© copyright photo’s Ron Haleber

Part One



The Moroccan city of Maknes

- surrounded by walls - was build in the 18th century by My Ismail

– who liked to marry a cousin of Lewis XIV of France

Here the souk - market - during the mussem




web-pages of Ron:






 War on Islam

 Exorcism in Marrakech

 Emancipated Arab women

 Marriage mussem

 Arabic Studies

 Trance & extasy  in Islam

People from all over Morocco live during the three days of the feast in the tents – also used for making music and dancing

The sanctuary of the saint Hadi Ben Aïssa with the tomb of the saint is situated outside the city


The sanctuary is surrounded by tombs of people

who like to experience the ‘baraka’, the blessing of the saint


People – mostly women – are waiting on the walls around the road to the entrance of the ‘zawya’

The groups of the different sufi brotherhoods are coming together to start the procession

The flags symbolise the different associations of the Sufis who gather normally at homes of their members


It is surprising to see how unveiled women mix hand in hand with men in the procession – they are all in trance : possessed by spirits

Here a woman dancing in full trance






The feast of the mussem of Ben Aïssa is taking place six days after the mussem (birthday) of Prophet Mohammed.

Nowadays allowing the feast of the mussem is a favor of the autorities

– if there is political tension or if there are ‘public scandals’ the autorities forbid the mussem




The authorities (= makhzen) don’t like that tourists visit these kinds of festivals

- therefore the police will chase you away...!

They like to give publicity to the modernity of their country

- So tourists are very welcome in the dancings, bars and disco’s of the Hiltons and other modern hotels

to drink their USA-coke and whisky and to eat their favoured USA-junkfood as hamburgers or hot-dogs.

To visit these feasts you have to be informed about the customs:

so it is dangerous to wear garments of red and black colour

– these colours arouse the possessed dancers in such a degree that they will attack the persons who wear it



A man drumming on a ‘derbuka’ – a typical Morrocan instrument

- the leaders – guides - of the possessed dancers in discussion


The gifts of the pilgrims are transmitted to the sheikh in charge of the zawya

A man plays on a ‘gheta’ - a Moroccan kind of clarinet very popular at time of wedding feasts

Note: An essential element of the practice of the brotherhoods is the ritual of healing in their sanctuaries (the zawja's).

Invited by a friend, I assisted at this private event - not open for common visitors - in the city of Marrakech.

See here my photographic report:

Healing by exorcism in a zawja in Marrakech

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