Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Qadiriyya Sufi Brotherhood at the Fez Sufi Festival

The Qadiriyya Sufi Brotherhood

The Qadiriyya (Arabic: القادريه, Persian:قادریه, also transliterated Qadri, Qadriya, Kadri, or Qadri), are members of the Qadiri Sufi order (tariqa). This derives its name from Syed Abdul Qader Gilani Al Amoli (1077–1166 CE, also transliterated as "Jilani") who was a native of the Iranian province of Mazandaran. The order relies strongly upon adherence to the fundamentals of Islam. The Qadiri Order pays particular attention to the outward practices of Islam as determined by the Sunna (documented practices and customs of the Prophet). Qadiris are very well disciplined, known for “inner” jihad, and are often cited as examples of saintly living. The dervishes are also
known for protecting Islam and freedoms of Muslims in the distant outposts of Islam such as in Algeria, Kosovo, and Chechnya.

The order, with its many offshoots, is widespread, particularly in the Arabic-speaking world, and can also be found in Turkey, Indonesia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Balkans, Israel, China, East and West Africa. The Tariqa Boutchichiya is a branch of the Qadiriyya that originated in North-east Morocco in the 18th century. The famous traveller and writer Isabelle Eberhardt also belonged to the Qadiri order.

The symbol of the order is the rose. A rose of green and white cloth, with a six-pointed star in the middle, is traditionally worn in the cap of Qadiri dervishes. Robes of black felt are also customary.

The brotherhood's teachings emphasise the struggle against the desires of the ego. Gilani described it as "the greater struggle" (jihad) This has two stages; first against deeds forbidden by religious law and second against fundamental vices such as greed, vanity, and fear. A true seeker of God should overcome all desires other than wishing to be taken into God's custody.

Mostar at night - photo Suzanna Clarke

The Brotherhood is very active in Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia. During the war in Bosnia they formed fighting units of Dervishes that became renowned for their heroic defence of the Bosnian heartland.

The Concert

On another balmy night in Fez the Qadiriyya gave a wonderful display of their dervish skills. Entering quietly and with a respectful bow to the audience the almost thirty strong troupe took their places with the men in green of black jackets on the lower level and those in cream or white on the stage.

Not chanting but singing - with almost angelic voices

After chanting dhikr (prayers) the men on the lower level began to chant in deep guttural tones while two men on the stage soared above them with tones that by contrast seemed almost angelic.

Those that whirl - with their traditional tall hats.
Two the left and right of the lower group were the young men who began to turn slowly until, increasing in tempo their long white skirts billowed out. It was a moment many in the audience were seeing for the first time and their appreciation and awe was palpable.

It was a sight that will probably only be rivaled by the Turkish Dervishes from the Tariqa Khalwatiyya who sat quietly in the audience admiring the Bosnians and knowing that their evening comes tomorrow.

Tariqa Khalwatiyya watching the performance

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