Seffarine Square
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Glimpses of "Salat" in the Fes Medina, Morocco
In the Fes Medina, Friday (Salat), The Quiet Day, has a completely different feel from other days, with most of the souks and cafes closed, and many more local families and out-of-town Muslims worshipping at the mosques. I passed men dressed in pristine white robes, one holding his little son's hand on the way to worship, the boy dressed in his own white robe and little gold slippers. I glanced at Sudanese women in emerald green or sapphire blue robes entering the holy wooden doors and tall, elegant Arabic and Ethiopian men in yellow satin robes strolling inside for prayers. During Salat, the ancient mosques seem especially splendid with their carved plaster, pink and green wall designs, blue and green tiles, and amazing intricate work on cedar wood. Adding to that vision are the haunting prayers which echo through the air and against the medina walls, mixed with the smell of cedar and of burning candles. As a non-believer, however, I could not enter--a dictate from the French Colonial Era. Salat is just one reminder that Fes has a rich interior life which is often just seen in glimpses. So much of the mystery in Fes is viewed while peering through an open door or one just closing, as I passed on foot along some narrow shadowed walkway. These fleeting images and forbidden entries felt like veils being lifted then drawn again without the secret ever being revealed. Something had been faintly illuminated to show a moment, but only that; the enigma remained.
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