Sidi Ahmed Benyoucef – The commemorative plaque

2.Sidi Ahmed Benyoucef – Sidi Ahmed’s Mosque

3.Sidi Ahmed Benyoucef – The Ablution Fountain

Sidi Ahmed Benyoucef – the Writer beside the Mausoleum

di Ahmed Benyoucef – the Writer with Sheikh Hadj Mohamed Tahar Kouadri , Eminent Imam & Historian of the city of Khemis -Miliana

6.Sidi Ahmed Benyoucef – the Writer with Sheikh Salem Ben Brahim an Eminent Alim from Adrar inside Sidi Ahmed’s Courtyard

‫بسم ال الرحمن الرحيم‬ ‫أل إن أولياء ال ل خوف عليهم ولهم يحزنون‬ 62-10 ‫القران الكريم‬ IN THE NAME OF GOD THE COMPASSIONATE THE MERCIFUL “Behold Verily on the Friends of Allah there is no fear nor shall they Grieve” Holy-Quran 10-62. *Subject: Muslim Saints of Algeria & the Maghrib *1.SIDI AHMED BENYOUCEF AL MELYANI He is one of the most popular Saint of North Africa according to the rare historical manual (in French Language) in my possession that of “Emile Dermengheim- Le Culte des Saints de L’Islam Maghrébin” he was born in the XV century ( around 1446 CE) in the area of Qala’a of Bani Rashed near the town of Relizane (Western-Algeria) he travelled a lot in search of science while in Bijaya (Eastern-Algeria) he met an Erudite Saint Sidi Ahmed Zerrouk Al Barnoussi he was very fond of him and it was him who initiated Sidi Ahmed to the Chadiliyya Tarika or Sufi path . It was revealed that during this sojourn in Bijaya, Sidi Ahmed’s Sheikh or Master Sidi Zarrouk invited three of his disciples and asked them to express their most cherished hope:

I wish to perform the Hajj journey said one I wish that my curses against the oppressors will be fulfilled said the other I wish that Allah will make me similar to the earth upon which the Believer and the infidel, the righteous and the perverse, the slave and the free, man and woman trample under feet!! This last wish emanating from Sidi Ahmed Ben Youssouf pleased a lot Sidi Zarrouk who instantaneously declared Sidi Ahmed as the most learned and rightly-initiated Student while blessing him added: “O Ahmed you will be very beneficial to Mankind”. Sidi Ahmed Ben Youcef had also a great political role , as the Bani Ziyan or Abdel Wad dynasty of Tlemcen were in falling decadence , moreover the great and warm welcome given to Sidi Ahmed by the inhabitants of Oran attracted the Bani Ziyan ‘s wrath towards this reception as it was seen as a challenge to their rule , consequently Sidi Ahmed was harmed and in the aftermath of this row a quick curse by this Wali was to be inflicted on the dynasty rulers as a result of this sad event Spanish forces captured Oran in 1509.

When the Ottomans entered Algiers in 1516 in order to put an end to the Spanish threat on Western Algerian coasts such as Oran, Ténés and Mers Al Kabir, Sidi Ahmed had cordial and close relations with the famous Ottoman Brothers Kheirdinne Barbarousse and Arroudj and blessed their intervention. Further to the south or Sahara, Sidi Ahmed made another journey where he had as usual a great and careful audience to whom he made this sermon after a sandstorm: “your sand has dried up my mouth, your stones have worn out my feet and your water has not quenched my thirst” Sidi Bousmaha (Sidi Ahmed’s close Companion) replicated: “If you found the Sahara so ugly; it is better for you to leave it?” Sidi Ahmed replied back: “No my dear brother, you will remain here and your descendents will populate this place”.

It is noteworthy to say that during this Sahara journey , another event occurred in the form of a hard trial of the famous “Seven slain people” or (Mdabih) in this historical anecdote it was revealed that in a bid to test his disciple’s faith and so as to choose a lasting and reliable elite among the large mob , Sidi Ahmed announced to the crowd that he had received a (Divine call) to slay seven of his best followers , therefore the crowd was less than dense and only seven Men remained there and successively entered in the house where there were supposed to be slain , blood was flowing under the door , it was that of sheep and it was the Sheikh’ huge and appropriate selection of the very best of his companions and disciples. Sidi Ahmed Ben Youssouf died while on a journey in the town of Kherba (Ain –Defla District) in 1526, and according to his will as well as to other fairy tales his corpse was attached to his mule and be buried at the last stop of the animal, so at the entrance of the city of Miliana or Melyana, in a garbage dump there was the final stop as it was predicted by his Master Sidi Zarrouk.

The site was also predestined, as a Saint or Wali “Sidi Hadli” lived there and for years this Saint was making baskets for no apparent use, but were later used for building and earth clearing for the well renowned shrine of Sidi Ahmed Ben Youcef, that up to these days is still glittering in a magnificent landscape in the city of Miliana a 120 km distance west of Algiers. ‫محمد بوكريطة‬ ‫كاتب مستقل و مستشار في السياحة الثقافية‬ mbokreta@maktoob.com