Djerba's geographical position, slightly away from the continent but sufficiently away to be sheltered from invasions, explains the island-refuge role that it has played throughout its history; sheltering many minorities and belonging to one of the principal primitive populating centres in North Africa. Throughout its history it sheltered fugitive Jews after the destruction of the temple of Solomon. Both catholic and orthodox Christians lived there together in harmony. Moreover, the two churches in Houmet Essoug still justify that. As far as Muslims are concerned, the island was a refuge for Ibadism, a minority Muslim doctrine. Berber individualism which is has always been in rebellion adopted it essentially to serve its egalitarian and puritan religious conceptions which are in harmony with the Berber soul marked with fevered asceticism.
Starting from the IXth Century, the island was divided between two main Ibadi parties, namely the Wahabi who are the supporters and followers of Imam Abd El Waheb who succeeded to his father Rostom, and the Nokkari, Enoukkar also known as the Mestawa, who are the followers of Yazid Ibn Fendin. The dispute that was triggered between the Ibadi of the Maghreb was mainly about the issue of Imama transmission with one party opposed to the hereditary transmission of power and the other approving it. Actually, only the Wahabi still live on the island. The Nokkari were converted to Malikism
In order to preserve their identity which was sometimes crushed and subdued to secrecy, the Djerbians founded the Azzaba organization which stands in for the power of ancient Imams under the reign of a non-Ibadi. This organization, which was founded by Abou Zakaria Feyçal Ibn Abi Messouar, made it possible to preserve the Ibadi pacifically without endangering the Sultan who had no reason to struggle with them.
The Azzaba lasted for nine centuries in Djerba before collapsing. It takes the shape of a big religious and social institution that manages the community and its life as well as that of individuals. During the XIXth and the XXth Centuries, the island witnessed radical internal changes. In fact, the authority of the Azzaba organization was reduced little by little with the expansion of Malikism, especially in Houmet Essoug and the zones of the Nokkari; i.e., in the north and part of the centre and the south-west of the island. The Wahabi party which dominates the remaining of the island, however, remained attached to Ibadism.
A black minority lives on the island and they were converted to Islam. A large Jewish community lives in Djerba since many centuries. They practice their rites while coexisting with the Muslim majority. A large number of synagogues justifies this fact. Jewish people go to the closest synagogue to their home everyday to pray. They also go there during celebrations which are numerous. It is also during these occasions that internal community affairs are examined.
Among the Jewish rites we can cite the annual pilgrimage. The Ghriba synagogue is a pilgrimage place to which masses of pilgrims come together from all over the world every year. When entering the synagogue, every pilgrim lights a candle, makes a wish to the Ghriba, then walks to the end of the internal room till he reaches the cupboard where rolls of the Torah are kept and kisses its doors. At the end of the visit, the pilgrims go back to the anteroom of the synagogue one by one and ask the monks gathering at the entrance to make a prayer in honour of their dead, then they drink a cup of fig alcohol, called Boukha, with nuts.
The origin of the name of Ghriba synagogue is surrounded with mysteries and legends that are transmitted by the Jews of Djerba concerning a young woman who used to live alone and who after she died the villagers realized that she was a saint and built a synagogue on the same place of her hut. Yet, the importance of the Ghriba lies in the fact that it is the most ancient Jewish synagogue in the world.
The procession of the Mnara, which is an imposing hexagonal pyramid on the five degrees of which the symbols of the Jewish tradition are inscribed, is among the annual pilgrimage rituals of the Ghriba. In the afternoon, the Mnara, covered with cloths that are later sold in auction to the pilgrims, is placed in the courtyard of the caravanserai. Later is taken in procession by the crowd of pilgrims in order to make the tour of the synagogues that are still active in Hara Esghira.
The Jews of the island use many prophylactic objects against the bad eye like the necklace of diverse amulets hung to the wall, drawn or moulded hands on doors, and fish of different shapes suspended at the entrance of houses or figuring on wrought iron on doors or windows.

<<  April 2024  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  8  91011121314

Designed and created by Serviced © Djerba Museum © 2010