The second of the two Sufi Nights held at Dar Mernissi in Fez moved from the advertised programme to include two extra musical interludes which, along with some English language translations, proved to be a formula for success
At the begionning of the evening, Faouzi Skali surprised and delighted many non-French speakers in the audience by switching briefly to near perfect English. He then explained that Waddick Doyle, Director, Division of Global Communications and Film, and founder and director of the Masters in Global Communications program at American University of Paris, would also add some translation.
The first musical departure from the programme saw Annas Habib take the microphone and perform unaccompanied. Now living and studying in Holland, Annas's voice was in fine form and has a maturity and confidence that shows why he is so sought after as a performer. His brief return to Fez was given a warm and appreciative reception by the audience.
|Annas Habib was given a warm welcome back to Fez|
The format returned to the spoken word, with a discussion around the topic of "The seven cities of love" - the states of spirituality being sought by Sufi practitioners. It was a complex discussion which while lucid in French and Arabic, was ably and gracefully translated in brief to English by Waddick Doyle.
Mme Souad Mae Ainin, from the southern Saharan region of Morocco talked about the transmission of a culture of love and peace through poetry and "beautiful prose".
|Mme Souad Mae Ainin talked of the culture of love|
Following the discussion the audience were treated to another musical interlude, this time from Ali Keeler and four members of his group Al Firdaus.
Finally it was time for the Tariqa Derkaouiya. The brotherhood hails from Essaouira and is lead by Sheik Marina Ahamed. He has been with the brotherhood since 1952, and was one of the first Sufi leaders to bring women into performance roles in a tariqa.
|Sheik Marina Ahamed a pioneer in bringing women into the tariqas|
The Derkaouiya was founded by Sharif Idrisi Moulay Larbi Derkaoui. He was born in 1760 in the Moroccan tribe Beni Bou Zerroual Brih. He was the disciple of the great mystic Moulay Ali Ben Abderrahman El Amrani Said Jamal El Fasi who had his zawiya (lodge) in Fes, at a place called Hummat Er-Remula. The doctrine of Moulay Larbi Derkaoui proceeds from tariqa Shadhiliyya jazouliya. He died in 1824 in his zawiya Bou Brih where he was buried.
Unlike the staid performance of the previous night, the Derkaouiya men and women started strong and built all the way through to their climax, taking the audience with them. The addition of women's voices adds a whole new dimension to the music, giving it a spark that is often missing in the purely male line-ups of most Sufi brotherhoods.
The animated figure of Sheik Marina Ahamed at the centre of the group lead the, in what was a highspirited, heartfelt and infectious performance that rewarded those in attendance. It was, after all, what they had come for.
|The audience was moved....|
|Hamadcha Brotherhood mqaddem Abderrahim Amrani congratulates Faouzi Skali|
Faouzi Skali and his team are to be congratulated for giving the audience small but superb taste of Sufi culture and showing why Fez is one of "the seven cities of love".
Text and photographs: Sandy McCutcheon