The Role of “Father”

The role of the father, or lack thereof, has played an important role in several of the readings over the past few weeks. In Tuhami, his lack of a father figure accounts for his role in life and the problematic situations he placed himself in over the course of Crapanzano’s interviews. Because he didn’t want his mother to remarry and reacted harshly to his new step-father, Tuhami’s relationship with his family dissolved. Throughout his life, he constantly sought a protector and dominant figure in his life. This desire culminated in his relationship with his jinn wife. At times, he was a non-functioning member of society because of his relationship with his jinn wife.

In the Hamadhsa reading for the 28th, Crapanzano explains inheriting baraka through your father and through ingesting defilements of saints. Crapanzano explains that ingesting defilements, like Sidi ‘Ali ingesting the vomit of Sharqi, mirrors the development from impregnation to birth of and raising of a son. Crapanzano also believes that it mirrors the developing of a man to reach his position of dominance in society (50). A boy uses his father as model and is the student of sorts of his father. He always remains a bit removed since he eventually wishes to replace his father as the head of the family (51). He goes on to say that many of the Hamadsha suffer from a passive, feminine attitude because of a turbulent or nonexistent relationship with the father and a close relationship with the mother.

Based on our experiences in Morocco, it seems that a bad relationship with a father and a feminine attitude or character as a man has a serious stigma attached. The family unit in MENA is particularly important, especially when the father is the unchallenged head of the household and the primary breadwinner. As discussed in class, the Hamadsha man who we talked to would not tell us about the actual status of the men involved and what they sought by becoming members of the Hamadsha. Because of the stigma, men in the Middle East and North Africa seek to fill this void caused by a lack of a father or problems caused by a turbulent relationship with a father. Just as Tuhami was hesitant to share his relationship with the jinn world, the Hamadsha man was hesitant to share his true relationship with the Hamadsha, and those who ingest defilements do so secretly and privately.

Men do not wish to be in a position of submission or passivity and these two readings suggest two different ways that men compensate for that relationship. The Hamadsha revert to a more feminine role to emerge in a more masculine position than before they joined the Hamadsha. They seek a relationship with the jinn world in order to try to function in a normal way with humans in their every day life. They do not wish to be associated with a lack of a father or a submissive position.

One thought on “The Role of “Father””

  1. Well the readings show a common theme in society with the role of fatherhood. It’s so important for fathers to be the best they can be, or yes their kids do end up never reaching their full potential. Meaning, they wont dominate in society.

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