By Latifa Lakri
By Latifa Lakri
Fez – The 18th National Festival of Madih and Sama’a took place this year from October 9 to 17 in Fez.
Madih and sama’a, or religious recitation, is a rich cultural and spiritual practice that has been honored for centuries by many Moroccans. Within the art, one hears specific kinds of oral presentations that compliment and pay special tribute to the prophet Mohammed.
Its history dates back to the era of the prophet, when some little girls welcomed the prophet happily with long elaborate songs as he traveled from Mecca to Medina. The girls, members of the Najjar tribe, sang, “We are neighbors from Najjar, welcoming Mohammed who becomes our neighbor.” One may also hear the famous lyrics, “Tala’a lbadro ala’ina, min tani’ati louada’a …” The prophet Mohammed, happy with the poetry, told them that he loved them for the way they welcomed him.
Madih and Sama’a continued to develop and became part of Morocco’s heritage. Abed Al Aziz Ben Abd Aljalil, a Moroccan researcher of Music Heritage, says that this art dates back to the 7th century, when celebrating the feast of the prophet’s birthday required remarkable considerations. It was further developed during the time of the Merinids, Aljalil argues, when the kings gave orders to organize ceremonies and include Islamic songs that paid tribute to the prophet on his birthday.
The art reached its peak during the time of the Saadiyin, when great religious ceremonies were organized and various religious songs and long poems were performed for kings and men with political and social power. With the emergence of the Alaouite dynasty, the art of Madih and Sama’a was developed with particular artistic and literary characteristics that turned it into a professional art, performed on every occasion as an integral part of their culture and spirituality.
In Morocco, a number of shrines have celebrations featuring religious recitation. These include Moulay Idriss in Fez, Sidi Ben Abbass in Marrakesh, Sidi Saleh Lhakmaoui in Rabat, and Zaouia Rissounia in Tetouan. Madih and sama’a is specific and unique for each region and shrine.
Fez is most widely known for the celebration of this type of music. Organized by the Fez city council, the festival also coordinates competitions of this pure original art among children and young people of different schools of assama’a in Morocco. Ceremonial performances by various Moroccan groups of madih and sama’a, each with its own particular artistic and spiritual touch, are also featured.
The 18th national festival focused not only on religious recitation but also on values of coexistence, love, and humanity, with an aim of creating a strong spiritual link among people from all corners of Morocco.
Edited by Esther Bedik. Photos by Omar Chennafi
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