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The staff have gone off to spend some quality time with their loved ones and for a well-earned rest. A chance encounter at a mystic peak led to an enduring friendship over shared passions.


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Twelve years on and Chris Nelson discovers the stoke is still as strong as ever So long the preserve of male surfers, MSA is delighted to be opening its doors to increasing numbers of girl surfers. Emma Mildon gives us a girl's-eye view Moroccan Surf Adventures had a great time hosting this fabulous bunch of year olds and their teachers! A new deal for Beginner Surfers is opening up Morocco to those who want to learn in warmer conditions. All other currency prices are for reference only and will be subject to exchange rates at the time of payment;. Please refer here for an up-to-date conversion.

Fill out the form below and we'll get back to you with availability and answers to any questions you have. To ensure you receive a swift reply from MSA, please add info morocsurf. We Xcel 03 Jul, at Vans Down Days in Morocco 29 Jun, at As we will see below, some Muslim scholars feel that Islam mandates separation of the sexes based on a similar fear of women's seductive capacity.

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Thus being in love with a woman was said to be the cause of all evil, and the beloved woman controlled a man's actions by bewitching him Tennov, , p. His statement on women and love is echoed by one of the young Moroccan men we will quote below:. The mutual love which you seek in women you cannot find, for no woman ever loved a man or could bind herself to a lover in the mutual bonds of love.

For a woman's desire is to get rich through love, but not to give her lover the solaces that please him Tennov notes that these attitudes supported a change from matrilineal to patrilineal descent with an accompanying control by males. She asserts males blamed females for a limerence or infatuation that tied them to women, concluding that "limerence may have been a persistent thorn in the movement to control women's reproductive capacities" , p.

Bouhdiba argues that Islam is pro-love and tolerant of sexuality when sanctioned by marriage:. Unity is attained by the affirmation of Eros. God himself is a being in love with his own creatures.

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Sexual pleasure in marriage is thought of as both a privilege and a duty. On the other hand, Islamic accounts of love and sexuality often conclude that this divine model is seldom attained by human beings, and Bouhdiba suggests that "one must probably be a prophet oneself The rhetoric of love and erotic passion sanctioned by the religion has often led, according to Bouhdiba, to the unleashing of excessive libidinal force, and to the subjugation of women as the objects of male lust:. By confining woman to pleasure, one turns her into a plaything, a doll.

By doing so one limits love to the ludic and one reduces the wife to the rank of woman-object, whose sole function is the satisfaction of her husband's sexual pleasure. Marital affection is reduced to mere pleasure, whereas in principle pleasure is only one element of it among others. Bouhdiba contends that the privileged yet closely circumscribed role of the mother in the Arab Muslim household, as well as the sharply gendered roles prescribed for adults, have created a cult of the mother that is the central dynamic in Muslim child-rearing and a cause of modal personality styles in "Arabo-Muslim" societies ibid.

The corollaries of this basic personality structure include: The mother-centered Arab household confronts the male child with a world of women he must eventually renounce, and many of the connotations of this early immersion in a society of mother, aunts, and sisters have erotic implications. Arab man is still obsessed by the anti-wife whom he seeks in every possible form: The contemporary societies of North Africa, in Bouhdiba's view, are experiencing a sexual and religious crisis, as women seek to move beyond the traditional roles assigned them, and men resist this change:.

Today Arab woman is striving to renounce the illusory kingdom of the mothers and is aspiring to an affirmative, positive rule, rather than a mythopoeic one. She is determined to affirm her ability to give. I give love, therefore I am. And yet there is a curious ambiguity inherent in the concept of female emancipation, as if the partners could be dissociated from the question, as if one could emancipate oneself alone!

As if Arab man were not alienated by his own masculinity! The Moroccan sociologist Fatima Mernissi has written several important works on gender differences in contemporary Moroccan society and the relation of these to Muslim history and modern political and economic conditions. In an argument similar to Bouhdiba's, she argues that gender politics are rooted in Islam and deeply revealing of the political issues facing North African society today:.

The conservative wave against women in the Muslim world, far from being a regressive trend, is on the contrary a defense mechanism against profound changes in both sex roles and the touchy subject of sexual identity. Mernissi argues that, in contrast to Muslim praise of legitimate sexual pleasure, conjugal intimacy threatens the believer's single-minded devotion to God, and hence the loving couple is dangerous to religious society.

Mernissi develops this argument from the concept of fitna or "chaos" lit.

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From the time of the Prophet on, Mernissi argues, males have felt the need to veil and seclude women and to surround sexual activity with rule in order to keep men safe from the seductive potential of women. The emphasis on female sexuality as the force that drives erotic relations for both partners in heterosexual encounters accords well with our reading of the role of magic and possession in love affairs.

The male is anxious about his powerful longings for physical intimacy and the loss of autonomy it implies, and he projects desire onto the female, casting her as the agent of unrestrainable lust. In an influential work on the origins of Western European romantic discourse, Rougement argued that the seminal tradition of courtly lyrical poetry in 12th century France owed its origins to the confluence of Persian Manicheanism and Middle Eastern Sufi rhetoric transmitted by Muslim Spain Rougement, , pp.

These Eastern sources of romantic imagery and practice drew on Arabian models in the qasida s odes of Imru' al-Qays and other oral poets of the late pre-Islamic period Sells, , and this native Arab romanticism is a well-spring of passionate language for modern society, with sources at least as deep as those of Western Europe. The legend of Layla and Majnun probably has pre-Islamic roots. The earliest recorded version is that of Ibn Qutayba d.

