Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies: Middle East Studies

First Advisor

Zayde Antrim

Second Advisor

Blase Provitola


In Moroccan history, Sufis maintained close ties with the makhzan, the sharifian state. Nevertheless, these ties were predicated on a balance of power relations between the two sides. A great deal of existing sources deal primarily with political activism and mystical aspects of the Sufi orders. Yet, researchers have neglected the rather complicated and nuanced connection between religious dimension and political landscapes of the sharifian state. Thus, this tendency has led to potential bias and, at worst, false pictures of the religio-political role of Sufism in interacting with the central sultanate in pre-protectorate-period Morocco.

This thesis proposes a new interpretation of the shifting relationship between Sufism and the Moroccan state in the early twentieth century. More specifically, it explores the Kettaniyya order as tangible evidence of the link between the spiritual guidance of the Sufi cheikh and his ideals of preserving religious legitimacy and ensuring national security between 1908 and 1909. Mohammed Al-Kettani, the leader of the brotherhood, had borne tremendous ire against the Alaouite sultan, Abdel-Hafid, for his failure to maintain order in Morocco. I argue that the effort to ensure the religious legitimacy of the Kettaniyya Sufi order was the main vehicle for Mohammed Al-Kettani’s challenge to the political structures of Abdel-Hafid. The deployment of the baraka power in tandem with his symbolic weight paved the road for the creation of an institutional framework that unified rural allies to counter the Alaouite state. Henceforth, a nuanced and critical analysis of existing studies of the Sufi cheikh facilitates an understanding of a variety of 3 profound and essential facets of the Kettaniyya order between 1908 and 1909.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. Full text is limiited to the campus only.