Pool in Nefta
Nefta is considered by most Sufis to be the spiritual home of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam; many religious buildings are located in the district El Bayadha. 10 miles past Nefta, towards Algeria, is a daily market that sells Tunisian "desert roses", crystalline formations of rock that resemble roses in shape.
Nefta is a pilgrimage center to which pilgrims travel throughout the year. There is a Folk Festival in April and a Date Festival in November/December.
Nefta is the religious center of the Bled el Djerid, the "Land of Palms", with more than 24 mosques and 100 marabouts. The marabouts still attract pilgrims from all over southern Tunisia and even from Algeria. This great veneration of the marabouts reflects the continuing vigor of Sufism, the movement which grew up in the 12th century around Sufi Abu Madian (d. 1197). The name of the Sufis came from the simple woolen garment (suf) they wore. They believed that the adherents of Islam, a religion of the desert, should show particular modesty of behavior and asceticism, and were much given to mysticism, the veneration of holy men, spiritual contemplation and meditation. Sufism is also marked by religious forms taken over from the pre-Islamic, animistic religions of the Berber population which orthodox Islam seeks to repress - belief in spirits, witchcraft, fortune-telling, the efficacy of amulets, etc. Regional variants of Sufism were propagated by holy men, who frequently founded their own brotherhoods, with centers for the teaching of disciples. They are credited with numerous miracles and revered for their holiness, and their tombs (marabouts) are places of pilgrimage, attracting varying numbers of pilgrims according to their reputation. In the past these holy men were also appealed to as judges in the conflicts which frequently occurred between the nomadic tribes and the settled population of the oases. Nefta is the last stronghold of this Sufism, and is sometimes called, with some justification, the "Kairouan of the South". The marabouts venerated here are scattered about throughout the old town of Nefta and the oasis.