These pictures depict the story of my trip to Temacine (Algeria), a small town and oasis facing the Sahara, in the South-East of the country. In January 2018, I spent 10 days with the Tijaniyya Sufi order, which is among the most important orders in the world, especially influential in Maghreb and West Africa.
The founder of the Sufi order, Abu al-ʿAbbās Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tijānī (1735–1815), is considered by his disciples a saint of his time. His legacy is shared by Fès (Morocco), where he is buried, Ain Madhi (Algeria), where he was born, and Temacine, where one of his most important and influential disciples was based.
Shaykh Mohammed al-Aïd Tidjani (previous picture) is the leader of the Sufi order in Temacine, where he recently hosted a winter school focused on Sufism.
The town of Temacine is centred around the Sufi order, which manages the mosque, the quranic school, the mausoleum of the Sufi Tidjani masters, and a library.
In sociological terms, the Tidjaniyya order could be described with the idealtype of the church. In fact, its disciples are present both among the population and the political and economic elites. The order is embedded in the local society, and its religious, social and cultural activities have a meaningful impact on the public sphere.
Shaykh Mohammed al-Aïd Tidjani studied physics at the university in France, then became full professor, but lately left the academic environment. He followed his father’s steps and became the leader of the Sufi order. His heterogeneous route led him to believe that the religious knowledge is woven together with social and natural sciences. For this reason, the library in Temacine hosts many religious texts, but also social essays and science works.