The early sources attribute to Majnun a variety of poetic fragments also credited to other poets, including all those that mention a female beloved named Layla from the Arabic l-y-l , night Khairallah, , p. Arab and Western scholars are divided on whether there was an actual Qays bin al-Mulawwah, of the Beni 'Amir tribe, who lived in the seventh Christian first Muslim century. In any case, the verses attributed to him passed from the oral tradition to a more or less stabile text when they were compiled a century later Khairallah, , pp.

In later centuries the story of Majnun and Layla was adopted and expanded by the Persian sufi poets Jami and Nizami; and it has retained a fond place in the popular imagination of both Arab and non-Arab Muslims. The modern Egyptian poet Ahmad Shawqi d. The story itself, as recounted by Ibn Qutayba, has two children, Qays and Layla, of neighboring clans, growing up together in the proud herding culture of Arabia. The two meet as children and, each being perfect in beauty and grace, fall immediately in love:. I fell in love with Layla when she was a heedless child, when no sign of her bosom has yet appeared to playmates.

Two children guarding the flocks. Would that we never had grown up, nor had the flocks grown old! Qays begins to compose poetry to Layla, but she is unwilling to respond in public to his praise of her beauty, and her family is shamed by this broadcasting of love. Qays becomes as one possessed by jnun , the usually invisible beings who share the earth with humans, and he is thereafter known as "Majnun," possessed.

He tears off his clothes and lives alone in the desert with his poetry, and he will converse only with those who ask him of Layla. You kept me close until you put a spell on me and with words that bring the mountain-goats down to the plains. When I had no way out, you shunned me, But you left what you left within my breast. Majnun's poetry is itself the source of his estrangement from Layla, in the sense that her parents object to the notoriety it brings them through her--and Layla herself is described as complaining of Majnun's poetical divulgence of the secret of their love Khairallah, , p.

Khairallah argues that in the Arabic tradition from which the Majnun corpus springs, "love and madness are pretexts for poetry" , p.

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Majnun's love-torment may therefore be seen as drawing on his poetic gift, since a talent for poetry is associated with a tendency to powerful cathartic emotion, and with possession by a creative daemon. Not only is the actual Layla of the legend portrayed as the natural stimulus for Majnun's passion, but her name is used in incantatory verses reminiscent of Sufi d ikr , in which chanted repetitions of evocative syllables induced a meditative trance analogous to that of the Prophet Mohammed when he received each part of the Quran.

The powerful need to divulge the message received in poetic form through such cathartic experience has remained a feature of popular practice in many parts of the Arab world, and a recourse to poetry for expression of the strongest and most personal feelings is characteristic of many traditional Arab men and women cf.

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The love of Majnun for Layla is fated, inexorable, transforming, and undying, and it is compared to a magical spell under which he labors and by which he is inspired:. She's Magic; yet for magic one finds a talisman, and I can never find someone to break her spell. For the 13th century philosopher Ibn 'Arabi, as for other Sufi writers, Majnun's love is represented as ultimately transcending the real, physical Layla to attain a mystical union with her idealized form Khairallah, , p.

From the earliest of the verses ascribed to him, Khairallah argues, it is "difficult to draw a demarcation line in Majnun's poetry between the erotic and the mystical, or between the profane and the sacred" ibid , p. For a thousand years this tragic love story has inspired Arabic-speakers, and millions can quote a stanza or two of Majnun's poetry, such as his reaction to finding himself one night at the camp of Layla's people:.

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I pass by the house, the dwelling of Layla and I kiss this wall and that wall. It's not love of the dwelling that empassions my heart but of she who dwells in the dwelling. The examples we present below of love and romantic longing come from a society geographically and temporally distant from the Arabia of Qays and Layla, but one in which romantic love is still extolled, and men are still possessed and obsessed as a consequence of passion. Zawiya, the community in which we have heard most of the examples of passion and obsessive love that follow, is an Arabic-speaking town of roughly in the Rharb, an agricultural region of northern Morocco.

We have been interested in Zawiya for over 25 years, and one or both of us has visited every year or two. In we spent a year in Zawiya as part of the Harvard Adolescence Project, conducting fieldwork on adolescence cf.

We observed family dynamics and child-rearing practices and interviewed over young residents of Zawiya about a variety of topics, including love, marriage, and sexuality. In , susan returned and recorded open-ended interviews with twenty adolesents, and in she recorded young adults in Zawiya and in Rabat the Moroccan capital their beliefs and experiences concerning love and marriage.

One sort of love-possession seen in Morocco is of a less poetic sort than experienced by Majnun, but its sufferers are described with the same epithet--" majnun ," possessed by jnun. Experience of the jnun , invisible beings with whom humans share the earth, is pervasive in Morocco.

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Capable of appearing in visible human form, she is the most commonly named of the jnun , who are most often referred to generically. She dwells near wells and water-courses and may appear either as a seductive and attractive woman or as a hideous hag. If the victim does not notice her cow or goat feet and plunge an iron knife into the ground, he will be struck mdrub and inhabited by her mskun. He is then likely to become impotent or to lose interest in human women, and he may suffer a variety of physical or psychological effects unless and until his possession is brought under control by the intervention of one of the popular Moroccan curing groups.

Although there are many of these in all parts of Morocco, the Hamadsha cf. Members of the Hamadsha are found in most neighborhoods of northern Morocco. Sidi Ahmed was inspired to play the flute and drum of the Hamadsha, and women heard him and fell instantly in love. The attitude of the Hamadsha toward Qandisha is ambivalent. On the one hand she is seen as the source of the suffering they and their clients experience and which draws them to the Hamadsha music and trance. Yet many of the terms used to refer to her connote respect or deference, and this does not in every case seem to be a mere attempt to evade her wrath.