Rituals in the Middle East and Balkans
If among contemporary Muslims there are two extremes, they are on the one hand the fundamentalist ‘Islamists’ of which we hear mostly nowadays and on the other hand the broad-minded, tolerant and non-violent Sufis. Sufi tradition has an important cultural component, especially in poetry and music. The photos show the rituals of some representative Sufi groups in the Balkans and the Middle East. Taken together they give as accurate an impression as possible of Sufi ritual, with its enormous variety in discipline and exuberance, intellectualism and spontaneity. In accompanying texts he explores what lies behind the riuals, and explains aspects of Sufi life and practice such as the position of women.
'We draw closer to God by singing.
You can sing with your voice, or with your body.'
(Abdul Fattah Qalaaji, Aleppo., Syria)
Introduction: A different Islam
Sufism and the Zikr
A Sufi on Sufism: Interview with Sheikh Zahir
Dancing with God - Egypt
Sitting with God – Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Standing with God - Bosnia and Herzegovina
An Iron Faith - Syria
The Prophet’s Birthday – Cairo
Nicolaas (Niek) Biegman holds a Ph.D. in Balkan history, and is an expert on Islam. He has produced a number of photo books, among others on Sufi festivals in Egypt (Egypt- Moulids, Saints, Sufis)), Haiti, the streets of Manhattan and a Sufi community in Skopje (God’s Lovers).
Living sufism is a co-production with The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo & New York.
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