An Ordinary Man I

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

 “In the early 1970s, the Qarawiyyin Mosque was still a gathering place for the Sufi Orders of Fes, and every evening after the sunset prayer fuqara’, literally ‘the poor’, members of Sufi brotherhoods, gathered in circles throughout the mosque to recite their evening litanies, their awrad.  My companions and I formed a circle and began reciting the wird of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib (q.s.).  We were a small group, no more than about eight men.  At the time, I was young and easily agitated and my heart was in turmoil as we intoned the familiar liturgy.  My eyes were lowered and closed as I wrestled with my turbulent heart and tried concentrating on the meaning of the collective voice from the circle of remembrance, dzikrullah – invocations of God.  I continued in this way until suddenly, without warning, my heart liquefied.  I was immersed in a pool of light.  The atmosphere became cool and diaphanous.  My agitation vanished.  I looked up to see if something had changed.  A very ordinary man had joined our small circle.  He was smiling.  He was so ordinary looking that it was hard to believe that he had anything to do with my unexpected change of state.  In fact, quite uncharitably, I saw him as an irritating intruder into our sacred circle.  When we completed the wird, our guest went round the circle, kissed everyone’s hand and departed.

His name, I came to learn, was Sidi Tami (q.s.).  Although ordinary on the outside, he had an extraordinary place in the spiritual hierarchy.  He was the spiritual Guardian of Fes, Chosen for this role by God, or this is what was accepted by the Sufi adepts.  How this worked, I never learned.  Symbolically, concealed beneath his djellaba, he wore an immense set of prayer beads, tasbih, that extended all the way down to his knees.  Few ever saw this.  When he got to know us better, he once pulled the tasbih out.  It was awesome.  He then said casually, with a wink and a smile and without a trace of self-importance, ‘Not too many people know this but I am a wali‘ullah,” literally, a Friend of God – a saint.

If anyone entered the labyrinthine ancient city of Fes from any gate with the intention of remembering God, they would ‘run into’ Sidi Tami (q.s.).  There were times when three parties would come into different parts of the city unannounced from three different directions at the same time and they would all, ‘by chance,’ just happen to meet him.  He would then direct each party to different parts of the city to sit with spiritual adepts, join circles of remembrance or to visit the tombs of the saints.”


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