Transcript of the second part of the interview by Dr. Azzam at-Tamimi
with Imam Abdessalam Yassine, in Rabat, Morocco
Broadcasted by Al-Hiwar Channel on Monday June 30, 2008.
Translated by: Amina Chibani
February 08, 2013
Al-Hiwar TV: Sheikh Abdessalam Yassine, in our last episode we reached the point about your passion for music, and I remembered that back in high school I was passionate about it too. I was active inside the Islamic association and the music association and I played piano. You used to play the violin?
Imam Yassine: Yes I used to play violin. I didn’t have a piano at home, but for a certain period of time I borrowed one from one of my friends and played it…tried to anyway.
Al-Hiwar TV: Speaking of this period of time when you moved to Casablanca and were an education inspector, I understood from the last episode that some instructors who weren’t familiar with the notion of integrity were inciting people to revolt against you.
Imam Yassine: Not only that, they were threatening…
Al-Hiwar TV: Threatening to murder you!
Imam Yassine: “You hungry wolf, we’ll kill you…”
Al-Hiwar TV: Was this the same period of time when independence… the independence of Morocco was achieved? Or was it before?
Imam Yassine: It was before.
Al-Hiwar TV: It was when King Mohammed V was exiled, and then brought back and then independence was obtained in the year 1956. And you were still working in Casablanca at the time?
Imam Yassine: Yes.
Al-Hiwar TV: And you still had not taken interest in politics?
Imam Yassine I was present at the great popular celebration that took place on that occasion. The streets of Casablanca were packed with people who were dancing and singing and cheering and shouting “The king is back!” And as you know King Mohammed V, may God bless his soul, was a popular man, and from what the people close to him say, he was a man who observed prayer, and this is a sign of righteousness and goodness. He used to pray; he was a believing man, as to the others we do not know. Only God knows.
Al-Hiwar TV: God is most knowledgeable about their affairs. And until that time you had no penchant for politics yet.
Imam Yassine: None whatsoever! Categorically…
Al-Hiwar TV: And then after a while you talk about this spiritual awakening …
Imam Yassine: Yes an awakening of the heart.
Al-Hiwar TV: How did it come about? Something specific happened for instance?
Imam Yassine: As a matter of fact, yes. Something happened. I used to read about anything that is in any way related to the purification and the revival of the heart. So I read a lot and a lot of books by Muslims, Sufis, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. I used to pay frequent visits to a library in Casablanca that contained many books, and I was curious to know what people had to say about the love of God and drawing close to Him and the illusory nature of this earthly life–this is something that Muslims and non-Muslims all agree upon. This was my concern. My concern was to research this. So I read a great amount of Sufi books until I stumbled upon a little booklet by a great Sufi Master. I cannot recall the title now, but it said in it that I was wasting my life away and that I needed to find a sheikh. It was said in it that if I do not find myself someone to show me the path to God, I could be as righteous, pious, and truly observant of religious commands as I can possibly be, but I would still be one of those who work for a reward in the hereafter. But if nearness to God the Exalted is what one is seeking then one must look for someone to show them the path to God.
Al-Hiwar TV: This was written in the booklet?
Imam Yassine: Yes, it said to look for someone to show you how to get to God.
Al-Hiwar TV: And the quest began!
Imam Yassine: What was I to look for?! No I just set out the intention. On that day I intended and decided and was absolutely positive that I would move about looking for that man no matter where he could be in the world. Be it India or Indonesia or Malawi…wherever! And I lived a fierce tension, a strong yearning for God and desperation within myself. Life had no meaning if I cannot find my way to God. This Sufi streak-call it Sufi if you like- is what is lacking in most of today’s preachers. Silly them for forgoing this! Why is that? Because there came those people with a certain kind of garments and a certain kind of attitude and a certain kind of dollars and a certain kind of books and a certain kind of historical background and said-when they were most tactful- that Sufis are misguided innovators, or plain apostates. And I remember when I was in Marrakech a young man presented himself to me who had attended meetings where Sufis were befouled and slurred, he came up to me and said in all honesty, or shall I say in all rascality…he said: “You are an infidel!” I said “Why are you calling me this?”
