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the Dawn of Civilization => Zoroastrianism, Arabia & the Near East => Topic started by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:05:51 am

Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:05:51 am

                                                            S U F I S M                                       


Sufism is a mystic tradition within Islam which encompasses a diverse range of beliefs and practices dedicated to divine love and the cultivation of the heart.

Sufism has been defined as a type of knowledge by the great Sufi masters. Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, a 15th century Sufi who wrote The Principles of Sufism, defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God." Ibn 'Ajiba, one of the best known Sufi masters defined Sufism as "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inward from filth and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits."

The Tariqas, or Sufi orders, are associated with Sunni Islam. It has been suggested that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in the eighth century, but adherents are now found around the world.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:17:48 am


A few etymologies for the word Sufi (Arabic: تصوف, taṣawwuf - Kurdish: 'sofîtî, f' - Persian: تصوف, Sufi gari - Turkish: Tasavvuf) or Irfan (Arabic/Persian: عرفان) have been suggested.

The conventional view is that the word originates from Suf (صوف), the Arabic word for wool, referring to the simple cloaks the early Muslim ascetics wore. However, not all sufis wear cloaks or clothes of wool. Another etymological theory states that the root word of Sufi is the Arabic word safa (صفا), meaning purity. This places the emphasis of Sufism on purity of heart and soul.

Others suggest the origin is from "Ashab al-Suffa" ("Companions of the Veranda") or "Ahl al-Suffa" ("People of the Veranda"), who were a group of Muslims during the time of the Prophet Mohammad(S.A.W) who spent much of their time on the veranda of the Prophet's mosque devoted to prayer. Yet another etymology, advanced by the 10th century author Al-Biruni is that the word, as 'Sufiya', is linked with the Greek term for 'Wisdom' - 'Sophia', although for various reasons this derivation is not accepted by many at the present.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:19:08 am

Basic beliefs

The essence of Being/Truths/God is devoid of every form and quality, and hence unmanifested, yet it is inseparable from every form and phenomenon either material or spiritual. It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality, including a conception of an individual self, and to realize the divine unity.

Sufis teach in personal groups, as the counsel of the master is considered necessary for the growth of the pupil. They make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor, and it is held by Sufis that meaning can only be reached through a process of seeking the truth, and knowledge of oneself. Although philosophies vary among different Sufi orders, Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to various forms of mysticism such as Hesychasm, Zen Buddhism, Gnosticism and Christian mysticism.

A significant part of Persian literature comes from the Sufis, who created books of poetry containing the teachings of the Sufis. Some of the more notable examples of this poetry are the Walled Garden of Truth, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Conference of the Birds and the Masnavi.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:20:28 am


Sufism is generally believed to have originated among Muslims near Basra in modern Iraq. Almost all traditional Sufi schools (or "orders") trace their "chains of transmission" back to the Prophet via his cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib; the Naqshbandi order is a notable exception to this rule, as it traces its origin to caliph Abu Bakr. From their point of view, the esoteric teaching was given to those who had the capacity to contain the direct experiential gnosis of God, which was passed on from teacher to student through the centuries. Worth noting is that the original Islamic scriptures (Qur'an, tafsir Ibn Ishaq ,tafsir al-Tabari) have no mention whatsoever of Sufi traditions or practices. [citation needed]

Some orientalist scholars believe that Sufism was essentially the result of Islam evolving in a more mystic direction. For example, Annemarie Schimmel proposes that Sufism in its early stages of development meant nothing but the interiorization of Islam. According to Louis Massignon: "It is from the Qur’an, constantly recited, meditated, and experienced, that Sufism proceeded, in its origin and its development."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:22:00 am

The great masters of Sufism

The Sufis dispersed throughout the Middle East, particularly in areas previously under Byzantine influence and control. This period was characterized by the practice of an apprentice (murid) placing himself under the spiritual direction of a Master (shaykh, pir or murshid).

Schools were developed, concerning themselves with topics of mystical experience, education of the heart to purify it of baser instincts, the love of God, and approaching God through progressive stages (maqaam) and states (haal). The schools were championed by reformers who felt their core values and manners were threatened, as the material prosperity of society seemed to them to be eroding the spiritual life.Uwais al-Qarni, Harrm Bin Hian, Hasan Ul-Basri and Sayid Ibn Ul Mussib are regarded as the first mystics among the "Taabi'een" in Islam. Rabia was a female Sufi and known for her love and passion for God. Junayd was among the first theorists of Sufism; he concerned himself with ‘fanaa’ and ‘baqaa’, the state of annihilating the self in the presence of the divine, accompanied by clarity concerning worldly phenomena.

Some muslims believe that Sufism was first formed as a belief in South Asia when Islam mixed with the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Cultures, hence why some festivals are shared between the followers of these beliefs.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:23:52 am

Formalization of philosophies of Sufism

Al Ghazali's treatises, the "Reconstruction of Religious Sciences" and the "Alchemy of Happiness," argued that Sufism originated from the Qur'an and was thus compatible with mainstream Islamic thought and theology. It should be noted that later on in his life Al Ghazali distanced himself from Sufism and even refuted it.  It was around 1000 CE that early Sufi literature, in the form of manuals, treatises, discourses and poetry, became the source of Sufi thinking and meditations.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:29:11 am

Propagation of Sufism

Sufism, during 1200-1500 CE, experienced an era of increased activity in various parts of the Islamic world. This period is considered as the "Classical Period" or the "Golden Age" of Sufism. Lodges and hospices soon became not only places to house Sufi students, but also places for practicing Sufis and other mystics to stay and retreat.

The propagation of Sufism started in Baghdad in Shiah majority areas, such as Iraq and Khorasan, and spread to Persia, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, and Muslim Spain. There were tests of conciliation between Sufism and the other Islamic sciences (sharia, fiqh, etc.), as well as the beginning of the Sufi brotherhoods (turuq).

One of the first orders to originate was the Yasawi order, named after Khwajah Ahmed Yesevi in modern Kazakhstan. The Kubrawiya order, originating in Central Asia, was named after Najmeddin Kubra, known as the "saint-producing shaykh" , because a number of his disciples became shaykhs. The most prominent Sufi master of this era is Abdul Qadir Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriyyah order in Iraq. Others included Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi order in Turkey, Sahabuddin Suharwardi in Iran, Moinuddin Chishti and Makhdoom Ashraf in India.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:30:46 am

Sufism's role in the expansion of Islam

Sufism has some roots in the Shamanic traditions of Middle Asia, and is flexible in terms of religious materiality. These two characteristics of Sufism attracted the nomadic people of middle-western Asia (mainly the current Iranic and Turkic republics of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan). Sufism also spread quickly among the Anatolian Turkmen and among Balkan peoples of modern Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

The mystics of Khorasan like Ahmad Yasavi and Hajji Bektash Wali were influential in the spread of Sufist Islam.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:32:05 am

Modern Sufism

Important Sufis of the modern era include the late Imamuddin Chishty, Salaheddin Ali Nader Shah Angha, Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Inayat Khan, Idries Shah, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Prof. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, Muzaffer Ozak, Javad Nurbakhsh, Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al Haqqani, and Samuel L. Lewis. These individuals have in great measure been responsible for the continued introduction and spread of the Sufi path in the modern West.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:33:58 am


A number of scholars perceive influences on Sufism from pre-Islamic and non-Islamic schools of mysticism and philosophy. Some of these new perspectives originate from the synthesis of Persian civilization with Islam, an emphasis on spiritual aspects of Islam, and the incorporation of ideas and practices from other mysticisms such as Gnosticism and Judaism into Islam. There are also claims regarding ancient Egyptian roots of Sufism which are not widely accepted. However, most Sunni Muslim scholars consider Sufism to be an integral part of Islam, and do not acknowledge foreign influence on orthodox Sufism.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:37:04 am

                                                    S U F I   P H I L O S O P H Y

The Six Subtleties

Realities of The Heart: Drawing from Qur'anic verses, virtually all Sufis distinguish Lataif-e-Sitta (The Six Subtleties), Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi & Akhfa. These lataif (singular : latifa) designate various psychospiritual "organs", or faculties of sensory perception.

Sufic development involves the awakening of these spiritual centers of perception that lie dormant in an individual. Each center is associated with a particular color and general area of the body, oftentimes with a particular prophet, and varies from order to order. The help of a guide is considered necessary to help activate these centers. After undergoing this process, the dervish is said to reach a certain type of "completion."

The person gets acquainted with the lataif one by one by Muraqaba (Sufi meditation), Dhikr (Remembrance of God) and purification of one's psyche of negative thoughts, emotions, and actions. Loving God and one's fellow, irrespective of his or her race, religion or nationality, and without consideration for any possible reward, is the key to ascension according to Sufis.

These six "organs" or faculties: Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi & Akhfa, and the purificative activities applied to them, contain the basic orthodox Sufi philosophy. The purification of the elementary passionate nature (Tazkiya-I-Nafs), followed by cleansing of the spiritual heart so that it may acquire a mirror-like purity of reflection (Tazkiya-I-Qalb) and become the receptacle of God's love (Ishq), illumination of the spirit (Tajjali-I-Ruh) fortified by emptying of egoic drives (Taqliyya-I-Sirr) and remembrance of God's attributes (Dhikr), and completion of journey with purification of the last two faculties, Khafi and Akhfa. Through these "organs" or faculties and the transformative results from their activation, the basic Sufi psychology is outlined and bears some resemblance to the schemata of kabbalah and the tantric chakra system.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:39:14 am

Sufi cosmology

Although there is no consensus with regard to Sufi cosmology, one can disentangle at least three different cosmographies: Ishraqi visionary universe as expounded by Suhrawardi Maqtul, Neoplatonic view of cosmos cherished by Islamic philosophers like Ibn Sina and Sufis like Ibn Arabi, and Hermetic-Ptolemaic spherical geocentric world. All these doctrines (each one of them claiming to be impeccably orthodox) were freely mixed and juxtaposed, frequently with confusing results – a situation one also encounters in other esoteric doctrines.

One of the most thorough declarations of Sufi cosmology is found in the book God Speaks by Meher Baba.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:42:22 am

                                                    S U F I   P R A C T I C E S


Dhikr is the remembrance of God commanded in the Qur'an for all Muslims. To engage in dhikr is to have awareness of God according to Islam. Dhikr as a devotional act includes the repetition of divine names, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Qur'an. More generally, any activity in which the Muslim maintains awareness of God is considered dhikr.

The practice of Muraqaba and Dhikr have very close resemblance with the practices of the Jewish mystics. Muraqaba is very similar to the Merkavah practice, which is one of the meditations used by Kabbalists to attain higher states of consciousness.

Some Sufi orders engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, instrumental music, dance, costumes, incense, meditation, ecstasy, and trance. (Touma 1996, p.162).

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:45:52 am


Hadhra is a dance associated with dhikr practiced primarily in the Arab world. The word Hadhra means Presence in Arabic. Sometimes the sufi songs, or dances are performed as an appeal for the Presence of God, his prophets, and angels.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:47:14 am


Qawwali is a form of devotional Sufi music common in Pakistan, India, Afganistan, Iran and Turkey. It is known for its secular strains. Some of its modern-day masters have included Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers. Amir Khusro, a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, of the Chishti Order, is credited with inventing Qawwali in the 14th century.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:48:44 am


Sama or Sema' (Arabic "listening") refers to Sufi worship practices involving music and dance (see Sufi whirling). In Uyghur culture, this includes a dance form also originally associated with Sufi ritual. See Qawwali origins and Origin and History of the Qawwali, Adam Nayyar, Lok Virsa Research Centre, Islamabad, 1988.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:50:02 am

Sufi poetry

Sufism has produced a large body of poetry in Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, Punjabi, Sindhi, Turkish, Pashto language and Urdu languages which notably includes the works of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, al-Hallaj, Ibn al-Farid, Hafez, Jami, Ibn Arabi, Farid Ud-Din Attar, Abdul Qader Bedil, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusro, Yunus Emre, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan Bahu, Muhammad Iqbal, Hussain Baksh Malang as well as numerous traditions of devotional dance, such as Sufi whirling, and music, such as Qawwali.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:51:29 am


Langar is a fundamental element of Indian Sufism, especially the Chishti Order. Langar is served in the precincts of a Sufi Dergah, and is served out of a massive pot called a "Deg," and is not necessarily vegetarian. Langar is not only available for all but is actively distributed to the poor.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:54:54 am

                                                O R D E R S   O F   S U F I S M

Traditional orders

( Keşküls (grant bowls) Bektashi dervishes. Dervishes used these bowl during begging, which was a process of overcoming personal vanity and arrogance for dervishes in Sufi culture of the time.

The traditional Sufi orders emphasise the role of Sufism within Islam. Therefore, the Sharia (traditional Islamic law) and the Sunnah (customs of the Prophet) are seen as crucial for any Sufi aspirant. Among the oldest and most well known of the Sufi orders are the Qadiri, Chisti, Oveyssi, Shadhili, Jerrahi, Naqshbandi, Ashrafi,Bektashi , Nimatullahi and Mevlevi.

One proof traditional orders assert is that almost all the famous Sufi masters of the past Caliphates were also experts in Sharia and were renowned as people with great Iman (faith) and excellent practice.

Many were also Qadis (Sharia law judges) in courts. They held that Sufism was never distinct from Islam and to fully comprehend and live correct with Sufism one must be a practicing Muslim obeying the Sharia.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 07:58:24 am

Non-traditional Sufi groups

In recent decades there has been a growth of non-traditional Sufi movements in the West. Some examples are Universal Sufism movement, the Mevlevi Order of America, the Golden Sufi Center, the Sufi Foundation of America, and Sufism Reoriented.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 08:00:14 am

Universal Sufism

Mainstream Sufism is seen by its scholars and supporters as a part of traditional Islam. However, there is a major line of non-Islamic or offshoot-Islamic Sufi thought that sees Sufism as predating Islam and being a universal philosophy, that is independent of the Qur'an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. This view of Sufism has been popular in the Western world.

Universal Sufism tends to be opposed by traditional Sufis, who argue that Sufism has always been practiced from within an Islamic framework and can never be separated from it. Inayat Khan founded Universal Sufism whilst also maintaining his lineage in Chisti Sufism, and Idries Shah advocated similar concepts. Irina Tweedie and Abdullah Dougan also taught outside the Islamic context while maintaining the connection to their Naqshbandi heritage.

There is also an attempt to reconsider Sufism in contemporary Muslim thought from within. According to this view, Sufism represents the core sense of Islam that gives insight to God and His creation.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 08:01:50 am

Traditional Islamic schools of thought and Sufism

Islam traditionally consists of a number of groups. The two main divisions are the Sunnis and the Shia. Shia and Sunni Islam consist of a number of schools of legal jurisprudence (called Madhabs). Sufis do not define Sufism as a madhhab — what distinguishes a person as a Sufi is practicing Sufism, usually through association with a Sufi order. In this sense, traditional practitioners of Sufism don't see it as an exclusive group but just as a form of training necessary to cultivate spirituality and Ihsan in their lives.

W. Chittick explains the position of Sufism and Sufis this way:

In short, Muslim scholars who focused their energies on understanding the normative guidelines for the body came to be known as jurists, and those who held that the most important task was to train the mind in achieving correct understanding came to be divided into three main schools of thought: theology, philosophy, and Sufism. This leaves us with the third domain of human existence, the spirit. Most Muslims who devoted their major efforts to developing the spiritual dimensions of the human person came to be known as Sufis.

The relationship between traditional Islamic scholars and Sufism is complicated due to the variety views held among them. Many traditional scholars, such as Al-Ghazali, helped it's propogation while there are also many traditional scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah whom opposed it as an innovation.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 08:03:17 am

                                                CONTROVERSY AND CRITICISM OF SUFISM

Sufism is a somewhat controversial subject today. For didactic convenience, the perspectives on Sufism as a part of Islam will be mentioned first and after that, the non Muslim groups who claim to be Sufi adherents.

Classic position on Sufism

Sufism emphasises non quantifiable matters (like states of the heart). The authors of various Sufi treatises often used allegorical language which couldn't be read by an unknowledgeable person to describe these states (eg. likened some states to intoxication, which is forbidden in Islam). This usage of indirect language and the existence of interpretations by people who had no training in Islam or Sufism led to doubts being cast over the validity of Sufism as a part of Islam. Also, some groups emerged that considered themselves above the Sharia and discussed Sufism as a method of bypassing the rules of Islam in order to attain salvation directly. This was disapproved of by traditional scholars. An example of such a deviant sufi was Abu Hilman.[5] One of the most vocal critics of such deviations from the Islamic creed was Ibn Taymiya.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 08:07:19 am

Criticism of Sufism

Sufi masters have introduced many special prayers and devotional acts into their schools.

