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Those Who Are In
The tradition of the aşik, the Shi’a Alevi
minstrels who sing of love for humanity accompanying themselves on the
saz, is almost extinct now in Turkey. The filmmaker roams through
interviewing old men - and one woman - who reminisce about their
to their saz, never played for money but always for the love of God and
others. Insightful examination of Sufi practice. Turkish with English
Dir./Prod: David Grabias for Sinema Productions.
1995 27min V5212 [Egypt]
The religious ritual dance of the Sufi order
of the Mehlevi dervishes of Turkey diffused to Egypt in the 13th
Today it is found transformed into a folk artistic performance seen at
public festivals as well as at international conferences. Dir./ Prod:
Fakhouri, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan/Flint,
Revisited (AKA Durus
V2081. 33 min (U.S.)
Bayt-al-Deen is a prototype madrassah
school] near San Antonio, Texas, with much of the teaching in English
by Shaykh Fadhlalla. This film offers an overview of the 140-acre
farming, family life together with vignettes of a ’Id al Adha
salat [prayer], and one scene of a Sufi zikr [ritual of ecstasy].
by Abdullah Nouri and Charles White for the American Academy of
(Bahauddin Naqshband) V4816.
Dedicated to the 675th
this eulogy of Khayrat Bakhauddin Nakshband born in 1318 recreates
from his life in the spectacular setting of Bokhara, quoting his adage
that ’the soul should belong to Allah, the hands to work.’ One sequence
addresses his Quiet Zikr; there is reference to the expansion of his
to 20 million today, of which a million are in Turkey. Dir: Shukhrat
Prod: Ibragim Ahmodov. Ozma Productions for the Foreign Trade
City of Bokhara.
Prophet In The Remembrance Of
God: Sufi Dhikr In Egypt. 65-V5692. 39 min
Study of an Islamic mystical exercise that
evolved into a major communal ritual with important spiritual, social
psychological functions. Sufi dhikr, the chanting of the names of God,
is a regular activity in the lives of many Muslims, particularly those
who live in urban areas and villages that are home to the shrine-tombs
of important saints. In Egypt, communal dhikr is performed to the
of music and song, and the film explains the interaction of music with
excerpts from performances by several Sufi singers. It also examines
influence of social setting on dhikr, and such issues as the
of women and children and the function of dhikr as entertainment.
Directed by Prof. Valerie Hoffman.
For Those Who
Sail to Heaven. V2738. 48
This splendid study of the moulid (festival)
of Abu’l Hajjaj which is held annually in Luxor not only offers
involvement in the rites, but stresses the ecumenical participation
has evolved. The content is enriched by clips from the films made by
Barnes of the same festival in 1925. Dir./Prod: Elizabeth Wickett.
a Sufi saint from Uzbekistan. V7097. 31 min
Documentary about Habiba,
a Muslim healer (Tabib) who represents the feminine side of the
Naqshbandi lineage of Sufi teachers in
Uzbekistan. Her clients include Russian Christians as well as Uzbek
Muslims, and she employs a savvy New Age rhetoric that ranges from the
Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad to the Sufi master Baha'uddin
Naqshband, the snakes, and the mother goddess. Narrator, Louise
Director, Costanzo Allione. [Presented by] Where the Eagles Fly. New
York, NY :
Mystic Fire Video, Inc.
; New York, NY : Distributed by Fox Lorber Associates, Inc., c1997.
Traditional World of Islam
#6). J206. 16 mm 30
addresses certain aspects of Sufism - the
aspect of Islam - the quest for spiritual union with God. Worship at
shrines, retreats for ascetics, ritual chanting and whirling dervishes
all exemplify different paths towards one goal. Lacking is any example
of lay Sufism integrated into society, the personal rather than
of Jahjouka. VHS.1 min
This visually striking documentary preserves
the rich musical heritage of Jahjouka, a remote Moroccan village south
of Meknes. The lame, barren and mentally ill came to seek cures by
to the music which had association with the local saint’s tomb, music
to have special baraka - blessing power. The film studies the impact on
the villagers and the music in the 1960’s when Westerners such as the
Stones rock musician Brian Jones, counter- culture figure Timothy Leary
and author Paul Bowles arrived with followers. Prod/Dir.:
Spirits. (16mm) 26 min [Morocco]
The relationship of the individual to the
natural through mediating influences is an aspect of Islam often
in orthodox literature and films. Here three such personal dimensions
explored through the experiences of one woman in Marrakech, Morocco.
indigenous music and sensitive narration compensate for the technically
uneven footage. Detailed background for this film is essential for
understanding and appreciation; it is ably provided by the accompanying
guide. Prod/ Dir.: Davie and Fernea, Granada TV.