Al-Hiwar TV: He treated you like that?
Imam Yassine: Yes a young man, I know his name and I believe he is still alive. He said I was an unbeliever, undoubtedly because he had been to gatherings where Sufis were called infidels. So I told him: “Then bear witness to this: ‘I testify that there is no God except God and that Muhammad is His messenger,’ do you hear that?” He said “yes.” I said, “Then testify that I am a Muslim”. And that is how it ended. So I was burning…I was vehemently longing to know the truth, to know God and draw near to Him and purify my heart.
Al-Hiwar TV: And you found your sheikh?
Imam Yassine: I am coming to it, it was an amazing encounter. So I went out looking for that booklet–I wanted a copy of it. And the call for Asr [afternoon] prayer sounded while I was passing by a mosque called As-Souq [the Marketplace] so I said to myself, let me pray first and then resume my search in libraries. I went in and prayed in congregation, praise be to God, then I sat down for some post-prayer remembrance. And by the way, at the time I was continuously reciting the Quran and doing a lot of remembrance of God with great longing and an overflowing heart. And before starting the prayer, I had reached a certain part in my reading of Quran, so I figured why not sit down with people and recite along with them the Hizb, which is a good practice here in Morocco. Some argue that reciting the Quran all together in unison is forbidden, and this is not true. Reciting the Quran in unison is forbidden when voices are out of sync, as was reported in the prophetic tradition. He, Prophet Muhammad, God send prayers and peace upon him, forbade it when voices were not synchronized but there is no harm in doing it when harmony prevails. And this is a particularity of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Why? Because they have a stop in the Quran that they call the “Imam Habti’s stop.” He was a Muslim scholar who lived centuries ago, 300 years or more. This is a man who came to the Quran and said that while reciting we should stop at this verse and this verse. And people in their copies of the Quran had in the given places the transliteration in Arabic of the word “stop” (sah) [illustrating this obligation to halt the reading].
Al-Hiwar TV: “Sahin”
Imam Yassine: Yes “sahin” meaning stop completely and “sah” meaning take a short break. So that is what we do, we recite the Quran together and this is peculiar to us Moroccans.
Al-Hiwar TV: At the end of each prayer?
Imam Yassine: No twice, after the dawn and the sunset prayers. And also in Ramadan after the afternoon prayer. And I believe that day we were fasting, it was Ramadan.
Al-Hiwar TV: So you recited along with the people.
Imam Yassine: Yes I did. And there was this verse I had stopped at in my personal reading and I thought I’d look for it and …so I sat down reading from a copy of the Holy book until suddenly there came a young man, handsome, clean-cut, wearing a European suit and a goatee. He sat at the pulpit and started preaching to people. So I thought, let’s hear him out! So he spoke on and on until he reached the fatidic subject. Praise be to God the Exalted for what he does to some of his slaves. He said: “If you are yearning for closeness to God, and for knowing the road to God, then a sheikh is indispensible for you.” So I said to myself, “you who were ready to travel the world looking for that man, there he is!” And in my previous desperation with myself–I had a friend who ran a school up in the mountains -he is still alive, Sidi Ali–I had sent him a letter telling him that I wanted to retreat to a mountain where there was no company, only a well and sustenance that he would bring me once in a while. I was really resolute. So I thought to myself, I was ready to travel to India or Indonesia, maybe this young man has the answer. So he finished his sermon and departed. I followed him with another young man. I told him: “Let’s chat a little bit. You claim that there is an ascetic man who knows God here in Morocco.” He said, “yes right here.” I said, “guide me to him.” He said, “you are welcome but in the meanwhile…” I believe it is worthwhile to talk about my encounter with the Sheikh, may God bless his soul, is it not?
Al-Hiwar TV: Sure, absolutely.
Imam Yassine: Because the Islamic movements, the callers to God need this very much. Whether they are aware of this lack or not is the question. Arabs have a saying the meaning of which is “Woe unto the one with an empty throat from the one who has fishbone stuck in his.” So the one with a sound throat would say: what’s with this guy telling me I need a sheikh to educate me and need to strengthen my faith, I am perfectly fine… I read the books of Bukhari and Muslim and memorized the Quran before that, so I don’t need any of that. And my Sheikh Al Mokhtar Soussi said about that in one of his books: “This is a matter that some people’s crops are too narrow to fit in.” It is something that they simply cannot accept: the notion of a sheikh, an educator, ritual remembrance of God, a road to God… the sheikh compared them (the narrow-minded people) to birds who have filled their crops with seeds and have no room in them for anything else). So [going back to the Arab maxim] woe unto the one with a sound throat from the one with fishbone in his throat: if people don’t have the desire to draw nearer to God and learn, it is really a futile enterprise to speak to them about such matters that they can’t comprehend. But I am recounting what happened to me…
Al-Hiwar TV: So you went with him?
Imam Yassine: Yes, he told me until an opportunity to visit the Sheikh presents itself why don’t you come along with us. We are a community of fuqarah [indigents]–that is how they called themselves–that gather to remember God and discuss among ourselves. So I attended their gathering in the city of Sala, going back and forth. And I owned, back then, a Mercedes that befitted an education inspector but which I never used for going to those gatherings… Why, because I was attending a remembrance circle and steps taken to such events and to mosques are full of blessings. So I walked there in the summer and in the winter, in cold and hot weather, on foot. And we got together to remember God… until an opportunity came. How? Our brothers in Algeria had taken their independence after that praiseworthy and great struggle the Algerian people put up; they achieved independence and wished to establish a school for education inspectors.
Al-Hiwar TV: Over there, in Algeria?
Imam Yassine: Yes, and at that time I was at the helm of the school of inspectors. I had climbed the educational echelons until I became the head of the school for training inspectors. So they asked Morocco to send them an expert… here I was… an expert! An expert in teaching inspectors… They told me I should go to Algeria. My superior called me in. He was Moroccan “Meshrafi,” may God have mercy on his soul, and in his later years, just a few years ago, he praised me and said good things about me even though he and I had been in perpetual conflict since the instructors griped to him about me and he summoned me to admonish me for being too tough on them. So the Algerians needed a specialist, who? Abdessalam. “So Abdessalam, do you want to go?” Yes. And that was an opportunity to encounter Hassan II, may God have mercy on his soul, to bid me farewell…
Al-Hiwar TV: The king?!
Imam Yassine: Yes, they had given that a great importance…I guess!
Al-Hiwar TV: So the king asked to see you for a send off?
Imam Yassine: Well not really, kings do not greet commoners, maybe he just needed to give me instructions and advice, for there was a diplomatic relationship between the two countries…I believe. So I took off. I took an airplane for the first time, flew, and landed in Algeria. In the city of Wahran, it is the closest to the borders between the two countries. I cannot remember how I got to the capital…by car probably. I stayed there for two whole weeks with a group of good Algerian people whom they were training to become education inspectors. And I thank God for the time I spent with them. The two weeks went by and departure time came, so I asked the person in charge of the trip if I could land in Oujda. It was the closest town to where my Sheikh Al Abbas lived…he was a Man and what a Man he was! A real MAN, not in the common sense but in a sense of the nearness to God and sincere repentance and purity and education of people… They said the closest we can make is Wahran, so I disembarked there and said I wanted to go to Oujda. Taxis outside the airport shouted Oujda, Oujda, so I took one and headed there. I only knew one name there and it was a man, a headmaster of a school– he must have passed away by now may God have mercy on his soul– I can’t recall his name. I got off in Oujda and started asking for the school he was running, as he was one of the disciples of Sidi Al Abbas, may God have mercy on his soul… Someone told me to jump in and drove me to him; this was made easy for me. – Salamu Alaikum. – Who are you sir? – I’m Abdessalam Yassine. And he confessed to me later when we became companions in the Zawya of our Sheikh, may God have mercy on his soul, that he was greatly perturbed that day—‘why are they sending me a man from the ministry of education?’ I was then working there as well and was gradually trying to distance myself from it. ‘Why are they sending me this guy to inspect me, what did I do wrong?!’
