21st COE Program

Co-hosted by
Research Group on Saint Worship, Sufism and Tariqa, and Interdisciplinary Research Meeting on the Sufism-Saint Worship Complex in Turkey and the Eastern Arab Lands.

Date: March 8, 2003

Venue: East Hall, Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University

Presentation 1: Muslim Saint Worship Reconsidered: Some Pointers to Various Aspects of "Saint" Connections among the Berbers of South-western Morocco
By SAITO Tsuyoshi (Tokyo Metropolitan University)

Reporter: ARAI Kazuhiro (ASAFAS, Kyoto University)

The enthusiastically supported research meeting on Muslim saints was held jointly by the above-mentioned three research groups, and was attended by about 30 people. Mr Saito has been working mainly on the Inddouzzal, a Berber tribe of southern Morocco, and has spent the lengthy period of four years engaged in field investigations. Mr. Saito, who had brought back a great deal of information from the field, focused his efforts in his presentation on the reconsideration of "saint worship."

As regards research on "saint worship," scholars have tried various approaches combining sociology with Islamic studies. Mr Saito has investigated "saint worship" in its broad social context. His work is an attempt to construct a new image of the "saint" that is stipulated according to the connections between people and the world in which they live.

First, Mr Saito introduced some examples of "saints" from the villages in which he had undertaken his research.

1) Sidi Bu Bakr, whose origin is unknown. Shrines to "saints" of his kind can be found in every village.
2) Sidi Mhammad ou Ali Awzal. He lived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After studying away from home in Tamgrout, he returned to the village of his birth where he was active as a teacher, writer and preacher.
3) Sidi Mhammad ben Athman. A person from foreign parts, who was an eminent scholar.
4) Sidi Mhammad ben Ya'aqab. He was a Sufi scholar, known across the Souss region.
5) Sidi l-Hajj Hmad Jashtimi. An intellectual, who was representative of the Souss region in the nineteenth century.

After discussing the above individuals, who even by past standards can be recognised as "saints," Mr Saito introduced the "religious personality" connected with the villages he had investigated. He pointed out that the characteristics of such a personality comprise an intellectual disposition, foreignness, experience of the outside world, and mobility from one place to another.

Reference was also made to the following:

1) Fqih: the head teachers of Madrassah schools; Tolba (teachers)
2) Fqih in the Masjid, Taleb (students)
3) The substitute existence of Fqih. Leadership in worship, advice concerning everyday life
4) Fqih who have become indigenous
5) Ikhwani, who embody the heterogeneous everyday behaviour and values of ordinary village dwellers

We would like to keep an eye on Mr. Saito's future papers, to see how he develops his approach under which he places the "religious personality" as a superordinate concept of the "saint."

Presentation 2: Tasawwuf as seen from "Books of Ziyara" -Raising the Issues from the Periphery

By OTOSHI Tetsuya (Kyushu University)

Reporter: IMAMATSU Yasushi (Kobe University)

In this presentation, Mr. Otoshi, who clarified various aspects of the Egyptian social phenomenon, ziyara, discussed tasawwuf through a group of literature called the Books of ziyara. Mr. Otoshi first discussed a historical background of each volume of the Books of ziyara and also how sufis were perceived in each time period. Then he went on to examine connections between the Books of ziyara and sufis. In the course of examination, he focused on the following:

  1. Records concerning tasawwuf.
  2. Sufis and the buried.
  3. Zuhd, the word of wali, and religious facilities, such as khanqah and ribat.
  4. Lineage of tasawwuf and other literary citations.

In order to discuss this subject further, we must ask ourselves, "What attributes make people sufis?" Mr. Otoshi explored this question in great detail, specially while examining the first point.

Next, Mr. Otoshi discussed what he found in the Books of ziyara from the following six aspects:

  1. Lack of description on mawlid.
  2. Expansion of religious facilities.
  3. Possibility of correlation between tasawwuf becoming a main stream and the spread of ziyara, speculating more people joining tariqa acting as a medium.
  4. Possibility of shedding some light on Sufism of given time period with his findings from each contemporary volume.
  5. Possibility of tariqa being not well organized as religous order since no particular name of tariqa being found.
  6. Reexamination of terminology.

We can not talk about sufism, tariqa, and saint worship, without understanding ziyara, a manifesting point of saint worship. This presentation was intriguing and worthwhile because, without ignoring how ziyara was perceived in "A theory regarding the tri-polar structure of Sufism" by Mr. TONAGA Yasushi, Mr. Otoshi discussed connections between tasawwuf and ziyara based on his painstaking research through the extraordinary amount of reading.