Sufism is the spiritual aspect of Islam- one that opens its gates for people looking for ecstatic experience. It involves music, graceful movement; it is a shining and liberal path to meet the divine in superior states of consciousness. Sufi culture, rituals and beliefs showcase a gentle, spiritual and blissful face of Islam.
Fes Sufi festival in Fez is a blissful celebration of Sufism, art and life. Culture of Morocco has been deeply associated with Sufism. The week-long festival hosts artists, writers, thinkers, musicians and spiritual seekers who indulge themselves into mysteries of Sufism through music, dance, poetry and art. There are also workshops on calligraphy, visit to spiritual sites, dance, music and dialogue with Sufi masters.
The Fes festival of Sufi Culture, which is happening in Morocco’s spiritual capital from April 12th to April 19th, has wider goals than just entertainment. Sufi Islam can fight backward ideology when people are facing growing fundamentalism and extremism. According to the festival director, Faouzi Skalli, the people can discover the spiritual legacy of Sufism by means of the festival which binds the people culturally, spiritually and socially. The motto of the festival is peace and tolerance and people from different nationalities visit the festival every year. This year the week-long festival is dedicated to Arab-Andalusian spititualist and philosopher Muhyiddin Ibn Al Arabi. There are many other Sufi brotherhoods participating including singers from Tariqa Boutchichiya.
All the people participating have one single goal and that is encouraging peace and tolerance, according to Abdelwahed Afilal, a national Samaa ensemble member. Sufism leads to purification of soul and one can achieve perfection by continuous learning and determination, he added. Morocco’s Sufi brotherhoods have spread internationally over time forming various branches in different countries. The part played by Sufi paths of learning, communal and spiritual education, goal of human development and meditation, apart from a dense and creative cultural heritage, have become a symbol for Islamic culture in Morocco, according to the director. The spiritualism of Sufism forms the basis of the Fes festival.
Young people exposed to Sufi Islam are discouraged from following the path of extremism. Many are also guided by their families to take up the Sufi path, according to a socialist at the festival. The goals and principles of Sufism have made them capable of making a success of their future and live in peace. A participant in the festival, Hicham Sibari, 28, found the path of Sufism five years back by means of his uncle. He never misses the Sufi music festival in Fes although he lives in Agadir. He describes the time when he was totally lost and how the path of Sufism enabled him to find spiritual peace and move ahead in personal and professional life. His friend Hamza said that young people are easily misguided by religious extremists who have devilish goals and leave no stone unturned in exploiting them. Sufism can safeguard the young people from such extremists. According to Hamza, one of their friends was misguided and stumbled upon path of extremism. Luckily people close to him found that out and saved him from falling into void of extremism.