Ramadan 齋戒月

Sat, Jun 17, 2017 - Page 14

Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation originating in Turkey and founded in the 13th century by the Sufi mystic Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.

Whirling dervishes perform a dance called the sema, in which they strive to reach kemal, the source of all perfection, by spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, focusing on God and abandoning the ego or personal desires.

The clothing used in the sema ritual is symbolic. The dervish’s camel’s hair hat represents the tombstone of the ego; the wide skirt, weighted at the ends, represents the ego’s shroud.

At the beginning of the ritual, the dervishes hold their arms out, representing the number 1, testifying to God’s unity. During the whirling, the right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence, while the left hand points toward the earth.

Muslims around the world celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, during which devotees pray during the night and fast from dawn till dusk, abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual acts.

Each day, before dawn and after sunset, food and drink are served. Certain people are exempted from the requirement to fast, including people who are suffering from an illness or travelling, the elderly and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.

Ramadan is also a month where Muslims try to practice increased self-discipline.

This year, Ramadan began on the evening of May 27 and ends on June 24.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)