The role of the members of a spiritual community.
By Fadil Marion
One aspect of the Tariqa is the community formed by the
fuqara. This is a spiritual community in which we receive
and we give. The more we give, the more we receive. ”Give what
is in your pocket and GOD will give you what is in His mystery”.
The initiating action is the gift: “Give!”. You start by giving
and then; you are in a position to receive as a consequence.
One way to give is to be active, to work, to develop an activity
within the community. Very often, one can think: “I’ll be able
to be useful to others once I will have grown enough, once I
will have received already.” This way of thinking is a stumbling
block as it is only when one serves the community that one can
be in a position to receive. Some individual members, because of
their modesty, or due to a lack of orientation, may stay a bit
aside, may not engage fully. They wait to have reached a certain
level to act. But no one ever feels ready. The level is never
reached when one feels he or she can add value. Therefore, the
best is to start immediately to serve.
The fundamental justification of a spiritual community is its
beating heart, the spiritual guide. He is an awaken being; a
fully realized being whose role is to transmit a spiritual
influx he received, not as a result of his own will, but through
a divine order. This spiritual influx is the sirr. The
sirr means literally the secret. This word is used not to
design something that is hidden, but rather something that
cannot be expressed. This is somehow the spiritual energy that
characterizes an “alive” Tariqa.
At different times in history, according to providential plans,
the sirr can be communicated through different methods.
Sometimes, the keeper of the sirr, the saint, is hidden.
This was the case for instance of the master of Sidi Abu Median
who had been his neighbour for 18 years without revealing
himself and whose reputation was the one of a lunatic. But, in
different times, the guides are openly spreading the teachings.
When there is no occultation, when there is a manifested master
whose mission is to teach openly, then a community will be
created around him. The sirr is the only justification,
the exclusive reason, of this community. The community, its
members and their inter-relations only exist for the sirr
and thanks to the idhn, which is the authorization given
to the guide to communicate the sirr. Therefore, all
relations between the members of the community, the fuqara,
are dedicated to the sirr. The sole purpose of those
relations is to communicate the sirr.
Sidi Hamza (the current master of the Tariqa Qadiriyya
Boutchichiyya) said: “the master gives birth, the fuqara
are educating”. The master is like a fountain or a source
that provides water. The fuqara are the gardeners that
ensure that the water irrigates properly and spread in the
garden. Likewise, one faqir of Sidi Abu Median wrote a
poem for his master, which said “Your eyes are the matches that
set my heart on fire”. And once the fire is lit, like the pieces
of charcoal that need to be gathered to remain red, the
fuqara need to be close to each other to keep their heart
The Tariqa is alive: it actually lives its own life.
This community is not only a social group: it has a spiritual
Around the central fountain, there are all the streams, the
canals that link with each other and transmit the sirr,
the spiritual energy. Each faqir is that link. Each
faqir’s purpose, role and responsibility are to transmit the
sirr. As soon as someone joins the Tariqa and
starts to work in it, he or she will transmit the sirr,
consciously or not. Everyone is important in the community,
every link counts.
The fuqara are here to serve something that is far beyond
them. The community is a way towards the ultimate source. This
way, this path is the life of the Tariqa. Everything
that supports or blocks the communication of the sirr
impacts on the journey. Therefore it is a key that each faqir
ensures that he or she is not a place of retention where the
sirr would stop and not being transmitted.
Of course there are some rules, still like gardening and
irrigation, in order to allow the sirr to spread
everywhere, even in the most remote areas. One rule is about the
respect of each other’s role. As each role is aiming at the same
goal, none is more important than other. Another rule is about
power. There is no role about power or control. One more rule is
about judgment. Each individual must avoid judging others. A
faqir spent 40 years in a community and said: “I was so busy
with my own defaults that I never had the opportunity to judge
Again, everyone, each individual is about transmitting the
spiritual secret, the sirr. Each person is one of the
many links. In that sense, the key rule is “being transparent”.
Being transparent to allow the sirr to be shared. This
transparency is gathering us together and bringing us closer to
The absolute transparency is the heart of the master as it is a
heart empty of passions, free from any idols or power struggle
and which sole purpose is to serve God.
This is towards this transparency that the faqir should
be oriented. By focusing on this transparency one can absorb it
and then communicate it to others. Again, this can only work
when the fuqara do not reject each other’s by letting
their individual ego judging. One must fight his or her own ego
and reduce it so that no distances are placed between the
fuqara. Searching for a total absence of judgment,
respecting others, forgiving others, not giving back the hits
that may come... having the opposite behavior to the one our ego
would have considered normal: that brings us closer to the
Only the Dhikr can lead us there.
To close this
reflexion, I will bring one image developed by a West African
Sufi, Tierno Bokar. He compared each man as a cliff where white
birds and black birds are living. Black birds and white birds
are living in holes of different shapes. Each time you have a
good thought for another man, you send a white bird to his
cliff, freeing therefore a space where a white bird could come
from someone else and join your own cliff. Each time you are
being led by negative feelings towards someone, you are sending
a black bird, and you are then in a position to receive more
Once a member of a community, every aspect of life becomes a way
to receive the sirr. Let’s become living links. By giving
to others, I will receive in return, when they benefit & grow, I
will grow and the community will progress.
- Path / Way
– masc. singular for disciple. . lit. Means one who is
poor/needy infront of GOD
- female disciple/s.
- Plural for disciples. lit. Means those who are poor/needy
infront of GOD
– spiritual secret
– invocation/remembrance of GOD
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