sufi music & cultural festival in morocco

Sufi Music & Cultural Festival in Morocco

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Home > Explore Morocco > Music Festivals & Celebrations > Sufi Music & Cultural Festival in Morocco

Explore Morocco

Music Festivals & Celebrations > Sufi Music & Cultural Festival in Morocco

Travel To Morocco For The Sufi Music & Cultural Festival  
The Sufi Cultural Festival is an 8-day celebration that takes place each April within the imperial city of Fes to honor Sufi music and spirituality. The Festival brings together religious leaders in Sufism and artists from around the world. Visitors come to enjoy ritual performances complemented by morning poetry readings, films and oriental art. The Sufi Festival which took place for its second time in 2008 featured a number of "samaa" evenings- nights filled with chanting and dance- as well as meetings and workshops; all centred around the theme "Sufism and human development".
The festival provides an opportunity for visitors to discover Morocco’s spiritual heritage and to display a side of Islam that is not often understood. Sufism is the mystical side of Islam that emphasizes love and peace, and whose message of universality transcends borders. Sufism creates a network for spirituality and co-operation in artistic, cultural and spiritual expression that provides balance and counters extremism. Scholars of various expertises have used the festival as an opportunity for debate and discussion, around such themes as "Sufism and human rights", "Sufism and Moroccan history", and "Sufism and cultural diversity".
Morocco has a long history with Sufism. In Morocco alone, there are 1000 different Sufi cultures and brotherhoods. Brotherhoods established by Sufi teachers were known for their leniency and tolerance and have long been viewed as models of moral conduct to be emulated. Sufis founded institutions of learning run by local zaouias in towns and villages, many of which remain today and enjoy state support. Morocco has always made a considerable effort to encourage Sufism. The country has produced such a remarkable number of Sufis such as Gnaoua, the Aïssawa, the Hamadcha and the Master Musicians of Jajouka.
The 2008 Sufi festival featured ritual music from Iran, Syria, Egypt and Morocco. Performances by Morocco's Mohamed Bajeddoub, Syria's Hassan Haffar and Congo-born Frenchman, Abdelmalik made an important impact. As a member of the Qadiriyya-Boutchichiyya tariqa (group) of Sufism, Abdelmalik bases his lyrical message on Sufi texts, speaking to a whole generation of young people, both in France and elsewhere.
Similar to the annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, held each June, the Sufi Festival is quickly developing a reputation. Quite often, the audience becomes so involved in the ritual performance that they stand up from their seats, sway to the spiritual music, sing along and sometimes fall into a state of trance.
The audience hears a range of music representative of the Sufi culture at the Sufi Festival. This music is presented by Sama groups. Sama, meaning ‘to hear with the soul’ in Arabic, are brought on stage in groups of thirty and begin to play their music so powerfully and rhythmically, that both the audience and the singers are fall into a trance whereby their souls and bodies take over and begin to sway.
The Sufi Festival’s Creative Director is Dr. Faouzi Skali, a Moroccan anthropologist and an ethnologist who is also responsible for the founding Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Dr. Skali is a professor from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Fes; an author of many publications includingLa Voie Soufi" (The Soufi Path), "Traces de Lumiere" (Traces of Light) and "Le Face à Face des Cœurs: Le soufisme aujourd'hui" (A Dialogue of hearts: Sufism Today). He wants this festival to bring something new to people and open up new areas for dialogue and co-operation. Dr. Skali feels that Sufism remains an under-developed resource, and that there is a need to seriously consider what message the peaceful nature of the faith could convey to contemporary society. Thus, one aim is to encourage Moroccans- especially the young- to take an interest in their heritage and attempt to understand Sufism’s sense of symbolism.
Sufism became popular within Morocco because it was easily adaptable with certain aspects of Islam. Sufi men often dress in woolen (suf) clothing, hence the name Sufi. During the ninth and tenth centuries many Sufi leaders attracted people to their teachings by promising that they could cure medical conditions like epilepsy, exorcisms, and led peaceful and humble lifestyles. As a result of their simple lifestyles, poor tribes, such as the Berbers identified with them and converted to this mystical faith.
Sufis claim that they have supernatural powers or Baraka (divine holiness) and could show Muslim Moroccans the way. This inevitably has led to some corruption of power in Morocco and some Muslims do not agree with Sufism. Nevertheless, as people continue to turn to Sufism in times of crisis, the Sufis continue to hold significant political power in Morocco.
Despite criticism, Sufism has been a positive influence in Morocco. An example is the young people who embrace Sufism with the goal to live a more cultural and intellectual life. Abd el Malik, a hip-hop star who has gained popularity across Europe, changed his destructive behavior when he discovered Sufism. Abd el Malik has fused Sufi music with rap and is reaching out to other young people to become more spiritual, loving, and non-violent.

Biographies of Sufi musicians who performed at the 2nd Sufi Festival:
Mohamed Ba Jeddoub
Born in 1945 in Safi, Morocco, Mohamed Ba Jeddoub, at an early age, showed a great interest for traditional music, especially for Arabic Andalusian music and religious chants. He began his apprenticeship in the Zawiya. In 1961, he studied under the great master Sidi Kadiri in Sale and then under the master Mohamed Tbayek in Marrakech. In 1963, he was introduced to Haj Driss Benjelloun, President of the Association des Amis de la Musique Andalouse in Morocco, who introduced him, in 1968 to the master Haj Abdekrim Raïs, the Labrihi Orchestra conductor. These great masters of Andalusian music helped him develop his talent as a singer, especially in the Maoual style.
Abd Al Malik
Born in Paris on the March 14th 1975, and originally from the Congo, Malik lived for a short time in Brazzaville as a young boy. He returned to France in 1981 and grew up in Strasbourg. When his parents divorced, he became involved with gangs and later with religious extremist groups. He went on to found the N.A.P band, then discovered Sufism and became a peace advocate. He released his first solo album, “Le Face à face des cœurs” in 2004 and the second, “Gibraltar”, two years later.

Hassan Haffar
The Syrian-born Haffar is a muezzin in Aleppo. He is a craftsman by trade, a storyteller and a poet. He sings Sufi poems such as: “Le Sceau des Prophètes, Mélodies du Paradis”, and “Jardin d’Eden”. His first album, released in 1995, was “Hassan Haffar et les Munsheds d’Alep”. Haffar is very much appreciated in the Arab world and in France and his presence at the Sufi was an event as he very seldom gives public appearances. His latest album was called “Chants d’Éxtase”.
 
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