Graves and mausoleums of pious men (Awliyaa) in Morocco
By Usrar Mustafa
In Morocco, there are many graves and mausoleums of pious men (Awliyaa), and some Moroccan families visit these graves in search of solutions for mental disorders or social problems.
The sizeable interest in visiting these sites has drawn the attention of a number of anthropologists and sociologists, who investigated the origin and studied the reasoning that leads people to visit the graves and mausoleums of Awliyaa. Most studies focus on the pagan aspects or pre-Islamic beliefs that led to a belief in Awliyaa.
Awliyaa is the plural form of the Arabic word Wali, which means closeness and proximity.
The mausoleum contains the Wali’s coffin, and it is usually treated with more reverence than the Wali was offered when he was alive. People visit these mausoleums and graves in search of blessings and solutions. At important times of year, the mausoleums are the site of repeated rituals and practices.
Visitors walk around the coffin and then offer a gift such as candles, money or a coffin cover. Some even sacrifice a sheep or a cow.
To uphold the sanctity and prestige of the mausoleum, guards narrate stories about the Wali’s miracles and powers and about the blessings bestowed upon each new visitor.
The mausoleum is a sanctuary that offers comfort and consolation to visitors; God’s Walis are safe and protected, as are those who are near them.
In order to study the therapeutic benefits of the mausoleum in a scientific manner, we focused on:
- Social upbringing and the belief in Walis and mausoleums
- Folktales, legends and the blessings of the Wali
- The ways in which visits to mausoleums affect people’s everyday lives
- The mausoleum as a form of treatment
- Comparing the psychotherapeutic benefits of the visits to more scientific therapies