Finally, the Sufi religious order is able to meet again

For the first time since the pandemic, followers of a Sufi religious organization gathered in a Moroccan village near Nador to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

Finally, the Sufi religious order is able to meet again

Few hundred of the faithful, known as Fuqaras from France, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, gathered for the week-long celebration of Islam.

The Karkariya order is a mystical Islam form that can be recognizable by its distinctive dress code. It wears a modest, but colorful, patchwork robe.

They surrounded Sheikh Mohamed Fawzi al Karkari (the founder of the order), and kissed his hand. Then they pledged religious loyalty to him while they chanted and prayed. Later that night, they formed groups and danced with fervent movements to represent verses of the Quran as believed.

Large religious gatherings in Morocco were prohibited between March 2020 and July 2021 due to the pandemic. For sporadic periods, Mosques and thousands upon thousands of Sufi shrines were also shut down.

The Karkariya Sufi Order was established relatively recently in the area where they are currently meeting.

Sufi can be defined as a broad term that encompasses hundreds of movements from all corners of the globe. The leader of each Sufi order or its books define it. Morocco is home to hundreds of Sufi order and the kingdom supports and encourages their presence as a moderate form religious devotion. It also maintains soft power with Sufi Orders across West and North Africa.

The order spread to other countries, causing a lot of controversy. The Karkariya order was criticized by some religious leaders and media in Algeria for its perception of a "religious invasion" against Algeria.

However, Algerian members could still travel to Morocco up to this year. Relations with Algeria took a dive and Algeria cut diplomatic ties.

Khaled El Jidoui is a Tunisian member. He studies computer science at Stanford University. He says that joining the order was the "best decision of my life." This is pointing out the positive impact it had on his personal and professional lives.

When asked about his colorful outfit, he described it as his "identity," with each patch representing different aspects of his life and aiming to "merge into one white."

Imad Ali Saeed, a Yemeni scholar and researcher, described the pride that he felt being Sheikh Al Karkari’s student. He noted that he had learned about the order while researching Sufi sects of Morocco. It was his "superiority of knowledge" that convinced him to become a member.

Mohammed Shaibani from Mauritania described a 30-year-long search for a mentor in West Africa and North Africa and how he was happy to have gathered with his fellow members after the pandemic.

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