The core feature of the Boutchichi Tariqa is love (‘mahabba’). The late Sidi Hamza, predecessor to our current teacher, used to say “I hold on to love more than to any other thing. Let us pray that God will not take it away from us. Love between disciples and between the fuqara and the master is infinite. It grows unceasingly.” Sidi Jamal-ad-Din, master of the Boutchichi tariqa, encourages the disciples to establish love (Mahabba) and mercy (Rahma) amongst each other. With love, advice and instructions are gently given and readily accepted, and spiritual education (Tarbiyya) is passed on. Without love, the disciples may lapse into being judgemental, or take offence on receiving advice.
The importance of love in spiritual education is further explained by Sidi Hamza:
“When love inhabits the heart, nothing appears difficult and one draws profit from anything that happens. Thankfully, this comes from the fact that love erases the veil that separates us from Reality. As this veil becomes thinner and thinner, one experiences a profound joy that emanates from this proximity with Reality. One is captured by the perception of beauty.”
Love for the Divine is impossible without love for the last Prophet, our Master Mohammed, peace be upon him. Allah says in the holy Quran, “Say [O Messenger]: if you love Allah, than follow me!”. Love for the Prophet grows stronger through learning about his life, his qualities, and his states. This learning takes place outwardly from study of the traditions (‘hadith’) that have been handed down to us, but more importantly, through companionship with and love for the living examples of living spiritual masters who have embodied many of his qualities into their own character.
Love bonds hearts together and mercy is the overriding attribute of the last Prophet, our Master Mohammed, peace be upon him. In a tradition recorded in the Shifa of Qadi Iyad, our master Ali, may Allah ennoble his face, asked the Prophet about his sunnah (practice), and he replied : “Gnosis is my capital. Intellect is the basis of my deen. Love is my foundation. Yearning is my mount. Remembrance of Allah is my intimate companion.”
In Sufism and other spiritual traditions, the underlying temperament which allows one to travel the path is love. If one is in remembrance of, and connected to the Divine, how can one not love all his creation, and all that occurs? Really, dislike mostly stems from the ego, and from having a sense of the self. The Islamic tradition does however recognise dislike, and the praised for of this is dislike for the sake of the Divine, ie disliking characrteristics and behaviour that are disconcordant with the Divine path. Indeed a saying of the beloved prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is that one should attempt to change wrong things with the hand, failing that the tongue, and failing that, acknowledging dislike for it in the heart.