The concept of “lbaraka” (meaning blessing or prosperity) in Moroccan culture is a complex concept that may have more than one meaning.
Taroudant – Apart from the established meaning communicated in most religious teachings, “lbaraka” is a magical power associated with some pious people that can be transmitted to their children and grandchildren naturally, or through a ritual practice like spitting in the son’s hand palm. It can be manifested in various forms: in daily meals, harvest, people, salaries, and any other human activity. “Lbaraka” can’t, I guess, be explained through a pattern of logical reasoning or by purely mathematical calculations. Therefore, it appears in certain situations, special contexts and undoubtedly for specific people.
I always have faith in science as a trustworthy tool to explain many natural, social, and cultural phenomena, but it is agreed that science, for the moment, fails in accounting for many metaphysical and spiritual occurrences. The concept of “lbaraka” is pervasive among Moroccans, who believe in its existence. They call upon God to endow them with “lbaraka,” and bless all their daily activities.
The idea of “lbaraka” can be demonstrated in objects, as it can be a human characteristic. An example of the power of this mysterious energy, which is characteristic to few people, is cherished by some doctors. Despite the same academic training doctors receive, some of them are believed to have great healing powers. “Idu fiha lbaraka” Moroccans say, meaning “his hands are blessed.” This is an expression widely used for doctors whose medical skills are extraordinary. They haven’t necessarily studied or practiced more than their peers, but it is generally accepted that their treatments and prescriptions are extremely successful in treating illnesses.
When I was appointed to teach English in Tazarine, a small village 332 miles south east of Marrakech, I learned the true meaning of “lbaraka.” I used to think that “lbaraka” is nothing but an invocation exchanged between people to show more courtesy and respect. Later though, thanks to the close connections I made among some of the villagers, I discovered that “lbaraka” is real. Personally, I perceive it as what remains as extra value after an accurate mathematical equation.
When I was in Tazarine, I had a good friend whose name is Ali. Even though he was older than me, his sound reputation among the villagers kept me attached to him. The first time he invited me to have lunch with his family, he served a small tagine that seemingly wouldn’t even satiate me, let alone feed all five of us (him, his father, two of his younger brothers and myself). For some inexplicable reason, we all ate to satisfaction, and food remained in the earthen-ware. Honestly, I could eat that amount of food usually all on my own, but when I went to eat at my friend’s house the same amount of food managed to suffice many of us.
Another real example is that of low paid workers who manage to lead very comfortable lives; they can build their own houses, and raise and educate their children with standards similar to those of well-to-do families. Culturally speaking, such people are said to have “lbaraka” in their lives. If you consider their limited income, you may find it hard to believe how they manage to live in relative comfort.
Some people may associate “lbaraka” with strategic management, but I believe that “lbaraka” is more than organization and management. It is something supernatural that we feel, but can’t measure. It is an element we don’t take into consideration in our plans, but it gives an unexpected advantage that helps us to successfully accomplish our tasks. For you, I say may almighty bestow you with “lbaraka,” and may it be on your side in whatever good things you do.
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