Whirling Dervish 045

We plan to see the whirling dervish. But before I once again want to know it and decide to have my hair cut.

Hassan brings us to the hairdresser. A few minutes later, I regret my decision, but now there is no escape. And the barber already comes to the point. I wanted as usual hair washing and cutting, but seemingly washing is not done here. Hassan and Bine are amused and curiously observe what is happening here with me. So far everything still seems to happen normally. With an electric shaver, the hair is cut, not measured but by feeling. I discover another customer. I really do not want to look like him, but about the style of the hair we have not previously spoken. I sincerely hope the barber had ever foreign customers. Although unlikely, because the store is outside the city center. The thing takes shape, seems to be not so bad. Then it gets really bad. With a shiny razor blade the edges of the hair are trimmed. I’m afraid. Can he handle the blade,will he cut inside me, how many times he has already used this blade, there are many diseases in Africa. I try to keep still and not flinch. Through the mirror I see a different client. He receives the default hairstyle, all hair cut to baldness. With this style they have experience, but with my hair?

Suddenly I get some substance smeared into my face. What is this! A face peeling. I did not order, could be expensive. I count our cash holdings in the head.

Now it must rest for a while, then the procedures is repeated. I sit helplessly in the chair and have to wait. Then all that stuff is rubbed off my face like a scratch card. Does not feel so bad. I am envied by Bine and Alexandra, Hassan remains skeptical. Now I get another substance into my face. The hairdresser massages and rubs pretty wild. Where I’m gone? Only now is the turn of hair washing and the substance is washed from my face, a strange approach.

Still rubbed dry and finished is the whole bag of tricks. I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry, all the others laugh, so I do the same, and take the result on the bright side, pay about 5 € and it is good. Freshly styled, we go to the dance of the whirling dervish.

whirling dervish
whirling dervish

The ceremony has already begun, a preacher speaks to people and is waiting for the approval of the crowd.

The whole takes place in Omdurman at the Tomb of Sheikh Hamed al Nil, a Sufi leader of the 19th century. Every Friday afternoon, members of the Sufis meet, to hold the religious ceremony. Around the Preacher already some men start to prepare for the ritual. They sing and beat the drum. Outside the grave a great square was created for the dancers. The songs start slowly and increase gradually. The purpose of the ritual is to recite the name of God and with his assistance to fall to an ecstatic state in which the heart can communicate directly with God. Then there is a short pause and the Sufi form up to march to the grave.

whirling dervish
whirling dervish

Once the green flag is raised, the actual ritual starts. While they march, they sing continually La illallah illallah “which translated means “there is no God but Allah”. It is the first line of the Muslim faith book. Other believers who first waited on the edge, join. The Sufis are often described as dancing dervishes, which is actually a misnomer. For the ritual consists mainly of marching in a circle, sing and clap their hands. Only occasionally individual Sufis break out, turn around their own axis in a trance, to find a personal path to God.

whirling dervish
whirling dervish

The central idea of Sufism is to find a personal path to God, which differs fundamentally from the orthodox Muslim prayer ritual. The Sufis organize themselves in order or brotherhoods, headed by a charismatic leader or sheikh.

The most common Brotherhood in Sudan is one, which was founded in the 12th century in Baghdad and taken from there to the Sudan.

The ritual reaches its peak, to be recognized, for the increasingly loud chants and movements become faster and faster.

Even a while we watch the Sufis in their religious ceremony. Tomorrow we will leave Khartoum and head towards the Ethiopian border.