H.M. King Mohammed VI has given instructions to repair and restore the house of the founder of the Tarika Tijania (Sufi order), Cheikh Sidi Ahmed Tijani. The order was announced by Ahmed Toufiq, Minister of Habous and Islamic affairs on Thursday.
Addressing an international symposium on the occasion of the bicentenary of Sidi Ahmed Tijani's demise, Toufiq said he was in charged by His Majesty to launch the works to renovate the house, known as "Dar Meraya".
The works, worth 6 million dirhams (some $782k), are expected to last 24 months, the Minister said.
Spanning over 600 square meters, the edifice was granted by Sultan Moulay Slimane in 1798 to the righteous saint, after he took up residence in Fez.
The Tijania Sufi Order, called after the name of its founder, is one of the most radiant pathways. It flourished throughout Morocco in the late 18th century. During the nineteenth century, the Tijania way spread throughout Africa and a number of leaders emerged.
The international symposium, which runs until next Friday, brings together a panel of thinkers and scholars from 30 countries to highlight the thought and works of Cheikh Sidi Ahmed Tijani.
Sheikh Tijani, who was born in Ain Madhi in what is now Algeria, is reputed to have learnt the Koran by heart by the age of seven, and given his first fatwa (religious instruction) at 15. He founded the Sufi brotherhood at the end of the 18th century - using the Gregorian calendar - or towards the start of the 13th Islamic century. Muslims flocked to hear the teachings of the holy man, who had spent long periods meditating in the Sahara Desert. The Moroccan sultan of the time, Moulay Slimane, supported Sheikh Tijani, aiding his rise.
Tijani disciples from neighbouring countries spread the word and now there are millions of his followers in West Africa. "I have visited many African countries, and there are villages and towns where you don't expect to find even a sign of civilisation, but you find a Koranic school and other buildings put up by the Tijanis,", says Zoubir Tijani, a descendent of Sheikh Tijani, who looks after his mausoleum.