Crafting Sociability in Female Spiritual Practices: The Case of Boutchichiyyat

  • Sarah Hebbouch


Research on sufism and female spirituality has centered on framing narratives of sufi women within individualized practices, constructing thereby sufi women as mere individual and assisting players in historical accounts of more famous male scholars. In recent years, academic interest has geared towards the investigation of sufi women’s collective and ritualistic performance within structured sufi circles. Henceforth, this paper explores ways in which the gathering of sufi women of Boutchichiyya, a Morocco-based sufi order, in a zawiya mediates not only ritual performances but also promotes the rehearsal of sociability and social relations. The point is made that within a horizon that is viewed as a nexus where the ritualistic performance is what matters in a zawiya, sufi women’s gathering is characterized by a sense of community, and interconnections between spiritual, social capital and socialization. In this pri-blic (private and public) space, namely the zawiya, sufi women of Boutchichiyya enjoy privacy and communal life. Knowing that the zawiya is a segregated space, since men and women disciples perform rituals separately, one might surmise that the spatial division sparks gender inequality. However, this spatial segregation is an ideal of emancipation, which subsumes a spatial segregation of rituals, and constructs a realm of privacy, intimacy, and fervent ambiance women aspire to. This paper builds on findings of a qualitative ethnographic research, in which the researcher assumed a participant-observer role to generate a more focused discussion on whether the gender division of space highlights women’s spirituality or undermines it. More precisely, this paper approaches the interactive relationship, which engages women’s sufi experience with prevalent spatial politics in Moroccan society. In such a space where women come to learn and imbibe spiritual knowledge, social relationships are important assets for women’s spiritual, social, and personal growth.
May 31, 2019
How to Cite
HEBBOUCH, Sarah. Crafting Sociability in Female Spiritual Practices: The Case of Boutchichiyyat. European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 2, p. 121-129, may 2019. ISSN 2414-8385. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 nov. 2019. doi: