Token of Recognition, in homage to Cadi Si Mohamed Benfettacha El-Messaadi

Social IssuesCulture

  • Author Mebrouk Benfettacha
  • Published October 25, 2023
  • Word count 1,163

Today marks 132 years since the day he died in September 1891. People still remember that a majestic procession paraded in front led by eighty “Talebs” at their head, and hundreds of rows of crowds performed prayer over his body in the cemetery western the city of millennium Messaad.

It was he who described himself, and his manuscripts today bear witness to this when he said: "Al-Messadi, home and native..." in 1861, and the people, the understanding and the connoisseurs of history have always attributed his lineage to Messaad, whom he used to raise by calling him (Mossaad) with a capital "O", this embrace and this connection forced his judge to write: "The holder is the judge Sidi Mohamed ben Al-Fattacha, President of the Council of Laghouat Al-Messaadi", in one of his property deeds on a blessed day of the month of Shawwal in 1867.

Imams in Laghouat, a city about 70 km west of messaad, used to pray for Judge Si Mohamed Benfettacha every Friday each time one of them ascends the pulpit of “Al-Safah” mosque. The judge's keenness to contribute in building that edifice of worship highlight not only his strong role in defending the values of his religion, but also his courage to preserve the beliefs of his community and encourage their practice. Thus the name of this judge echoed his mention and his reputation transcended once-called Beyond-Tell zone. Great deeds were not strange for a man descended from an honorable family of great origin and descendant of ancestors famous for their remarkable achievements, born at the end of the 18th century in the historic metropole of Messaad 300km southern Algiers. A city which his fathers had the honor of founding and establishing its very first foundation and stone walls, those parents who adhered to the behavior of the righteous were among the best religious scholars and teachers of the Holy Quran in the region, and Al-Mahdara in the ancient district of Al-Rahba, was for some time one of the witnesses and centers of scientific influence in Messaad.

Without slander or false propaganda, Si Mohamed remains one among the few immortalized figures in history with evidence of their deeds and not of what was done out of grandstanding, circumstantialism or self-interest. So is it related to human life, or should we talk about a heritage that is not ancient, but certainly alive. Who here dares to report... Like this Messaadi, like his achievement:

  • The founder and founding member of the first council of ksar Messaad Palace (a document by his hand about the meeting of village council on the study of the issue of the waterwheel (al-Sakia) and its management in 1847 AD).

  • The Mufti and the first judge,

  • Editor of the first administrative document in Messaad (1828).

And if Mohamed had imposed himself by his knowledge and diligence despite some practices and provocations that often hindered his work and initiatives, some of which he overcame with pride but received others with indifference. The young child, Mohamed, embodied many qualities of virility and genius, as evidenced by his surroundings, where the famous Imam of Djelfa Si Bakria said that his early maturity and willingness to join the study; it was hence another value he had inherited from his ancestors. The professor of the University of Djelfa, the researcher Messaoud ben Salem, defined him in one of his articles with these words: "... he studied at the Zaouia Ottmania-Rahmania and was famous for his practices as Cadi in the system judiciary during the Ottoman era, then under the mandate of Emir Abdelkader, and he was one of those who received the Emir Abdelkader during the first Oulad Nail oath of allegiance in 1837… "

The scholar and jurist Si Mohammed, was the author of more than fifteen books on jurisprudence, grammar and also cases on judicial laws and rulings, among these we find "Responses in the justice system" in 1873 AD, and he also left poems for various purposes. He was the most famous transcriber of the book "Mukhtasar al-Sheikh Khalil" in 1869, and many books such as "The Tree of the Prophet" on the lineage of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in 1868, and others.

He was not only hostage to noble human principles, but free and independent in his active work. At each sunrise, the light reveals this illustrious man's grandiose deeds. Indeed in that area eastern Laghouat, a virtuous old man whose forefather was a horseman in the time of the Cadi would rise and remind people about the issue of Naili horses and the judge's showdown with the French general. That judge who refused to tolerate the arrogance of the occupying general in forcing some natives of to send their horses to participate in the conquest of one of the neighboring regions, he just bothered himself to fold the paper that was sent to him to reply to the occupier with a refusal only on the corner of one side: “Because of drought and lack of fodder and care, their horses are not strong enough to bear the trouble of distance and confrontation. Look north!"

The case the man would refer to was one of many that demonstrated the power and authority of fearless Si Mohamed. We know that Si Mohamed Ben Bachir Benfettacha was a judge and member of the Council of Laghouat long before 1855, then became its president from 1866 to 1875 according to documents, contracts and nominations appeared in Journal and Bultin Officiel Français d'Algérie.

It seems that during this period eyes watched his activity and reports were sent of his work to stir up the sedition that was motivating the Bedouins of this region to disobedience and rebellion. However, in one of the findings shared by researcher Dr Ziane Ismail, author of "Folded Pages of the History of the Messaad Region - First Edition 2021" in Arabic, Colonel Flatters' report mentioned in the "Review of the School of Anthropology of Paris 1907", described Cadi Si Mohamed as the ultimate leader of a group (Soff) composed of scholars, judges, muftis and notables from Beyond Tell eastern area, emanating from various tribes of the region. Si Mohamed acted with all the wisdom of a jurist, but also with the rebellion of a revolutionary. Within this body, he, followed in the footsteps of the ancestors of Al-Fattacha in their courage and inclination for reform, edification of the people and reconstruction of the land with freedom and conscience. "The holder of goodness, rhyme, justice and equilibrium" with this sentence, and on March 26, 2023, Ms. Maryam N., a journalist from Al-Masa Algerian newspaper, wrote an article in which she talked about Si Mohamed Benfettacha on the occasion of publishing one of his poems for the first time.

Despite all the fears, enormous burden of tasks and all the wars he waged at all levels, his achievements were evident. This man is no longer of this world, may Allah have mercy on him and all our fathers( Rahimahou_Allah), but his legacy has remained immortal, penetrating the horizons of all time.

Prof Mebrouk Benfettacha, Guaduated from Laghouat University, Retired from teaching. Now interested in historical Issues.

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