ILLOULA- The Picturesque landscape of the village

2.ILLOULA –Sidi Abderrahmane Al Illouli Mosque’s commemorative plaque

3.ILLOULA- Mr. Boudjemai (Institute’s Steward) left, the Writer (centre), Mr. Touati (Institute’s Director) right, Hassan (Writer’son) crouching

4.ILLOULA- A remote view of the Institute at bottom left

5.ILLOULA- A souvenir photo while the Famous Djurdjura mounts overhang the scene

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IN THE NAME OF GOD THE COMPASSIONATE THE MERCIFUL *SUBJECT: WORLD ISLAMIC HERITAGE *THE ISLAMIC INSTITUTE FOR IMAM’S TRAINING *SIDI ABDERRAHMANE AL ILLOULI *ILLOULA-AZZAZGA- WILAYA OF TIZI-OUZOU. It was an auspicious Friday, the 18th of May 2007- 01st of Djoumad II 1428, where a sudden daring and bold decision impelled me to take the steering-wheel and drove eastwards in view of enjoying both a spiritual and sightseeing tour in the land of Kabylia and precisely in the village of Illoula some 170 km east of Algiers to discover and report by the pen and the camera for a new chapter called “World Islamic Heritage”. Adding to the fact that the journey was made on a Godly blessed spring like day, accompanied by my son Hassan and Mr. Tahar Mezani a friend and a native of Kabylia, reaching Illoula after driving through tortuous bends and turns was both a magnificent and awesome adventure, as the village is situated at a 950m altitude. The Zawiya subject of our survey is located on a breath-taking landscape, extended on a mountain hill where cherry, nut and willow trees interweave each other, adding to this Godly given beautiful nature was the warm and friendly welcome given to us by Mr. Brahim Touati the Director of the Institute and his Steward Mr. Yahia Boudjemai.

It would be important to recall that the Land of Kabylia or “ Bled Al Kabail” as it is widely known here in Algeria is the stronghold of Berbers or Amazighs , historically proved , they were the first inhabitants of North Africa , moreover the strategic situation of this part of Algeria was so important for commercial caravans as well as for cultural and scientific mutual exchanges between East and West and between the Sahel and the high plateaus , the Land of Kabylia is extended to many eastern parts of Algeria , it includes the following Wilayates (Districts) such as Boumerdes, Bouira, TiziOuzou , Bejaia and a part of both Districts of Setif and Bordj Bou Arreridj. Furthermore the great and valuable contribution of the Berbers in spreading Islam throughout the Iberian peninsula as the case is with Commander Tarik Ibn Ziad the Andalusian Conqueror or with the Kutama Tribes in the consolidation of the Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa is no more a questionable issue within historical circles as such this spiritual legacy is still ongoing till know where the multitude of Zawiyas (or Islamic Learning centres) is so obvious and apparent in every place of this area and therefore is still witnessing this long standing positive aspect of Islam. *Historical Features of the Institute. Before the promulgation of the 173-83 Ministerial decree dated 05 March 1983 setting up the present Islamic Institute and its first Academic year on the 15th of September 1984 and after a 349 year of old traditional way of education and training, the Zawiya shifted to the present Modern Institute where up to now there was 21 graduate promotions with an accurate number of 1281 Graduate Imams. It is worth mentioning that the Zawiya was founded by Sidi Abderrahmane Al Illouli in 1635 AD through a counsel and suggestion by his Sheikh or Master Sidi Mohamed Saadi Al Bahlouli, the opening of the Zawiya at that time was a unique event as for the first time it has introduced new courses in the Holy Quran’s reading or recitation, an unknown module at that time, thus breaking old traditional habits of teaching and learning.

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The Founder of the Zawiya is Sidi Abu Zayd Abderrahmane Al Illouli who was born in 1601 in the village of Ikherdouchene on the bottom hills of Illoula mount , as a young child he was duly looked after in terms of education and upbringing by his father Yassad Ben Mohamed Ouali , then he moved to the nearby Zawiya of Sidi Ahmed Ben Idriss where he memorised the Holy Quran and went to learn Islamic Siences, afterwards he moved again to a new Zawiya that of Sidi Mohamed Saadi Al Bahlouli in Mizrana (Dellys area) there he was both a full fledged and mature Student and Teacher. Sidi abderrahmane was very fond of his Sheikh Sidi Mohamed Al Bahlouli because he gained from him wide knowledge and deep probing skills in the sciences of Tajwid (way of reading the Holy Quran) and the different ways of the holy book’s recitations , a great number of students were later graduated from Sidi Abderrahmane’s Zawiya, among them is the famous Mohamed Ben Antar Al Khazrouni Al Betrouni who had handwritten 99 copies of the Holy Quran. Still standing as a perennial witness to the grandeur of the Islamic Faith, is Sidi Abderrahmane Al Illouli’s Zawiya which was founded in 1635 during the Ottoman presence in Algeria and had a well known repute for its self-independent way of administration and new insightful courses. In 1693 Sidi Abderrahmane passed away while leaving an ever rich and increasing Islamic heritage which is still vivid despite the 314 elapsed years, truly Sidi Abderrahmane Al Illouli left this world a very satisfied man, no wonder because he left behind an immortal legacy which has since continued to inspire Muslims from this country and from abroad towards the lofty goals of Knowledge and Book of Allah’s love and great Respect.

• *Source-Document: Zawiyat Sidi Abderrahmane Al Illouli and its educative, cultural and influential roles in the Kabylia area. • *Master- thesis in Islamic Studies, a 329 page Arabic Language Document prepared by Mohamed Maimoun (Former Director of the Institute)-Academic year 20002001. • ‫محمد بوكريطة‬ • ‫كاتب مستقل و مستشار في السياحة الثقافية‬ • mbokreta@maktoob.com • • • • MOHAMED BOKRETA FREELANCE WRITER & CULTURAL TOURISM CONSULTANT mohbokreta@yahoo.com