Redefined Identity: The Qadiri Būdshīshi Tariqa's ‘Re-Branding’ Journey towards Greater Visibility of Sufi Women


  • Sarah Hebbouch Mohammed V University


The Būdshīshi brotherhood, re-branding, Sufi women, women’s visibility.


Following Morocco’s substantive revamp of the religious field, after the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attacks, and the dilemma arising from the burgeoning extremist religious groups, the need to reinforce a new religious vision was ineluctable. The vision, as has been advanced by the Moroccan state, was predicated upon the incorporation of Sufism, a crucial constituent of Morocco’s religious fabric. The prominence that Sufism gained is not spur-of-the-moment, nor is it the residue or the offshoot of political Islam, but it is enmeshed within a more global outlook because of its ability to adapt to the changing needs of society.

In Morocco, commonly known as the land of saints, The Qadiri Būdshīshi Sufi Brotherhood came to dominate the spiritual landscape. Its allegiance to the monarchial institution and the influence it exerts vis-à-vis other Sufi brotherhoods has made of it the best ally to the state and a torchbearer of its spiritual project. In fact, the concepts of ‘branding’ and ‘re-branding’, as underexplored themes in Sufi studies, have oftentimes remained a contested issue within intellectualized debates and academic circles.

Therefore, this study departs from the assumption that in order to be in alignment with the state’s vision, the Būdshīshi Brotherhood has fostered a range of image-enhancing strategies. The current study examines a set of Sufi discourses and practices promoted by the brotherhood to create a new current that is more appealing to the public, to the state, and to the global taste. Importantly, the study explores gendered practices and modalities whereby the brotherhood has been able to bring Sufi women center-stage and give rise to their visibility. This study builds on empirical data that was gathered through intensive interviews undertaken with the female disciples of the brotherhood, and enriched through the researcher’s first-hand experience with Sufi women of Būdshīshiyya and a survey questionnaire, so as to discuss the intricacies of what I term ‘the re-branding turn’, which feeds into a new Sufi culture.

Author Biography

Sarah Hebbouch, Mohammed V University

Cultural Studies, English Studies Department


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