The allegorical and often abstruse language used by Sufis in their texts when interpreted by unqualified people opens avenues for many misunderstandings. eg. The concept of divine unity Wahdat-ul-wujood which critics consider equivalent to pantheism and therefore incompatible with Islam. 

Sufi masters in many of their introductory texts caution aspirants from reading and interpreting texts by themselves. They hold that the subject can only be taught by a master to a student under strict guidance and supervision owing to its delicate nature

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 08:09:24 am

Islamic positions on non-Islamic Sufi groups

The use of the title Sufi by many groups to refer to themselves and their use of traditional Sufi masters (notably Jalaluddin Rumi) as sources of inspiration as well as the existence of interpretations of classical Sufis texts by people who have no grounding in traditional Islamic sciences has created a group of non-Islamic Sufis. These are considered by certain conventional Islamic scholars as "beyond the pale" of the religion.  However, Sufis are often encouraged to observe a higher degree of forebearance.

Some Sufi Sheikhs, although having been initiated in an Islamic setting themselves, have gone on to teach more widely and to make it clear that students of Sufism need not formally embrace Islam.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 09:15:21 am

Sufism has been defined in many ways. Some see it as God's annihilating the individual's ego, will, and self-centredness and then reviving him spiritually with the lights of His Essence so that he may live according to His will. Others view it as a continuous striving to cleanse one's self of all that is bad or evil in order to acquire virtue. Junayd al-Baghdadi, a famous Sufi master, defines Sufism as a method of recollecting "self-annihilation in God" and "permanence or subsistence with God." Shibli summarizes it as always being together with God or in His presence, so that no worldly or other-worldly aim is even entertained. Abu Muhammad Jarir describes it as resisting the temptations of the carnal self and bad qualities and acquiring laudable moral qualities.

There are some who describe Sufism as seeing behind the "outer" or surface appearance of things and events and interpreting whatever happens in the world in relation to God. This means that a person regards every act of God as a window to "see" Him, lives his life as a continuous effort to view or "see" Him with a profound, spiritual "seeing" indescribable in physical terms, and with a profound awareness of being continually overseen by Him.

All of these definitions can be summarized as follows: Sufism is the path followed by an individual who is seeking to free himself or herself from human vices and weaknesses in order to acquire angelic qualities and conduct pleasing to God. Such a goal can be realized by living in accordance with the requirements of God's knowledge and love, and in the resulting spiritual delights that ensue. Sufism is based on observing even the most "trivial" rule of Shari'a in order to penetrate their inner meaning.

An initiate or traveler on the path (salik) never separates the outer observance of the Shari'a from its inner dimension, and therefore observes all of the requirements of both the outer and the inner dimensions of Islam. Through such observance, he or she travels toward the goal in utmost humility and submission.

Sufism, being a demanding path leading to knowledge of God, has no room for negligence or frivolity. It requires that the initiate should strive continuously, like a honeybee flying from the hive to flowers and from flowers to the hive, to acquire this knowledge. He should purify his heart from all other attachments, and resist all carnal inclinations, desires, and appetites. He should lead his life in a spiritual manner, always be ready to receive divine blessing and inspiration, and in strict observance of the example left behind by Prophet Muhammad. Convinced that attachment and adherence to God is the greatest merit and honor, he should renounce his own desires for the demands of God, the Truth.

After these [preliminary] definitions, we should discuss the aim, benefits, and principles of Sufism. Sufism requires the strict observance of all religious obligations, an austere lifestyle, and the renunciation of carnal desires. Through this method of spiritual self-discipline, the individual's heart is purified and his senses and faculties are employed in the way of God, which means that he can now begin to live on a spiritual level.

Sufism also enables man, through the constant worship of God, to deepen his awareness of himself as a devotee of God. It enables him to renounce this transient world and the desires and emotions that it engenders, and awakens him to the reality of the other world that is turned toward God's Divine Beautiful Names. Sufism allows the individual to make this transition, for it develops the angelic dimension of one's existence and enables the acquisition of a strong, heart-felt, and personally experienced conviction of the articles of faith that he had accepted only superficially.

The principles of Sufism may be listed as follows:

1. Reaching true belief in God's Divine Oneness and living in accordance with its demands.

2. Heeding the Divine Speech (the Qur'an), and discerning and then obeying the commands of the Divine Power and Will as they relate to the universe (the laws of creation and life).

3. Overflowing with Divine Love and getting along with all other beings in the realization (originating from Divine Love) that the universe is a cradle of brotherhood.

4. Giving preference or precedence to the well-being and happiness of others.

5. Acting in accord with the demands of the Divine Will-not with the demands of our own will-and living in a manner that reflects our self-annihilation in God and subsistence with Him.

6. Being open to love, spiritual yearning, delight, and ecstasy.

7. Being able to discern what is in hearts or minds through facial expressions and the inner, Divine mysteries and meanings of surface events.

8. Visiting spiritual places and associating with people who encourage the avoidance of sin and striving in the way of God.

9. Being content with permitted pleasures, and not to taking even a single step toward that which is not permitted.

10. Continuously struggling against worldly ambitions and illusions that lead us to believe in the eternal nature of this world.

11. Never forgetting that salvation is possible only through certainty or conviction of the truth of religious beliefs and conduct, sincerity or purity of intention, and the sole desire to please God.

Two other elements may be added: acquiring knowledge and understanding of the religious and gnostic sciences, and following the guidance of a perfected, spiritual master. Both of these are of considerable significance the Naqshbandiyah Sufi order.

It may be useful to discuss Sufism according to the following basic concepts, which often form the core of books written on good morals, manners, and asceticism, and which are regarded as the sites of the "Muhammadan Truth" in one's heart. They can also be considered lights by which to know and follow the spiritual path leading to God. The first and foremost of these concepts is wakefulness (yaqaza), which is alluded to in several Prophetic sayings (hadiths): "My eyes sleep but my heart does not," and "Men are asleep. They wake up when they die."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 11, 2007, 12:26:32 pm
 :)    IN regard to Re: THE SUFIS
« Reply #13 on: Today at 07:45:52 am »

Sufi worship practices involving music and dance (see Sufi whirling). 

Okay “B” if this is a stupid question, it’s because I’m skimming what you’ve posted here.  (which is almost a requirement just to keep pace with what you post, LOL. I’m considering taking a course with Evelyn Wood just so I can, LOL). 

Is this the same whirling as in the Whirling Dervishes?  I know that their dance is a kind of prayer.  But like the rest of us Westerners, the East all sounds the same to me, LOL.  So pardon my ignorance.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 04:32:42 pm

Sure is, Sunshine!

I'll get to that next.   Have been too busy to complete this today.

Love and Peace,

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 05:25:57 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 05:43:29 pm

                                                    D E R V I S H

The word Dervish, especially in European languages, refers to members of Sufi Muslim ascetic religious fraternities, known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars.

The term comes from the Persian word Darwīsh [1] (درویش), which usually refers to a mendicant ascetic. This latter word is also used to refer to an unflappable or ascetic temperament (as in the Urdu phrase darwaishana thabiyath for an ascetic temperament); that is, for an attitude that is indifferent to material possessions and the like.

As Sufi practitioners, dervishes were known as a source of wisdom, medicine, poetry, enlightenment, and witticisms. For example, Mollah Nasr-ad-Din (Mulla Nasrudin, Hoja Nasrudin) had become a legend in the Near East and the Indian subcontinent, not only among the Muslims.


Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 05:48:21 pm
A Persian dervish, Qajar era,
 seen here from an 1873
depiction of Tehran's
Grand Bazaar.

                                                                 Religious practice

Many dervishes are mendicant ascetics who have taken the vow of poverty, unlike mullahs. The main reason why they beg is to learn humility, but dervishes are prohibited to beg for their own good. They have to give the collected money to other poor people. Others work in common professions; Egyptian Qadiriyya – known in Turkey as Kadiri – for example, are fishermen. Rifa'iyyah dervishes travelled and spread into North and East Africa, Turkey, the Balkans and all the way down to India.

There are also various dervish fraternities (Sufi orders), almost all of which trace their origins from various Muslim saints and teachers, especially Ali and Abu Bakr. They live in monastic conditions, superficially similar to Christian monk fraternities. Various orders and suborders have appeared and disappeared over the centuries.

The whirling dance that is proverbially associated with dervishes, is the practice of the Mevlevi Order in Turkey, and is just one of the physical methods used to try to reach religious ecstasy (majdhb, fana). The name "Mevlevi" comes from Rumi, a poet, whose shrine is in Turkey and who was a Dervish himself. This practice, though not intended as entertainment, has become a tourist attraction in Turkey.

Other groups include the Bektashis, connected to the janissaries, and Senussi, who are rather orthodox in their beliefs. Other fraternities and subgroups chant verses of the Qur'an, play drums or dance vigorously in groups, all according to their specific traditions. Some practice quiet meditation, as is the case with most of the Sufi orders in South Asia, many of whom owe allegiance to, or were influenced by, the Chishti order. Each fraternity uses its own garb and methods of acceptance and initiation, some of them which may be rather severe.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 05:58:35 pm

                                                                 M E V L E V I

Whirling Dervishes perform near the Mevlevi Museum in Konya, Turkey. - ABOVE

-The Mevlevi Order or the Mevleviye are a Sufi order founded by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi in 1273 in Konya (in present-day Turkey). They are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi Path.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:04:18 pm


Dervish studying

The Mevlevoopee, or Mevleviye, one of the most well known of the Sufi orders, was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death, particularly his son, Sultan Veled Celebi (or Çelebi, Chelebi). The Mevlevi, or "The Whirling Dervishes", believe in performing their dhikr in the form of a "dance" and music ceremony called the sema.

The Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the "Perfect." He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:10:23 pm

The Mevlevi were a well established Sufi Order in the Ottoman Empire, and many of the members of the order served in various official positions of the Caliphate. The centre for the Mevlevi order was in Konya, where Rumi is buried. There is also a Mevlevi monastery or dergah in Istanbul, near the Galata Tower, where the sema ceremony is performed and accessible to the public.

During Ottoman Empire era, the Mevlevi order produced a number of famous poets and musicians such as Sheikh Ghalib, Ismail Ankaravi (both buried at the Galata Mevlevi-Hane) and Abdullah Sari. Music, especially the ney, play an important part in the Mevlevi order and thus much of the traditional "oriental" music that Westerners associate with Turkey originates with the Mevlevi order. This was also the beginning of the womens movement in song and poetry with the first known woman artist Ayat Sweid. Indeed, if one buys a CD of Turkish Sufi music, chances are it will be Mevlevi religious music.

During the Ottoman period, the Mevlevi order spread into the Balkans, Syria, and Egypt (and is still practiced in both countries where they are known as the Mawlawi order). The Bosnian writer Meša Selimović wrote the book Death and the Dervish about a Mevlevi dergah in Sarajevo.

The Mevlevi Order has some similarities to other Dervish orders such as the Qadiri (founded in 1165), the Rifa'i (founded in 1182), and the Kalenderis.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:13:51 pm

The Mevlevi Order was outlawed in Turkey at the dawn of the secular revolution and dervish lodge has converted to Mevlana Museum in Konya by Kemal Atatürk. In the 1950s, the Turkish government, realizing that The Whirling Dervishes had value as a tourist attraction, began allowing the Whirling Dervishes to perform annually in Konya on the Urs of Mevlana, December 17, the anniversary of Rumi's death.

In 1971, they performed in London with Kani Karaca as lead singer. In 1972, they toured North America for the first time with Kani Karaca, Ulvi Erguner, and Akagündüz Kutbay among the musicians.

They performed in France, for Pope Paul VI, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and other venues in the United States and Canada - under the direction of the late Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede. In April of 2007 the order has initiated another tour of the U.S. where they are performing to sold-out crowds, in places such as Denver and San Francisco.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:18:22 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:20:01 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:22:06 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:25:49 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 11, 2007, 06:27:23 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 12, 2007, 03:06:07 pm
 :)  Beautiful!  There's something not quite defined and yet so right about the combination of music, dance, and prayer.  The Roman Catholic's ruined that idea, and for some reason found it profane.  But the Bible explicately mentions Biblical figures as dancing for God in some kind of ecstatic prayer. 

I recount times in my youth walking to chuch, and passing by a gospel church, where they were all caught up in the moment singing and jumping to music of a joyus nature with drums and other modern musical instruments.  I remember thinking, "why doesn't my church have good music like that?"

By the by, there's a scene in my novel where inside the the Kings Chamber of the Great Pyramid, at dawn, a secret cult is in the midst of a ritual in which they dance around the sarcophagus in a dance based on the whirling dervishes.

I've love to see them perform.   ;D

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 03:33:02 pm

As would I, Sungate.

Maybe UTube has some tapes, since various Dervish Troupes have toured and performed
in the United States.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 12, 2007, 03:37:35 pm
 :)  U-tube eh?  I'll have my kids check on that tonight, (veritable wizards of the internet).  If they find anything, I'll attempt to post the site.   ;)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 04:26:40 pm
Kosovo dervishes, adepts of Sufism a mystical form of
Islam that preaches tolerance and a search for
understanding, conduct a ritual prayer during a
ceremony in March 2006 in the prayer room in Pristina.
every spring the Dervishes of Kosovo -- among the last
in Europe -- dance, chant and push knives into their
bodies in a quest for heavenly salvation.(AFP/Ermal Meta

                                         Kosovo's Dervishes dance toward salvation

PRIZREN, Serbia-Montenegro (AFP)

Every spring the Dervishes of  Kosovo -- among the last in Europe -- dance, chant and push knives into their bodies in a quest for heavenly salvation.

They are shunned by many fellow Muslims as starry-eyed mystics, but the Dervishes who gathered recently in Prizen for a centuries-old celebration do not see themselves as outside the Islamic pale.

"We are the avant garde of the Muslim religion," says Shejh Adrihusejn, a leader of the mystical order, playing down the dramatic extremes to which Dervishes go to attain religious fulfillment.

"We do not accept being presented as a Muslim mystic sect or an extreme branch of our religion," says the Shejh, a title given to Dervish community leaders.

A fraternity of Sufi Islam famous for both their asceticism and their hypnotic, trance-inducing dances, the Dervish community in Kosovo is a legacy of the Ottoman empire that once held sway over this Serbian province.

While 95 percent of Kosovo's two million inhabitants are Muslim, only a tiny fraction -- some 50,000 -- are Dervishes. There are also Sufi communities in neighboring Albania and Macedonia.

At the end of March the 5,000 Dervishes of Prizen in southern Kosovo celebrate the Spring equinox festival of "Sultan Nevruz," the moment when the sun begins to favor the Northern Hemisphere and day become longer than night.

The ceremony unfolds in the hilly suburbs of this picture-postcard town in special ampitheatre, or "teqe," that bears little resemblance to a traditional Muslim mosque.

Some 60 dervishes of all ages dressed in black and white waistcoats and flat hats, including a few children, begin chanting before an overflowing crowd. Women, guests and journalists are kept to the side or observe from a small wooden balcony.

What is about to unfold is so dramatic as to shock the uninitiated, and even shake one's understanding of medical science.

"La-illaha-illallah" ("There is no god but God") the Dervishes intone in a subdued prayer, forming a semi-circle around Shejh Adrihusejn.

Bobbing their heads, they slowly up the tempo and volume of the prayer from a deep murmur into full-throated howl, praying for their past sins to be pardoned.

The crescendo mounts for two hours until the Dervishes are swaying in a state of mystical ecstasy. "Allah Hu" (he is God), they chant in perfect unison.

That is when the skewers and knives appear.

The Shejh leads the way, coating 15-centimetre (six inch) long needles with his saliva and then piercing his two young sons. He does the same to three other children.

Miraculously, there is no blood, and the children show no sign of fear or pain, swaying silently as they hold the needles pierced through one side of their mouths.

Next come the blades: Shejh slowly eases 40-centimetre ( 1.3-foot) knives with rounded, pearl-coated stems through both cheeks of the Dervishes, one-by-one.

Driven by the rhythm of kettledrums and tambourines, the entranced worshipers sway in a semi-conscious state, repeating their calls to "Allah" over and over.

Next they begin piercing their necks with knives, proudly displaying the wounds.

"The knives symbolize the healing of all wounds. This is the blessing of God and the power of the order," says an elderly, high-ranking Dervish after the ceremony.

Finally, the intensity subsides into a prayer for the souls of all prophets and believers, as the Dervishes remove the knives and return them to the Shejh, kissing his hands.

