Sidi al-Haj al-Abbas was born in 1890 in the village of Buyahya southern of Ahfir. He was very close to his father Sidi al-Mokhtar (may Allah be satisfied with him), the icon of Moroccan resistance against the French colonization in northeaster Morocco. Indeed until the spread of the Boutchichi Tariqa, the area of Madagh was known as “Sidi Mokhtar”, from his burial place.
Sidi al-Abbas was raised under the local religious system and traditions. Eventually, Sidi al-Abbas became an expert businessman in the agriculture sector after years of experience with his father. When the latter died in 1912, he assisted his older brother Sidi al-Makki (d. 1936) in the management of the zawiya even though he spent more time doing business. Portraying this era, Sidi Haj al-Abbas said:
“Despite the fact that I had been brought up on the lap of the Qadiriya Tariqa through my ancestry, my great grandfathers and particularly under the tutelage of my father who was known for his righteousness, it did not provide the aspiration or determination that comes from following a living spiritual guide which is the sublime method of Suluk (spiritual wayfaring).Perhaps you are also aware that the time I was chosen amongst the members of my family to carry out the mission of continuing my grandfather’s Tariqa. I was also heavily occupied by earning a living through farming. In my youth this responsibility prevented me from satisfying my longing for knowledge and I was therefore limited in knowing only what is necessary to know about the obligations of Sharia matters, reciting of Quran and the rules of what is halal and haram.Amongst the many blessings bestowed on me by Allah, I missed no opportunity in learning and memorising the virtuous Quran, some Hadith (Prophetic tradition), some familiarity with the Seerat (biography) of the Messenger of Allah (Prayers and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his character, the states of his companionship and the traditions of the venerable forefathers”. (Wasiyya of al-Haj al-Abbas, 1968)
The first real interaction between Sidi al-Abbas and his Shaykh Sidi Boumadyan took place in 1940 after this latter attended the funeral of Sidi al-Abbas’ daughter in Madagh. After spending the whole month in his companionship both Sidi al-Abbas and his son Sidi Hamza (b. 1914) became diciples of Sidi Boumadyan. Nobody could have competed Sidi al-Abbas’ devotion to serve his Shaykh and the Fokara. He was the most generous disciple of Sidi Boumadyan offering his money, time, and soul to the Tariqa.
Sidi al-Abbas and Sidi Hamza spent 14 years of companionship with Sidi Boumadyan. Before Shaykh Boumadyan passed away in 1955, he authorised both Sidi al-Abbas and Sidi Hamza to provide the Adkar (invocations) and educate the disciples, indicating to Sidi al-Abbas to lead the Tariqa after him. Importantly, Sidi al-Abbas started to educate his disciples and give authorized Adkar and Awrad in 1960; five years after the death of Sidi Boumadyan. As explained in his spiritual counsel, wasiya, he reluctantly only took on the responsibility of being the Shaykh of the Tariqa when he saw certain practices not in conformity with the teaching of Sidi Boumadyan.
When he became the Shaykh of the Tariqa, Sidi al-Haj al-Abbas smoothly shifted some key features of traditional Sufism connected to the behaviour of the disciple in regard to his Himma (determination), Khalwa (spiritual retreat), and Dhikr (invocation). Importantly, in response to the socio-cultural and spiritual trends of his time, Sidi al-Haj al-Abbas adopted a fresh and flexible style of Tarbiya (education) to cope with the time mentalities and personalities. He said
:Out of Allah’s mercy upon all of us, I did not proceed using the traditional methods employed by the Shaykh’s of the past. In previous times determination was strong and hardship and isolated spiritual retreats were used as a means of defeating the nafs and removing the veils. Allah knew our weaknesses and the nature and multiplicity of occupations of our time, so He inspired us out of His Kindness to gather the whole matter into the Dhikr and perfection of worship.
The Tariqa of al-Haj al-Abbas was based on the mighty relationship between the Shaykh and the disciple. The cornerstones of his Tariqa were Suhba (companionship in Allah), Mahabba (love) for the Shaykh, and Ijtima’a (gathering) for the mystic Invocation. According to his teaching, “the sincere disciple should give over his whole matter to Allah, strengthen his Himma, and make his Lord his sole aim with no regard to what Allah has chosen or preserved for him in the outward.
As we all know most of the grand Sufis (i.e. Sidi Abul Hassan Shadhili, Sidi Abdellaziz Debbarh Ibriz, Sidi Boumadyan al-Ghawth, and Sidi Ahmed Tijani) spent great deal of time seeking the living Shaykh of their time. At any given time the living Shaykh, whether he is a Ghawt or Qotb, is the one and only source who possesses the map to Ahl Allah’ Ma’qsud (purpose). He is the only mystic hand entitled to give the correct Dhikr (remedy) that cures the Nafs from its thick and heavy darkness. The companionship of the living Shaykh and the constant recitation of his authorised Wird, Dikhr, and Wadhifa are the principles of Tariqa Qadiriya Boutchichiya.
Sidi al-Abbas passed away in 22 February 1972 in Oujda. He was buried in the Darih of Madagh close to his father Sidi al-Haj al-Mokhtar and his Shaykh and cousin Sidi Boumadyan (may Allah sanctify their secret and be pleased with them).