By Rachid Acim
By Rachid Acim
Morocco World News
Beni Mellal, Morocco, May 24, 2012
Those who were following the Arab Spring have had a long heated debate on many international TV channels, national radios, and online news outlets about the reforms initiated in countries of mass revolts. Many rebellious movements and figures suddenly emerged, calling for justice, freedom of speech, equality and so on.
Youngsters have participated in large numbers in these revolutions using social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Women have not shied away from the scene either; they were close to the rebels, providing them with food and medication.
Soon then, the Western media started to reconsider the image of Arab women in leading these revolutions and hugely contributing to the socio-political changes in their home countries.
Women are not silenced any longer as they used to be. They are not imprisoned at home doing the housework as some might suggest. Rather, they are outside voicing their wants just as courageously as men. As well as women, girls were recording instant videos on their phones and sending them to international Arab channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya to keep the world abreast of the daily bloody conflicts in their countries.
Women defied the autocratic regimes and went out to drive their luxurious cars in Saudi Arabia not caring for the repercussions. They took off the veil and revealed half of their corporeal beauty to strangers they had met in the middle of the road. For a few moments, they became strong, persistent and resolute to achieve their professional goals. Children were also present in this melodrama. They were standing in the front lines, carrying many circulars and billboards criticizing corruption and the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. At one moment, people started talking about an unequal division of resources. The have-nots were somewhat optimistic and they looked forward to embracing the new positive change. Far from it. They are still ugly and miserable.
Everybody seized the opportunity to regain some of the basic rights that or she could not cherish before. A transformation of power occurred almost in all the Arab countries witnessing the upsurge of mass revolts. Political analysts, sociologists were called on to interpret what was happening. Everyone suddenly turned out to be a good interpreter of political issues and manager of clashes and conflicts. The media was blowing on fire and standing as a biased referee arbitrating the rounds of the wrestlers in the wrestling ring.
It was a miracle indeed. Morocco was not subject to the tragedies we saw elsewhere. Few were able to decode why we remained safe and able to enjoy such political order and stability over so many years. We cannot deny that we have many problems and social ills. Yet, the latter’s intensity did not result in the state of chaos prevalent, for example, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria or even Yemen. A well-reasoned man would pose the following question, “why were we safe from the thunderstorm?”
Before answering this question, I invite you to see how Moroccan saints and noble men reacted to the French occupier. They housed many militants and freedom fighters in their Zawyas, literally Sufi institutions wherein they would lead al-Latif Campaigns. The aim was to seek shelter with the Almighty to grant them much strength to defeat the French colonizing forces and bring independence back to Morocco. Few historians have hinted to this palpable reality. But our ancestors are unquestionably treasuring this.
Those ascetic men of the Zawya were sitting up, beseeching alone, having regular retreats, in which they would pray thankfully to their Lord for the bounties good and bad descending on them. Not surprising then, whenever there is drought in Morocco, the Sultan would turn to these Noble men and ascetic saints for prayers given their proximity from the divine. They were pious devotees, faithful believers and had much hospitality to people, especially foreigners. They renounced all pleasures and allurements and consecrated their time to worship.
Al-Lateef was retained in the Moroccan Sufi tradition, namely with the Qadiri Boutshishi Fraternity under the auspices of Sheikh Sidi Hamza Abou Jamal (May Allah be pleased with him!). Every Monday and Thursday, many Sufi centers belonging to this brotherhood, would host many disciples from all ages to perform Dhikr Al-Lateef — One of Allah’s Beautiful Names, meaning the Most Subtle, the Most Gracious, the Most Refined, the Most Benevolent and, after all, the Kindest!
Al-Lateef is also the One who treats His servants with much love and care though they cannot perceive it. He would consequently bestow on them many gifts to ensure they were living in good circumstances full of peace, stability and entire comfort.
Indeed, it is difficult to tell what Al-Lateef means in Arabic, let alone in English. Dictionaries are unable to betray its true meaning and basic essence. Saints and noble servants were reported to act stupefied whenever this name is mentioned before them. Many divine secrets are indeed embedded in this Beautiful Name, recited in the Moroccan Sufi circles to invoke the divine to be helpful and supportive to His people in critical moments.
Amazingly, not just anybody is allowed to take part in the recital activity of Al-Lateef. Only those who are performing their daily prayers and have good conduct, and also showing good manners with their fellows are granted this privilege to participate in the nightly sessions of Al-Latif, which last for about two to three hours.
The reciters are recommended to take a shower beforehand as a token of high veneration for Al-Lateef before they start. One elderly person, who everyone reveres, is chosen after consensus to orchestrate the Dhikr in a charmingly terrific way, evoking awe and incessant amazement. All sit crossed-legged, with their eyes closed, feeling the presence of the divine in their souls and soaring in realms of eternal beauty.
There is no favoritism in this. One needs to demonstrate a strong desire to be with these folks and therefore frequent the occasional festivities ranging from Dhkir (Remembrance) and Sama’ (Audition) throughout the week. Only at that moment, can he or she be welcomed to participate chanting tunefully Al-Lateef, Al-Lateef, Al-Lateef. Silence is appreciated and gestures are to be avoided to help the invokers taste the everlasting beauty and the sweet flavor of the Dhikr; hence, calming down both agitated and delightful souls in a marvelous way.
Al-Lateef is the secret behind the welfare we are relishing now. So, when a calamity befalls on any person, we very often can hear the elderly saying “Ya Latif, Ya Latif!” (O Kind One!). That was how they would kindly respond because they know that above them there is a Supreme power that is hyper-vigilant, knowing everything, and that, ,meanwhile, can meet their needs and satisfy their wants in a magical way.
Rachid Acim is a high School English Teacher in Beni Mellal, Morocco. He is a Freelance translator, writer and poet. Rachid is a contributor to Morocco World News. He can be reached at: ([email protected])
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