Sufi dhikr to the tune of religious music at the mawlid of Sidi Ali
Zayn al-Abidin in Cairo.
The most spectacular part of mawlids is Sufi dhikr.
Dhikr means literally the mentioning or invocating the
name of God. In Sufism, it also means a specific
ritual of meditation, based on the repetition of names
of God and often accompanied by music and a dancing
movement of the body to help reach a state of trance.
Critics of Sufism argue that music and dancing is not
a proper way to express piety, but Sufis counter that
if it helps one to feel closer to God then there can
be nothing wrong about it. The Qur'an and the
tradition of the Prophet Muhammad do not provide a
conclusive answer to the debate: It is a question of
different understanding of what it means to be
religious: some see it including moments of strong
emotion and ecstasy, while others believe that it
should be exclusively disciplined and rational.
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Cairo, March MMV, middle format colour negative, scan from c-print
(c) Samuli Schielke