Dancing Sufis of Sudan – Mystical Islam

Halgt Zikr ceremony - Omdurman

They are sensational. Friendly. Funky. And Fun.

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.

cazy sufi swirling sudan ceremony
Sufis of Sudan: This wild one ran amok. Here he seized a local and spun him around on a ride.

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.

Sufis dance in Omdurman Zikr ceremony at the Hamid El-Nil Mosque in Khartoum, Sudan.

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.

Sufis in full flight in Omdurman on a Friday afternoon – swirling, dancing, chanting. Praising God.

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.

portraits of sufis in sudan

At the height of the dance, participants say their souls communicate with Allah (God, in Arabic) and that they’ve cleansed evil.

sufis of sudan
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.
Whistling and whirling at the Sufi ceremony.

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.

Sufis of Sudan dance ending in front of the mosque in Omdurman Friday ceremony
Sufis of Sudan: The sheer energy and excitement of being there towards the end of the Sufi Halgt Zikr ceremony in Omdurman.

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.

Travels in Sudan – 2013

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