By Abdeslam Outaleb
By Abdeslam Outaleb
Marrakech – As an Amazigh instilled with the sense of defending Timozgha as my identity, I sympathize with qualities that Imazighen hold as a part of their identities. One of these things is TaQrfiyt, a habit of the Ait Hdiddou tribes of the small Atlas Mountains. TaQrfiyt is the series of conversations that a man has with a woman during the courting phase of their relationship prior to marriage.
TaQrfiyt traditionally took place inside castles in public settings. The process occurs from around ten o’clock in morning to around four o’clock in afternoon with the primary goal of securing a marriage.
Performing TaQrfiyt comes with a strict set of rules and processes involving the nuance of conversation, with unwelcomed actions like touching spelling certain doom for both the man and woman. The public setting ensures that no improper behavior takes place. It is these public observers who actually participate in advising and influencing the couple to either marry or go their separate ways. Indeed, the old process of TaQrfiyt is one of the best ways to encourage marriage.
With the growth and social revolution of information communication technology (ICT), TaQrfiyt has taken on another form. Although it no longer occurs inside castles and other medieval buildings, it now takes places literally everywhere: in festivals, in fields, on farms, in schools, and on roads.
ICT tools such as cell phones have made a huge change in the process. Now, one may meet a girl and get her phone number and can talk with and meet her where no one can see them, removing one of the key ingredients of the old TaQrfiyt process. Now, couples run away to deserted areas where they may be caught and disciplined if discovered.
The TaQrfiyt process has been misunderstood by people who are not from Ait Hdiddou. Oftentimes TaQrfiyt has been skewed by outsiders and has led to men going to Ait Hdiddou to sexually harass girls and women. This new form of TaQrfiyt is a perversion of the original tradition and must be stopped.
The marginalization and isolation of the southeast section of the kingdom in which Ait Hdiddou exists and the illiteracy and ignorance of true Islamic law and culture are part of the reasons for the continuance of TaQrfiyt in the region. If this tradition is to remain, the tribes of Ait Hdiddou may need to revise this process for the twenty-first century.
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