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Arboreal Attachment/Detachment

The Felling of a Lonesome Tree in Muhammad Zafzāf’s “The Sacred Tree”

Marianne Marroum    Lebanese American University, Lebanon    



This study interprets Muhammad al-Zafzāf’s “The Sacred Tree” in light of a myriad of social, political and religious constructions that surround a sacred tree and its cutting, a decision taken by the government and implemented by workers hired by the authorities. This short story is from the eponymous collection written in 1980 by the late Moroccan writer, one of the most famous Arabic-language novelists, short story writers and poets in Morocco in the 20th century. I hope to shed some light on the interplay between the local and the universal in relation to the sacred and the profane, manifested as the dialectic and yet often incongruent relation between the natural and the sacred as well as the modern and the traditional. The analysis highlights the critical stance the author takes towards the outdated and superstitious beliefs that still take hold of his society, perhaps hoping to bring about some change.

Dec. 15, 2022
Oct. 21, 2022
June 7, 2022

Keywords: The profaneThe socialChangeThe superstitiousThe sacredUpheavalThe sacred treeThe political

Copyright: © 2022 Marianne Marroum. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.