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  • Author or Editor: Rachid El Hour x
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This study, which analyses three aspects related to the dietary regimen of Maghrebi Sufi-saints alongside certain aspects of their social and religious behavior in the Middle Ages, is based on diverse hagiographic sources composed between the sixth/twelfth and the eighth/fourteenth centuries. On the one hand, the study emphasizes the issue of poverty and the poor ( fuqarāʾ) in these sources – especially in the work of al-Qashtālī entitled Tuḥfat al-mughtarib. On the other hand, the study examines the subject of charity and its different manifestations. Acts of charity and their manifestations as well as references to famines suffered by Maghrebi populations, and the roles played by Sufi-saints therein, are very present in the sources. Finally, this contribution provides insight into the culinary traditions of the Sufi-saints. It examines the different foodstuffs which dominated the saints’ menus, not forgetting, of course, the case of Sufi-saints whose diets represented extreme frugality, as in the cases of al-Yuḥānisī and Abū Yaʿzā, for example. In the hagiographic sources there are very few references to terms reflecting impoverished or other needy groups who might have been beneficiaries of private or institutional charity. Rather, the term fuqarāʾ referred to Sufis or Sufi disciples who may or may not have been in need of such charity. Concerning the dietary regimens of Sufi-saints one can observe that such regimens were diverse, even if the practice of vegetarianism was quite widespread. The nature of the foodstuffs associated with the dietary regimens of Sufi-saints evinces the influence of long periods of economic and natural crises which plagued the Islamic West. The nature and scope of such conditions not only produced a poor peasantry, but among them Sufi-saints who became true connoisseurs of the countryside and experts in distinguishing between edible plants and those unfit for human consumption, prisoners of the law of survival.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies