Susiya families: The Boudmaia family of Tiznit…guardians of “Ilig” and the descendants of the Semlali emirate
Souss-Massa is famous for the names of major families and clans: religious families or “Ikramen,” scientific families, “guardians of tradition,” families with economic or political influence…and among these families are those who combine science, trade, and politics, or between economic influence, politics, and noble lineage.
The Simlali family, at a historical stage, combined knowledge, power, and commercial influence. Abu Hassoun al-Samlali, the grandson of Sidi Ahmed Omoussa, founded the city of Illigh as his capital. It turned into an economic pole that played a commercial role between Europe and Timbuktu, and after the decline of the star of the Simlali emirate after its fall at the hands of Moulay al-Rashid al-Alawi. After decades, Dar Iligh was transformed into a memory museum, guarded by Imam Boudamaia, a descendant of the Simlali, and his daughter Aisha, who loved history and politics.
The Boudmaia family… is not an ordinary Sussian family. It has been mentioned in books and asked by historians and sociologists, including Al-Mukhtar Al-Sussi and Paul Bascon. Not far from Tiznit, about 50 km, sits Dar Illigh, and its famous kasbah, which contains an ancient history of the Boudmaia family. The place emanates the scent of history, as the head of the family, Professor Moulay Imam Boudmaia, is a descendant of the Simlali who founded an emirate in a historical period, and it witnessed a renaissance that reached Europe and sub-Saharan Africa in the commercial, scientific and religious fields.
Boudmaia’s historical legacy belongs to Professor Imam Boudmaia, a graduate of Al-Qarawiyyin University in Fez and ancient schools in Taroudant and Marrakesh. “He who has no past has no present and no future”… a saying that Mr. Abu Damaia, a researcher in history, clings to. He worked with his daughter Aisha to protect the family’s ancient history, they knew Dar Illigh, its treasures and its historical heritage, and they established a heritage center in Kasbah Illig. It includes thousands of documents and dated skins of Moroccan historical heritage, and is considered a witness to the coexistence between Jews and Muslims and demographic mixing.
Imam Abu Damaia, the professor and father, refused to move for any reason from a land that tells the story of his ancestors… It was a coincidence that he met Paul Bascon, the well-known sociologist, while he was in Marrakesh to study, and after Bascon heard about the Kasbah and the history of the Semlalis, his love of knowledge prompted him to accompany the descendant. The Samlalians went to Ilig’s house, and were amazed at the wealth that Abu Damaia kept about his family’s history, so he advised him to create a museum. In fact, the descendant of the Simlali, who was educated and familiar with the stages of Jewish and Muslim families and the demographic mix between them, took the advice of his friend, and began in the eighties to restore the material heritage of the “Casbah” with his own money, and to organize manuscripts, writings, and correspondence… and the result was a museum containing a historical treasure, more than 5,500. Manuscripts, including 3,500 authors, were ready to be launched in 1997
Imam Abu Damaia and his daughter Aisha, who live among us in Souss, their love for heritage and history did not come in vain, but rather it is a commitment and a historical responsibility that they imposed on their shoulders, the roots of their soil that exudes the fragrance of history and Budamaia. The grandfather is Ali bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ahmed bin Musa, known as Abu Hassoun Al-Samlali. He died in the year 1070 AH, 1659 AD, the prince of the country of Souss, the leader of the Samlaliyya emirate, and the sheikh of Zawiyah Ilig. He was called in Christian historical sources “Murabit of Souss,” “Sheikh of Massa,” and “Murabit al-Sah.” The Susian tribes gathered around him and established Ilig as the capital of his state.
After the fall of the Saadians, Abu Hassoun al-Samlali took control of the country of Souss, and he is considered one of the most prominent Zawiya owners who assumed power in the Far Maghreb during the transitional period between the Saadian state and the Alawite state.
The Boudmaia family succeeded in preserving the history of their ancestors, through the Kasbah, which contains all the information related to each period of the rule of the Semlalia Emirate, the “forgotten capital” in the words of some, which played important roles since the 16th century. Professor Boudmaia kept the keys to the Kasbah, which stores a material heritage. After taking up the torch with the help of his daughter Aisha, the researcher and president of the Dar Eligh Foundation…
Aisha, the educated person who holds a master’s degree in tourism and communication, did not deviate from the path of her ancestors. She is pursuing her doctoral studies in tangible and intangible heritage. She carried the torch of defending the continuity of the Kasbah of Dar Illigh. She is an example of an educated, political Amazigh woman who loves her origin and the history of her ancestors, and fights for Its history remains a witness to an important historical era in the history of Morocco, as it constitutes a break between the past and the present, between the history of the Emirates, including the Samlali Emirate and the establishment of the honorable Alawite state.
Aisha, who loved history, also loved Molière’s literature, and moved on to study rural sociology and development to obtain her bachelor’s degree. She is a member of the Annalind Organization for Dialogue of Civilizations…and of course she entered politics after her involvement in the National Party of Independents, and became a member of the Souss-Massa region.
As for the father, the grandson of Abu Hassoun, Imam Boudmaia, he is known for his generosity, creativity, and love for doing good. He is one of the notables of Tazroualt and one of the honorable Semlali of Dar Illig, the grandchildren of the good saint, Sidi Ahmed Omoussa Semlali. He helps students, researchers and professors in their research, and provides them with references and documents on the history of… The region and the history of the Simlali or the Budamaiyya, who combined power with commercial and scientific influence, such as Abu Hassoun al-Samlali, the grandson of Sidi Ahmed Omoussa al-Samlali… During the reign of the Simlali Emirate, commercial caravans succeeded in reaching the Netherlands, France, England, and sub-Saharan Africa such as Guinea Bissau, Sudan, and Ivory Coast.
Imam Boudmaia kept the keys of the Kasbah in the museum, and each key “opens” a door on a stage of history, so much so that it was called by the personalities who visit the museum “the holder of the keys to the memory of the Simlalien”… and each key opens a box containing valuable old books, correspondence, manuscripts, Jaluda…, while his brother Abu Damaia Al-Bukhari, a research professor, also has an important library of manuscripts in Inezgane… a family heirloom that is originally the treasure of an ancient family.