Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wazzaniyya Brotherhood at Fes Sufi Festival

It is hard to imagine a more perfect setting than the courtyard garden of the Batha Museum for experiencing what the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture has to offer. Although the evening was cooler, the wind was picking up and rain was threatening, the night was once again a wonderful occasion.
The series of evenings with various Sufi brotherhoods continued with the fifteen man strong Wazzaniyya and again it was a night of Samaa and dikhr

The Wazzaniyya Brotherhood

The Wazzaniyya Brotherhood is one of the major Sufi groups in Morocco, and was established in 1678. They once played an important political role, and still have a wide following across the country. This was evidenced by the large number of Wazzaniyya supporters and devotees in the crowd at the Batha Museum on Wednesday evening.

The group performed dhikr, which means a 'remembrance of God' involving the repetition of the Names of God, in this case as a ceremonial activity. It was a spirited rendition with high energy singing, with many members of the audience joining in with the singing and gestures. A large incense burner was placed in front of the group, who were also sprinkled with orange blossom water.

The leader of the Wazzaniyya Brotherhood

Also in the audience...

The View from Fez caught up with Fitz Morrissey and Chris Lyle, both students in Arabic and Islamic studies at Oxford University in the UK. According to Fitz, the pair discovered the festival while reading The View from Fez. "If it hadn't been for your blog then I probably wouldn't have discovered the festival in the first place. We're having a wonderful time in Fez, and think that the Sufi Festival is a great project that has really opened our eyes to the rich world of Sufi culture."

Fitz Morrissey and Chris Lyle

Fitz Morrissey has also blogged about their experiences in Fez and his writing about the Sufi Festival is certainly worth reading. As an example, here is a little of what Fitz had to say about the previous night's event...

Sama’ from the Charqawiyya

Given the spectacular performance given by the Khalwatiyya brotherhood the night before, there was the danger that last night’s concert by the Moroccan Charqawi order would have something of a feeling of “after the Lord Mayor’s show”. That this was not the case was due to the excellence of their singing and, crucially, to the diversity of the sama’ ritual within the different Sufi orders. Thus whilst the Khalwatiyya had whirled, rocked, and swayed into a state of rapture, the Charqawiyya by contrast presented a simpler, more self-controlled form of the ritual.

This sense of pious simplicity was generated not only by the brothers’ performance, but also by the fact that they were only eight in number, older than the Boutchichi and Khalwati brothers, and dressed without ostentation in long brown robes. One got the sense that these represented the more ascetic form of Sufism.

You can read much more here: FEZ FESTIVAL OF SUFI CULTURE.

One of the aims of the festival is to increase understanding of Sufi culture and if these two bright young men from Oxford University are anything to go by, then the Festival is succeeding admirably !

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