Question : Why do you spread a white sheet (cloth) in the middle of your gathering for the evocation (sitting for the wazifa)? What do you reply to people who says this practice is a bid’a (innovation)?
The reason for this cloth during the recitation of the wazifa in congregation is that before the blessed zawiya of Fes was built, the zikr assembly took place in a corridor in the house of Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret). Because many people used this corridor, in order to guarantee the purity of the place, Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) used to put a cloth upon which he and his companions would sit.
Subsquently, this custom was maintain, even after the construction of the blessed Zawiya, and became a meritorious act during the recitation in congregation. It is not a condition of validity: that is to say whether we put a cloth or not has no consequences on the validity of the zikr. Laying a cloth also symbolizes honouring the presence of the angels by putting that which brings additional purity and, for the Tidjani disciple, it also honours the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the four Caliphs (may ALLAH be pleased to them) because he believes that at the seventh bead (of the recitation of the Djawharatou-l-Kamel), their spirits are present, by the grace of Divine Power.