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[mar-uh-boot, -boo] /ˈmær əˌbut, -ˌbu/
  1. a hermit or holy man, especially in N Africa, often wielding political power and credited with supernatural powers.
  2. the tomb or shrine of such a man.
1615-25; < French < Portuguese marabuto < Arabic murābit; see Almoravid, maravedi
Related forms
maraboutism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for marabouts


a Muslim holy man or hermit of North Africa
a shrine of the grave of a marabout
Word Origin
C17: via French and Portuguese marabuto, from Arabic murābit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for marabouts


("one who is garrisoned"), originally, in North Africa, member of a Muslim religious community living in a ribat, a fortified monastery, serving both religious and military functions. Men who possessed certain religious qualifications, such as the reciters of the Qur'an (qurra'), transmitters of Hadith (muhaddithun), jurists of Islamic law (fuqaha'), and ascetics, lived in the ribat and were held in honour by the common people. When Islam spread to western Africa in the 12th century, its propagators became known as al-Murabitun (Almoravids), and every missionary who organized a group of disciples became known as a murabit. In the 14th century, when Sufism (mysticism) pervaded Muslim religious life, the murabit, in the Maghrib, came to be the designation for any preacher calling for the formation of Sufi fraternities according to the "order" (tariqah) of Abu Madyan. Thus, the word lost all trace of its original literal meaning of military defense, and in Algeria murabit came to be used for the tomb, usually domed, in which a pious man is buried

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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