The Ottoman Empire had its famed huzur debates. Morocco has the ‘Aldurus Alhasania’.
Separated by continents but bound by religion, the huzur debate and the ‘Aldurus Alhasania’ are strikingly similar in form and content—scholars and experts taking part in erudite discussions on religious matters, especially the Quran. And both the traditions are part of the annual Ramadan.
While the 165-year-long huzur debates were abolished in 1924 at the end of the caliphate, Morocco has continued the Aldurus Alhasania, except for a two-year break due to the Covid pandemic.
According to historian Mehmet İpsirli, the Moroccan debate tradition continues the Ottoman tradition in terms of method and content.
In the great assemblies of Aldurus Alhasania, scholars from both inside and outside of Morocco were invited. It takes place under the presidency of the Moroccan king himself. The tradition takes its name from former Moroccan King Hassan II.
This tradition, which reportedly dates back to old times in Morocco, was interrupted when the French dominated the country; afterwards, it was revived by Hassan II.
The scholarly assembly set up before the evening prayers, begins with the recitation of the Qur'an. After a scholar gives his speech on an issue, the programme ends with prayers by the sultan himself.
In this assembly, which always had a big audience, state and army officials took part alongside important political figures. Prominent people from the Arab world were also invited to attend the discussions. here. For example, Yasser Arafat and Gamal Abdel Nasser were two people who attended the programme..
Aldurus Alhasania has hosted many scholars since its revival in 1963. Among them are Abul A'la Maududi, Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi, Muhammad Metwalli al-Sha'rawi and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Shiite scholar Musa al-Sadr had also graced the programme once.
These programmes were broadcast live on radio and television and also translated into different languages for global audiences.
In these meetings—recordings of some of them are available on YouTube—, the speaker would go to a podium placed in front of the king and give a speech. After his speech, he presented some of his works to the king, as was the custom, and the king congratulated him.
This tradition continued during the reign of Mohammed VI, who became the king of Morocco after Hassan II died in 1999. In addition to Musa al-Sadr, who made his speech in 1968, another Shiite scholar was invited in 2006, when the Sixth Muhammad was on the throne.
On rare occasions, women too had taken to the podium.