Rabat – Every day of the 12th Fez Festival of Sufi Culture, attendees enjoyed performances by various Sufi music groups and solo artists. The festival took place from October 19 to 26.

While the evening performances were scheduled to take place at Fez’s iconic Jnan Sbil park, most of the concerts were held in a municipal building far from the medina due to heavy rain. 

The festival’s opening ceremony featured the world premiere of “creation artistique Al Shushtari Prince des troubadours” by Moroccan artist Mostafa Amri, under the creative direction of Carole Latifa Ameer.

Saturday’s musical performance captured the works of Abu al-Hasan al-Shushtari, a famous Andalusian Sufi poet who lived in the 13th century.

The performance featured French-Moroccan singer Francoise Atlan, Spanish flamenco singer Curro Pinana, and Moroccan singer Marouane Hajji.

On Sunday, October 20, attendees were treated to a performance by Tariqa Boutchichiya. The group is named for the the Qadiriyya Boutchichiyya Sufi order, which originated in northwest Morocco in the 18th century.

Faouzi Skali speaking before the performance of Tariqa Boutchichiya on Sunday, October 20.Sufi music group Tariqa Boutchichiya at the 12th Fez Festival of Sufi CultureTariqa Boutchichiya.Sufi music group Tariqa BoutchichiyaTariqa Boutchichiya performed before a large crowd.

Carole Latifa Ameer, the festival’s artistic director, appeared especially moved by this performance as she swayed to the rhythm in her front-and-center seat. 

Audience members enjoying Tariqa Boutchichiya at the 12 Fez Festival of Sufi CultureAudience members including Moroccan actress Amal Ayouch (left), general director Faouzi Skalli (second from left), and artistic director Carole Latifa Ameer (fifth from left) enjoying the music of Tariqa Boutchichiya.

Monday’s music featured the Tariqa Sharqawiya ensemble. This brotherhood originated in southern Morocco and dates back to the 2nd second century. 

Sufi music group at the 12th Fez Festival of Sufi Culture Tariqa SharqawiyaTariqa Sharqawiya on Monday, October 21.Sufi music group Tariqa SharqawiyaTariqa Sharqawiya.

Tuesday, October 21 presented audience members with a refreshing change of scenery. In contrast to the traditional white robes worn by previous groups, five performers in the Tariqa Rissouniya ensemble donned blue robes. 

Sufi music group Tariqa RissouniyaTariqa Rissouniya on Tuesday, October 22.

The color choice was a tribute to the signature blue of Chefchaouen, the group’s hometown. 

Sufi music group Tariqa Rissouniya at the 12th Fez Festival of Sufi CultureTariqa Rissouniya.Sufi music group Tariqa RissouniyaTariqa Rissouniya.

Tariqa Rissouniya specializes in Andalusian music.

After three nights of group performances, Wednesday featured a concert by Moroccan Sufi singer Azzeddine Alaoui-Addach, followed by poetry and music from the city of Fez. 

Tariqa Sqalliya and Tariqa Halvetiya performed on Thursday night. 

The Tariqa Halvetiya group is of the Khalwati Sufi brotherhood, which originated in western Afghanistan more than 500 years ago. The Khalwati order is now popular in Turkey, where it is known as Halveti. 

Friday night featured music by the Moroccan Sufi music group Ibn Arabi. The concert’s attendees were delighted to see to the group’s founder, Ahmed Lakhlii, in the performance.

Sufism: Promoting a positive image of Islam

The festival’s closing ceremony took place on Saturday, October 26 under the creative direction of Carole Latifa Ameer. 

Carole Latifah Ameer, 12th Fez Festival of Sufi CultureCarole Latifa Ameer, the creative director of the 12th Fez Festival of Sufi Culture.

Music by Moroccan singer Fatima-Zohra Qortobi and Iraninan singer Farzaneh Joorabchi delighted the audience. 

Turkish singer Ferhat Oguz Korc performed alongside whirling dervishes. The Sufi dervishes with their tall hats and flowing skirts are perhaps the most iconic symbols of Sufism

The ceremony featured narrations by Moroccan actress Amal Ayouch, Iranian translator Leili Anvar, Syrian poet Khaled Roumo, and French theologian Theophile de Wallensbourg.

Every year, the festival’s director Fouazi Skali publicizes the event as a way to spread a positive image of Islam and “consolidate the positioning of Morocco in the intercultural dialogue by throwing a bridge between East and West.”

As with previous years, the Sufi music performances by various ensembles and solo artists were certainly the highlight of the 12th annual Fez Festival of Sufi Culture.

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