MIDDLE EASTERN POETRY WEBSITE
I prefer the term 'North Africa and Southwest Asia' (NASWA) to 'the Middle East' (the region is only the Middle East from a Western European perspective but not, say, from a Chinese one). Nevertheless, despite its problematic title, this website is a very good source of poetry from the region, updated regularly with new entries. Any effort to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the cultures found in this region is to be encouraged at a time when they are under existential threat from violent extremists of all sorts, from inside the region and from abroad.
Here are the links:
Casablanca I'm packing my Bags
Casablanca I’m packing my bags and selling my furniture again
After two years it’s time to go home
Not that I wouldn’t like to stay
I haven’t grown tired of your endless cafés
Crazy taxi rides
Dreams of Paris New York Dubai Mecca…
Drums and beggars
Loyalists royalists and football hooligans
Intersections tram stations train stations bus stations ports and airport
You’ve been generous to me
Even caring sometimes
A base for me to explore this holy country even more
No I haven’t tired of you Casa
I just have things I’ve got to do
Sure I could be critical
Poverty humiliation crime impatience vanity and envy
But I also know you are doing your blessed best
And after you let me in
As a son not as a guest
I can’t separate myself from your warm noons and cold nights
Slaughtered sheep heads roasting on charcoal and the smell of burning hair everywhere
Young women desperate to go up or get out
Frightened boys inhaling glue
And saints oh yes your saints
All are mixed into my body now
I am part of the problem and solution
Casablanca you’ve become one of those cities I can never really leave
Le corps d'une arabe
Alors que vous vous demandez
Si cette femme arabe a le droit de considérer
Que ses cheveux font partie de sa nudité
À couvrir par pudeur et pour préserver
Sons sens de l’honneur
Et de l’identité
Ses sœurs sont attaquées partout
De vouloir perpétuer
Les supposées superstitions de leurs grand-mères
Encouragés à cracher
Sur leurs grands-pères
J’ai connu des Arabes au moins par milliers
Et je n’ai pas trouvé ces femmes soumises faibles et idiotes
Que vous me décriviez
Je n’ai trouvé que des femmes et des hommes sous pression
Trop souvent sur le point d’exploser
Toujours exposés à des indignités
Quotidiennes banales incisives excessives
C’est avec leurs vêtements qu’on fait notre lessive
Ce sont leurs corps que traversent nos innombrables controverses
Nos guerres froides chaudes financées libératrices impérialistes économiques et culturelles
Ont excité leurs fanatismes
Mis en danger les subtilités
Et pourtant la nuance est toute Arabe
Les arabesques et les broderies
Les savants mélanges d’épices
Tout est menacé
Le néocolonialisme occidentaliste
Les wahhabites sont votre miroir patriarcal
Vous vous complétez
Vous vous embrassez
Vous vous embrasez
Vous vous encouragez
À détruire l’Irak la Syrie le Yémen
Et votre viol pénètre masculinement l’Afrique
De l’Égypte au Nigéria
Mais restons concentrés sur les Arabes pour l’instant
Qui vous étonnent tant
De résister encore
Après plus de 500 ans
En refusant encore trop souvent
De prendre pour unique modèle l’homme blanc
Je sais en occident presque tout le monde
Et depuis longtemps
A adopté le modèle de la chapelle Sixtine
Le Bon Dieu blanc barbu
Touchant de son doigt viril
Son lieutenant imberbe
Pas de hijab ici
Même les féministes sont tombées sous le charme de cette nudité musclée
En occident que l’on soit blanc brun noir femme ou enfant
Il faut aspirer à être égal disons pareil à ces hommes blancs
Renaissants modernes divinement humanisés
Et voilà que des femmes brunes et voilées
Osent se différencier
Jusque dans nos terres javellisées
Nos tribunaux aseptisés
Normal nos juges sont scandalisés
Et nos journalistes fascinés
À la vue de ces fichus
Alors que moi à Casa je vois se refermer les forces divisées
D’un grand sandwich mondialisé
La tranche du haut est un Arabe occidentalisé
Celle du bas un réformiste musulman violent
Entre les deux trop de salade et de viande arabe
Les dents d’un géant blanc
The mausoleum of Moulay Ibrahim can be reached by car after a 90-minute drive south of Marrakesh, in the majestic High Atlas Mountains, whose snowy peaks are visible from the red city. Here is a quick biography of the saint followed by a gallery of photos I took during my trip there last Sunday.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulay_Brahim
Moulay Brahim or Moulay Brahim ben Ahmed Mghari (died 1661), also called Tayr Lejbel (Berber for 'bird of the mountain'), was a well-known Moroccan sufi saint. He was the grandson of Abdallah ben Houssein al-Hassani, who was the founder of the zawiya of Tameslouht, one of the greatest Zawiyyas in the region of Marrakech (founded ca. 1525). The zawiyya of moulay Ben Brahim was founded in 1628 during the reign of sultan Zidan Abu Maali in the village 'Kik', since called 'Moulay Brahim'. It lies a few kilometers to the west of Tameslouht.
