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Mystical Islam – Dancing Sufis of Sudan

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They are sensational.

Friendly. Funky. And Fun. While I’ve encountered Sufism before, nothing equals the excitement of the Sufi ceremony at the Hamid El-Nil Mosque in Omdurman. And, I really wish more Westerners could witness this piece of positive Islam.

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Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam – similar to Hindu Sadhus or Christian mystics – as  they go beyond the mainstream practices of their religion.

sufi carries spectator amid dance sudan
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This wild sufi ran amok. Here he seized a local and spun him around on a ride.

Sufis belong to “orders” formed around a master. Their path to God is personal, and it can be reached thru chanting, singing, music, and dance (And in India, with the use of magic).

The al-Qadiriya Sufi order in Omdurman was founded by Sheikh Hamid al-Nil, and he is buried in the tomb nearby.

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The sheer energy and excitement of being there towards the end of the Sufi Halgt Zikr ceremony in Omdurman.

Many Sufi’s wear colourful patchwork robes, dancing to the beat of drums, twirling and stamping their feet until they go into a trance.

At the height of the dance, participants say that their souls communicate with Allah ( God, in Arabic) and are cleansed of evil. The spell is only broken, with the call to evening prayer.

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Sufis in full flight – swirling, dancing, chanting. Praising God.

The Sufis’ of Omdurman view this ceremony as something drawn from Islam’s earliest days, although others see it as a ritual derived from Sudanese folklore.

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The Sufi doing the rounds with burning incense burning. Follow the ritual: Take both hands and wave them in towards you, and inhale the scent. RIGHT: this Sufi was my favorite. He seemed to notice me more than others, and always give me a smile or facial expression as he circulated amid the ceremony. Later, he anointed me gently on my right shoulder with his staff.

Unfortunately fundamentalists within the Islamic world, believe Sufism as un-Islamic. (And the tombs of saints have been damaged or destroyed, like those at Timbuktu in Mali).

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