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Dervish
WITH THE SOUTH AFRICAN DERVISHES “GHADERY SECT OF SOFI”

Abdullah took away the cameras and his shirt, then walked bravely to the center. After paying respect to KHALIFA, Abullah joined them and with no fear asked him to, do on me, whatever you do on your faithful members!

The followers of Ghadery movement believe that ALI - BIN - TALIB could never mention the word of almighty “God” unless quite loud, well pronounced, and with special intonation. For the same reason dervishes do the same, beside leaning forward and to the sides. They let the hair grow, although a circle around the head is left shaved. They are quite cautious for keeping the hair clean.

The Dervishes practice their prayer both; in sited attitude called “Tahlil” and in standing position called “Ghyam”. The prayer rituals are quite pre-established, either in Mosque, in the house or open space, they sit in circle. The leader is referred at as “KHALIF” is him who conducts the rituals; after the daily “NAMAZ” the KHALIF enters the circle with rosary beads hanging from the wrist, everyone follow his movements.
The rituals are followed the compass of beating drum, accompanied by harmonious melody of the flout.

While participants uncover the heads, the messy
long hairs swirl from one side to the other. These rhythmic rituals gained root thanks to couple of great “Ustad”, ABDUL - GHADER - GILANI, and seyyed Ahmed Rafaie.

Is worth its while mentioning that, approx. In 1850 of the Christian Era, some sofi practitioners of the Ghadery were highly illuminated, left their solitary mountains of Kurdistan, considered paradise of meditation, headed for India to Publicize the movement in this democracy and densely populated country. Gathering huge followers, their extraordinary choreography plus rites, meditation and music fascinated people from all walks of life who were in search of new tide of theosophy, instead of monotonous way of seeking spirituality. This great success opened a new horizon and moved sofas to Far East, many settling in Malaysia. In those years this Peninsula was ruled under the Kingdom of British Empire. Simultaneously, the British Empire was pushing deep into the African continent, from Sudan to South Africa; they needed more trained and manageable manpower, instead of indomitable Black African. Shipload of Malaysian Muslims who were familiar with Ghadery Movement was dispatched to the Southern tip of Africa to work as skilled slaves.
Dervishes live in South Africa

FAITH IN GOD

Soon upon our arrival to Cape Town, we rushed to visit the Grand Leader “The Khalife” it resulted in warm exchange of knowledge. Before expressing our utmost wish to witness these mystical sessions, he offered us to organize one, giving all facilities for filming. Since the interior shot requires lots of illumination, he offered to make special performance outdoor. We could not have been more lucky. We preferred to choose a religious holiday, a caravan of cars, trucks and Pick-up packed with faithful drove roughly 60 Km. installing the event on front of a holy shrine, where 200 years ago, an initiated “Khalif” passed away, the Malaysian colony erected this mausoleum for the in mortal saint. The chosen place was a flat space on a hill top dominating a magnificent green valley and a lake. After the traditional “Nemaz” everyone occupied his space; sitting with the crossed legs. The smoke of burning scent was dancing in the air; we felt the spirituality to its utmost.

The portable cockpit was assembled, it was finely decorated with Koranic Scriptures, and its refine carving was a lovely manifestation of Islamic Art, the total absence of human figures. On front of Khalif was placed a collection of flagellation armor: nails, spikes and sharp daggers, to our amazement there were Hammer, tools for every application, all these will prove the true concept of having “Faith”.

The heavily bearded face of grand Khalif seen through all these frightening artifacts. Resembled more to a blacksmith rather than a religious person, his heart was over whelmed with the power of faith: the same faith which can move the mountain. His followers, 45 devoted men were sited in semicircle facing the leader, some of them holding “Dafne” beating it to the contagious rhythmic drum, the scenario was shifting to its next sequence, giving pace to immense happiness, this extraordinary sensation still remains inherent in both of us after 45 years and will remain forever.

The group chanting combined with drum beating. The meaningful Koranic phrases mixed with incense had convulsion everyone present, it was in avoidable, everyone singed to one side or the other; much like seaweed in the course of streams dancing with the current, almost impossible to describe. During two years of exploration in Africa, we had grown accustomed to the tribal drum, but, this lovely rhythm had hidden in its notes a secret of paranormal phenomena unknown to psychologists, each beating was a deeper penetration in human mind, it knocked sub-conscious to transform the alms to other latitude than human embodiment, we were deeply carried away; the same occurred to the weak and strong alike.

One way to translate this sensation is to use the word “Trans”, only few illuminated and learned people have been able to face it such as Molavi, while involved in total Trans, was yet able to compose and chant profound philosophical concepts, while he was besieged in something equivalent to 41 degree of fever, still he composed poetry as inspiration of heart, non of his scholars could quite understand.

This peculiar sensation also affected us to unknown proportion; I admit our limitation to describe that moment, only some legendary lovers such as Romeo & Juliet probably must have felt something similar.

