By Hajare El Khaldi
Rabat- Between Sufi spirituality and literature, these confreries reflect glimpses into Morocco, from the practical to the obscure.
Gutenberg’s Companions in Morocco
The Moroccan franchise of the Brotherhood of the Gutenberg Companions represents a non-spiritual organization that brings together writing enthusiasts who believe in the power of words in spreading the values of coexistence and peace.
Since its creation in 2010, the Moroccan section of the Gutenberg Companion has performed several actions to realize its mission, such as creating school libraries to encourage extracurricular reading among the youth.
This fellowship includes renowned Moroccan personalities, such as André Azoulay, Senior Adviser to Mohammed VI; Abderrahmane El Youssoufi, politician and former prime minister; Fathia Bennis, CEO of the Central Security Depository of Securities Marocclear; and Neila Tazi, Vice-President of the House of Councilors and member of the Education, Cultural and Social Affairs Committee.
Named after the father of the printing press Johannes Gutenberg, this coalition was founded in Paris in 1979 by twenty-one writers and prints devotees, from the worlds of media, literature, journalism, and graphic art.
The brotherhood’s origins are strictly rooted in France, as it initially aimed to preserve and promote all forms of French culture. However, chapter locations have developed around the world over time, namely in Germany, Poland, Italy, Brazil, and more recently, in Switzerland and Morocco. These new chapters shifted the companions’ oath to center language and literature, rather than solely French, at the heart of the association.
Sufism represents mysticism within the Islamic faith, often displayed through its adherents’ constant striving towards full awareness of God’s presence in all aspects of their lives, favoring contemplation over action,and spiritual enlightenment over social interactions. The following are three of the most notable Sufi orders in Morocco.
This Sufi way derives its teachings from Sheikh Moulay Abd Al Qadir Al Jilani, one of the most notable Sunni Hanbali preachers and theologians of 12th century Baghdad.
While the founder’s shrine resides in Baghdad, his message carries on as the most established Sufi order in Morocco through “holders of the secret” who claim ascendance from Prophet Mohammed.
The movement is currently lead by Sidi Jamal Al-Qadiri Al-Boutchichi, who rose to leadership following the death of the renowned spiritual master since 1972, Sidi Hamza, who passed away at the age of 95 in January 2017.
Every year, thousands of pilgrims come from across the world to Madagh village, the headquarters of the principal zaouia, in Berkane province, to celebrate the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday known as Al Mawlid, and discern the divine knowledge from the Sufi leader.
The Hamadcha is among the most crucial Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco, known for their bewitching dances and music that entangles its practitioners in a healing trance.
This spiritual coalition is also renowned for its music that relies on traditional instruments, such as the harraz, taarija, tbal, ghaita and layra, with a repertoire inspired from Gnawa and Aissawa Music.
This Sufi brotherhood was founded at the end of the 17th century by Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch, and currently has followers in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.
In addition to their famous yearly gathering in the region of Meknes, the Zaouia El Hamdouchia in Essaouira, has also become a place of worship in partnership with the Association of Hamdouchi Soufisme of Essaouira. The zaouia witnesses the gathering of practitioners of this spiritual practice from all over Morocco.
During this moussem, or traditional festival, the Hamadcha lures the audience into collective rituals, including invocations of God, the Prophet Mohammed, and sung religious poems.
The Tariqa Karkariya
Born in the 90s at the hands of Sheikh Mohammed Fawzi Al Karkari in northern Morocco, this order claims Sufism to be the highest station of Islam, which consists of a journey towards the divine knowledge.
The Karkariya proclaim a living way to God’s knowledge that is based on visions rather than receiving blessings.
“Our tariqa is the tariqa of visions. People who do not see are not my disciples and I am not their Sheikh,” asserts Al Karkari.
One of the key elements of this order is Sheikh Al Karkari, who claims to be a descendant of Prophet Muhammed and “holder of an innumerable secrets” and the “Seal of the saints.”
Karkari followers are mostly known for their dress: a colorful patchwork representing the universal love of all God’s creatures, which signifies that the Arifin bi’Lah (knowers of God) have been blinded from others’ judgment through the light of God.
“The Tariqa Karkariya is the way to love. The eternal and universal love, not the selfish and possessive love. The unlimited love,” the order explains.