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Issa Touma (Syria)
Issa Touma, Sufi, 1999

Once each year the Sufi, adherents of a mystical branch of Islam, come together in a small village in the north of Syria. On this occasion, the day of Al-Ziyara, fifteen to twenty thousand men descend upon the otherwise tranquil village to honor the memory of the Sufi saint Al-Sheikh Abou Baker Al-Huwwari. The visitors bring money and gifts, and they surrender themselves to song, dance, music and rituals. Statistics indicate that it is during this period that the most children are conceived in the village. The Sufi are the minority in Syria. With gatherings such as the day of Al-Ziyara they seek to strengthen their faith and emphasize their solidarity.

Photographer Issa Touma is the initiator of various photographic and cultural festivals in Syria. He is the founder of the International Photography Festival in Aleppo, which has shown Eastern and Western photography.