Later, the 44-year-old Shejh talks about his flock's esoteric tradition, insisting that it has a place in modern society.

"We propagandize love among people. Belief is, in essence, love towards God, towards others and towards life," he says.

"I am against any extremism. I am a Muslim and a European of the 21st Century -- Internet is an important part of my life," he says.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 04:57:30 pm
Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque
in Mecca, October 2004"

                                      G E T T I N G   T O   K N O W   T H E   S U F I S

                      There is a tolerant, pluralist tradition in Islam. We can't afford to ignore it.

by Stephen Schwartz
02/07/2005, Volume 010, Issue 20

JUST FOUR MONTHS AGO, thousands of mourners thronged the Grand Mosque in
Mecca for the funeral of a famous Sufi teacher. This was an
extraordinary event, given the discrimination against all non-Wahhabi
Muslims that is the state policy of Saudi Arabia. The dead man,
58-year-old Seyed Mohammad Alawi Al-Maliki, had been blacklisted from
employment in religious education, banned from preaching in the Grand
Mosque (a privilege once enjoyed by his father and grandfather), and
even imprisoned by the Saudi regime and deprived of his passport.
That so many Saudi subjects were willing to gather openly to mourn
him--indeed, that his family succeeded in excluding Wahhabi clerics from
the mosque during the memorial--says something important, not just about
the state of dissent inside the Saudi kingdom, but also about pluralism
in Islam.

It's hard to know which facet of Al-Maliki's identity his mourners were
turning out to honor--if indeed these can be separated. He was, first, a
Hejazi, a native of the western Arabian region that was an independent
kingdom before the Saudi-Wahhabi conquest in the 1920s. Home to Mecca,
Medina, and the commercial port of Jeddah, the Hejaz hosts an urban,
cosmopolitan culture very different from that of the desert nomads.
Al-Maliki's funeral was the first for a prominent Hejazi to be held in
the Grand Mosque in decades.

He was also a leader of the Maliki school of Sunni Islam, a classical
school of interpretation that the Wahhabis have forced underground in
Saudi Arabia. Prior to the imposition of Wahhabi fascism, the Malikis,
along with the other three main schools of Sunni Islam, had maintained a
respected presence in the Grand Mosque for many centuries. Dialogue had
characterized relations among these schools of Islamic thought.

But perhaps most significantly, Al-Maliki was an eminent teacher of
Sufism. This spiritual and basically peaceful form of Islam is anathema
to the Wahhabis, who have ferociously suppressed it. With disciples in
South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even the United States, Al-Maliki
was an outstanding representative of moderate, traditional Islam.

Some Saudi dissidents saw a muffled demand for political reform in the
public outpouring of admiration for Al-Maliki; he had attended a
Saudi-government-sponsored national dialogue on political change in late
2003. Others viewed it as an affirmation of secret affiliation with the
Maliki school. But many Saudis treated the massive funeral principally
as a manifestation of sympathy for Sufism. Clandestine Sufi meetings
have become commonplace in Jeddah, the hive of liberal reformism in the
kingdom, and increasing numbers of young people have taken to Sufism as
an expression of anti-Wahhabi defiance.

ISLAMIC PLURALISM is not a new idea dreamed up in the West and offered
as a helpful cure for Muslim rage. It is a longstanding reality. The
Muslim world comprises a spectrum of religious interpretations. If, at
one end of the continuum, we find the fanatical creed of Wahhabism,
cruel and arbitrary, more an Arab-supremacist state ideology than a
religious sect, at the other end we find the enlightened traditions of
Sufism. These stress not only intra-Islamic dialogue, separation of
spiritual from clerical authority, and teaching in the vernacular, but
also respect for all believers, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish,
Hindu, Buddhist, or other. Sufis emphasize, above all, their commitment
to mutual civility, interaction, and cooperation among believers,
regardless of sect.

Indeed, the further the distance from Wahhabism, the greater the element
of pluralism present in Islam. Where the Wahhabis insist that there is
only one, monolithic, authentic Islam (theirs), the Sufis express their
faith through hundreds of different orders and communities around the
globe, none pretending to an exclusive hold on truth. Sufis may be
either Sunni or Shia; some would claim to have transcended the
difference. Throughout its 1,200-year history, Sufism has rested on a
spiritual foundation of love for the creator and creation, which implies
the cultivation of mercy and compassion toward all human beings. These
principles are expressed in esoteric teachings imparted through formal

Sufis follow teachers--known as /sheikhs/, /babas/, /pirs/, and
/mullahs/ (the latter, meaning "protector," had no pejorative meaning
before the Iranian revolution)--but they resist the notion that
religious authority should be based on titles and offices. Rather, Sufi
teachers gain acceptance and support by their insights and capacity for
transmission of enlightenment to their students.

The history of Sufism is filled with examples of interfaith fusion, in
contrast with the rigid separatism of the Islamic fundamentalists.
Balkan and Turkish Sufis share holy sites with Christians. Central Asian
Sufis preserve traditions inherited from shamans and Buddhists.

Sufis in French-speaking West Africa adapt local customs, and those in
Eastern Turkestan borrow from Chinese traditions such as Confucianism
and Taoism, as well as martial arts. In the Balkans, Turkey, and Central
Asia, Sufis have accepted secularism as a bulwark against religious
intolerance and the monopolization of religious opinion by clerics.

The mode of life followed by Sufis, who are also known as Dervishes, is
as varied as their geographical distribution. Some retire into
seclusion, living on the grounds of /tekkes/ or lodges where Sufis
typically meet weekly for meditation, chanting, and other rituals, known
as /zikr/ or "remembrance of God." Others give up their worldly
possessions and wander as pilgrims.

Yet most Sufis in the Muslim world
maintain ordinary working lives, and some have become rich; it was said
that when Sheikh al-Maliki's funeral was held in Mecca, private jets
choked Saudi airports for days. Sufism has also exercised an influence,
if a limited one, on intellectuals and spiritual seekers in the West.

Among Western experts at the State Department and in academic Middle
East Studies programs, Sufism is often dismissed as "folk Islam,"
echoing the denigration voiced by the Islamic clerical establishment.
This is paradoxical, for although there are regions where Sufism is the
prevalent form of Islam and its influence is seen in a lack of strict
observance, Sufis are more often than not sophisticated in their breadth
of reading and worldview.

In some countries, such as Egypt, Sufis are
sometimes derided as credulous bumpkins, but in others, like India, they
tend to be viewed as an elite.

Western experts' disdain for Sufism, however, is worse than paradoxical.
It indicates a remarkable blindness to a cultural resource profoundly
relevant to the possible growth of pluralism and tolerance--and
therefore the emergence of democratic cultures--in the Islamic world.

JUST WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP between Sufism and the prospect for
political progress in the Muslim nations? At the risk of grossly
oversimplifying complex phenomena, it may be useful to distinguish three
different patterns.

(1) We have already seen how, under conditions of oppression, Sufism in
Saudi Arabia has become something of a channel for cultural resistance
and political opposition. The Saudi case is not unique. In several
places, Sufism has nourished resistance to oppressive regimes. The Sufi
always prefers peace to war, and nonviolence to violence. But Sufis are
also fighters against injustice. As the dean of Western historians of
Islam, Bernard Lewis, puts it, Sufism is "peaceful but not pacifist."
Some Sufis have been famous for their involvement in /jihad/, although
the 19th-century Sufi and leader of the early Algerian opposition to
French conquest Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi famously commented, "The Sufi
does not go gladly to /jihad/." Al-Jazairi himself preached, and showed
by example, that protection of non-Muslim civilians (in this instance,
French colonists in Algeria) was required of Muslims fighting a
Christian invader.

Similarly, in Kosovo, Sufis played a major role, over decades, in
resisting, sometimes by means of guerrilla war,* *the abuses inflicted
on Albanians by the Turkish authorities, and later by Slavic
imperialists. Iraqi Kurdistan is another Sufi center; its spiritual
leaders were prominent in fighting Saddam Hussein, and now actively
promote the Iraqi alliance with the United States. Sufis were the
traditional inspirers of the struggle against Russian aggression in
Chechnya and other Caucasian Muslim areas, until, at the end of the
1990s, the conflict in Chechnya was usurped by Wahhabi Arabs who bent it
in a terrorist direction.

(2) A second model can be discerned where Sufism is the dominant form of
Islam, in lands stretching from French-speaking West Africa and Morocco
to the Balkans, Turkey, and Central Asia, and from India to Indonesia.
Here, Sufism has deeply influenced local cultures, facilitating
secularist attitudes as well as coexistence with non-Muslims. It is no
accident that Morocco, Turkey, and Indonesia, all of which feature
Sufi-dominated Islam, are the countries often deemed to have the best
potential for the development of Muslim democracies. In India, of
course, Muslims now numbering 130 million have lived as a minority in a
functioning democracy for half a century.

Against many obstacles, the kings of Morocco--home to some of the most
respected and subtle Sufi thinkers--have sought to maintain good
relations with the country's centuries-old Jewish community as well as
with Israel. Turkey, whose cultural life is replete with Sufi influence
(even though the Sufi orders themselves were outlawed by the
secularizing regime in the 1920s and remain underground to this day),
also has an excellent record with both Turkish Jews and the state of
Israel. The constitution of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim
nation, with a population of 240 million, promises religious freedom for
all beliefs, though the religion of the majority is taught in public
schools; a Sufi mass organization with 30 million members, the
Muhammadiyah, has been outspoken in its opposition to Islamist
extremism. What varies considerably in these countries is the
institutional strength of Sufism. Thus, in Central Asia, where famous
Sufis are national cultural heroes, the long night of Soviet communism
left the Sufis structurally weak, and they are presently rebuilding
their orders.

In places where Sufism is dominant, spiritual traditions may play a
positive role in fostering civic values conducive to democracy. The
Bektashi Sufis of the Albanian lands, counting 3 million members from
Kosovo to northern Greece, for example, declare boldly that they are
"the most progressive Muslims in the world!"--as I was vociferously
reminded in 2003 by Baba Tahir Emini, their leader in Western Macedonia.
They are especially known for their dedication to women's rights and
popular education, and are the only Sufi order to permit drinking alcohol.

(3) A third model can be identified in places where Sufism is
influential among the mass of Muslims, but the dervishes have kept their
heads down so as to avoid conflict with the ruling dictators. In these
countries--among them Syria, Iran, and Sudan--Sufism remains quietist.
Nobody can say what role the Sufis might eventually play here, if or
when each regime begins or accelerates a transition away from Baathism
(in the first case), clerical rule (in the second), or violent Islamism
(in the third). But the Sufis' private dedication to religious and
intellectual pluralism can only reinforce whatever positive developments
may emerge.

GIVEN THIS VARIED PICTURE, how should Sufism enter into American
strategies for dealing with the Islamic world?

Most obviously, Americans should learn more about Sufism, engaging with
its leaders and followers, and getting to know its main trends. This
isn't hard, as the meeting houses of the Sufi orders are easy to find in
every Muslim country except Saudi Arabia. American diplomats in Muslim
cities from Pristina in Kosovo to Kashgar in western China, and from Fez
in Morocco to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, should include the
local Sufis on their lists for frequent visits. American students and
business people, aid workers and tourists, should embrace opportunities
to get acquainted with Sufis. Most important, anyone in or out of
government who is in a position to influence the discussion and shaping
of U.S. policy toward the Middle East can benefit from an appreciation
of this indigenous tradition of Islamic tolerance.

It should go without saying that attempts at direct cooptation or
subsidy of a "Sufi alternative" to radical Islam should be avoided. To
remain true to itself, Sufism must be independent. Sufis do not need
money, but comprehension and respect as a major component of the global
Islamic community.

At the same time, on human rights grounds, the United States must speak
up for Sufis against those who repress them, often violently, especially
in Saudi Arabia. To repeat, in the Wahhabi-dominated kingdom, an
independent, spiritual Sufi oppositional culture is emerging, with
special attraction for young people. Against the backdrop of Saudi
fanaticism, including the open support for radical Islam coming from
some of Riyadh's richest and most powerful personalities, Sufism
exemplifies the Islamic pluralism that, if restored to Saudi Arabia,
could shut off the money flow to al Qaeda and its allies worldwide.
These are opportunities in the war against terror that the United States
would be foolish to miss.

Stephen Schwartz is the author of /The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi
Fundamentalism and its Role in Terrorism/.

© Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 05:18:36 pm
"Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans -- whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right -- shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or to regret."  Qur'an 2:62

                                                   W A H H A B I   W A T C H

CIP WahhabiWatch is a continuing, Friday feature produced by the Center for Islamic Pluralism.  It exposes and comments on the activities of the “Wahhabi lobby” presently dominating Islam in America – specifically:

 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),
 the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA),
 the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA),
 the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA),
 the Muslim American Society (MAS),
 the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC),
 the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC),
 the Arab American Institute (AAI).
Note: In the past, it was common to exempt ADC and AAI from listing as “Wahhabi Lobby” groups because of their secular and ethnic, rather than religious nature.  In addition, they have been led by prominent Christian and leftist/atheist Arab advocates including James Zogby and Hussein Ibish.  However, because both groups have been assiduous in defending Saudi Arabia, the global center of Wahhabism, as well as in promoting contempt for American norms of democratic discourse, their inclusion is logical and justified.

Center for Islamic Pluralism

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 05:38:51 pm


Sept. 21, 2005, Daily Times (Reuters)

By Christian Oliver

The Sufis' mystical path to God through dance and music does not go down well with some of the most senior religious figures in Iran

TEHRAN: Venerable white-bearded dervishes and high-heeled girls with garish lipstick found rare common ground before dawn on Tuesday, celebrating an Iranian holiday with the mystical chants of the Sufis.

Sufi Muslim spirituality is largely tolerated under Iran's strict Islamic laws, although senior religious figures occasionally call for a clampdown on its rites.

Under an almost full moon, several hundred Iranians came to celebrate the birthday of the 'Mahdi' at the Zahir-od-dowleh  cemetery in northern Tehran, a dervish hub where many writers and artists are buried.

The Mahdi is a key figure of Shi'ite Islam, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad whose messianic return is eagerly awaited after his disappearance in the ninth century.

Some visitors to the graveyard lost themselves in the chanted mystical verses of classical Persian poets such as Rumi and Hafez and nodded along with the plaintive melody of flutes and dull drumbeat of giant 'daf' tambourines.

Others had come for free pastries and to gossip. “This is the music that brings people and God together,” said daf player Mohammad. “Our music has saved invalids from the brink of death after their doctors had written them off.”

However, the Sufis' mystical path to God through dance and music does not go down well with some of the most senior religious figures in the country.

“The deviant Sufi sect is a danger for Islam,” Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani was quoted as saying in the official Iran newspaper on Monday, calling for a crackdown on dervish groups in the central province of Qom.

Ersatz dervishes: The Mahdi's birthday party was also failing to please some seasoned aficionados of the Sufi circuit.

Zahir-od-dowleh has developed a reputation as a hangout for affluent north Tehran hippies attracted by the tomb of Forough Farrokhzadeh, an iconic poetess killed in a car crash in 1967 when she was only 32. “These are not real dervishes,” said one grey-bearded man leaning against a car, fingering his prayer beads.

His companion, Aliakbar Narian, complained there was not even room for the entranced dance of the whirling dervishes, made famous in the Turkish city of Konya.

Long-distance truck driver Narian flipped open the photo gallery on his mobile phone and showed off snapshots of some Sufi masters he had visited recently elsewhere in Tehran.

“These are real Sufis, men with beards down to their midriffs,” he said.

“This is Mahboub Ali Shah who has walked seven times to Kerbala,” he said, referring to Shi'ite holy city in Iraq.

“This is Hassan Esmaili, a great dervish but also an Iranian Kung Fu champion,” he added.

It is unclear whether Sufism is picking up more followers, because Iranians are usually secretive about unorthodox religious practices. Even increasingly popular reading groups for the Sufi poet Rumi can be tight-lipped about activities which could be seen as being at odds with the established religious order.