After 60 minutes, two youngsters, dressed in white stepped into the Arena, holding sharp metals. For a while they walked in emotional pace and thus creating expectation among the onlookers, what is coming next? I asked Issa, their movement was perfectly synchronized with drum beating, both, the audio and visual effects hypnotized the public; the boys continued beating their chest by metallic implements, to our amazement, we neither saw gushing blood nor did we hear lamentation of pains, it seems all these prologue was the gesture to invite the adults to follow their example, at this stage the grand Khalif stood up and helped adolescents to pass several wires thru their body. The excitement besieged everyone expecting what next?

The whole thing reminded us of ancient Iranian “Zoor-Khaneh” which is the heritage style of Body-Builders, during which every “Pahlevan” enters the Arena making his own show. Two elderly entered Arena kneeling before altar; The Khalif Kissed a sword and handed them over, the decibel of chanting Koranic Verses was raising, a reminder of Iranian Dervish Ceremonial dancing sessions. They raised sable above their head circling it in between the heaven and the earth; this synchronized choreography used to hypnotize all witnessing eyes, and, while everyone had entered in Trans, they used to lower sable beating their naked arms, women turned their eyes looking opposite direction, they even went further by pressing pointed sable into their eye. We were expecting that any moment the eye’s retina will get dislocated jumping out, yet, each moment their inner sight was fortified to such extent that one of them guessed all what I had in my pocket.

Minute after minute thing were growing more exciting; the selfishness & love for material thing gave way to spiritual values, everyone was convinced that faith is stronger than hate. This last person transformed the scene to a slaughter house; the spike was introduced through the mouth, crossing the cheek and with a Hammer drove it into a piece of wood. The very same way was nailed to the floor, trying to cut throat; once he stood up no any sign of wound. Issa and myself were kept well aware of the situation, mainly of being so involved in our technicality to cover this unique presentation, for a moment we thought the power of “Trans” will have negative exposure on our film footage.

This contagious rhythm somehow affected us both somehow or the other, remembering the power of the faith which can move the mountain. If they are able to work this miracle, I told Issa, there is no reason why should not I do it, and I felt the unbelievable sensation of “Nirvana” lifted up the higher altitudes instead being grounded to the earthly and worthless materialism. I took away the cameras hanging from my neck, a tremendous sensation had invaded every, cell took off my shirt and walked bravely to the centre of the arena, the sensation was building up second after second, all the eyes were gazing at me, for a while could see the astonished face of people, also took away my under shirt while getting near and nearer to Grand Khalif, I told the crowd swearing to almighty that am truly over-whelmed white power of faith, I disposed of my flesh and bone to ratify if the entire show isn’t fake.

That without any hesitation please perform all these on my earthly body, after all, everything is impermanent. Just like other followers I approached the Altar, after paying my respect, the Grand Khalif fetched two spikes that were already with some blood, he kissed them before handing on to me, the blending of the blood, the syndrome of “AIDS” was out of the question, the power of the faith is above all these phenomena.

The over coming of fear gave way for being brave, following the compass of my music I swirled the spikes around my head and then beating my stomach with all my might, it was something as dancing in the air. The first impact left some cicatrize on my skin, my natural reaction was to ignore, the second and further impacts was so strong that penetrated under my skin, making it unable for me to remove; I asked the Grand Khalif for help, once I found myself beside him, I begged him to perform other tortures and he without hesitation crossed many wires through my face, for a moment I had the sensation as if am looking thru barbed wire other realities.

The women who were our host in Cape Town and their relatives preferred to run away not to see all this. Each wire was roughly 30 Cm. one side had sign of Muslim Star & Moon, while the other end was sharp. He crossed them thru my face, lip, eyebrow, etc. Truly I had overcome the fear, thus no pain, no bad feeling, he kept crossing some wires thru skin of my throat as well as stomach, my ears, eyebrows, lips and cheek. The performance reached its climax, I asked the great leader to remove all these appendices hanging from my body, so did he, but, by removing the last spike from my left ear, I started to bleed, it was as if a Geyser! Blood was gushing from my ear covering my left shoulder.

He looked at my rather contemptuous as if my faith in almighty is not strong enough; being rather upset about this bloody affair, I asked leader to look for immediate solution. With the usual calm which is characteristic of these relaxed people, he assured me not to worry “son”, while with the help of his thumb, placed some of his spittle on my wound while repeating some of the holy script of Koran, it was as if splashing water on the flames, to the amazement of onlookers my bleeding stopped at-once. Although these people suffer the racial prejudice and segregation of colonialists, often these white people ask them spiritual healing when Hospital Authorities have given up any hope.

To eliminate any doubt, the great leader invited us to hold the dagger, this was specially designed for this new segment and had handle at both ends, it was deadly sharp for any normal Christian; to prove how sharp it is, he cut a cabbage in two with very little effort. Issa and myself hold it vertically so that a fakir used to walk over it or sleep over it, we were scared that anything could happen at any moment, this was a real prove that our faith was not yet quite solid. These practitioners are among half a million Malaysian Muslims who were brought here as slaves and cheap laborer, since all the Islamic fundaments is based on human equality before supreme, thus, the apartheid and inhuman segregation helped them to assemble in small groups and practice their invincible faith, after all, our extraordinary exploration around the planet symbolizes the same.

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