La Sama, Danse
Mystique des dervishes.
20 min [Turkey]
This careful, beautifully photographed study
of the meaning of the whirling dervishes is valuable for the studies of
religion and dance forms as well as of Turkish culture. In addition it
is an aesthetic delight. Cine and Tele Production for the Ministry of
and City of Konya. In French.
5, The Sacred Relics
.V4357. 23 min [Turkey]
This video details the collection of sacred
relics amassed by Yavuz Sultan in the early 16th century and also the
building in which these are housed. Viewers are given close examination
of the robe, letter, seal, swords and other possessions of the Prophet
Mohammed as well a pieces of the arm of St. John the Baptist.
(Whirling Dervishes). V2607. 48
This beautifully presented memorial for the
700th anniversary of Jalul’uddin al Rumi’s death traces the evolution
the human concept and appreciation of Universal Nature from the
Neolithic city of Catal Huyuk through Ephesus to Konya. The ritualistic
dance Sema of the whirling dervishes, in which Man is the link between
God and Creation, is both displayed and explained. Dir./Prod: Dianna
for Beshara Fouad
Dervishes. VHS. 12 min [Turkey]
photographic essay of a performance of
the Mehlevi dervishes dancing the sama, the Sufi ritual seeking
union with God. Dir.: Giraard Vericruysse. Prod: Marc Mopty
on Sufism available
elsewhere (listed on WorldCat):
Moser, 1987. New York, N.Y.: Filmakers Library. The Disappearing world
series. Describes the rituals and beliefs of the Qadiri Dervishes,
Kurds who live along the border between Iran and Iraq. Explores the
intertwining of religious and political power in the culture.
Heart of the
Koran. Lex Hixon,
1989. VHS tape (29 min.) Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical
Society. Discusses unity of all major world religions, the Islamic
world view, and daily practices in Islamic spiritual life.
with Sheikh Muhammad
Nazim Al-Haqqani Al-Qubrusi Al-Naqshbandi, Grand Sheikh of the
Naqshbandi Sufi Tariqa. VHS
tape (60 min.). Altadena, CA:
Islamic Information Service, 1999. The Shaikh talks about the role of
Sufism in Islam, the Sufi approach to Islam and key terms.
Pyramids lie fairgrounds of
the faithful. Knowledge
2020, 1996. VHS tape (45 min.).
Venice, CA: Knowledge 2020. (Egyptian Sufi festivals).
al-Sufiyah (Love among the
Sufis). Abu al-Wafa
Tiftazani, ‘Uthman Mahmud, 1980, 1984.
Arabic motion picture film reel (26 min.); 16 mm.
al-Qahirah: Wikalat lil-Sinima wa-al-Tilifiziyun. Documentary on
Sufi habits with emphasis on three Sufi groups in Egypt:
al-Dimirdashiyah, al-Shadhiliyah, and Rifa‘iyah.
Indian journeys.Dalrymple, William; Thomson, Hugh. New York, N.Y. : Filmakers Library,
1999. Layer upon layer
of archaeological ruins in India mirror its history of religious
strife. Historian William Dalrymple guides viewers through the remains
of edifices in the City of Delhi that played a role in religious
confrontations. He shows where the Muslim Turks from Afghanistan built
their mosque from the ruins of Hindu temples. Hindus and Muslims were
always at war with only Sufism, a mystical religion of Persia, able to
span the two religions.... Aatish, the fire within. Asif, Khan; Khan, Zaheeruddin. Sadaf DVD, 2006, 2004. DVD video of an Urdu soap opera.
Yashir, an architect, is ill-treated by Sarfarz, his business partner.
After Yashir joins another firm, he rejects the love of Asiya, the
daughter of the new firm's owner. Asiya's father arranges her marriage
to his nephew, Amir, a man interested only in Asiya's money. Asiya
struggles to find meaning in her life, eventually turning to Sufism.
Murad; Mehrotra, Rajiv, and others. New Delhi : Public Service Broadcasting
Trust. DVD video. A
cinematic document set in the village of Nizamuddin, built around the
dargah of the Chishti saint Sheikh, Nizamuddin Auliya- a village which
has survived over seven hundred years into to 21st century. "Sufism is
the spiritual quest ,the heart of Islam. It is founded on ISHQ ,the
love between the saints and God,the Pir (Master) and his Mureeds
(Disiple) - an excessive love that finds no boundaries....
se Magahar tak. Rawat, V. B.