**Zahir al-Dawlah (after whom the cemetery in the
article was named) was the well-known Qajar courtier and disciple of
the famous Ni'matullahi poet Safi Ali Shah, of the Safa'iyah or Safi 'Ali Shahi branch of
the Ni'matullahi order. (See *Kings of Love* by Pourjavady and Wilson,
pp. 252-53.) For a picture of this cemetery (which may be next to or even on the grounds of the Safi 'Ali Shah khaniqah in Tehran) click on the link to the picture.
Note that the Ni'matullahi symbol of the two crossed axes (tabarzin) upon which
is hung a begging bowl (kashkul) can just barely be seen (if you know
what you are looking for) in a white ceramic tile (?) inlaid over the
gate to the right of center. (Added by 'Abd al-Haqq)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 05:50:47 pm

                            World community should condemn suppression of Dervishes in Iran   

Wednesday, 15 February 2006 
The clerical regime’s suppressive State Security Forces (SSF) crushed a demonstration by thousands of Nematollahi dervishes and the people in the holy city of Qom (in central Iran). The action led to extensive clashes between the people and the security forces in various neighborhoods in the city. Qom shut down as Monday’s demonstrations and clashes continued into Tuesday.


The demonstration erupted in protest to the seizure of a religious center of the Nematollahi dervishes by the clerical regime as the protestors attempted to take the center back. More than 3,000 dervishes converged on the city on Monday and began a protest action to take back the center. The regime’s agents cut-off water, gas and electricity to the building and built a wall in front of it.

The SSF brought in its special strike unit (anti-riot forces) to control the unrest. Water cannons were also on the scene to disperse the crowds. The head of Qom’ SSF, an IRGC commander named Sajjadi, personally rushed to the scene and commanded the crackdown. The Nematollahi dervishes and a large number of Qom residents that had joined them clashed with SSF units and shouted anti-regime slogans and threw stones and bricks to fend them off.

The clerical regime countered on Tuesday by mobilizing bands of vigilantes that roamed the streets shouting “death to Monafegh” [Mojahedin] in an attempt to keep the demonstrators off the streets. The vigilantes numbered over 2,000 and shouted “Qom is not for Monafeghin.”

The SSF arrested more than 500 dervish protesters and their families in yesterday’s clashes and transferred them to an unknown location. There is de facto martial law in Qom and many stores and shopping centers are closed.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, called on all human rights advocates to condemn the brutal suppression of the Nematollahi dervishes and the systematic violation of the rights of religious minorities in Iran.

“The anti-human clerical regime has stepped up the violation of human rights, while exporting Islamic fundamentalism, sponsoring terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons, in an attempt to rescue its disgraceful rule from demise. Hundreds of Tehran transit workers have been imprisoned for over two weeks,” Mrs. Rajavi said

Mrs. Rajavi underlined the spirit of tolerance, coexistence and fraternity that the Iranian nation has enjoyed in its long history, and called on all compatriots in Qom, in particular the youths, to rise in defense of the dervishes who are facing dual persecution by the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
February 15, 2006

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 05:56:45 pm

I went to the Kurdish province of Western Iran in search of Sufis. The Sufis are a mystical order of Islam that could once have been found all over the Muslim world. They have rapidly diminished in the modern age, however, and it’s only in the more remote areas that their practices still survive.

But whereas the Sufism i’d encountered through the poetry of the old masters centered around ecstatic devotion to God, the Kurdish Sufis seemed more set on miraculous circus tricks.

“As clear as I see you, Tom, I watched one man have his head cut off with a sword and replaced with no harm done!” A professor in Esfahan told me.

Even on the bus journey there, the driver had proudly shown me the scar from where he’d had a sword driven through his waist in a ceremony the year before.

The family I stayed with provided me with a guide to the city in the shape of their nephew, Fahrzad. He and I made our way across town by means of shared taxis. These vehicles follow a set route through the streets but make absolutely no effort to let anybody know which way they were going.

Consequently one had to hover on the edge of the traffic shout questions through the drivers’ windows and then squeeze in quick before anyone else could get there first. The front seat was reserved for women so that they might ride but still preserve their modesty. In the center of town there was a statue of a devout believer with his arms raised aloft in the rapture of love for Allah. It set the mood for the sufi ceremony we were due to attend that evening.

We arrived in one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city and entered a maze of narrow streets and alleys shrouded in mist. We weaved our way through the night to the house of Fahrzad’s grandmother and I was careful not to lose sight of my guide.

His grandmother was a dervish and I recognized the word from the Sufi stories I’d read. It usually referred to one advanced in the study and practice of Sufism. But Fahrzad told me that it also meant ‘one who has nothing’, ie one who lives a pure and simple life valuing nothing except the presence of God. Maybe the two things were not so different.

We walked up to the building where the ceremony was to be held. Carpets covered the floor and the green flag of Islam hung in the corner to be kissed by all who entered. The preacher eyed me with curiosity as i entered but continued his discourse about the miracle of pregnancy to a small group of men. Some of them had long, flowing hair which they curled up in a hat like a Rastafarian.

After the first round of tea had been served an old man picked up a wooden ring bound with leather called a daf. His bony fingers tapped out a rhythm while he began to sing sutras from the Qur’an. His voice was raspy like that of a goat but so full of passion. Every time he mentioned the name of Mohammed all present murmured, ‘may peace be upon him.’

The old man was soon joined by two of his students and they began a vigorous beat that had every head in the place swaying. Then at the height of the recital each tossed his daf into the air and caught it with a thunderous clap that seemed to shake the walls of the building.

After the ceremony I could find few words to express what i’d seen and felt. The song still resonated within me and i didn’t need to know what the words meant to appreciate their beauty. Fahrzad told me it made him feel like crying for joy.

The next morning we climbed up the mountain while it was still dark so that we might watch the sun rise. It was Friday, the day of prayer and so everyone was on holiday. The young people were the swiftest of foot and so had gathered up there first by a small spring. It was one of the few occasions they had to escape the watchful eyes of their elders and they reveled in the taste of freedom. Hell, there were even boys talking to girls.

I was the first foreigner many had ever met but with a few days of beard on my cheeks I looked Iranian enough that I didn’t receive too much attention. No one expected to see a foreigner in these parts either so i was saved from answering the twenty questions that drive every long-term traveller insane.

Fahrzad told me that the Sufi ceremonies with swords that I’d heard about only took place in the wintertime. But he did manage to get hold of an amateur video of a session that had taken place the previous year.

The camera rolls. There are dafs being played to encourage the opening of the spirit and men in circles roll their heads and chant to Allah. Once everyone is sufficiently intoxicated with the presence of God, the rituals begin. Swords are driven through waists, needles through cheeks and one man even had spikes hammered into his head. All with no blood and no apparent pain on the faces of these ordinary people.

Okay, there are performers in the West who can also eat light bulbs and pierce parts of their body but the protagonists here were simple bus drivers, teachers and farmers. None of them had any experience of this kind of thing and no one was getting paid to do it.

Still, I didn’t really see the point of it all. Perhaps it was a powerful demonstration of the power of God to strengthen belief. But it all seemed a little extreme to me and i wasn’t very moved to test my faith with a sword through the waist.

I stuck with the stories and the poetry.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 06:02:01 pm
The Sema
The dance of the Whirling Dervishes consists of seven parts. Pictured here is the fifth part of the Sema, the whirling. This part of the ceremony consists of a series of salutes testify to his appearance to God's unity.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 06:07:22 pm


Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 06:08:31 pm

                                                        Bestseller in the West

In recent years, popularized versions of Rumi's poetry have made his name well known in the West. In 2004, book sales prompted Publishers Weekly to describe him as "the most popular poet in America in the last decade." After more than 700 years of influence in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, scholars caution that Western fame has diluted the meaning of Rumi's words and their connection to his Islamic tradition.

In the preface to Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr provides a comparison: "It is as if Dante were to be translated very approximately into Arabic and presented as a 'universal poet,' which he of course is, but without any reference to Christianity, without which Dante would not be Dante. The same truth holds for Rumi, who represents one of the greatest flowerings of Islamic spirituality, a tradition whose roots are sunk deeply in the Koran and whose prototype is to be found in the Prophet of Islam."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:30:50 pm

(01:27–01:48) Music Element
"Aksak Semai"
from Sufi Music of Turkey,
performed by Kudsi and Suleyman Erguner

(01:38) Recitation of a Line about Love
"Wherever you are, whatever you do, be in love."

Fatemeh Keshavarz translated this poetic line from Rumi's discourses. In the West, Rumi is better known for his poetry. But, his son and several other followers recorded his conversations and lectures as works of prose, which includes the Fihi ma Fihi (literally translated as It Is What It Is).

(02:08–04:31) Music Element
"The Multiples of One"
from Awakening,
performed by Joseph Curiale

(02:14) The Poet Known As…
To many Westerners, the poet Mohammad Jalal al-Din al-Balkhi al-Rumi is more commonly known as Rumi. Scholarly works on Rumi provide a vast array of permutations of his name, which can be confusing. As Franklin Lewis says in Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, "The full complement of names and titles pertaining to [Rumi] would need a small caravan to carry it."

According to Lewis, Rumi's birth name was Mohammad, after his father and the most important prophet in Islam. At an early age, his father also called him Jalal al-Din — a title meaning "the splendor of the faith" — which was common for religious scholars in the medieval Islamic world. The terms al-Balkhi al-Rumi are toponyms (referring to geographical places): al-Balkhi refers to his family's origins in Balkh, one of the major cultural centers of Central Asia (in present-day Afghanistan) in the 13th century. Many scholars believe, however, that Rumi did not live in Balkh itself but in a smaller town nearby named Vakhsh in what is now the country of Tajikistan.

When he moved to Anatolia (present-day Turkey), he became known as al-Rumi (literally, "from Rome"), as Anatolia was considered an extension of Rome from an Islamic perspective. Lewis says other historic people who were born in, or associated with, Anatolia are also known as Rumi. As Keshavarz noted in her conversation with Krista, the poet is not generally called Rumi in the Middle East or Central Asia. In her native country of Iran, he is commonly referred to as Mowlana — meaning "Our Master," — the Arabic title that became recognized as a proper name exclusive to Rumi within a few generations of his death. The Turkish pronunciation is Mevlana.

Rumi referred to himself in much humbler terms, as Lewis writes, at the beginning of the Masnavi: "This meek servant, dependent on the mercy of the Almighty God, Mohammad, the son of Mohammad, the son of al-Hosayn al-Balkhi."

(2:52) A Vast Body of Poetry and Writings
Rumi's best-known poetic works include the Masnavi, or Mathnawi — a six-volume poem in rhyming couplets so revered that it is commonly referred to as the "Qur'an in Persian" — and the Divan, or Diwan, with over 35,000 verses, mostly ghazals, describing mystical states and illustrating various points of Sufi doctrine. The collection of his discourses known as Fihi Ma Fihi ("It Is What It Is") is considered by some scholars to be an abbreviated prose companion to the Masnavi ("It is," meaning his collected discourses, "what it is," meaning the Masnavi).

In Reading Mystical Lyric, Keshavarz describes the tone of the Masnavi as didactic and distinct. "[Rumi] intends to remain visible as does a lighthouse in a stormy sea, so that travelers will not lose their way…. Nothing obscures this ultimate homiletic purpose." In the Divan, Keshavarz continues, he "abandons his narrative style and didactic tone in favor of visual articulation through imagery" and has a "deeply paradoxical mode of expression."

(3:27) Krista Quotes a Line from Rumi
Krista cites two lines from "A Great Wagon" — a poem found in Rumi's Divan, based on Coleman Barks' translation in The Essential Rumi. You can listen to and read along with the recitation, along with other poems by Rumi, on our "Poetry and Perplexity" page:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
We also feature the stories of fellow audience members' personal encounters with Rumi and his poetry. The range of touch points is vast: from how Rumi helped one listener better understand the geography of Azerbaijan to a couple's struggle in their relationship and learning how to truly love.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:37:07 pm

3:40) Rumi's Islamic Tradition of Sufism
Sufism is the mystical tradition of Islam that originated in the seventh century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The spiritual movement originated as an expression against increasing worldliness in the expanding Muslim community. There are many Sufi orders or paths (tariqa) in which a follower pledges his allegiance to a sheikh. Sufis aspire to a special intimacy with God and the eternal in this earthly existence rather than only in the afterlife.
In the Speaking of Faith program "The Spirit of Islam," Islamic scholar Omid Safi describes his own understanding and experience of Sufi tradition. Learn more about this form of Islamic mysticism where the pursuit of spiritual truth is the quest.

(04:30–04:57) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

Video Performance: "The Musicality of Rumi"
View a January 27, 2007 performance of Fatemeh Keshavarz and the Liän Ensemble at a Stanford University event celebrating Rumi's 800th birthday.
(04:37) Often Sets Rumi's Words to Music
Fatemeh Keshavarz co-founded the Persian Poetry Circle of North America and periodically performs her translations of Rumi's poetry to the music of the Liän Ensemble.

(05:50) "Playing Is Very Serious"
In Reading Mystical Lyric, Keshavarz elaborates on how playing is very serious for Rumi:

Of course the profoundly moral and spiritual purposes that infuse all of Rumi's poetry, including the Divan, are serious in that they are central to his poetic creation. Yet the universe, as he sees it, is imaginatively designed and prudently run by God. In it there is room for everything…. In this setting poetry occasionally has the childlike opportunity to find a chance for play. This playfulness is by no means incompatible with seriousness. Indeed…it becomes a key device that enhances the poetic impact of the discourse in which the "spiritual" has a prominent part.
Keshavarz then elaborates on playfulness in Rumi's poetry, offering an excerpt from the Divan:
[The] distinction between Rumi and many of his contemporary fellow poets Rumi's ability to make his poetry an embodiment of his life, yet not take it so seriously as to be overwhelmed by its grandeur. The fun and sense of play persist, even in illustrating matters as grave as the confusion of destiny:

I am drunk and you are drunk, who is going to take us home?
I told you a hundred times drink a cup or two less.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:38:24 pm

06:21) Ghazal About Beautiful Birds
Ghazals are odes, usually eight to 12 lines in length, with the theme of love running through them. They are the primary poetic format of Rumi's Divan and express "flashes of ideas as they come." Keshavarz refers to a ghazal by Rumi titled "Dervish at the Door" (the following translation Coleman Barks):

A dervish knocked at a house
to ask for a piece of dry bread,
or moist, it didn't matter.

"This is not a bakery," said the owner.

"Might you have a bit of gristle then?"

"Does this look like a butchershop?"

"A little flour?"

"Do you hear a grinding stone?"

"Some water?"

"This is not a well."

Whatever the dervish asked for,
the man made some tired joke
and refused to give him anything.

Finally the dervish ran in the house,
lifted his robe, and squatted
as though to take a s***.

"Hey, hey!"

"Quiet, you sad man. A deserted place
is a fine spot to relieve oneself,
and since there's no living thing here,
or means of living, it needs fertilizing."

The dervish began his own list
of questions and answers.

"What kind of bird are you? Not a falcon,
trained for the royal hand. Not a peacock,
painted with everyone's eyes. Not a parrot,
that talks for sugar cubes. Not a nightingale,
that sings like someone in love.

Not a hoopoe bringing messages to Solomon,
or a stork that builds on a cliffside.

What exactly do you do?
You are no known species.

You haggle and make jokes
to keep what you own for yourself.

You have forgotten the One
who doesn't care about ownership,
who doesn't try to turn a profit
from every human exchange.

(08:23) Keshavarz Quote of Rumi Poem
"Love whether of this kind or that kind,
Shall ultimately guide us to the king."

Keshavarz quotes from Book One of the Masnavi to illustrate how, for Rumi, love is multifaceted. She writes: "Instead of promoting the view that one has to transcend the human level to experience the mystical, Rumi tended to see the mystical as just an aspect of the human experience. With characteristic boldness he crossed the borderline between the spiritual and the carnal to emphasize that the two were indeed one and the same, a view he expressed directly in his didactic Masnavi."

Here is an extended excerpt of the same section of the Masnavi as translated by Rutgers University professor Jawid Mojaddedi in Rumi: The Masnavi, Book One:

Being a lover means your heart must ache,

No sickness hurts as much as when hearts break, The lover's ailment's totally unique,
Love is the astrolabe of all we seek,

Whether you feel divine or earthy love,

Ultimately we're destined for above.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:43:08 pm

(08:36–09:55) Music Element
"Buruq Al-Hayy (Lights from the Dwelling Places)"
from La Voie De L'Extase,
performed by Noureddine Khourshid & The Dervishes of Damas

(08:59) The Mevlevi Order and the Whirling Dervishes
As a teacher and religious scholar, Rumi led a group of disciples that became formally known as the Mevlevi Order after his death in 1273. Biographer Franklin Lewis credits Rumi's son, Sultan Valad, with achieving and maintaining the formal structure that allowed the order to thrive beyond Konya, Turkey. The Mevlevi Order dominated the spiritual life of Turkey and many other parts of the Ottoman Empire into the early 20th century. It also served as a thriving environment for poetry and music.

