In sub-Saharan Africa , marabout is really a term which in the pre-colonial period designated a sage, judge, priest, educator, guardian and transmitter of myths , traditions and knowledge such as for example herbalism and therapeutic practices , but which has changed meaning with Islamization and colonization to designate nowadays two different things: either, with a confident and flattering connotation, a Muslim religious guide, or, with a poor and pejorative connotation, a sorcerer or a sorcerer to whom we attribute clairvoyance powersand healing; among the marabouts, some are psychic manipulators who claim to be able, for a fee, to resolve any type of problem.

This last category, which religious guides consider to be charlatans , refers both to Islam , to animism , to Christianity , to voodoo and to magic , in a religious syncretism which varies moreover from the one to the other.

In sub-Saharan Africa , the marabouts are characters who are credited with multiple powers, forms of shamans . They restore health or social order by making use of talismans and explanations of unhappiness.

These magical practices are criticized by Orthodox Muslims, but have never ceased to exist to this day. The marabouts are also, throughout their lifetime, considered wise, having studied throughout their retirement the various areas of Islam. Voyant Africain They often act as a council for the villagers. Their life aside from others is supposed to give them the necessary distance in addition to the detachment which allows them to obtain a great moral authority.

They do not generally ask for wages for their actions, but the tacit moral obligation would be to give their needs, which, since they are ascetics, are reduced to drink and food, and clothing. . They forbid themselves to require a salary.

In the Muslim brotherhoods in West Africa , notably in Senegal , the marabouts are organized in elaborate hierarchies. The best marabout of the Mourides brotherhood is thus elevated to the rank of caliph .

In sub-Saharan Africa , the usage of the word has been extended to priests, traditional hunters or wizards under traditional animist rites, voodoo or Yoruba for example, working to cure their patients of ailment or help in any social action. Although abusive, since it relates to practices which have little related to Islam, this use has nevertheless become common.

The term “marabout” in the Maghreb will not designate a sorcerer as in black Africa (African marabout, shaman), because he will not practice any sacrificial or animist rite in the name of any deity or spirit.

The Arabic term “marabout” in North Africa actually corresponds to a mystical Sufi saint attached ( matra-bet in Arabic) to a silsila (chain of transmission of spiritual mastery called hekme ) which follows an esoteric path ( tariqa ) of l ‘Islam (see Sufism). He is in fact a spiritual master who leads a life of devotion, recluse and ascetic.

Usually the local Arab-Berber population, of peasant or mountain origin, attributes to it all types of “miracles” that have given rise to numerous popular beliefs. The saint is normally buried in a shrine called a qubba due to its dome.

Green and white, symbol of peace and blessing in Islam, are the colors that are always connected with them. The saint does not have political power in general, however the Sufis visit him ( ziyarra ) to consult him or discuss spiritual matters.