I have encountered Sufism on my travels before. But nothing as exciting as at the Sufi ceremony at the Hamid El-Nil Mosque in Omdurman.
They are sensational. Friendly. Funky. Fun. Uplifting. Pious. Pure.
I wish more Westerners could witness these positive aspects of Islam.
Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam – similar to Hindu Sadhus or Christian mystics – as they go beyond the mainstream practices of their religion.
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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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.
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.
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).