THE ROAD TO MOULAY IBRAHIM (photo gallery)
And here is the mausoleum of Moulay Ibrahim:
This is his daughter Lalla Mahla's tomb, in an adjacent room:
Last weekend, I visited the mausoleums of the seven patron saints (sab'at ul-rijal) of Marrakesh in the traditionally prescribed order. Here are some pictures as well as a basic bio for each saint quoted from the Made in Marrakech website. The poor quality of English seems to indicate that the author must be more comfortable in French. However, these bios should do the job for now since they provide the basic information concerning each saint.
2. The next five mausoleums are within the city walls. Next stop: Al-Qadi 'Ayyad.
Also known as: Abou Al Fadl Ayyad ben Amer Ben Moussa Ben Ayyad Ben Mohamed Ben Abdellah Ben Moussa Ben Ayyad Al Yahsob or “Cadi de Grenade”.Origins: Yéménite, originally from Sebta.
Education: Student of Abou Abdellah ben Issa, from Imam Abou Abdellah ben Hamdine, Abou Al Hassan ben Siradj and Imam Abou Al walid Ibn Rochd.
Distinguishing features: He’s best known for learning Maleksime in the Muslim West. His love for the Prophet is evident in his work Al-Chifaa and his orthodox rigor earned him his saint title.
Death: 1149 (544 in Hegira )
Buried: Near Bab Aïlen.
3. We now move on to Sayyidi Abu al-'Abbas al-Sabti.
Also known as: Abou el Abbas Ahmed ben Jaafar el Khazraji.Origins: Originally from Sebta.
Education: Disciple of Cadi Ayyad, Sidi Bel Abbas also struck up a close friendship with Averroes, with whom he shared his ideas.
Distinguishing features: He lived for 40 years in a grotta under a hill in Gueliz, without ever entering the city. He spent his life caring for and protecting the weak and the blind. His Zaouïa is part of the Regraga pilgrammage.
Died: 1205 (601 in Hegira)
Buried: Buried at Sidi Marouk cemetary, near Bab Taghzout.
4. Sayyidi Ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli is the fourth stop.
Also known as: Sidi Mohammed ben Slimane ben Said al Jazouli.
Origins: Originally from Souss.
Education : Il fut inscrit à la Médersa Essaffarine de Fès où il excellait dans les hadiths. <left in French on the website I am quoting. Translates as ''He went to the Essafarine Madrassa in Fes, where he excellend in hadiths.''>
Distinguishing features: He’s the founder of Moroccan Sufism and moved againsts an Iberian invasion. He’s the author of the famous collection of prayers Dala’il al-Khayrat . He died while praying.
Death: 1465 (870 in Hegira )
Buried: At the zaouïa Jazoulia in the north end of the medina, near Dar-el-Glaoui.
5. Sayyidi 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Tabba'.
Also known as: Abou Fares Abdelaziz.
