At the mawlid (2)

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The primary area of pilgrims' tents and gatherings in the Sigar fields at the mawlid of as-Sayyid Ahmad al-Badawi, a mediaeval mystic and founder of the Ahmadiya brotherhood, in Tanta

There are thousands of mawlids in Egypt. Most of them are small local affairs but the biggest of them, like the mawlid of as-Sayyid Ahmad al-Badawi in this image draw hundreds of thousands of people to a celebration that combines pilgrimage, meditation, ecstatic piety, music, charity, trade and amusements. Although millions of Egyptians celebrate mawlids and see them as a beautiful moment of love and devotion, many of their compatriots are very critical about these festivities and consider them backward and un-Islamic. These images and texts will not tell who is wrong and who is right in the debate; perhaps there is not a true and wrong answer at all, but simply show what a mawlid is about and what it means to different people.

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Tanta, October MMIV, Small frame colour negative, scan from c-print
(c) Samuli Schielke