In 1925, with the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal Ataturk banned the order reportedly out of fear that their religious roots would lead them to revolt against the new secular government. The following copy of the 1925 law banning is taken from Shems Friedlander's book, Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes:
LAW 677

13 December 1925 (1341 H.)

Clause 1. All the tekkes (dervish lodges) and zaviyes (central dervish lodges) in the Turkish republic, either in the form of wakf (religious foundations) or under the personal property right of its sheikh or established in any other way, are closed. The right of property and possession of their owners continue. Those used as mosques and mescits (small mosques) may be retained as such.

All of the orders using descriptions as sheikh, dervish, disciple, dedelik (a kind of sheikh of an order), chelebilik (title of the leader of the Mevlevi order), seyyitlik (a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad), bablik (elder of a religious order, a kind of craft), ufurukchuluk (a person who claims to cure by means of the breath), divining, and giving written charms in order to make someone reach their desire: service to these titles, and the wearing of dervish costume, are prohibited. The tombs of the sultans, the tombs of the dervish orders are closed, and the profession of tomb-keeping is abolished. Those who open the closed tekkes (dervish lodges) or zaviyes (central dervish lodges), or the tombs, and those who re-establish them or those who give temporary places to the orders or people who are called by any of the mystical names mentioned above or those who serve them, will be sentenced to at least three months in prison and will be fined at least fifty Turkish liras.

Clause 2. This law is effective immediately.

Clause 3. The cabinet is charged with its implementation.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:45:26 pm

Despite this ban, the Mevlevis remain an active Sufi order in and beyond Turkey, though it is still restricted from promoting itself as a living spiritual practice. "There is no Sufi order in Islam," the Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr opines, "in which both music and dance, considered sacred activities that draw the soul to God, have been so elaborately formulated as in the Mevlevi Order." Celebi, the title given to the Mevlevi leaders, include descendants of Rumi to this day.

The Mevlevis are commonly known as the Whirling Dervishes, especially in the West, because of the distinctive dance they perform to music as a central ritual of the order. Dervish is the Turkish form of the Persian word darwish — literally, "the sill of the door" — that describes a Sufi who is "one at the door to enlightenment."

The hagiography of Rumi and the ritual of whirling varies in its description of when and how he began the practice. Some sources refer to accounts of Shams of Tabriz, the wandering mystic who became Rumi's beloved companion, teaching the practice to him; others describe Rumi as innovating it. In Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, Shams Friedlander describes instances of Rumi's whirling, including one related to Rumi's bereavement of the death of his former master and teacher, Shams: "Mevlana refused to see anyone. He confined himself to his house and would often whirl around one of the architectural poles in his garden."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:47:19 pm

Another story attributes the whirling experience as the beginning of the Mevlevi Order:
One day, as he walked by the goldbeater's shop, he heard the hammers of the apprentices pounding the rough streets of gold into beautiful objects. With each step he repeated the name of God; and now with the sound of the hammers beating the gold, all he heard was "Allah, Allah."

"Allah, Allah" became every sound he heard, and he began to whirl in ecstasy in the middle of the street. He unfolded his arms, like a fledgling bird, clasped his robe, tilted his head back, and whirled, whirled, whirled to the sound of "Allah" that came forth from his heart and the very wind he created by his movement.

I see the waters which spring from their sources,
The branches of trees which dance like penitents,
The leaves which clap their hands like minstrels.

That was the beginning of the Mevlevi Order of Sufis. … With the continuing outpouring of verse coming from Mevlana, the task of copying it down was given to his friend and disciple Husamuddin Hasan.
Friedlander says that at Hasan's home near Konya, "Rumi would often whirl in the garden, his arms close to his body, holding his robe. His nature was filled with kindness, and so he allowed his disciples to embrace him gently as he turned and, for a short time, turn with him."

Whirling, or sema dancing, represents a mystical journey. In this journey the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth, and arrives at a state of perfection. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey with greater maturity, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination.

The banning of the dervish orders in Turkey in 1925 included the Sema ceremonies. In 1953, the mayor of Konya allowed the ceremony to be publicly performed as long as it was construed as a celebration of a great Turkish poet and not a religious ritual. Since that time, the Turkish government continues to relax restrictions on performances, recognizing the draw for tourists. Visitors flock to Konya and the Mevlevi Museum every December to commemorate Rumi and to see the Whirling Dervishes. The Sema ceremony is performed in many parts of the world by the Mevlevis and other whirling dervish groups. (Watch a brief video clip of a sema ceremony.)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:49:10 pm

09:53–10:33) Music Element
"Rufi'at Astâ Al-Bayn (The Veils of Distance Have Been Lifted)"
from La Voie De L'Extase,
performed by Noureddine Khourshid & The Dervishes of Damas

(14:47–15:10) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(14:45) Reading of Ghazal "Like This"
The reading of Keshavarz's translation of the ghazal titled "Like This" (accompanied in Persian by Soleyman Vaseghi) first appeared in Rumi's Divan. Keshavarz says this poem illustrates Rumi's ability to mold the physical and the spiritual in his verse:

"It is, of course, not uncommon for mystical verse to make use of love imagery, but often the tone is vague and vividly erotic details are avoided. Rumi is aware of this tradition. In his poem, he preserves sensuality precisely because he wishes it to be understood in ordinary human terms rather than in a vague and generalized fashion. … Through sharpening the sensual edge and then giving it a distinct share in the spiritual cosmos, Rumi abolishes the imaginary boundary between the two and creates his specific brand of mystical lyricism."

(16:11–16:35) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(17:24–19:53) Music Element
"Tales from the Ney"
from Sufi Music of Turkey,
performed by Kudsi and Suleyman Erguner

(18:24) Reading of "The Song of the Reed"
"The Song of the Reed" opens the Masnavi, and its lines are the only couplets considered to be directly written by Rumi. A ney is one of the oldest forms of a flute, dating back to 2500 BCE. Traditional neys are made from a plant reed and are often used to accompany readings of Rumi's poetry.

His disciple Husamuddin Hasan served as Rumi's scribe as well as his inspiration for the poem. The text itself refers to their system of production (excerpted from Rumi: The Masnavi, Book One, translated by Jawid Mojaddedi):

"Hosamoddin, please fetch a sheet or two

And write about the guide what I tell you;

Although you're frail, lack strength and energy,

Without the sun there is no light for me,

Though you've become the lamp and glass my friend,

You lead the hearts which follow the thread's end:

You hold the thread's end, from which you won't part;

Your bounty gave the pearls strung round my heart!"

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:50:50 pm

(22:17) Krista's Quote of Rumi
Krista recites a selected passage from Coleman Barks' translation from Book Five of Rumi's Masnavi, titled "A Basket of Fresh Bread":

Stay bewildered in God,

and only that.

Those of you who are scattered,

simplify your worrying lives. There is one
righteousness: Water the fruit trees,
and don't water the thorns. Be generous
to what nurtures the spirit and God's luminous
reason-light. Don't honor what causes
dysentery and knotted-up tumors.

Don't feed both sides of yourself equally.
The spirit and the body carry different loads
and require different attentions.

Too often

we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey
run loose in the pasture.

Don't make the body do

what the spirit does best, and don't put a big load
on the spirit that the body could carry easily.

(24:02–25:55) Music Element
from Light and Fire,
performed by the Liän Ensemble

(24:28) Reading of Rumi's "The Promise"
Keshavarz recites her translation of a ghazal, "The Promise," from Rumi's Divan. She read this ghazal to the music of the Liän Ensemble at a Rumi celebration at Stanford University in January 2007. The Liän Ensemble is a group of virtuoso performers and composers whose compositions fuse mystical Persian musical heritage with the contemporary sensibilities of postmodern jazz.

Listen to the complete ghazal read by Fatemeh Keshavarz in English and Persian, as well as Persian readings by two Liän Ensemble performers, Houman Pourmehdi and Soleyman Vaseghi.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:53:58 pm

27:28) Rumi's Relationship with Shams
In his late 30s, Rumi met a wandering mystic called Shams al-Din Tabrizi. Many consider this the most important acquaintance in Rumi's spiritual life. Professor Jawid Mojaddedi writes, "The transformation of Rumi as a result of his relationship with Shams cannot be emphasized enough. Although he was already a respected religious authority in Konya and had trained in a tradition of Sufi piety under his father, whom he had even succeeded as master, Rumi was led by Shams to a far loftier level of Sufi mysticism."

In one version of the story of their initial encounter, Shams fainted upon hearing Rumi's response to the question of who was greater: Muhammad or Bestami, because Bestami (a ninth-century Sufi mystic) had said, "How great is my glory," whereas Muhammad had acknowledged in his prayer to God, "We do not know You as we should." Rumi fell to the ground beside Shams and responded by saying that Muhammad was the greater because the way was always revealing itself and unfolding whereas Bestami only took a single drink of the divine and then stopped. As a result, Rumi and Shams developed an instant, inseparable friendship.

Some saintly accounts of Rumi tell of his complete devotion to Shams, which resulted in jealousy and resentment among his followers. Many versions describe the followers of Rumi driving Shams away, Rumi sending his son to find Shams and bring him back, and then the final disappearance and murder of Shams by Rumi's jealous disciples. While the murder of Shams is disputed, many scholars accept that he disappeared and Rumi later believed the news of his death.

Shams-e Tabriz is gone and who
will weep for the best among men?
The world of meaning's gained in him a bride,
but shorn of him the world of forms just weeps

Rumi devoted his most extensive collection of ecstatic verses — the Diwan-i Shams-i Tabriz (the Divan) — to his teacher.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:55:31 pm

(28:32–29:57) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(30:05–32:05) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(32:10–34:00) Music Element
from Sufi Music of Turkey,
performed by Kudsi and Suleyman Erguner

(32:20) Popularity of Rumi in the West
Poet and author Coleman Barks has sold more than half-a-million copies of his 17 books of Rumi translations. In a September 24, 2006 Houston Chronicle interview, Barks attributed those sales, in part, to heightened tensions between the United States and Islamic countries, which has sparked Americans' interest in ancient religions:

"Rumi is the bridge. … He is the Afghan national poet, and he is one of the most-read poets in the United States in the last 10 years. For a medieval, 13th-century Islamic mystic to be a favorite poet of American culture and Afghan culture when we're at war with them is something."

(32:26) International Rumi Year
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated 2007, the 800th anniversary of Rumi's birth, as the "Year of Rumi."

(32:39) The Popularizing of Rumi
In 1998, composer Philip Glass partnered with opera director Robert Wilson to produce Monsters of Grace — a multimedia chamber opera in 13 short acts with lyrics adapted from Coleman Barks' translations of the works of Rumi. Interestingly enough, the poem "Like This" appears in the sixth act of the digital opera; compare this translation to the version by Fatemeh Keshavarz in our "Poetry and Perplexity" page.

Deepak Chopra's 1998 CD compilation, A Gift of Love, features a host of celebrities reciting the poetry of Rumi, including Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Rosa Parks, and Martin Sheen.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:56:57 pm

(32:57) Head of a Madrassa

Madrassas are centers of higher learning that grew out of Islam's expansion outside of the Arabian peninsula. The first known madrassa is thought to have been established in the early 11th century in Egypt. Before the spread of Islam, most learning was carried out in mosques. The combination of tribal traditions and mosque-based knowledge served as a functional governing structure. But, Islam's expansion introduced a variety of interpretations because of non-Arabic languages and new cultural customs. Initially, the madrassa tradition was established to create conformity and continuity through uniform teachings of Islam. And, eventually madrassas became centers of "earthly" learning in secular fields such as the sciences, philosophy, and public administration producing renowned scholars who contributed significant achievements to these fields.

In most parts of the Middle East and Asia, the number of madrassas and their influence declined (PDF) during European colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Western forms of education systems were introduced that courted attendance of the elite and a separation of state and religion — the wealthy and the elite received a secular education, and the poor and disenfranchised primarily received a religious education. As a result, more fundamentalist and radical forms of Islam commandeered new forms of madrassas, particular in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

(33:24) Faith as Zikr
The Arabic word zikr means "reminding oneself" or "mention." It is rooted in several Qur'anic passages, such as the Sura Al-Baqara (2:152):

"Then do you remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith."
Zikr is the ritual prayer practiced by Sufis with the intent of glorifying Allah and striving to achieve oneness with God. It represents not only a ritual but a state of mind and a state of heart. The ceremony takes many forms but often includes whirling dances and transporting chants, which include la ilaha illa 'llah, "there is no god but God"; Allahu akbar, "God is greatest"; al-hamdu li'llah, "praise be to God"; astaghfiru 'llah, "I ask God's forgiveness." It can last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. The various Sufi brotherhoods, or tariqahs, practice their own forms of zikr.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 08:58:14 pm

(40:42–42:05) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(43:05) Windows on Iran
Keshavarz refers to "Windows on Iran" — a weekly listserv she sends out for the purpose of providing information and perspective on Iran that is not common in the media. The idea came to her after returning from a visit to Iran in May 2006 and feeling shocked by the disparity between the Iran she knows and the Iran presented in U.S. media. The American Muslim reprints each essay.

(44:28–45:49) Music Element
"Love's Tale"
from Pangea,
performed by the Liän Ensemble

(44:40) Reading from Rumi's Masnavi
The reading of the Keshavarz's translation of a selected passage from the Masnavi titled "On Language" (accompanied in Persian by Soleyman Vaseghi) can be read and heard in Persian and in English on our "Poetry and Perplexity" page.

(47:19–47:56) Music Element
"Desire for You"
from Pangea,
performed by the Liän Ensemble

(47:40) Krista Quotes Passage

Keshavarz says the vision of Rumi is that "all humanity is pregnant with God." She wrote an essay on this theme, title "Pregnant with God: The Poetic Art of Mothering the Sacred In Rumi's Fihi Ma Fih":

Indeed, our God-appointed feeders and guides often helped in the way that distant stars and silent road maps do. While they showed us the way to unravel the mystery, we were the ones who deciphered the message, read the map, penetrated the silence of ignorance, and ultimately found the way:

A traveler looks at the stars and finds the way. Do stars ever talk to him? No. As soon as he looks at them, though, he knows the right way from the wrong and arrives at his destination. Such are God's Friends, you may look at them and they may bring about a change of course [in your life journey]. Without a word, a discussion, or an argument, goals may be attained [and] destinations reached.

It is not hard to imagine audiences easing into the comfort of well-fed puppies falling asleep in the hope of finding a guiding star, or surrendering happily to the freedom of the clay/potter analogy, relinquishing agency for struggle and growth. Before that happened, however, came the shocking news of the pregnancy. Not only were the lost and hungry puppies close to their goal, but they also embodied it. To be precise, they were pregnant with it. If they could not see or feel the closeness, it was due to the closeness itself. The combination of joy and pain that accompanied the conflicting and mysterious condition led to confusion and the illusion of distance. Knowing that one was not just close but indeed at the destination, yet not able to live the closeness, was a triumph as well as a tragedy. How was one to nurture this God buried like a treasure in the ruin of one's being and let it permeate all of life? It required the ability to grapple with a paradox that overpowered the rational mind. This "being there" was so close to being lost.

49:19–50:29) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

(50:22–52:34) Music Element
from Suite Rastpanjgah - Naghde Sufi,
performed by Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 09:17:36 pm

The visit to Mevlevihanesi began with a gift. (Later, as I checked into my hotel for the evening, I received a compliment: “That is a beautiful scarf. Very Turkish.”) Beautiful tiling and religious inscription adorn the entry, a long hallway with four windows opening onto several richly-embellished coffins: the lineage of teachers at this particular temple (architecturally it is not a mosque). Adherents pause at each window to offer greetings and respect.

The hall opens onto a small courtyard with trees and the obligatory public water spigots. Among the various decorative tiling is a symbol I have not seen before.
We remove our shoes and pass through two rooms before entering the place of worship. The singers have already begun. I am gestured to sit with a few women at the far end of the space. I settle down and observe the surroundings. The walls are dense with script.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 09:25:33 pm

We remove our shoes and pass through two rooms before entering the place of worship. The singers have already begun. I am gestured to sit with a few women at the far end of the space. I settle down and observe the surroundings. The walls are dense with script.

Immediately in front of where I sit is a large open space. The man who welcomed me with his eyes, indicating where I should sit, is spreading small fuzzy carpets around the edges of the wooden floor. The singers are clustered at the other end, squeezed into another room separated from the dance space by pillars and a low wall. They face the same direction as I do, so their backs are toward the dance space. They sing in unison, striking the same notes but at various pitches: a melodic blend of tenor, bass, and baritone.

