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Nefta is considered bi maist Sufis tae be the spiritual hame o Sufism, a mystical branch o Islam; mony releegious biggins are locatit in the destrict El Bayadha. 10 miles past Nefta, towards Algerie, is a daily mercat that sells Tunisian "desert roses", crystalline formations o rock that resemble roses in shape.
Nefta is a pilgrimage center tae which pilgrims travel throughoot the year. There is a Fowk Festival in Aprile an a Date Festival in November/December.
Nefta is the releegious center o the Bled el Djerid, the "Land o Palms", wi maire than 24 mosques an 100 marabouts. The marabouts still attract pilgrims frae aw ower soothren Tunisie an even frae Algerie. This great veneration o the marabouts reflects the continuin vigor o Sufism, the movement which grew up in the 12t century aroond Sufi Abu Madian (d. 1197). The name o the Sufis came frae the simple woolen garment (suf) they wore. They believed that the adherents o Islam, a releegion o the desert, shoud show particular modesty o behavior an asceticism, an wur muckle given tae mysticism, the veneration o holy men, spiritual contemplation an meditation. Sufism is an aa marked bi releegious forms taken ower frae the pre-Islamic, animistic releegions o the Berber population which orthodox Islam seeks tae repress - belief in spirits, witchcraft, fortune-tellin, the efficacy o amulets, etc. Regional variants o Sufism wur propagatit bi holy men, who frequently foondit their awn britherhuids, wi centers for the teachin o disciples. They are creditit wi numerous miracles an revered for their holiness, an their tombs (marabouts) are places o pilgrimage, attractin varyin numbers o pilgrims accordin tae their reputation. In the past these holy men wur an aa appealed tae as judges in the conflicts which frequently occurred atween the nomadic tribes an the settled population o the oases. Nefta is the last stranghauld o this Sufism, an is sometimes cried, wi some justification, the "Kairouan o the Sooth". The marabouts veneratit here are scattered aboot throughoot the auld toun o Nefta an the oasis.
Nefta is dividit intae twa pairts bi a smaw oued an a depression at its northren end. Tae the east o the oued is the new toun, wi the auld souk quarter at its soothwastren corner; tae the wast, on the slopes o a hill, is the auld toun. The main road frae Tozeur runs through the new toun as Avenue Habib Bourguiba, which then crosses the oued an skirts the auld toun. At its wastren end a street branches aff on the richt, ascends the hill, goes roond the auld toun an the sand-bowl, an returns tae Avenue Habib Bourguiba. Nefta is a toun o cube-shaped, flat-roofed hooses huddled closely thegither, wi Tozeur-style decoration. In some o the streets the upper stories o the hooses, borne on roond- heidit airches, project ower the street, formin a kynd o tunnel which affers protection frae the sun. It is planned tae restore the auld toun in the vera near future.
The history o Nefta reaches far back intae the past. It is believed tae hae been settled oreeginally bi shepherds who came frae the kinrick o Napata. The Romans an later the Byzantines built forts in the oasis (Nepte) tae provide protection against raids bi desert nomads. In Byzantine times Nefta an Tozeur wur Episcopal Sees. In the mid-7t century Nefta wis conquered bi the Arabs an, in spite o fierce resistance, convertit tae Islam. In subsequent centuries it prospered as an important stagin-point for caravans (for a time the maist important in Tunisie). Its decline began in the 15t century as a result o mair frequent raids bi nomadic tribes an the general fallin aff in the caravan trade. Wi the coming o the French in 1881, housomeivver, Nefta experienced a renewal.
Nefta lies on GP 3 (Gafsa-Nefta), 25 km/16 mi soothwast o Tozeur (airport; regular services tae an frae Tunis, Monastir, an Djerba) an 113 km/70 mi soothwast o Gafsa. Frae the bus station (Gare Routière) in Avenue Habib Bourguiba, there are regular bus services to Tozeur and Gafsa an a ance-daily service tae Douz an Hazaoua, the frontier post for the crossin intae Algerie. The 4 km/2.5 mi frae there tae the frontier must be done either on fuit or in a louage (communal taxi). Frae the Algerian frontier post there are buses tae El Oued.
- Nefta Fower hunder kilometres soothwast o the Tunisian caipital o Tunis at travelvideostore.com
- NEFTA: Oasis o mony tombs at lexicorient.com