Mysticism is the part of a religion that touches on the supernatural and allows the worshiper to divide themselves from their mortal existence and reach into the divine in order to commune with God. The ability for the human being to separate themselves from the human plane and touch into something of the divine defies explanation and is part of what helps to construct the idea of faith. The following paper will examine the nature of Sufism and the way in which the practice of the Whirling Dervish provides a solemn, yet celebratory experience in which the initiate is able to transcend themselves and commune with God. The paper will discuss Sufism and its origins and then explain the experience of the Whirling Dervish as the initiate and the audience participate in a ceremony of dance, music, and poetry, as well as readings from the Qu’ran that complete an experience of immense spiritual transcendence. Through the discussion of the meaning of communion with God and the capacity for reaching beyond what is mortal and human, an understanding of mysticism and the way in which it contributes to religious experience will help to define and explore the nature of human and divine connectivity. The Muslim sect of the Sufi create a wondrous example of the nature of religious mysticism. Sufism. Tariqa Qadiriyya Boutchichiyya (2003) discusses the nature of Sufism and how it developed. It is written that they were not named as a separate sect during the time of the Prophet, but that they did exist. He was their living model and created a source from which they developed their spiritual worship. The first Sufis were called Ahl As ASuffa, or ‘the people of the Bench’. They were referred to by the Prophet when it was said “Restrain yourself together with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening seeking His Face. Do not turn your eyes away from them in the quest for the good things of this life; nor obey any whose heart we have made heedless of Our remembrance who follows his own lust and gives loose reign to his desires” ( Qur’an Al-Khahf (The Cave, verse 28), There are connections to the word Sufi from Arabic and other languages. The first is a connection to ‘purity’. There is also a connection to the word for wool, which describes the simple garments of the Sufi, thus this might have been a short way in which to reference the group (Stoutzenberger, 2006). There are other languages, however, from which some derivation might occur. The Greek word ‘sofoy’ means ‘the wise one’ which passed into the Arabic to the word ‘faylasuf’ which means ‘philosopher’. The Arabic term ‘murabit’ refers to a fortress with a garrison, which in turn was connected to the capital city in Morocco called Rabat. The term can also be used to describe moving from city to city and staying in hostels called Ribats, much the same way an army may move. Ribats were often comprised of solitary mystics or groups of mystics that would journey this way with the intention of finding a remote and unused home area. This would then be revered to as a Ribat, which was used as a place in which shelter was given to a variety of “specialists in the religious sciences”, where Madrassas is an example. These Ribats were associated with the Sufis where they practiced and developed their worship (Tariqa Qadiriyya B
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