The sound is low and quiet yet it fills the space. It is pleasing, rhythmic, soothing. I continue to look around and realize there are onlookers in the balcony, women and children. They have the best seats in the house. :-)

More people enter. I am distracted by two women who sit in front of me (their male companion sits with them at first, then is directed to the men’s section). They talk. Is it instructional? Perhaps, but it interferes with the singing. The woman doing most of the talking checks her cell phone. I am annoyed by the disrespect to the service and the auditory interference. But people move continually in to and out of the worship space. Late arrivals filter in throughout the service: some join the singers, others the audience. Some people depart at irregular intervals. The annoyance is only mine. I let it go.

Suddenly the dancers enter. After the first three I am surprised when the fourth steps into the room, then realize I’ve seen many depictions of five…yet they keep coming. I count nine. The dance space seems small to me now: how will they manage? They line up in front of the audience space; I can’t see much. The singers are in their third or fourth song now. A very few times a single voice has deviated from the chorus, usually in a sharp or punctuated manner: obviously deliberate. Upon occasion a soloist would sing a prayer. These seem to have been short and subtle because I had not noticed when they began: my consciousness would gradually register their presence as “having been there for awhile.” I was oddly alert while simultaneously being lulled.

The dancers, individually, bow. There is no rhyme to it, no pattern. If there is a cue as to who should bow when, I cannot discern it. Are they being visually directed? My view is obscured. Some time passes. When will they begin? How will they start? The singing provides me no clue: the chants seem to vary yet the overall sound remains more or less the same. A dancer moves into view to my right. Ah, there has been a leader, someone whom (I assume) the dancers have been facing.

Now the line of dancers bow in unison and remove their black robes. Except the first one in line does not remove his. I count again, ten plus the leader, eleven in all. Two in black, nine in white. They kneel, prostrating themselves in the typical Muslim prayer position. Suddenly they strike the floor forcefully with their hands, startling a young woman near me. The volume of the singing also rises simultaneously, an accentuated coordination of the singers and dancers.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 09:27:02 pm

The friend who brought me had encouraged me to take pictures but I was uneasy about it. This was real worship, not a show. Still, I took some surreptitiously. Then, the first man in line - who had not removed his black robe - greeted the leader and moved to a more central place some two-three meters away from the leader, yet facing him (and me). I took a picture of them but our eye contact dissuaded me from taking many more.

The white-skirted and jacketed dancers now proceed in a line to greet the leader and begin. The gesture of greeting involves a bow, a nod and kiss to the chest of the leader (his heart?) who responds by a nod/kiss to each dancer's head, another bow, and then a slow step away into the first twirls. Each dancer follows in turn and they unravel their straight line into a graceful constellation across the floor.

The singing continues. I am surprised that the singers do not turn to watch the dancing. The coordination is managed on some other plane of sensation. The second leader walks the dance floor, presumably checking on each dancer. Satisfied, he stops near the leader and they watch. The dancers twirl for a long time. There is still only slight variation from the singers. Perhaps the content of the chant has changed, but the effect of the sound, its quality, remains steady, constant.

After what seems like both a long and a short time, a loud beat occurs and all singers and dancers stop. They are all prepared for it: there is no perceptible delay. Time has ceased to matter much, except I am hoping there will be more. :-)

Two more songs/dances ensue. For the second round there is a change of two dancers but the movement of the dance varies little. I notice more details: the slow raising of the arms with hands brushing one's own face before extension into uplifted, open arches. There is a rotation...I think it increases from dance to dance. One can't really see it happen, at least not from my angle. One just realizes the faces are different, in different positions than they were originally. The singing is more robust; the singers have begun to sway. Volume increases; the soloist is more marked. When it's over I am let down, but it is gentle. I have been privy to something quite special.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 09:28:34 pm

I linger, but am gestured to leave. They are preparing for the next service! I want to stay, but am told there is someone who speaks English who can explain and respond to questions. In a small room with half-a-dozen other English speakers, I realize I'm in a devotional group. I remember the feel of this - bible study! - from my Nazarene days. :-) They really are trying to convert me! (More on this later, smile.)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 09:51:43 pm

                                                                Whirling Dervish

By Jimmy Dunn
  You might run across a Whirling Dervish performance anywhere in the world, but your chances of doing so vastly improve in Egypt. Not only is there the dervish theater located near the Khan el-Khalili, but many belly dancing shows in nightclubs and dinner boats will also include Whirling Dervish. It is an entertaining performance that most will not want to miss. But most people who attend such performances have little idea of the nature of this dance, which is called the sema. It is a rare occurrence of religious ceremony transcending into performing art.
The dance has been performed for over 700 years by the Sufi, a rather mystic order of the Islamic faith. A story is told of a tradesman in a small village in the East who sat on his knees in his little shop, and with his left hand he pulled a strand of wool from the bale which was above his head. He twirled the wool into a thicker strand and passed it to his right hand as it came before his body. The right hand wound the wool around a large spindle. This was a continuous motion on the part of the old man who, each time his right hand spindled the wool, inaudibly said "la illaha illa'llah." There could be no uneven movement or the wool would break and he would have to tie a knot and begin again. The old man had to be present to every movement or he would break the wool. This is awareness. This is life. Sufi means awareness in life, awareness on a higher plan than on which we normally life.

The Persian word darwish (literally: the sill of the door) is accepted in Arabic and Turkish (dervish) to describe the Sufi who is the one who is at the door to enlightenment.

Some say the label Sufi (in Arabic suf means wool) grew from the wool cloaks worn by these holy beings. Others like to think that its origin is from the Greek word sophos that means wisdom.

But in fact, many of the dervish performers one sees in Egypt and elsewhere are performers and not truly of the Sufi order. There are some traveling Sufi, particularly from the Mevlana sect, who are indeed Sufi Dervish, and they perform the dance in a more or less traditional manner. But most of the more colorful performances are entertainers.

Originally, the dance, actually more accurately a "movement" was performed in tekkes that were dervish schools that existed in communal fashion and considered a prayer lodge. The sema began with the Sultan Veled Walk. The dervishes walk around the semahane three times wearing black cloaks which represent their tombs and their worldly attachments. Upon removing the cloaks, so to did they remove themselves from the world.
Like the weaver, traditional Sufi Dervish may be seen chanting a dhikr, which is the repetition of "la illaha illa'llah" (there is no god but God). However, some Dervish may only repeat "Allah" because they know man can die at any moment, and they want only the name of God on their lips and in their hearts. The left foot of the whirler should never be raised, but sometimes is in a fit of ecstasy.
Whether the performance is by a true Sufi, or simply a performing artist, it is nevertheless entertaining, and even amazing. The performer "turns" or whirls endlessly while manipulating skirts in a colorful display and the concentration and training is obvious. Actually, both the quality of the performance and the abilities of the performer can very greatly, so look and ask around before deciding on the show you will attend.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 10:09:39 pm

                                                     SUFI IS THE NEW BUZZWORD

March 26th, 2007
By Seeme Hasan 

The war on terrorism has changed many things and we may never go back to how things were. Our children won’t even know that there was a time family and friends could walk with you to the gate of the airplane. Airports were actually fun places, now they are like police states. At New York’s Grand Central Station one could get dropped off right in front of the station door; now train stations and airports all have ugly concrete pillars in the front, and cars are not allowed. Sometimes even people are not allowed. What really makes me laugh is the hair salon I visit when I am in NEW YORK. They actually have to see my license to let me in the building. In fact in most if not all buildings in New York, you can no longer just walk in to check out the lobby, you have to show an ID card and explain why you need to be in that building.

As the world is changing, even abstract items are up for reevaluation — among them, the word SUFI. All of a sudden the government of PAKISTAN and the government of UK are using the word to stress moderation in religion, to be exact the Muslim religion. SUFI is now synonymous with moderate.

I have always thought of SUFISM as a state-of-mind. I have always thought that SUFISM does not belong to any one religion; in fact it is interesting to see how different countries interpret the word SUFI. In PAKISTAN and INDIA the word SUFI right away brings up the SUFI SAINTS, and then their poetry and mysticism. In TURKEY people will say whirling dervishes is what it’s all about. IRAN has its own interpretation.

Regardless of interpretation, SUFISM boils down to being good — good to mankind and good to mother earth. A Sufi can whirl and get lost in spirituality, sing gospels to soothe their soul, or simply be positive in their daily work. SUFISM is fulfilled by whatever one does which either produces goodness or creates goodness.

We welcome the new SUFIS to our midst, and we will go on spreading good karma, and hope the rest of the world does the same.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 12, 2007, 10:18:55 pm


The Exalted Mevlana is a saint of love : gave his heart to the creator & he taught us to speak always of love & to love all creation as being from the Creator. UNESCO, United Nations' cultural body, aims to "build peace in the minds of men by promoting "the intellectual, cultural & moral solidarity of mankind." On its 60th year anniversary, UNESCO declared such cultural treasures of our planet as the Brazilian "Samba," Japanese "Kabuki" theatre,  Palestinian "Hikaye" narration & the Turkish "Sema" ceremony on its list of "Masterpieces of the Oral & Intangible Heritages of Humanity." 
UNESCO states that "wars begin in the minds of men and it is also in the minds of men that lasting peace must be constructed." In addition to building classrooms in devastated countries and publishing scientific breakthroughs, UNESCO also contributes to world peace by "promoting collaboration through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion."

UNESCO's objectives for our planet sound remarkably similar to the teachings of a Sufi mystic philosopher and poet who lived more than 700 years ago in the heartland of Anatolia. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, welcomed all men and women, irrespective of religion, race or creed to the fundamental humanist ideals of peace, dialogue, mutual respect and fraternity for the mankind. Mevlana's doctrine advocates self development, awareness and knowledge through Love by observing unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness and charity. Here is one way in which Mevlana described himself:

My Mother is Love
My Father is Love
My Prophet is Love
My God is Love
I am a child of Love
I have come only to speak of Love

Mevlana and his dervish followers often practiced his Mevlevi Sufi philosophy in combination with a ceremonial whirling dance. This central ritual of the Mevlevi Sufi order, which is called a "Mevlevi Sema," is generally referred to in the West as the ceremony of "Whirling Dervishes." In a Sema ceremony, the whirling dervish becomes a rotating hypnotic blur, abandoning his earthly concerns to achieve spiritual union with God. His own Self and that of the Creator become one, just as the waves of an ocean are an inseparable part of a greater body.

Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.

Sufism (tasawwuf) is the path followed by Sufis (adherents of Islamic mysticism) to reach the Truth—God. While this term usually expresses the theoretical or philosophical aspect of this search, its practical aspect is usually referred to as "being a dervish."

There are some who describe Sufism as seeing behind the "outer" or surface appearance of things and events and interpreting whatever happens in the world in relation to God. This means that a person regards every act of God as a window to "see" Him, lives his life as a continuous effort to view or "see" Him with a profound, spiritual "seeing" indescribable in physical terms, and with a profound awareness of being continually overseen by Him.

All of these definitions can be summarized as follows: Sufism is the path followed by an individual who is seeking to free himself or herself from human vices and weaknesses in order to acquire angelic qualities and conduct pleasing to God. Such a goal can be realized by living in accordance with the requirements of God's knowledge and love, and in the resulting spiritual delights that ensue. Sufism is based on observing even the most "trivial" rule of Shari'a in order to penetrate their inner meaning.

An initiate or traveler on the path (salik) never separates the outer observance of the Shari'a from its inner dimension, and therefore observes all of the requirements of both the outer and the inner dimensions of Islam. Through such observance, he or she travels toward the goal in utmost humility and submission.

Sufism, being a demanding path leading to knowledge of God, has no room for negligence or frivolity. It requires that the initiate should strive continuously, like a honeybee flying from the hive to flowers and from flowers to the hive, to acquire this knowledge. He should purify his heart from all other attachments, and resist all carnal inclinations, desires, and appetites. He should lead his life in a spiritual manner, always be ready to receive divine blessing and inspiration, and in strict observance of the example left behind by Prophet Muhammad. Convinced that attachment and adherence to God is the greatest merit and honor, he should renounce his own desires for the demands of God, the Truth.

Today, in Istanbul while the Tekkes and Tarikat's remain shut the whirling Derwish performance can be viewed at several locations such as the Sirkeci Train Station which is also where the Orient Express from Europe used to run. Other places such as Kusadasi, Cappadocia, Bursa, Konya also house the Whirling Dervishes. Please ask us for scheduled performances or if you are on a tour with us, ask your guide for performance times and places.

useful links:

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:09:57 pm

                                                     W O M E N   A N D   S U F I S M

 Camille Adams Helminski

Since the beginning of consciousness, human beings, both female and male, have walked the path of reunion with the Source of Being. Though in this world of duality we may find ourselves in different forms, ultimately there is no male or female, only Being. Within the Sufi traditions, the recognition of this truth has encouraged the spiritual maturation of women in a way that has not always been possible in the West.

From the earliest days onward, women have played an important role in the development of Sufism, which is classically understood to have begun with the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad brought a message of integration of spirit and matter, of essence and everyday life, of recognition of the feminine as well as the masculine. Though cultural manifestations have covered over some of the original purity of intention, the words of the Qur'an convey the equality of women and men before the eyes of God. At a time when the goddess-worshiping Arabian tribes were still quite barbaric, even burying infant girls alive in favor of male offspring, this new voice of the Abrahamic tradition attempted to reestablish the recognition of the Unity of Being. It tried to address the imbalances that had arisen, advising respect and honor for the feminine as well as for the graciousness and harmony of nature.

In the early years of this new revelation, Muhammad's beloved wife, Khadija, filled a role of great importance. It was she who sustained, strengthened, and supported him against his own doubt and bewilderment. She stood beside him in the midst of extreme difficulty and anguish and helped carry the light of the new faith. It was to Muhammad's and Khadija's daughter, Fatimah, to whom the deeper mystical understanding of Islam was first conveyed, and indeed she is often recognized as the first Muslim mystic. Her marriage with Ali bound this new manifestation of mysticism into this world, and the seeds of their union began to blossom.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:15:02 pm

As the mystical side of Islam developed, it was a woman, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya (717-801 A.D.), who first expressed the relationship with the divine in a language we have come to recognize as specifically Sufic by referring to God as the Beloved. Rabi'a was the first human being to speak of the realities of Sufism with a language that anyone could understand. Though she experienced many difficulties in her early years, Rabi'a's starting point was neither a fear of hell nor a desire for paradise, but only love. "God is God," she said, "for this I love God... not because of any gifts, but for Itself." Her aim was to melt her being in God. According to her, one could find God by turning within oneself. As Muhammad said, "He who knows himself knows his Lord." Ultimately it is through love that we are brought into the unity of Being.

Throughout the centuries, women as well as men have continued to carry the light of this love. For many reasons, women have often been less visible and less outspoken than men, but nevertheless they have been active participants. Within some Sufi circles, women were integrated with men in ceremonies; in other orders, women gathered in their own circles of remembrance and worshiped apart from men. Some women devoted themselves to Spirit ascetically, apart from society, as Rabi'a did; others chose the role of benefactress and fostered circles of worship and study. Many of the great masters with whom we in the West are familiar had female teachers, students, and spiritual friends who greatly influenced their thought and being. And wives and mothers gave support to their family members while continuing their own journey towards union with the Beloved.

Ibn Arabi, the great "Pole of Knowledge" (1165-1240 A.D.), tells of time he spent with two elderly women mystics who had a profound influence on him: Shams of Marchena, one of the "sighing ones," and Fatimah of Cordova. Of Fatimah, with whom he spent a great deal of time, he says:

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:16:30 pm

"I served as a disciple one of the lovers of God, a gnostic, a lady of Seville called Fatimah bint Ibn al-Muthanna of Cordova. I served her for several years, she being over ninety-five years of age... She used to play on the tambourine and show great pleasure in it. When I spoke to her about it she answered, 'I take joy in Him Who has turned to me and made me one of His Friends (Saints), using me for His own purposes. Who am I that He should choose me among mankind? He is jealous of me for, whenever I turn to something other than Him in heedlessness, He sends me some affliction concerning that thing.'... With my own hands I built for her a hut of reeds as high as she, in which she lived until she died. She used to say to me, 'I am your spiritual mother and the light of your earthly mother.' When my mother came to visit her, Fatimah said to her, 'O light, this is my son and he is your father, so treat him filially and dislike him not.'1

When Bayazid Bestami (d. 874), another well-known master, was asked who his master was, he said it was an old woman whom he had met in the desert. This woman had called him a vain tyrant and shoed him why: bey requiring a lion to carry a sack of flour, he was oppressing a creature God himself had left unburdened, and by wanting recognition for such miracles, he was showing his vanity. Her words gave him spiritual guidance for some time.