Al-Hiwar TV: He thought you were an official envoy.
Imam Yassine: I told him “take it easy, I came to ask you about Sheikh Al Abbas.”
Al-Hiwar TV: And you had never seen the Sheikh before that?
Imam Yassine: No, no, this was the first chance I had gotten to see him. The man said: “Praise be to God, the Sheikh is meant to spend this night here with us in Oujda” –consider how easy God has made this. So long story short, he took me to a circle of remembrance that the Sheikh attended. And I saw him for the first time. I saw the face of a poor indigent man with no sign of pomp or arrogance, a pauper among paupers, extremely humble. So I stayed with him three nights. I spent them along with him at his son in law Mustapha’s [home], he must be dead now, God have mercy on his soul. So during the three nights I spent with him I got to know him closely. We slept there for the night and in the evening we attended the remembrance gatherings. After this meeting with him I went back home totally transformed, in another world. I remember driving the Mercedes absent-mindedly…
Al-Hiwar TV: Flying high in the skies…
Imam Yassine: The skies, yes, and I thank God for that.
Al-Hiwar TV: And you realized then the importance of what you had read and what the young man preached in the mosque– that you needed a sheikh to take you to God.
Imam Yassine: Yes, I realized that and this is what all true Sufis, the ones among them on the Sunnah say in their books and their schools. This is a self-evident truth.
Al-Hiwar TV: The Sheikh was following which tariqa, the Tijani method?
Imam Yassine: He was a Kadiri from the offspring of Imam Abdelkader Al Jilani, and his father was called Al Mokhtar Buchish.
Al-Hiwar TV: And the Buchishi tariqa owes its name to him.
Imam Yassine: The meaning of Buchish… he was a humble man and an ascetic and Sidi Ali Buchish, the grandfather of Al Abbas, his father was a mujahid; he fought against the French when they tried to invade Morocco and they threw him in jail and tortured him.
Al-Hiwar TV: … Who else stood up to colonialism everywhere in the Muslim world in the 19th century except Sufis; they were the bearers of the banner of jihad in Sudan and Libya and Algeria and India and everywhere else.
Imam Yassine: Let alone what they did with the Sanussi, what they did in Africa and Morocco, but this is another page. So after I met Sheikh Al Abbas I returned home totally changed. I intended to join remembrance circles in Sala but only after I had drunk from the source.
Al-Hiwar TV: And how long did you stay with him?
Imam Yassine: Three days and nights we slept at his son in law’s, and by the time of the afternoon prayer we headed for a man who owned a shop selling copperware, his name was Ibn Ashur, he must be dead now, so we stayed together in a corner there and had conversations, so I had a full and proper encounter with my Sheikh.
Al-Hiwar TV: Allow me to have a brief recess and then resume.
Al-Hiwar TV: From what I read, after Sheikh Al Abbas passed away, you started noticing a change, you started noticing practices that were not very much to your liking. Is that true?
Imam Yassine: That is true, but first I owe these people, I owe them for taking me in when I was an aimless drifter in the desert of heedlessness of God Exalted is He. So I love them and I love Sheikh Sidi Al Abbas and I love his son Sidi Hamza. I had very close ties with Sidi Hamza, may God have mercy on him and grant him a long life. And I was very close to him; I remember he had a son in another town and I remember going together to have dinner at his son’s. We were intimate and spent much time together. So I love that man.
Al-Hiwar TV: What was it that you reproached them then?