Delhi: Social Development
Foundation, 2001. Hindi documentary on Sufi shrines of Ayodhya.
Djinns.Dalrymple, William.; Thomson, Hugh. New York, N.Y. : Filmakers Library,
Inc., 1999. Layer upon layer of archaeological ruins in India mirror
its history of religious strife. Historian William Dalrymple guides
viewers through the remains of edifices in the city of Delhi that
played a role in religious confrontations.
2006. Panjabi speech on the the eminence of sufis according to
ahl-i Hadith school of thought.
Soufis d'Afghanistan. Desjardins, Arnaud. Paris:Alizé diffusion, 2006.
Documentary about the traditional culture of Islam in Afghanistan,
produced in 1973 just before the start of the political conflicts and
civil wars that have blighted the country since then. The documentary
observes the Sufi rituals and the sufi disciples: the film maker
reports on the social and private life of the Sufis, their cult to the
Ancestors, their ascetic rituals (dhikr) and their holy sanctuaries....
in the niche. Karnad, Girish Raghunath; Zaidi, Shama, and others. India: Films Division,
1989. "A history of the mystical branch of Islam, Sufism, as it is
practiced in India." Official Indian view of Sufism as secular and not
on Sufism recommended by the Study of Islam Section of the
American Academy of Religion:
I am a Sufi, I am a Muslim
(Variety of sufi phenomena, sparks good discussion of “orthodoxy” and
Mystic Iran (Problematic but
good footage of separate meetings of Kurdish men and women in Hadrah.)
Ways of Faith (Part of the PBS
series by Basim Musallam named The Arabs. It is about the
community at Umm Duman in Sudan and makes too strong a conflict between
Sufism and non-Sufism, but the dhikr, meetings with the shaykh, and the
songs of praise are great.)
Rumi Returning: The Triumph of Divine
Passion (2008, 57 minutes. Shown on PBS, the documentary of
Rumi’s life was filmed in Afghanistan and Turkey.)
The Mystic’s Journey: Islamic Mysticism
(Good old one by Huston Smith, nice and short, emphasis on South Asian
celebrations but with footage of Moroccan, Iranian, and Turkish groups)
Three fantasy feature films by Nacer
Khemir: Wanderers of the Desert; The Dove's Lost Necklace; and (the
best one) Bab 'Aziz.
(Arabic and Persian with subtitles)
“I named her ‘Angel’” (About a
Mevlevi girl. 30 minutes)
Door to the Sky (Feature film
about Moroccan women with spiritual power, centered in a beautiful
traditional courtyard Moroccan house which the main character turns
into a shelter for abused women and Sufi gatherings.)
Hideous Kinky (Kate Winslett is
confused about life and truth and wanders Morocco.)
Monsieur Ibrahim (Omar Sharif
feature film with some Sufi flavor.)
A Voice from Heaven: Nusrat Fateh Ali
Khan (The master of Qawwali, preferable to showing YouTube
Live Concert at the Royal Festival:
Abida Parveen (For her fans, a feast. Of interest for the
accomplishments of a female Qawwali singer.)
Takva (2006, directed by Ozer
Kiziltan: The portrayal of one man's struggle within a Sufi order in
Turkey is complex, and does not shy away from the problematic aspects
of tariqas. The film has some extraordinary dhikr scenes. It works best
if students have some background in Sufism. The final scenes are
painful for the students but it balances “all-is-sweetness” films on
Meetings with Remarkable Men
(The film is Peter Brook's adaption of Gurdjieff's book. It works best
when students have some background historically tracking Euro-American
interest in esoteric traditions and comparative spiritual practices.)
Rumi: Poet of the Heart
(Very good for talking about issues of translation.)
Rumi: The Wings of Love (Very
good for the different dhikrs filmed, as well as interview clips with
the late Martin Lings.)
Circle of Iron, also known as The Silent Flute--a martial arts
film co-written by Bruce Lee. While the film might be recommended
on its own for attempting to represent "Zen" philosophy, there is a
series of scenes in the film that closely mirrors the interaction of
Moses and Khidr (see commentaries on Q 18:60ff) which is a popular
story among Sufis.
Sufi Soul, a documentary by
William Dalrymple (who mostly gets it right, though is a bit heavy on
the "Sufism is the cure" for extremists and clash of civilization
theorists alike). It focuses on musical traditions and is beautifully
filmed in Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey and a bit in Syria.