Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fez Hosts Annual Sufi Festival فاس تستضيف مهرجان الصوفية الخامس

Here is an article from about an Islamic spirituality festival going on now in Fez. An Arabic version of the article can be found here. Here is a link to the festival page if you are blessed to be "in town."

Fez hosts fifth Sufi festival

An annual Sufi celebration enables visitors to explore Morocco's spiritual riches.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 20/04/11

The Fez Festival of Sufi Culture has entered its fifth year. The eight-day event, which runs through April 23rd, offers lovers of this culture a great variety of exhibitions, performances, round-tables and Sufi evenings.

"This is an opportunity for experts to lead the thinking on what this heritage has to offer at the very heart of modern society," event chairman Faouzi Skalli explained.

According to organisers, the festival aims to help Moroccans rediscover the artistic, intellectual and spiritual riches of their own culture and send out a positive image of Islam internationally, with the universal language of openness and peace which is a central aspect of Sufism.

The event also aims to reinforce Morocco's place in intercultural dialogue, building a bridge between the East and the West.

This year's festival centres on female figures in Sufism. It was inaugurated by Moroccan diva Karima Skalli, whose performance held the audience spellbound, and featured Spanish group Al Kawtar.

According to Faouzi Skalli, this year's choice of theme was no accident; he said that Sufism's spiritual romanticism, whether expressed by men or women, has given women an essential symbolic significance. This role is the precursor of the natural recognition of the importance of their place and their role at the heart of society.

Women, he added, have a calling to participate in spreading the message of peace and tolerance.

Over the past four years, the festival has enjoyed obvious success because there are many followers of the culture in Morocco, both men and women, expert on Sufism Karim Jamali said. Sufism enables man to rediscover his spiritual dimension in a modern materialistic world and to move towards real fulfilment, he added.

"Sufi chant immerses us in our distant past and soothes our spirits," said student Hakima Srariri, who is a fan of Sufi culture. "The festival has become a must event for those who follow Sufi culture and who meet every year in the spiritual capital."

She emphasised that "this culture must be promoted, because it preaches a number of noble values such as tolerance and the acceptance of differences".

"It's my parents who imbued me with the spirit of Sufism, which has helped me a great deal through life," added Srariri, who studied every detail of the programme, particularly the samaa evenings, together with her parents.

Jamila Chamoumi, a Moroccan woman living in Italy, has been coming back to her home country annually for three years to attend the festival. She spoke to Magharebia about the benefits of Sufism in the world which has experienced a global crisis of values.

"I sincerely feel that Sufism is a real educational science. It guides us towards the profound outcomes of its ethical rules," Chamoumi said. "I'm keen to instil the spirit of Sufism into my children, so that they will be tolerant and open to others."

"This is all about transforming oneself, leading to improved relations with society," she added. "The festival is an opportunity for me to recharge my intellectual and spiritual batteries."

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