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3.1.8 - In the City of Tlemcen (590/1193)

Tlemcen is a city in the mountains west of Algeria close to the borders of Maghreb, and it was the capital of the medieval state. We have seen in the previous chapter that one of the uncles of Shaykh Muhyiddin, Yahya Ibn Yughan, was the king of this city before he resorted to asceticism in this world and he abandoned his properties and ruling after the hurtful words he received from ascetic shaykh Abdullah al-Tunisi.

Yaqout al-Hamwi says that some have claimed that Tlemcen is the country where al-Khader, peace be upon him, built the wall mentioned in the Quran in Surat al-Kahf. But we have mentioned above that this is also said about the Algeciras on the Strait of Gibraltar. However, it seems that the story of al-Khader and Prophet Moses has already happened in the Maghreb between Tunisia and Andalusia, so it is not surprising that the Greatest Shaykh meets al-Khader in Tunisia, Maghreb and Andalusia more than once, as we will narrate shortly.

Additionally, Tlemcen was a center of handicrafts as well as a cultural and religious center where Islamic teachings are taught in madrassas. Shaykh Muhyiddin mentioned that he saw in Tlemcen some of the skilled craftsmen who were making some kind of arrows return to the archer automatically after he throws it, so he took an important lesson that the result of any work shall ultimately return back to the person [Futuhat: III.180].

However, we do not know whether Shaykh Muhyiddin, may Allah be pleased with him, passed through Tlemcen on his way to Tunisia or on his way back, but inevitably it was in 590/1193. During this period, this city and the north coast was generally under the rule of Sultan Yaqoub al-Mansour, the Almohads King of Andalusia, and the governor of Tlemcen and Tunisia appointed by Almohads was Abu Zeid Ibn Abu Hafs (581/1185 -595/1199) and then Abu Rabii Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Momin (595/1199-604/1208), and the region prospered in relative security and peace. However, revolutions and coups erupted in this region, where the banu Ghania marched on Tlemcen in 605/1209 and then the Hafsids took control of the city and it was separated from the Almohads in Andalusia.

Shaykh Muhyiddin remained for some time in Tlemcen, where he visited the tombs of some of the Saints in an area outside the city called al-Ubbad, where lies the grave of his uncle Yahya Ibn Yughan and Abu Abdullah al-Tunisi motioned above and in Chapter II [Muhadarat: II.61], and where Shaykh Abu Madyan was also buried, as we mentioned above.

Also in Tlemcen, the Greatest Shaykh met with the poet Abu Yazid Abdul-Rahman al-Fazazi (died 627/1230), and he chanted from his poetry a verse that Shaykh Muhyiddin cited in the Meccan conquests while talking about the types of uncleanness. He says that everyone who alternates between two breathes must eventually be destroyed, as al-Fazazi said: True air and unclean air, the goodness of my state between them is impossible [Futuhat: I.370].