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A Muslim saint or holy person in North Africa.

Marabout (Arabic murabit, literally, "the tied one") refers in North Africa to saints or holy persons, living or dead, reputed to serve as intermediaries in securing Allah's blessings (Arabic baraka ) for their clients and supporters. The term also refers to their shrines. In earlier centuries, marabouts "tied" tribes to Islam and mediated disputes. Although marabout remains current in French usage, most North Africans today use the term salih, "the pious one," which does not imply that Allah has intermediaries, a notion at odds with Qurʾanic doctrine. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Muslims have no formal procedures for recognizing saints, although North African Muslims associate specific "pious ones" with particular regions, towns, tribes, and descent groups. Many shrines are the site for local pilgrimages and annual festivals. Jewish communities in Morocco and Israel have similar practices, calling such a holy person tzaddik (or saddiq ).


Eickelman, Dale F. Moroccan Islam: Tradition and Society in a Pilgrimage Center. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976.

Weingrod, Alex. "Saints and Shrines, Politics, and Culture: A Morocco-Israel Comparison." In Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination, edited by Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

dale f. eickelman

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Marabout (Arab., murābiṭ). Name given (especially in N. Africa) to holy Muslims, or to their descendants. The acquisition of holiness may be by any of many different paths—i.e. there is no formal school, nor restricted process of beatification.