Another woman for whom Bestami had great regard was Fatimah Nishapuri (d. 838), of whom he said, "There was no station (on the Way) about which I told her that she had not already undergone." Someone once asked the great Egyptian Sufi master Dho'n-Nun Mesri, "Who, in your opinion, is the highest among the Sufis?" He replied, "A lady in Mecca, called Fatimah Nishapuri, whose discourse displayed a profound apprehension of the inner meanings of the Qur'an." Further pressed to comment on Fatimah, he added, "She is of the saints of God, and my teacher." She once counseled him, "In all your actions, watch that you act with sincerity and in opposition to your lower self (nafs(." She also said: "Whoever doesn't have God in his consciousness is erring and in delusion, whatever language he speaks, whatever company he keeps. Yet whoever holds God's company never speaks except with sincerity and assiduously adheres to a humble reserve and earnest devotion in his conduct."2

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:18:43 pm

The wife of the ninth-century Sufi Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi was a mystic in her own right. She used to dream for her husband as well as for herself. Khidr, the mysterious one, would appear to her in her dreams. One night he told her to tell her husband to guard the purity of his house. Concerned that perhaps Khidr was referring to the lack of cleanliness that sometimes occurred because of their young children, she questioned him in her dream. He responded by pointing to his tongue: she was to tell her husband to be mindful of the purity of his speech.

Among the women who followed the Way of Love and Truth, there were some who rejoiced and some who continually wept. Sha'wana, a Persian, was one of those who wept. Men and women gathered around her to hear her songs and discourses. She used to say, "The eyes which are prevented from beholding the Beloved, and yet are desirous of looking upon Him, cannot be fit for that vision without weeping." Sha'wana was not only "blinded by tears of penitence, but dazzled by the radiant glory of the Beloved."3 During her life she experienced intimate closeness with Friend, or God. This profoundly influenced her devout husband and her son (who became a saint himself). She became one of the best-known teachers of her time.

One of those who rejoiced was Fedha, who was also a married woman. She taught that "joy of heart should be happiness based on what we inwardly sense; therefore we should always strive to rejoice within our heart, till everyone around us also rejoices."4

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:19:45 pm

For the most part, the words of women in Sufism that remain from centuries past come from traditional accounts of their comments or from poems that developed around their words. Though the Qur'an strongly encourages education for women as well as men, women sometimes received fewer opportunities for instruction than men in similar circumstances. In this article I will not attempt to address the evolving role of women in exoteric Islam, as it is varied and complex. We must recognize, though that women in general around the world have often faced prejudicial treatment because of their gender. Within Islamic society as well as within our own, difficult treatment of women has occurred -- in some cases obvious, in some cases insidious. Though local cultural overlays and male-dominated Islamic jurisprudence may have increased restrictions on women in various areas, the Qur'an basically enjoins mutual respect and valuation of the human being regardless of sex or social situation. Within Sufism, this more essential Qur'anic attitude has prevailed.

Furthermore, the cultures in which Sufism existed tended to convey more material orally than in written form, and women in particular may have had less of a tendency to write, preferring instead to simply live their experience. Nevertheless there were women who did write of their mystical experience in songs, in journals, and in critical exposition. As Western scholarship translates more of these works, more of the story of Sufism is becoming accessible to us.

As this story unfolds, we are discovering the lives and work of many Sufi sisters. Among these was Fatimah or Jahan-Ara, the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan, the Mogul emperor of India (1592-1666). Fatimah wrote an account of her initiation called Risala-i Sahibiyya, which is known as a beautiful and erudite exposition of the flowering of Sufism within her heart.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:20:39 pm

Aisha of Damascus was one of the well-known mystics of the fifteenth century. She wrote a famous commentary of Khwaja 'Abdo'llah Ansari's Stations on the Way (Manazel as-sa'erin) entitled Veiled Hints within the stations of the Saints (Al-esharat al-khafiys fi'l-manazel al-auliya').5 Bib Hayati Kermani belonged to a family immersed in the Sufi tradition. Her brother was a shaikh of the Nimatullahi Order, and she became the wife of the master of the order. After her marriage, she composed a divan (collection of poems) that revealed her integration of both the outer and the inner knowledge of Sufism.

Among the Bektashis, an order in which women have always been integrated with men in ceremonies, many women have continued the tradition of composing sacred songs (illahis). In 1987, a songbook entitled Gul Deste ("A Bouquet of Roses") was published in Turkey. It brings together sacred hymns written by women and men of the Bektashi tradition from the nineteenth century to the present.

Sufi women around the world today continue to teach and share their experience personally as well as in written form. In the Sudan, for instance, there continue to be shaikhas (female shaikhs) who are particularly adept in the healing arts. In the Middle East, women continue to mature in many Sufi orders. In Turkey in particular, the teachings continue through women as well as men, perhaps even more so now than in the past because of Ataturk's proscription of the sufi orders early in the century, which drove much of Sufi practice into private homes. One luminous lady, Feriha Ana, carried the Rifai tradition in Istanbul until her recent death; Zeyneb Hatun of Ankara continues to inspire people in Turkey and abroad with her poems and songs.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:22:36 pm

In central Turkey, the mother of a friend of ours one day heard someone knocking and answered her door. A man stood at her threshold with a message. He had come to ask her to lead a Naqshbandi women's circle. He explained that his shaikh, who lived quite a distance away, had seen her in a dream and had sent him to the place that had been indicated. When she protested that she did not know his shaikh and felt inadequate for such a responsibility, the man replied, "Do not worry. Our shaikh has seen your purity. He says that whenever you have a question you should hold that question in your heart, and in your dreams he will bring you the answer." Thus began her apprenticeship.

Sufi schools spread from the Middle East to Europe long ago, and new waves continue to arrive. Irina Tweedie, author of Daughter of Fire, recently conveyed an Indian branch of the Naqshbandi line back to her native England. Her work is being continued here in America through the Golden Sufi Center of California.

A popular strain of Sufism that has been very welcoming of women is the Chishti Order, which was brought to America by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Of the many women involved, Murshida Vera Corda is perhaps the best-known; her work with children in particular has been a great inspiration to many parents.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:23:55 pm

One branch of Sufism that has become better-known in the West in recent years is the Mevlevi. Within this tradition, which was founded upon the example of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, women have always been deeply respected, honored, and invited to participate in all aspects of the spiritual path. Rumi's family itself had a long tradition of recognizing the spiritual beauty and wisdom of women. It was his grandmother, the princess of Khorasan, who first lit the spark of inquiry in Rumi's father, Bahaeddin Weled. Under her care, he grew to be the "sultan of the learned" and a great spiritual light in his time. Rumi's mother, Mu'mine Hatun, a devout and saintly lady, was very dear to him. She died shortly after Rumi's own marriage to Gevher Hatun, the daughter of one of Bahaeddin's closest disciples. Gevher Hatun had grown up beside Rumi, listening to his father's discourses. This beautiful woman, who was known to have the heart of an angel, was the mother of Sultan Weled, to whom Rumi's own teacher, Shams-i-tabriz, conveyed many mysteries. In his Conversations (Maqalat), Shams himself stressed the equal capacity of women to be intimate with the Ineffable and to "die before death."

Mevlevi shaikhas have often guided both women and men. Rumi had many female disciples, and women were also encouraged to participate in sema, the musical whirling ceremony of the Mevlevis. (Women usually had their own semas, though they sometimes performed together with men.) One of Rumi's chief disciples was Fakhr an-Nisa, known as "the Rabi'a of her age." In recent years, seven centuries after her death, it was decided to reconstruct her tomb. Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede, who was then the acting spiritual head of the Mevlevi Order, was asked to be present when she was exhumed. He later told of how, when her body was uncovered, it was totally intact and the fragrance of roses filled the air.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:24:53 pm

Of course such women have always existed and have brought much light into this world; one might ask how anyone could think otherwise. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world and many spiritual traditions, this has been questioned. Within Sufism, however, women and men have always been respected as equals on the spiritual path. Everyone is expected to establish his or her own direct connection with the divine, and women are no different from men in this capacity.

Within Sufism, the language of the Beloved and the recognition of the feminine helps to balance some of the old cultural stereotypes that were sometimes used in expository writing and which the Western media have chosen to highlight. Rumi often speaks beautifully of the feminine, presenting woman as the most perfect example of God's creative power on earth. As he says in the Mathnawi, "Woman is a ray of God. She is not just the earthly beloved; she is creative, not created."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:26:19 pm

It is precisely this creativity and capacity for love and relationship that suits women so well for the Sufi way of opening to relationship with the divine. As we come to recognize the magnificence of the benevolent Source of Life, we can come to see ourselves in harmony with it. Each surah (chapter) of the Qur'an begins with Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim, which means "In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful." Rahman speaks to the fundamental beneficence inherent in the divine nature, Rahim to the particular mercy that manifests. Both words come from the same root, which is the word for "womb." God's mercy and benevolence is always emphasized as being greater than His wrath; the encompassing generosity and nurturance of the divine is the milieu in which we live.

As women, we come from the womb and carry the womb. We give birth from the womb and can find ourselves born into the womb of Being. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is very much revered in Sufism and Islam as an example of one who continually took refuge with the divine and opened to receive divine inspiration within the womb of her being. As women, we have great capacity for patience, for nurturing, for love. A contemporary male Sufi teacher once described an ideal guide as one who is like a mother -- one who is always there, without demands, willing to instruct and set limits, but also willing to stay up all night to nurse a suffering child.

Sufism recognizes that committed relationship and family are not contrary to the flowering of spirituality, but rather are wonderful vessels for spiritual ripening. The beauty of partnership, children and family are great blessings, containing the inspiration, the breathing in, of the divine. As we deepen our capacity for relationship and fidelity in the human sphere, we also increase our capacity for relationship with God.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:27:25 pm

We need to stand together in the light. The way is opening in our own time for greater recognition of equal partnership. We have much to learn form each other, and male and female need to recognize each other so that we can come to balance within ourselves as well as creating balance outwardly in the world. The male attributes of strength and determination also belong to women; the feminine attributes of receptivity and beauty also belong to men. As we look to the divine in each other, encouraging each other to rise to the fullness of is or her own divine nature, we push against our limitations until they dissolve and a gift unfolds. As we learn to witness the miracle of creation, a time comes when "wheresoever you look, there is the Face of God; everything is perishing except the One Face."

Whether we choose celibacy or committed partnership, whether we are female or male, the same work remains of polishing the mirror of the heart, of being in remembrance moment by moment, breath by breath. Each moment we reaffirm the inner marriage until there is no longer lover or Beloved but only Unity of Being. Little by little, we die to what we thought we were. We are dissolved into Love, and we become love, God willing. As Rabi'a says:

In love, nothing exists between breast and Breast.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
The one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?6

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:28:54 pm

1Ibn 'Arabi, Sufis of Andalusia, tr. R.W.J. Austin (Sherborne, Gloucestershire: Beshara Publications, 1988), pp. 25-26
2Javad Nurbakhsh, Sufi Women, tr. Leonard Lewisohn (London: Khaniqah-Nimatullahi Publications, 1990), p. 162
3Margaret Smith, Rabi'a the Mystic and Her Fellow Saints in Islam (San Francisco: Rainbow Press, 1977 [1928]), pp. 146, 148
4Nurbakhsh, p. 165
5Ibid., p. 147
6Charles Upton, Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabi'a (Putney, VT: Threshold Books, 1988), p. 36

This article first appeared in Gnosis #30 (Winter 1994).

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:37:25 pm

                                                T U R N I N G   F O R   R U M I

                                  Women Called to the Way of the Whirling Dervish

The words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi have transcended centuries, continents, cultures and religious faiths to speak straight to the heart and soul. The mystical side of Islam has retained an air of mystery over the past 700 years but now the door is opening to reveal the spiritual practices of Rumi's original and contemporary followers.
Shakina Reinhertz began training in the practice of whirling twenty years ago. She has been teaching the way of Rumi in New York since 1996 and has written Women Called to the Path of Rumi ~ the Way of the Whirling Dervish describing the personal experiences of Sufi women. Carolyn Burdet asked Shakina for an introduction to this spiritual dance of peace.
At the opening of the 21st century the 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the West. The Whirling Dervish ritual ceremony was created by Rumi's son, Sultan Veled, as a way of honouring the passing of his father, who had immersed himself in whirling and writing spiritual poetry.
Dervish means someone who sits at the door or gateway between the visible earthly reality and invisible realms of spirit. The mystical spinning dance brings the praying dervishes to a point of ecstatic reconnection with the divine source within and around them and is intended to bring light to the world.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:41:52 pm

Rumi honoured the spirituality of women and shared his mystic teachings with women close to him, including his daughter-in-law Fatima. His granddaughters helped establish the Mevlevi order of Sufis and for the first three generations, women danced alongside men and led the sema turning rituals. Since then the role of women diminished and only men have been allowed to perform publicly at the sema ceremonies in the past 200 years.

Seeds of Sufism were planted in the West at the start of the 20th century, introducing dances of universal peace. Rumi would say 'God opens doors!' But it was not until a few decades ago that the door opened to women dervishes once more when celebrations of the 700-year anniversary of Rumi's passing, sponsored by UNESCO in 1976, revived an interest in the spirit of the Sufi spinning tradition, which has spread in the West.

Around that time Suleyman Dede, a Turkish shaikh (spiritual leader), visited Sufi communities in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Vancouver to share the way of the Mevlana whirling dervishes. In 1978 Suleyman Dede and his wife Feriste Hanum - the 'mother of the dervishes' - sent their son Jelaluddin to America to train men and women in the 'path of the heart'.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:42:47 pm

The training of dervishes was simplified to adapt to the needs of 20th century culture and lifestyle. Training classes are usually held once a week. Everyone is requested to practise at home daily, and there are further gatherings for practice turning and zikr (prayer) meetings.
New students generally make a one-year commitment to learn to turn and begin their study of the Mevlevi path. Training for a new student is a progression: from turning in pace with the arms closed, with the turn broken down into three or four parts, to half turns, to full turns, known as chuks. The next step in training is to hold a staff, three or four feet in length, above the head with both arms while turning. This helps develop the strength in the arms and shoulders. Then the student is taught how to open the arms, and finally the ceremony itself is practised. The student makes their own whirling dervish outfit.
Sufi's honour the day of a person's death as a Shebi Arus or 'wedding night' when the soul returns home. For the 'wedding night' ceremony of the remembrance of Rumi's passing, a white gown is worn, reminiscent of the burial shroud, with a bonnet symbolic of a tombstone, and a belt that separates the lower chakras from the higher. These clothes are only worn by the semazens at the sema ceremonial whirling dance which represents the spiritual journey.
Shakina Reinhertz was initiated as a shaikha of the Mevlevi Order of America in 1993, after training in the practice of whirling with Jelaluddin from 1982. She began teaching the way of Rumi in New York in 1996.

To learn more of Jelalludin's inspirational teaching methods and ethos and read personal accounts from some of his women pupils, please buy Kindred Spirit magazine - issue 58.

Kindred Spirit, Sandwell Barns, Harberton, Totnes, Devon TQ9 7LJ United Kingdom T: 01803 866686 F: 01803 866591 E:

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2007, 10:54:51 pm

The Whirling Dervishes trace their origin to the 13th century Ottoman Empire. The Dervishes, also known as the Mevlevi Order, are Sufis, a spiritual offshoot of Islam. In 1972, Jelaluddin Loras, Sheikh of the Mevlevi Order of America, brought the religion from Turkey to the United States. On December 17, Whirling Dervishes across the world celebrate the birth of Jelaluddin Mevlana Rumi, a mystic poet, who founded the Mevlevi Order. I am the first photographer allowed to document this group.


Sheikh Loras and Ferishte Couglin raise their arms in prayer as Mariah Parker plays the piano. Music plays an integral part of the Whirling Dervishes search for spirituality.

                                                 A Dervish practices the forms

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 06:40:10 am

With the ceremony drawing nigh, Loras raises
his hands in exasperation at his students
failure to perform the correct steps.


A Dervish practices whirling hours before the
December 17 ceremony in the Fairfax Pavilion
in Fairfax, Ca.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 06:45:46 am

Rashid Patch fingers his beads


When the Dervishes enter the pavilion,
they are wearing black cloaks which
symbolize the tomb.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 06:50:48 am

As the ceremony, known as the Sema, begins the audience
watches the Dervishes.


