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Coverage: Sheikh Al-Kamel’s Moussem, A Spiritual Day To Witness

Mouloud Festival in Meknes, an unusual event.

The clock indicates the middle of the day, and the sun is hot; we are in Meknes to attend the Moussem of Sheikh Kamel which coincides with the anniversary of the Prophet’s birth (Eid Mawlid, also Mouloud). This event has a special character in Meknes because it dates back 5 centuries. Sheikh Kamel or Sidi El Hadi Ben Aïssa was born in 1465, in the region of Souss and died in Meknes, around 1526. He is better known under the name of Sheikh Kamel, a name that means a complete or perfect man.

This is the occasion when the Aîssaoua* from all over Morocco and even from Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, gather around the mausoleum of this Sheikh, the place of their pilgrimage.

The first mystical brotherhoods begin their preparations to proceed towards the shrine of the Sheikh, where the ages of those who want and go to Baraka Seikh Kamel (the benediction). In the festive procession, elders and children, men and women, gather together, hand in hand forming a circle, that if one dares to stand in the middle, it would feel like facing a huge wave of humans.

On this occasion, many processions and various religious, musical, folk, and commercial events are organized in the vicinity of the mausoleum of Sheikh Kamel and throughout the city of Meknes. This tradition brings together hundreds of thousands of faithful, both from the brotherhood (Zawiya) of Aissaouas and other religious brotherhoods, who perform in groups the rites of the Zyara (visit) of the mausoleum of the Sheikh and indulge throughout the period of the Moussem, long nights of music and processional dances.

 

The dance which begins after the last evening prayer and ends at dawn is an opportunity for the Aîssaoua to dance, purify themselves, cry, laugh, and heal themselves. Many people participate in this practice, especially women who want to celebrate a happy event, solve a problem, or invoke the blessing of the Sheikh.

One of the descendants of Sheikh Kamel told Barlaman today: “Sheikh Kamel may Allah bless him used to celebrate the birth of his grandfather, the prophet Mohammed May the blessings of Allah be upon him! it’s been 560 years until today. And that’s how habits have become. On this blessed day, everyone around you celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, which Sheikh Kamel was celebrating during his life. And we, in turn, as his grandchildren, follow his path.”

Numerous members of the Aîssaouia mystical brotherhood have been in Meknes since last night, sleeping on the mausoleum, and collecting donations, or what they call “Aada” (the habit), to begin the first procession of the mystical brotherhood, heading to the shrine, where screams and chants increase and the actions abound as this procession approaches the tomb of the Sheikh.

On the road leading to the mausoleum, thousands of people of different ages, children, women, the elderly, and young people, some looking to watch the procession that awaits him every year, others took the opportunity to take pictures and videos of this crowded Aîssaoui procession.

The race for maximum speed begins as soon as the mystical brotherhood approaches reaching the shrine of Sheikh Kamel, to enter it, causing fainting as a result of the stampede that takes place between those seeking the blessing of those who consider him a good wali and one of the families of the Prophet’s holy house.

Between 8 and 10 mystical brotherhoods pass through the three days following this day, thus forming a “Mousem of Sheikh Kamel“, starting with “Issawa al-Gharb“, coming from the Kenitra, and other Aîssaoua groups from other cities and regions.

On the other hand, several members of the Moroccan Red Crescent branch were present in front of the shrine to rescue a number of those who faint as a result of the effort they exerted during On the other hand, several members of the Moroccan Red Crescent branch were present in front of the shrine to rescue a number of those who faint as a result of the effort they exerted during the gatherings.

The tomb of Sheikh Kamel has become the annual place of pilgrimage for thousands of Aîssaoua devotees, who consider the Mouloud as a passage from darkness to light.

*The Aissawa (also, Isawa) is a religious Islamic mystical brotherhood founded in Meknes, Morocco, by Sheikh al-Kamel, the “Perfect Master”. The terms Aissawa and `Isawa, derive from the name of the founder, and respectively designate the brotherhood (tariqa, literally: “way”) and its disciples.