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Whirling Dervishes - embracing the world | by Teobius
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Whirling Dervishes - embracing the world

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As Sufi practitioners, dervishes were known as a source of wisdom, medicine, poetry, enlightenment, and witticisms.

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 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.

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).

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.

(excerpts from wikipedia)

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Taken on May 4, 2008