Imam Yassine: I noticed that the fukarah would often surrender to a haal [trance], I call it trance. When the remembrance of God reaches a certain momentous peak, they would stand up and dance, they call it Sufi dancing. It is a trance. And this would physically drain them so much so that when it was time for dawn prayer they would all have surrendered to sleep from exhaustion.
Al-Hiwar TV: They wouldn’t get up to pray.
Imam Yassine: They wouldn’t! So I would urge them, “it’s prayer time!”… That’s how I earned the nickname ‘Abdessalam the Shariah,’ simply because I was reminding them of the most basic injunction of the Islamic law. But they were “seekers of the Truth” so … “enough with prayer, prayer” [they would complain] and this is the manifestation of the invasion of the thinking of the secular people…
Al-Hiwar TV: This is what some would reproach to those who value what they call Truth (haqiqa) over Shariah (sacred law). Shariah is at the heart of this faith, how could they pretend to discard it?
Imam Yassine: That is just falsehood, the truth is shariah, the rest: “What Allah out of his Mercy doth bestow on mankind there is none can withhold” (35:2). God does grant some people a privileged access to the knowledge of the afterlife, it is one thing, but whoever abandons the shariah has drifted away from the right path and is lost and done. That is why I was a persona non-grata. That’s one reason, the other reason is that fatal blow that finishes off people … their inclination toward the ruler, the courtiers, and whoever has whiff of the ruler’s power in him…
Al-Hiwar TV: They took sides with the ruler…
Imam Yassine: They were people with good intentions, but they used to invite to parties that were supposed to be for the indigents and the disfranchised, they used to ask the elite over, the elite meaning the local rulers, and this made me very indignant. So those were the two factors, this and the “prayer, prayer.”
Al-Hiwar TV: What did you do afterwards– you took your own independent way? Followed another method?
Imam Yassine: This comes hand in hand with the Islam or the Deluge missive.
Al-Hiwar TV: What’s its story?
Imam Yassine: The story is, I had made up my mind to say a word of truth to a despotic ruler [in order] to join the ranks of those to whom God has promised the highest stations with him. They were with the despot, or with his acolytes, let’s not say acolytes but they were with the people in power. And I was meaning to tell these latter the truth about themselves in order to be with the best of creation –God willing– so I was anxious that harm might befall them [the zawya people] as a result of my action. So I wrote a letter to Sheikh Sidi Hamza, and I do consider him a brother and a friend and a beloved one… I forgot the actual content– and maybe it is forgotten or lost now, but it was never lost from my memory– I said in the letter something to the effect of: “I have been one of you, May God bestow his favor on you, but I am afraid that you would be harmed on my account, so farewell! And God’s mercy and peace be upon you.”
Al-Hiwar TV: So because you were planning this next step you wanted to dissociate from them.
Imam Yassine: Exactly. So I buckled down to writing the Islam or the Deluge missive, and I give total credit for that to, after God, to my friends Sidi Mohamed Al Alawi and Sidi Ahmed Al Melakh– they are sick now and I ask God to grant them a speedy recovery…
Al-Hiwar TV: Amen.
Imam Yassine: … and reward. So I started writing it in a span of days and days, not like the rest of my books which I would write in one single stroke. I wrote that one over a period of time in a notebook…
Al-Hiwar TV: Over different phases.
Imam Yassine: Yes I would write and gradually give it to Al Melakh. He went to Casablanca and bought a printing machine, very archaic…
Al-Hiwar TV: A typewriter?
Imam Yassine: Not at all. The big old printing press on which you align the stamps of letters in a tray…
Al-Hiwar TV: A printing press in due terms…?
Imam Yassine: No, no, only a small, very small one … and Al Melakh used to do this arduous work, meaning if you want to type “say” you would need to look for the stamp of the letter S, there is it, then the A then the Y and that’s how he had learnt. He had never before done such thing and this took him a great amount of time, May God give him the best of rewards. So his job was to place the stamps and Sidi Al Alawi to press them …
Al-Hiwar TV: And this is a letter addressed to the king?
