Among many Ramadan evenings at Makan, the Egyptian Centre for Culture and Arts, the Sufi munshid
or chanter Sheikh Fayed Mohamed Fayed and his band gave a remarkable performance last Wednesday. Located in the heart of Cairo, near the Tomb of Saad Zaghloul, Makan is a small space that you enter by walking down two steps via a small hall. Inside, rows of seats were arranged around Sheikh Fayed, standing with his face to the audience while his band were seated around him.
Sheikh Fayed opened with prayers, as usual, unaccompanied, but soon the upbeat music had the audience swaying in their seats and clapping. Often referred to as "dervishes" or "the people of the truth", Sufis are the mystics of Islam, known for their piety, modesty and captivating philosophy – poetry that dips into a world of spirituality and purifies the soul. For centuries the Sufi movement originated in North Africa yet has flourished in Egypt. With more than 70 sufi orders in Egypt, and some 15 million followers, Sufism continues to attract millions of followers world wide.
Listening to Sufi chanting is a heart-warming experience. The chants are in praise of God, of the Prophet Mohammed and of love; they promote peace and understanding throughout humanity and speak of a yearning for transcendence and enlightenment. “I raise my hands to you, don’t reject me,” sang Sheikh Fayed. “How can I go to someone else when you are there listening...”
After a pause during which the hall was quiet, Fayed started praising the Prophet Muhammed, praying for him and members of his household, including his cousin and son-in law Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, his grandsons Al Hassan and Al Hussein, and his great grandson Ali Zein El Abedeen. “I start my praise, listeners, by praying for the best of all messengers”, he said. And the audience appreciated the strength and clarity of his pitch-perfect voice, which surpassed even the instruments of his band.
Sufi chanting is particularly popular during Ramadan, and Sheikh Fayed will perform again along during the holy month on Tuesday 23 August. This week, on Wednesday 10 August, it is the turn Sheikh Goma El Banna and his band.
Samaa Annual Sufi Festival to take place at Al Ghoury Dome
From August 15-25, At: 9:30
Al-Ghoury Dome, 3 Mohammed Abdu Street, Al-Azhar district