Morocco’s seaside shrines

Eric Ross, academic

Wednesday, February 16th is a religious holiday in Morocco. It’s the ‘Ayd al-Mawlid, the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (12th of Rabî’ al-Awal), an important holiday for Sufis. Moroccan shrines mark the day in a variety of ways: all-night vigils, processions, feasts, displays of horsemanship (called fantasia) and pilgrimages (called moussem Moroccan Arabic, mawsim in standard). Moussems often have a festive and playful atmosphere, especially in rural ares. The Mawlid holiday is therefore a good occasion to explore some of the shrines involved.

In cities, shrines are often located near gates, or next to specific manufacturing or commercial structures. In the countryside one encounters shrines at the summit of ridges or next to specific rock outcrops or natural springs, and they are often associated to trees and groves.

The tiny shrine of Sidi Mifta (My Lord Key) in Asilah stands outside Bab El Homar, one of the…

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