And while I’ve encountered Sufism before, nothing matches the excitement of the Sufis of Sudan – masses of them dancing and chanting.
VIDEO: Dancing Sufis of Sudan
I really wish more Westerners could witness this unique and positive slice of Islam.
Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam
Sufis are like Hindu Sadhus or Christian mystics – as they go beyond the mainstream practices of their religion and hence, some may view them as eccentric.
Sufis belong to “orders” formed around a master.
And it was Sheikh Hamid al-Nil who founded this al-Qadiriya Sufi order.
His tomb remains in Omdurman and is where this mystical ceremony takes place every Friday.
Video: Singing Sufi at Omdurman
Get there about 2pm, to see the singing, or around 4pm for the dance ceremony.
Why do Sufis dance?
The Sufis’ path to God is personal and they can reach it thru chanting, singing, music, and dance (and in India, with the use of magic).
Many Sufis wear colorful patchwork robes, dancing to the beat of drums, twirling and stamping their feet as they slip into a trance.
At the height of the dance, participants say their souls communicate with Allah (God, in Arabic) and that they’ve cleansed evil.
They broke their trance with the evening prayer call.
The Sufis of Omdurman believe this ceremony originates from Islam’s earliest days, although others see it as a ritual derived from Sudanese folklore.
FOOTNOTE: Unfortunately, Islamic fundamentalists believe Sufism is un-Islamic. And “terrorist” groups, like those in Mali, have damaged or destroyed the tombs of saints in Timbuktu, for example. However, in Sudan, this was / is still not the case.