Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fatima al-Fihri | Fez: City of Saints

Bismillah.'s only the second day of the new year. It feels like not a single day of this week counts, except the 5th of January because that's when I'll get to watch 'Fez: City of Saints' InshaAllah. I'll remain mentally fuzzy until Saturday. It's like a thirsty person having to wait two more days before she could sip her favorite drinks. And that will be Moroccan tea please.

But before that, I can only seek comfort in M&S Earl Grey and blame myself, why oh why did I forego an opportunity to go to Morocco before. What was I thinking? My mind must have been so gray and possibly fifty shades darker than its usual gray.

Let's talk about Fez. The city sounds like a pretty lady - Fez. The website describes Fez this way: "The imperial city is the capital of traditional Moroccan culture. Cradle of knowledge, for which its superb medersas are a flamboyant symbol." That is a very gusto definition. It's something we don't expect. For anyone to describe madrasah (Islamic religious school) as superb and flamboyant.

So I gather, the jewel of Fez is the Karaouine Mosque and University (a.k.a Al-Qarawiyyin). And who was behind such a historical and significant living landmark? A woman. It was founded in 859 CE by Fatima al-Fihri. A living landmark it is because it is not just a mosque but is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Record as 'the oldest continuously operating institute of higher learning in the world.' Forget Oxford and Cambridge. And no, people not only study religion there but also science and maths.

Fatima, as anyone might have guessed, was an educated woman. Her father was a wealthy merchant. She, instead of dreaming of spending her wealth on tonnes of jewelries, decided to use her entire inheritance to build a mosque. She was very concerned about using halal funding for the mosque. And she literally built the famed Masjid Qarawiyyin on piety (taqwa). She had fast throughout the construction period. 

The masjid has evolved and expanded over the years. It is the largest mosque in North Africa and can accommodate up to 20,000 worshipers. MashaAllah tabarakallah. Can you imagine the kind of reward Fatima al-Fihri is enjoying in heaven?

I am yet to set foot in Fez, therefore am not qualified to make a proper review or conclusion about the city. But having read about the Karaouine mosque and university, I will say that Fez is Fatima's!

While waiting for the weekend, while waiting for the premiere of 'Fez: City of Saints' let us recite Al-Fatihah for the honorable Fatima al-Fihri.

If you are yet to purchase a ticket to "Fez: City of Saints"
please do so now: Rasmuna 03 6274 1551/012 274 0644
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Pic credit: kualaskylab

Anyone wishing to join a group tour to Fez/Morocco in April 2013 for under RM5000 please drop an email. I will pass your info to the organizer. The plan is to visit tombs of the awliya and other sacred places. This blogger has no commercial interest in this arrangement. It's just a matter of sharing Insha Allah.

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