Monday, October 21, 2019

Primordial Sound - Qadirya Boutchichiya at Fez Festival of Sufi Culture

As a result of the bad weather, the venue for Sunday evening’s Sufi concert was unexpectedly changed. Despite no official confirmation as to the change in venue, and after some quick phone calls it transpired that the concert had been moved to Le Commune de Fez, a less glamorous location in an inconspicuous part of the Ville Nouvelle.  Alice Price reports...

For many, who attempted to find the new venue, were frustrated by the fact that many taxi drivers had no idea where the venue is.

After much taxi confusion patrons arrived at the venue to find it filled with Sufi enthusiasts anticipating the start of the concert (clearly the bad weather nor the change in location weren’t enough to deter their loyalties).

The concert was initiated by a mass of white jelabas filing through the aisle to take their seats on stage. The Tariqa Al Qadiriya Al Boutchichiya was introduced by Festival Director Faouzi Skali who provided a brief insight into the origins and values of the group, with their presence in Morocco dating back to the 18th Century.

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 in 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".

Although less varied and dynamic than the evening prior, the group still provided the audience with a pleasing performance. After a steady start, each member of the group gradually took on their vocal roles which culminated in a powerful harmony that was felt across the room. This in turn, incited deep applause and gratitude from the audience.

To an outsider, it may have appeared that the songs continuously repeated the same words. However, an audience member Mahdi Lamrini, explained to The View From Fez the importance of the lyrics to those that believe in Sufism. For instance, many of the lyrics are recitals of deeply spiritual poems that hold significance in expressing the key values of Sufism. Therefore in Sufi culture, unlike that of Western culture for instance, the words hold more importance than that of the sounds themselves.

Monday evening performance: Tariqa Sharqawiya 9pm Jnan Sbil Gardens

Reporting and photograph: Alice Price
Additional material: Sandy McCutcheon


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