Origins: Silk merchant originally from Fes.
Education: Key disciple of Sidi Ben Slimane.
Distinguishing features: He spread spread Sufi morals through the artisan guilds.
Death: 1508 (914 in Hegira)
Buried: Buried near Ben Youssef Mosque.
6. Now, deep within the old city, close to the busy souks and the famous Jama' al-Fanaa Square (Jemaa El-Fna) , we discover the mausoleum of Sayyidi 'Abd Allah al-Ghazwani.
Also known as: Moul El Ksour
Origins: Originally from the Gazoune tribe.
Education: After having completed his studies in Fes, he went on to study in Grenada, before relocating to Marrakech to complete his training under Sidi Abdelaziz Tabaa.
Distinguishing features: Sultan Sidi Mohamed Cheikh, incarcinated him in Marrakech, jealous of his positive reputation with the people. He was freed several years later. <I am quite sure the author meant 'incarcerated' here.>
Death: 1528 (934 in Hegira )
Buried: He’s buried near Mouassine Mosque.
7. Back outside the city walls, in a cemetery near the royal palace is our last stop in the tour of the seven saints, the mausoleum of Al-Imam al-Suhayli.
Also known as: Abou el kassim, Abou zaid Abderrahmane ibn al Khatib AbouAmer ben Abi al Hassan Asbagh ben Houssine ben Saadoun ben Redouane ben Fattouh Souhaili.
Origins: Originally from Souhail, near Malaga.
Education: Yacoub El Mansour brought him from Spain.
Distinguishing features: He’s known for his Sufi poetry and his openness during a time of strong religious censureship. Students often gather around his grave. He’s written two masterpieces: one about the names of the Prophets cited in the Koran and the other a biography of Sidna Mohammed.
Died: 1186 (582 de l’Hégire)
Buried: He’s buried near Bab Robb.
By the way, when I put more photos for certain saints, it in no way indicates any sort of preference. Sometimes, fewer photos turned out well.
Now, while we are at it, here is a shot of the famous Koutoubia (Kutubia) mosque in Marrakesh:
And here is a gallery with a few more random pics from this beautiful city:
I spent the evening in Marrakesh at a spiritual gathering with a group of disciples from the Habibiyya Sufi order. It was wonderful: a bit of qur'an recitation; some litanies and supplications; dhikr (invocation) of Allah and blessings on his final prophet, his family and companions; chanting; a short lesson; brownies, lemon pie and sweet mint tea... just wonderful! There were quite a few North American Muslims present, which gave the evening a nice cosmopolitan atmosphere as well.
You know, this is my fourth time in Marrakesh and, every time I visit, I marvel at what a great little town it is. Especially at this time of year when it isn't too hot yet, it's just got so many things to like: beautiful architecture, fantastic landscapes, great weather, rich history, intense spirituality, excellent
restaurants, exciting souks, haute couture, traditional crafts, street arts, and a whole range of activities for tourists, be they Muslim or not. OK, it's a bit commercial and decadent here and there, but in the end you get what you come looking for.
Click here for an interesting article on Spanish Sufis. However, I would say there are many more Sufis than the 1,200 mentioned in the article, including many who are not Naqshabandis. For instance, all the Moroccans and Senegalese immigrants must include a number of Shadhulis, Qadiris, Tijanis and others.
Also, check out the related photo gallery.
Casa street scenes
Right in the centre of bustling downtown Casablanca, two steps away from the port, is the sanctuary of Sidi Belyout, a traditional Sufi mausoleum.
I said, "For breakfast tomorrow, let's have eggs, slices of chicken, toast, oranges, milky coffee..." Sighing softly in the far corner of the room, she whispered, "If we are still alive in the morning." She has never been to school and can't read or write, but she is the scholar and I the careless novice. After all, I could very well be eating dirt and worms for breakfast. Praise be to Allah that there are still people like her around in this age of materialism and desires.
Transdisciplinary scholar of Islam and Sufism.