The long, white skirts represents the shroud. The Dervishes extend
their arms, the right palm faces up and the left palm faces down.
Energy from above enters through the right palm, passes through
the body and passes through the left palm and into the Earth.
The Sheikh represents the sun and the Dervishes represent the
planets turning around him in the solar system of Mevlana.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 06:58:18 am

After the Sema is over, Wali Ali Myer and and Loras kiss the
back of each other's hand to show their respect.


After the sema, the Dervishes leave the pavilion to celebrate
the occasion at their retreat in the hills.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 07:03:36 am

At 3:30 a.m. the Sufi youth, Jami, Dakota, Latifa and Isiah are tired,
yet happy. They, and the rest of the Dervishes, will eat, sing and
dance until the sun comes up.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 14, 2007, 03:47:57 pm
 :D  Facinating thread, "B".  We "westerners" are so uninformed on this.  Thanks for posting it!   ;D

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 14, 2007, 04:55:39 pm

You know, Sungate, this whole experience here at AO has been a real pleasure!!!

True, a lot of things I knew already (but had sort of forgotten), like the Sufi/Dervishes.
Others I was not aware of, like the Tuaregs of Morocco.


Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:11:23 am

The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony
Mevleviye are known for their famous practice of whirling dances. At their dancing ceremonies, or Sema, a particular musical repertoire called ayin is played. This is based on four sections of both vocal and instrumental compositions using contrasting rhythmic cycles and is performed by at least one singer, a flute-player (neyzen), a kettledrummer and a cymbal player. The oldest musical compositions stem from the mid-sixteenth century combining Persian and Turkish musical traditions. The repertoire was continuously broadened, and the first notations were made from the early twentieth century onwards.

Dancers would receive 1,001 days of reclusive training within the mevlevihane, a sort ofcloister, where they learnt about ethics, codes of behaviour and beliefs by living a practice of prayer, religious music, poetry and dance. After this training, they remained members of the order but went back to their work and families, combining spiritualism with civic life.

Following a recommended fast of several hours, the whirlers begin to rotate on their left feet in short twists, using the right foot to drive their bodies around the left foot. The body of the whirler is meant to be supple with eyes open, but unfocused so that images become blurred and flowing. The Sema takes place in a large circular-shaped room that is part of the mevlevihane building.

As a result of secularisation policies, all mevlevihane were closed in 1925. In the 1950s, the Turkish government, began allowing the Whirling Dervishes to perform annually in Konya on the Urs of Mevlana, December 17, the anniversary of Rumi's death.  In 1974, they were allowed to come to the West. They performed in France, for Pope Paul VI, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and other venues in the United States and Canada - under the direction of the late Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede. Many practitioners kept their tradition alive in private gatherings, and thirty years later, the Turkish government began to allow performances again, though only in public. From the 1990s, restrictions were eased and private groups re-emerged who try to re-establish the original spiritual and intimate character of the Sema ceremony.

The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony is proclamated as an INTANGIBLE WORLD HERITAGE in Traditional performing art social practices themes by UNESCO in October 2005.

Sema: Human Being in the Universal Movement


Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:15:40 am

Sema is part of the inspiration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207- 1273) as well as of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture.
From a scientific viewpoint we witness that contemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no object, no being which does not revolve and the shared similarity among beings is the revolution of the electrons, protons and neutrons in the atoms, which constitute the structure of each of them. As a consequence of this similarity, everything revolves and man carries on his live, his very existence by means of the revolution in the atoms, structural stones of his body, by the revolution of his blood, by his coming from the earth and return to it, by his revolving with earth itself.

However, all of these are natural, unconscious revolutions. But man is the possessor of a mind and intelligence which distinguishes him from and makes him superior to other beings. Thus the "whirling dervish" or Semazen causes the mind to participate in the shared similarity and revolution of all other beings… Otherwise, the Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, his growth through love, desert his ego, find the truth and arrive to the "Perfect," then he return from this spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation, to all creatures without discrimination of believes, races, classes and nations.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:17:09 am

Sema consists of seven parts:

The first part:

The dervish with his headdress (his ego's tombstone), his white skirt (his ego's shroud) is by removing his black cloak spiritually born to the truth, he journeys and advances there. At the onset and each stop of the Sema, holding his arms crosswise he represent the number one, and testifies to God's unity. While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the skies ready to receive God's beneficence, looking to his left hand turned toward the earth, he turn from right to left around the heart. This is his way of conveying God's spiritual gift to the people upon whom he looks with the eyes of God. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all the mankind, all the creation with affection and love… It starts with an eulogy "Nat-I Serif" to the Prophet, who represents love, and all Prophets before him. To praise them is praising God, who created all of them.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:19:39 am

                                                                       The second part is a drum voice,
                                                                       symbolizing God order to the Creation: "Be."

The third part is an instrumental improvisation "taksim" with a reed "ney."
It represents the first breath which gives life to everything.

The Divine Breath.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:24:40 am

The fourth part is the "dervishes" greetings to each other and their thrice repeated circular walk "Devr-i Veled," with the accompaniment of a music called "peshrev." It symbolize the salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:27:06 am

The fifth part is the Sema (whirling). It consists of four salutes or "Selam"s. At the end of each as in the onset, the dervish testifies by his appearance to God's unity.

                                                                        The first salute is man's birth to truth by feeling and mind.
                                                                        His complete conception of the existence of God as Creator
                                                                        and his state of creature.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:32:00 am

The second salute expresses the rapture of man witnessing the splendor of creation, in front of God's greatness and omnipotence.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:33:54 am
The third salute is the transformation of rapture into love and thereby the sacrifice of mind to love. It is a complete submission, it is annihilation of self with in the loved one, it is unity. This state of ecstasy is the highest grade in Buddhism, defined as "Nirvana" and in Islam "Fenafillah." However, the highest rank in Islam is the rank of the Prophet, he is called God's servant first and his messenger afterwards. The aim of Sema is not unbroken ecstasy and loss of conscious thought. At the termination of this salute, he approves again by his appearance, arms crosswise the Unity of God, consciously and feelingly.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:50:58 am

The forth salute Just as the Prophet ascends till the "Throne" and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish reaching the state of "Fenafillah," return to his task in creation, to his state of subservience following the termination of his spiritual journey and his ascent. He is a servant of God, of his Books, of his Prophets and all his creation.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 15, 2007, 08:52:25 am

At the sixth part Sema ends with a reading of the Quran and specially of the verse from sura Bakara 2, verse 115, "Unto God belong the East and the West, and whither over ye turn, you are faced with Him. He is All-Embracing, All-Knowing."

The seventh part is a prayer for the repose of the souls of all Prophets and all believers

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 19, 2007, 03:56:06 pm
 :)  How do you find all this stuff, "B".  You should work for one of those "research" companies. LOL.  Amazing!   ;)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 19, 2007, 04:41:43 pm

There is actually a 'trick' to it:

I found early on, that the best stories are with the pictures, if you bother to read them.
Most people seem to click on the pictures and ignore the text.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: mdsungate on September 21, 2007, 01:23:59 pm
 :)  Thanks for the tip.  But how do you find the stories with the pictures.  Do you google image search first?   8)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 21, 2007, 04:56:24 pm

Often, yes.  I know the drill with 'wikipedia' and it's pretty straight forward.  If I want more,
I click on a picture that interests me and then I read the accompanying story.

Often, they are travelogues.  But in the case of the Sufis, it was by witnesses mostly, or
members of the Faith.

It DOES  take time.  If I am in a hurry, there's always Wikipedia........

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 03:50:24 pm


                                                            ' A T - Y S S W W U F

Patrick-André Perron

Mystical orientation, usually defined as part of Sunni Islam, although it represents an individual religious idea.

A person who belongs to Sufism, is called a Sufi. Nearly all Sufis are men. Sufis belong, and follow, the rules of an order, known as tariqa.

Sufism's aim is to gain a closer connection to God and higher knowledge. This is gained through communal ceremonies, where trance is widely used. Today there are less Sufis than earlier, some estimates run at less than 5 million in the whole Muslim world. Sufism's strongest footholds are now in Egypt and Sudan.

Sufism got its content and its rituals inside Islam, but it also picked up elements from older religious practices. Sufism developed gradually in the first centuries of Islam, but there is little proof of real Sufism before 800 CE (about 200 H). Sufism as a tradition has had many theoreticians, but has still been a practice mainly used among ordinary peoples, and often performed without much consent from the religious elite.

The core of Sufism is to leave the ordinary life, in order to close down the distance to God. And by reducing the distance between man and God, man also gets closer to truth and knowledge. The soul is seen upon as an element that can stretch out from the carnal body, and pass through the divine spheres. Even if few Sufis will claim that they can reach all they way to God, knowledge and insight increases the closer one manages to get.

Techniques vary, but they have three things in common: rhythm, repetition and endurance. The actual technique can be utterance of words or phrases, singing and dancing. It can in some cases involve physical pain, or acting out illegal acts.

There is little to find in the Koran that sustain the tradition of Sufism, and therefore Sufism have normally had big problems being accepted by the religious as well as the learned elite. Sufism has also had problems with surviving during modernization processes that have taken place in most of the Muslim world. Today Sufism will normally be performed in the countryside, and by people in the outskirts of towns that are so big that there are several cultures co-existing. Sufis are also often of a high average age, as recruiting among the young proves difficult.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2008, 08:54:20 pm


                                                                    S U F I S

                                                     Secrets of the Koran Documentary

To Watch Click Here

To Watch Sufis chanting Click Here

To Watch Whirling Dervish Sufis Click Here

To Watch a film on Sufi Thinker Al-Ghazzali Click Here

To Read an article on the many aspests of Sufism Click Here

To Read the Skeptics Dictionary Article on Sufism Click Here

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on September 13, 2008, 09:29:25 pm

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on November 04, 2008, 09:37:27 pm


                                         Rome and Multan ‘to be made sister cities’

November 05, 2008
by Schezee Zaidi

Multan is the oldest living city in the world and there is an urgent need to promote the rich cultural
and archaeological heritage of this ancient seat of historical traditions and legacy of ‘Sufi’ wisdom.

Italy would soon announce Rome and Multan as ancient sister cities due to their similar and rich archaeological and cultural heritage, and historical linkages.

Italian, Turkish and Pakistani scholars and experts expressed this view while participating in a seminar titled ‘Cultural Heritage of Multan’, organised by the Archaeological & Historical Association of Pakistan (AHAP) at the TVO House here on Tuesday.

Ambassador of Italy Vincenzo Prati was the guest of honour along with Chairman ECS (Italy) Ettore Marzocchi. Ghazanfar Mehdi, President of the Association, and Secretary General Professor Riaz Ahmad conducted the proceedings of the seminar.

Professor Khurram Qadir, Director National Institute of Historical & Cultural Research (NIHCR), Professor Naveed Zafar, Turkish scholar and Chairman Rumi Forum Mr Harroun, Dr Khurram Shehzad, and Professor Farhat were among the speakers, who shared their views on Multan through the history and importance of preserving its rich cultural heritage.

Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Prati said that a special ceremony would be organised in the near future
to announce Rome and Multan as ancient sister cities. He stressed that it is important to emphasise
the preservation of the ancient heritage of Multan for having its roots deep into the history of the
world as the oldest living city, with its unfathomable Sufi heritage and as a gateway to the ancient history.

“We must honour the past heritage not only to be preserved in museums but also as a thriving and
living entity with all its spiritual and traditional essence,” the Italian ambassador said. He stressed the need to work together to promote the archaeological and cultural heritage of the region and added that Italy is keenly interested in establishing an archaeology department at Bahauddin Zakaria University.

Professor Khurram Qadir said that to understand Pakistan, it is important to recognise the historical heritage of Multan that connects the Indus Valley civilisation to the world.

Ghazanfar Mehdi briefed the participants about the programme of the International Seminar on ‘Multan Through 5,000 Years’ to be held next year.

Dr Khurram Shehzad, who is working on a project for the preservation and promotion of Multan as a heritage city, told the participants that there is a huge policy gap that is creating hindrances between the need to promote and preserve heritage as a universal phenomenon because the heritage of Multan remains besieged in the hands of bureaucracy.‘to%20be%20made%20sister%20cities’

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on June 02, 2009, 07:38:56 am

                                                       The artist as a Sufi

AlAhram Weekly
June 2, 2009

Abdel-Moneim Moawad calls himself Egyptian to the core. Ahmed Darwish uncovers the deep emotions within
Artist, academic and designer Abdel-Moneim Moawad offered the public a treat at his recent exhibition, fittingly named Sufi Square, which ran from 4 to 12 May at the main exhibition hall of the Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University, where Moawad teaches.

Interpreting Sufi spirituality with a blend of Egyptian folklore, Moawad offered a glimpse of a spirituality wrapped in the folds of mediaeval design. His pieces brought to life themes of Islamic calligraphy and decorative patterns, packaged for industrial use as well as artistic expression. The collection brings fresh perspectives to Islamic art and takes it to new heights of creativeness.

The pieces he shows can be applied to curtains, carpets, clothes, stained glass and mosaic. They can also be used as full-scale murals in public places. Some of the exhibits are computer-enlarged sketches that have textile potential. Others evoke needlepoint and handmade carpets and scarves. One of his designs has already been used to produce a 9x15- metre carpet for a factory space.

A carpet of Moawad's design once won a prize at the Hannover fair. Thousands of pieces were produced and sold of this design. Oriental Weavers are among the companies that have used the artists' designs in their carpets.

Moawad also designs hanging carpets, and one of his pieces has been bought by the Museum of Modern Art in Egypt. Entire collections of his work have been sold in London, New Jersey and Paris. One piece includes a humorous touch from the mid-20th century. In a throwback to the times of the kerosene-lit stoves, now virtually extinct, it reads in impeccable calligraphy, "Come, girl, and unblock the stove, for it is leaking gas."

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on June 02, 2009, 07:40:42 am

"Being authentically Egyptian can help one break into the international scene," the artist confides.

Part folksy, part spiritual, Moawad often conjures up the simplicity that used to be the essence of local life. One of the pieces now exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art is of a chair, a bed and a straw mat. He calls it, Ala Qad Halna (Within Our Means). It is a drawing done in black felt-tip pen, but with its amazing multi-tonality, it may as well have been drawn in charcoal. This attention to detail is what sets Moawad side from his generation. Another thing that gives him an edge is that he knew what he wanted right from the start. As a teenager, he studied at the Abbasiya High School for Decorative Arts. He actually drew that museum piece while still an undergraduate student.

Intensely creative, Moawad mixes art with spirituality. His use of colour brings elegance to his presentations of the common Islamic themes of the triangle, square and star formations. And yet his work converses with daily life through the frequent references to folklore. The black background he often employs adds mystery and depth even to the simplest of his linear formations.

That he can draw so much upon Islamic art is no doubt related to where and how he grew up. He has spent most of his life in the old parts of Cairo, the areas of Ghuriya, Gammaliya, Khayamiya, and Bab Al-She'riya. As a child, he had the chance to admire the complex ornamentations of mediaeval Islamic art as he walked past the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, the Rifaai Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Muayyad Mosque, the Sultan Al-Ghuri Mosque and Madrasa, and the sabil and kottab of Umm Abbas on Saliba Street. His photographic memory retained those details, and a life of focus on Islamic themes, part of which he spent as a restorer, added maturity to his outlook.

Moawad's father was an Azharite scholar. Among his friends were the great Quran chanters of the time, men such as Mansour Al-Damanhuri, Ali Mahmoud Taha and Abdel-Fattah Al-Shaashaai. He still remembers listening to their recitals as a child and aspiring for the rhythm and mastery of their art.

Warm and affable, Moawad is intensely emotional. He tells me that once, after coming home to his neighbourhood from a long stay abroad, he was unable to fight back the tears.

Looking at Moawad's work, I am reminded of the great artists of the past. I am reminded of Mahmoud Mokhtar (1891-1934), the great sculptor; Mahmoud Said (1897-1956), best known for his inimitable portrays of Alexandrian women; Mohamed Nagui (1881-1956), a pioneer of painting; and Ragheb Ayyad (1892-1983), the man who brought expressionism into Egyptian art.

The critic Kamal Al-Guweili says of Moawad, "His work is like orchestral music: many instruments, many colours and a natural command that keep the whole thing together." The late critic Hassan Abdel-Rassul once said, "He is the artist of the earthen jar and the rababa [two- string violin]." I totally agree.

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on July 05, 2009, 11:20:35 am


Whirling :

Dancers performs on the music of Mercan Dede during the openning show of the season of Turkey in France in Paris.

Boris Horvat)

Title: Re: THE SUFIS
Post by: Bianca on July 05, 2009, 11:30:20 am