Moroccan city of Fez celebrates the Sufi culture

Moroccan city of Fez celebrates the Sufi culture

The sounds of Tariqa Raissouniya ring out over Fez.

The Moroccan city is hosting a festival of Sufi culture.

Sufism is a mystical practice within Islam, mixing traditional observance with other forms of worship, such as ritual chanting.

There are 14 participants in this year’s festival, both groups like this and individuals.

Tariqa Raissouniya is from Chefchaouen, a city in the Rif mountains in northwest Morocco.

“Our participation is through poems, remembrances, supplications and Sufi recitals of Sufi imams for our country,” says Jamal Eddine Raissouni, a member of the group.

The festival is truly international, with performers from Mauritania, Senegal, Pakistan and Tanzania.

Aurélien Pascal has travelled here from France to play the cello for audiences.

The music he is performing is not traditional Sufi style though – it is by the 18th century German composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

But Pascal believes it connects with Sufism.

“In the context of a Sufi music festival, it is interesting to connect this spirituality to a spirituality experienced elsewhere, in the music that I have just performed, the suites of Bach,” he says.

“It is a music created as religious in the first place, but which also brings together aspects, which is not the same for all parts of Bach, and I believe that in this sense it is perhaps closer to representing Sufi music.”

He thinks it’s “original” for European classical music to be part of a festival like this.

“It’s the first time that I’ve played in this kind of setting and I was fascinated by everything I heard in this festival,” says Pascal.

Visitors don’t just sit back and watch everything – they also take part themselves.

French yogi André Riehl is hosting a workshop on chanting.

He praises the benefits of this practice.

“Today was about a Sanskrit chanting workshop based on the alphabet, and Sanskrit chanting practiced in this way produces a meditative and silent state in thought,” he claims.

This is the sixteenth edition of the Sufi Culture Festival.

The slogan this year is “Know Yourself By Yourself.”

The festival aims to preserve Sufism and highlight its importance as a cultural, religious and historical heritage, and its importance in making a person cope with many difficulties through these religious practices.

“A person is a body and a soul, and when material things dominate the body, the soul is suppressed. This festival creates opportunities to give natural breathing to the soul so that the person is balanced, especially when there is a spread of globalisation and artificial intelligence,” says Abdelaziz Debbagh, president of Abdul Wahid Ibn Ashir Foundation for Islamic and Sufi Studies and Social Works.

The Tariqa Raissouniya are a hit with the audience.

“At this festival, I feel an indescribable joy that cannot be expressed in words,” says festival attendee Naziq Gibril.

The Sufi Culture Festival opened on April 20 and will run until April 27.

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