Ali ibn Harzihim
Ali ibn Harzihim
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1163 (559 AH)
Patron Saint of Fes, teacher of Abu Madyan Shu’ayb
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Abu’l-Hasan Ali ibn Isma’il ibn Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Hirzihim (also spelt Harzihim or Harazim or Harazem) (Arabic: علي بن حرزهم) was an eminent gnostic from the school of the great master Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali and a native of Fes, Morocco. He is considered the Patron Saint of Fes. At a young age he studied under his paternal uncle Abu’l Fadl Ibn al-Nahwi (d.1119-20/513), who was devoted to the doctrine of al-Ghazali. Abu’l Fadl had travelled to the East and stayed in Syria and Palestine, where he took from Imam al-Ghazali.
Later, Sidi Ali Hirzihim taught the Ghazalian way in a zawiya in Fes. Among his students was the young, brilliant intellectual Abu Madyan Shu’ayb who had travelled to Morocco in search of teachers. Abu Madyan later became a great spiritual master himself and attained the spiritual rank of Ghawth.
During the Almoravid inquisition, the dynasty, who were opposed to Sufism and philosophy, concluded that the work of Imam al-Ghazali was a source of misguidance for Muslims and resolved to burn all copies of his famous book, the Ihya (Revival of the Religious Sciences) in the West. Under pressure from authorities, Sidi Ali Hirzihim agreed to burn the copy of the book he was keeping in his house. After falling asleep, in a dream, he was subjected to punishment at the behest of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for his intention of burning the book, the effects of which he could still feel after waking up.
Sidi Ali, who taught at the Qarawiyin University of Fes started to openly criticise the policies of the Almoravid dynasty which led to his imprisonment. The famous and influential living saint Sidi Abu Yaza, intervened to save him. After the passing of a famous scholar and gnostic in Marrakesh, Sidi Abu Hakam ibn Barrajan, the authorities ordered his body to be thrown onto the town dung heap. Sidi Ali Hirzihim protested against this decree and led the burial ceremony of the saint, inviting all the townspeople to participate in the funeral.
Sidi Ali Harzihim is said to have received the khirqa of Mohiyuddin Ibn al-Arabi before Ibn al-Arabi’s death in 1148. He passed away in 1163 (559 AH) and is buried at the south-eastern gate of the Bab al-Futuh Cemetery in Fes.