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Johara Berriane (Alumna BGSMCS)


The zâwiya of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani in Fez and its transnational influence

PhD Research (2008 - 2014):

The zâwiya of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani in Fez and its transnational influence

The aim of this project is to analyse the different meanings given to one of Morocco’s shrines called zâwiya of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani and situated in the Moroccan city of Fez. The main assumption underlying this study is that this sacred place which is a centre of a transnational Sufi order is socially constructed by different local, national and transnational actors: their perceptions and practices are shaping the place.

This zâwiya is the shrine where Ahmad al-Tijani, the founder of one of the most important African Sufi orders, the Tijaniyya is buried. Ahmad al-Tijani's teachings were propagated throughout Western Africa by his disciples. Therefore, the tomb of the founder is visited by Moroccans and foreign disciples (mostly Senegalese), making this place a transnational religious space. In addition to the pilgrims who come to visit the shrine, a variety of agents - for instance the inhabitants of Fez and the Moroccan State- are involved in the shaping of the zâwiya.

The guiding questions of this project are: how do visitors (locals as well as foreigners) and the local persons in charge of the zâwiya perceive and give sense to the place? And how distinct are the meanings they give to it?

How does the city of Fez (local inhabitants, authorities, merchant etc.) participate in the construction of the place?  How do political issues influence the shaping of the zâwiya?

What impact might the political and economic issues, as well as these different agents have on the meanings given to the zâwiya?

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ute Luig

Third Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Roman Loimeier