was often only after years of searching and difficult
travels that a would-be disciple would find his master
and teacher. Today the quest and the physical
difficulties are simplified or even eliminated and the
the seeker, becomes the
the sought after. The desirers as the disciples of
Sidi Abu Madyan become the desired as the disciples of
Traditionally Sufism emphasises self deprivation and
the stripping away of the structures of the ego rather
than on embellishment.
disciple must first undo his vices both inner and
outer like a young bride who throws away her old
clothes to don fresh, new and her most beautiful
clothes. To rid oneself of one’s vices requires a high
degree of sincerity and strength of character that are
difficult to find nowadays. Hence we have the reverse
idea of beauty taking precedence over austerity. Sidi
Hamza compares a novice’s heart with a darkened
room in disorder. For him in order to create order
one must first bring in light.
Hamza first radiates light in the heart of the
novice, so that he might taste this beautification of
the soul. Then once the spiritual initiative has been
seized, the disciple is ready for the second stage:
The stripping down of the structures of the self to an
austere minimum. These reforms do not constitute a
change in the nature of Sufism. The repository and
resource of the Quran and the secret (sirr) retain their essential status and importance. It
is only the method and the way it is transmitted,
particular to the living master, that has changed.