Khartoum, Sudan

  • Date
  • 6 October 2000

The whirling dervishes of the Qadiriya Sufi Order of Islam twirl, sway, chant and stir up dust in front of the sixty-four year-old Hamed an-Nil Mosque every Friday afternoon, except Ramadan. A camel is sacrificed, with his meat going to the poor. The decapitation is gruesome. Festivities also include old, wrinkled men chanting and singing “Allah” repeatedly, while men in colorful green and patched robes dance, bob and spin to the delight of hundreds of onlookers. During the excitement of the hour-long, upbeat celebration, men physically showed signs of enjoyment, moving and chanting, while women stand solemnly in the back, with an occasional high-pitched, female squeal escaping. One woman, in a state of euphoria, ran to join dancing men, but instantly a frustrated elderly man grabbed her by the shoulders returning her to the proper women’s area. An overjoyed Muslim man fainted for a few brief moments, but came back to life with a smile covering his brown face. The experience must be lived, as words can not do justice to the whirling dervishes.