Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fez Festival of Sufi Culture - Day Two Review

The weather was once again perfect for the second day of the 10th edition of the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture which got off to a good start with a large audience for the round table programme and ended with an even bigger one for the evening concert
A large audience for a splendid concert

The morning's round table discussion on the theme «Rûmi, Attar and Ibn Arabi: the spiritual roots of the civilisation of Islam» was extremely well attended. Unfortunately for the English speakers in the audience there was no translation available. The provision of a translator and headsets would have been a simple solution.

The View From Fez spoke with Festival Director Faouzi Skali about the sight-line problems experienced by many at the first concert the previous evening. While agreeing there was an issue, he said a solution would be difficult at this stage, but that he would give it some thought.

Festival Director, Faouzi Skali welcomed the large audience at the round table discussion

The afternoon discussion on "Spirituality as a way of life" was similarly well attended - and blessed with a few drops of rain from a clear sky!

Forum speaker Mohamed Ghani
A Conference of the Birds? -Farid ud-Din Attar would have been impressed!
The afternoon panel offered a wide range of views

The evening concert

Ali Keeler

The Firdaus Ensemble was lead by Ali Keeler (violin and vocals). Ali Keeler is no stranger to Fez, having delighted audiences at festivals in 2014 and 2015. Tonight's performance was a medley of their most popular songs - and not just their favourites, but the audience's as well.

Once again their stand out piece was a Celtic tune that started much like a slow Irish air before picking up the tempo and developing into a reel - albeit with unmistakably Islamic vocals. The large crowd lapped it up.

Salma Vives

Along with Keeler, the group are all fine musicians and the audience responded to Yusuf Mezcildi on Qanun, Omar Bdenlaml Percussion (bendir and darbuka) and lead vocal. While Salma Vives on cello was superb in her delicacy.

Ihsan Rmiki (centre)

After an hour, the group was joined by Ihsan Rmiki who sings with great emotion, clasping her hands as if in prayer, her flawless melodical voice soaring and dipping like the birds over the Medina ramparts.

A splendid concert.

Tomorrow at the festival...


10h-12h: Round table: "The place of Sufism in contemporary Arab culture" - Medersa Bounaniya

16h-18h: Round table: "The interpretation of the Quran from a spiritual perspective" (Ishâra) -Medersa Bounaniya

20h: Tariqa Qadiriya Boutchichiya - Jnan Sbil Gardens

Qadirya Boutchichiya 

The Boutchichiyya Brotherhood are from the small town of Mardagh, near Berkane, in north-eastern Morocco and has become an important pilgrimage destination. The sheikh is Sidi Hamza el Qadiri el Boutchichi and the brotherhood is active in many countries, particularly in the UK.

The Boutchichiyya are an offshoot of the Qadiriyya tariqa, one of the oldest Sufi orders, which was brought to Morocco (initially to Fez) by the descendants of the two sons of ‘Abd al-Qadir from the 16th Century. The Boutchichiyya take their name from the 18th Century sheikh Sidi Ali al-Boutchichi, a Qadiri who was given the title “al-boutchichi” because he used to serve “cracked wheat” (bou tchich) to the poor who came to his zawiya.

The Brotherhood of the Samaa Qadirya Boutchichiya performs a sacred music, and produces a spiritual state "where celestial music becomes audible," says Moroccan musicologist Abdelfettah Benmoussa. "It combines the primordial sound and the absolute divine word. Through the practice of Samaa, it becomes possible to experience the depths of being in universal harmony".

The Tariqa Boutchichiya have been at the forefront of a genuine revival of Sufism. Sidi Hamza Qadiri Boutchich, descendant of Moulay Abdelqader Aj Jilani, is a "Living Master" of the contemporary teachings of Sufism. The Brotherhood produced this revival under the leadership of Sheikh Al Haj Al Sid 'Abbas, then his son and successor Sidi Hamza. This renewal is distinguished by its ability to adapt to the changing socio-cultural contexts of our time.

Photographs and text: Sandy McCutcheon

Click on links to read a full review of each day

Who are the Sufis?
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight

The View From Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture


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