Imam Yassine: Yes, to the king.
Al-Hiwar TV: You were telling him, in short, it is either “Islam or the deluge.”
Imam Yassine: Pretty much so! But I addressed him in a beautiful way. God says “Go both of you to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)” (20 : 43/44). This is even more relevant when dealing with a Muslim who holds that he is a descendant of the Prophet, God send prayers and peace upon him …
Al-Hiwar TV: and the commander of the believers.
Imam Yassine: And the commander of the believers. So I started the letter with, “O beloved Grandson of the Prophet. I invite you to have a genuine repentance like the one of Umar Ibn Abdel-Aziz and do what he did…”
Al-Hiwar TV: But you were thrown in jail for that: you weren’t rewarded! Was it first sent to the king or published?
Imam Yassine: We finished it and made many copies… we had planned all of that. Al Alawi and Al Melakh took several copies with them in their car and headed for Casablanca and Settat and other towns and sent through the local post offices copies to people whose addresses we had from the phone book. Such and such a doctor, such and such an instructor, such and such a professor and so on; we selected intellectuals and cultivated people. They sent copies from different towns so that people would not believe that it is an organized and premeditated thing.
Al-Hiwar TV: Which it was!
Imam Yassine: Yes, once they finished they came back and I sent a copy to the king through the town’s governor.
Al-Hiwar TV: You gave it to the governor in person.
Imam Yassine: No, no, by mail. I told him this is a copy that should reach the king.
Al-Hiwar TV: Why was the king angered? What is upsetting about the letter?
Imam Yassine: Well, who on earth ever dares to contest anything about the king, whosoever dares to address him even? This is one of the great calamities that has befallen this Ummah since the Umayyad’s forceful seizure of power, since the sanctity of Islam was violated by turning the rule from a rule based on the method of the Prophet [al-minhaj an-nabawi] into a despotic rule [al-mulk al-aad] then a coercive monarchy [al-mulk al-jabri]. Then I waited– the following is a small event but which does nonetheless hold great significance– I had a friend who was my neighbor in Marrakech, in a neighborhood called Dawdiyat. I told him “here are some copies,” and asked him to help us disseminate the message. He said “no, please, just spare me, I can absolutely not be involved in this.” Therefore, the message was out there, and I was waiting… some proclaim that I had worn my shroud and this is somewhat exaggerated; I had in fact packed my suitcase and was waiting, and the same day at 10:00 pm an ambulance showed at the door with a group of people disguised as nurses…
Al-Hiwar TV: Oh, they weren’t paramedics– they were police officers.
Imam Yassine: Yes, but they came in an ambulance… they said “come out.” I came out and got into the van. They took me to the hospital for pulmonary diseases; they had most likely calculated that this way they will get rid of me. They put me in a room packed with tuberculosis patients to make sure I catch the disease.
Al-Hiwar TV: They admitted you to a hospital, and you weren’t suffering from anything.
Imam Yassine: Yes, suffering only from what I had written, and later I was even made out to be mentally disturbed.
Al-Hiwar TV: They wanted you to catch the disease.
Imam Yassine: That is what I think. I don’t know for sure, but it is very likely.
Al-Hiwar TV: Amazing!
Imam Yassine: The room was repelling, foul, so dirty. After three days I couldn’t take it anymore so I told the person in charge that I was going to escape through the window from the unbearable condition. So they notified the manager and they decided to relocate me and took me to a decent room.
Al-Hiwar TV: In the same hospital?
Imam Yassine: Yes in the same hospital, only to a separate section, a guest room if you will. When there were visiting doctors from abroad they would place them there. It was relatively comfortable and a long shot from where I was before, luxurious even in comparison.
Al-Hiwar TV: And you stayed there for long?
