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Inner beauty

Sage Baisden muses on her recent journey of self-discovery to the underrated Moroccan city of Fez and the seaside city of Essaouira

Apart from the Kairaouine Mosque and University, all the buildings in Fez have the same tan exteriors. Our tour guide, a local man wearing a djellaba, the traditional Moroccan brown, hooded robe, explains that their decidedly bland facades are in keeping with the teachings of Islam. The smooth stucco structures of this once capital city are meant to be the great equalizer.

“This way, there is no outward difference between the rich and the poor,” he says, gesticulating with his left hand, as he takes a drag from his cigarette. “Everyone is equal on the outside, just as everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah.”

The statement makes me pause. As we continue our tour, I begin thinking about the beauty that this teaching holds. The obvious compassion of this religion seeps into every corner of Moroccan life: it climbs up the unadorned outer walls, creating an unseen splendour that cannot be matched by any ornamentation. In that moment, I am sure I’ve never seen or felt anything quite like the buildings of Fez.

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