Imam Yassine: No, a police superintendant came to me, high ranking, I can still remember his name– Al Manjra, we were in a room, three of us sitting on chairs, and he said ”the king would like to meet you and talk to you.” Look how ideas unfold in the rulers’ heads. I told him unpremeditated words that I hadn’t planned to say. They just came out. I told him if the king wants to see me he should send me a wise man. Meaning that you officer are not a wise man and I needed someone wise to deal with. You will hear the news about this wise man shortly… so I stayed in that room for a while and a multitude of guards alternated in watching me, white and black people, Arabs and Berbers… some of them were decent righteous people; others were drunkards who reeked of alcohol, may God grant Muslims forgiveness. I stayed there for a long time until one night someone came to me and told me that I was being transferred– that was the answer to my wise man request, which indicated that I was insane to think that I could impose my will and have a wise man to converse with….they transferred me to a mental health institute directly.
Al-Hiwar TV: Because you asked for a sane person to talk to.
Imam Yassine: This is a logical sequence… an insane asylum. They took me there and put me in a kind of spacious and abandoned place like the barracks of WWII. I had a space in there with a basic bunk, a faucet, guards alternating on my surveillance. If I wanted to take a shower I was obliged to ask for the permission of the director who was the general supervisor, a very rude man, may God forgive him. He treated me harshly. They would empty a small room for me to shower in, deplorable arrangement meant for crazy people.
Al-Hiwar TV: And there were mentally impaired people with you?
Imam Yassine: Plenty of them. And I saw them once a week… every time I had to take a shower I had to pass by them, and I witnessed scenes that would send chills down your spine.
Al-Hiwar TV: There’s neither might nor power except by the will of God!
Imam Yassine: They were repulsive, neglected, living in a cold environment…those days are gone now… I was there for three years.
Al-Hiwar TV: In a mental institution for three years?
Imam Yassine: No, sorry three and a half in total.
Al-Hiwar TV: So two years in an asylum and one and a half in a hospital.
Imam Yassine: Yes.
Al-Hiwar TV: So this was considered an imprisonment, a taking into custody?
Imam Yassine: If you will.
Al-Hiwar TV: But why, if the king convened you to talk to you why didn’t you go?
Imam Yassine: Because I knew that as a rule when you meet the king, you have to kiss his hand and feet and shoulders, and not only that, you have to bow down and prostrate yourself. And I was not ready to do that. You may have never seen on Moroccan TV how people literally pray to the king. There is a particular “prayer” during official ceremonies where people bow down 6 times– a six-unit-prayer– they chant “ May God bless my master…” they are all dressed in white garments and are all elite people– governors, delegates, military officials, they are all in white Makhzenian official uniforms.
Al-Hiwar TV: As if they were in a sanctuary.
Imam Yassine: Surely.
Al-Hiwar TV: This letter was widely spread and people were eager to read it.
Imam Yassine: Some did, others sent it back to me in the mail.
Al-Hiwar TV: They didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
Imam Yassine: Many copies went directly into the hands of the authorities. After this whole episode passed and I was out of jail, I went to a police station and asked them to give me back whatever copies they had of my letter. One of them took me to a place where they kept many copies that were returned but they wouldn’t let me have them. And these original copies hold great historic value.
Al-Hiwar TV: None have remained?
Imam Yassine: The people who received and kept a copy might still have it.
Al-Hiwar TV: Because it should be exhibited in a museum, it has indeed great historic value.
Imam Yassine: Even though the printing was quite lousy.
Al-Hiwar TV: This copy [you have in front of you] was recently printed.
Imam Yassine: Yes it was recently printed and two brothers have written a foreword for it.
Al-Hiwar TV: And to print this one you needed an authorization?
Imam Yassine: No, this was printed by a regular publisher… well, our books have to always be clandestinely printed. Sometimes the authorities would look the other way; sometimes they would get in the way. Maybe you could read this call to action I ended the letter with, which is meant for the wider public. Would you like to read it?
Al-Hiwar TV: Absolutely, but the time of this episode is up, we are going to start the next one with a reading of this call to action.