My wife sometimes calls it Issawiyya. I do not know the deeper meaning of the hadrah. literally it means presence though. For me they are like religious songs. Songs about the Prophets, famous religious people or simply the star shinning in the sky. I have seen some of these performances over the years. Some were more like commercial shows for television, some were private gatherings. Only accessible if you know. The private meetings are much more intense. Some people are sensitive to the rhythm and get in some kind of trance, leaving them with a terrible headache afterwards.

I find hard to describe the impression these gathering make on me. Especially when you start to understand some of what is said and when you are able to participate. Intense joy is the only description I can think of. It lifts you up in a way.

The clips below are from, maybe, 15 years ago. Nothing like the private meetings but in a way it gives one an impression.



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9 Responses to Hadrah

  1. fatima says:

    This ceremony seems to be an example of what I zikhr or dhikr which is a traditional FORM in Sufi/Islamic practice. I have always heard it translated as Remembrance (of Allah). Whirling Dervishes of Rumi and the Halveti one below are the ones I am most familiar with but I have found some very interesting and beautiful examples through the forum.

    This video is an example from my experience. Istanbul – ever the bridge between east and west. lol

    It is a public ‘performance’ too, but believe me they are not acting. You do not see any women because it is a public performance but at the dergah, their meeting place women are very much involved together with but separate from the men.

    Presence is what it means to me too, so of course I like your translation of hadrat.

    Form being what it is, its value is dependent on the consciousness of, not necessarily the participants, but the leader/Sheikh/teacher. This is what I have been told although there are caveats for the sincere seeker for whom truth can shine through any form. Who decides they are sincere?

    I can imagine it could easily be a vehicle of waswasa -identification and egoic imagination. It is my opinion that Zhikr a strong experience for open minded or maybe open hearted Westerners because its very ‘otherness’ creates an opening in the identification with me, but I only know it through a particular spiritual teacher and his dervishes.

    You mentioned that “Some people are sensitive to the rhythm and get in some kind of trance, leaving them with a terrible headache afterwards. ”

    This is not something that I have ever seen or experienced. Trances, as opposed to meditative absorption, are definitely not encouraged among the dervishes that I know and it is led by the Sheikh and there are many changes throughout the ceremony and everybody makes them as you can see. My experience is if you start with a headache during the zikr you lose it. If you start weary and distracted, during the zikr ceremony you become energized and present. Bottom line, it is an invitation. An invitation to lose yourSelf and enter a state of pure being.

    That’s my experience.

    Then there is this one. Very cool. Can you see it? Purrfect. I wonder what the intention of the poster was? lol Works for me.

    fi amani Allah

  2. Michaela says:

    I am so grateful for you two educating us about a spiritual and mystical tradition I have little knowledge about. Thank you.

  3. Dreamfable says:

    Hahaha…. Fatima, My wife loves that last clip ! It’s great.

    Am afraid that we do not know much about Sufism in Tunisia. When opportunity arises I attend the meetings, and that’s all. I try to participate with the dhikr as far I am able to follow and if I am not, I just listen.

    Can not tell you much more about the trance states too. Someone told me one time that it is a spirit taking over the body. As far as I have seen it is not something that happens voluntarily. Victims tel me that they do not remember anything. They just feel confused, suffer from a headache and usually are a little ashamed.

    It’s consider quiet normal though. People do not take much attention to it. Older people usually take it upon them to take care of the person when he/she is in trance and when they awake. Younger people sometimes do not know what to do. 🙂

    When it comes to the public performances I do feel that it is more a outer then inner.

    Salem Aleykum,


  4. Dreamfable says:

    Hi Michaela,

    Am far from a teacher when it comes to the spiritual path in Islam. Am still so very much a student. A few years ago I had a few conversations with a Egyptian Sheik who lived in the Netherlands. He returned to Egypt however and I have not found a teacher since.

    May old teacher always tells me to trust more on the teacher within myself.
    Maybe I should.

  5. Dreamfable says:


    waswasa -identification? 😀
    Now… I believe you mean waswasa as in surat an-nas.

    So with waswasa -identification you mean identification with the whispering of shaytan?

  6. fatima says:

    Yes, as in Surat’ul Nas. Who is Shaytan?

    That there is a being, separate from my being may be true but thankfully it wasn’t in the articles of faith ‘amentu billahi’ so that concept is not causing me to lose any sleep. If there is any whispering going on it is to my Self, desires, tendencies and for all I actually know, of my belief in my Self.

    So, yes, I mean identification with my ego/self. There may be more to it, you would have to ask someone who knows or, maybe, you do from your own experience, but that is my experience so far. It seems to be confirmed by what I understand of Qur’an, hadith and the commentary of those who know more than I, including Ekhart Tolle. On the other hand I may be completely wrong but I pray suratul Nas and if there is error it is mine, Please show me the reality. I trust that God takes care of His business. My business is to be heedful, present.

    You said, “When it comes to the public performances I do feel that it is more an outer then inner.”

    Well, truth be known, I didn’t actually watch the zikr I sent you though I will. I have experience watching and being in public performances (few) and I am merely speaking from my experience. I recognized the form and the dress as being from my tariqat so thats why I sent it. I would be very surprised to learn that they were not actually dervishes and if they are dervishes then they are not performing, they are following the Sheikh in a public zikhr; some may experience transcendence but I am fairly confident that all experienced heightened presence.

    On that note consider this:

    a performance billed as a performance but when I watched it ………seemed like zikr to me.

    Still…these rituals are just….invitations, as is the ritual of prayer, although it is prescribed….it is a prescribed invitation to the believer who accepts the religion of Islam to submit….some might say ‘give over’ to a higher authority/power/God in a very fundamental way. That’s how I see it but I really don’t know that much that’s for sure.

    I already liked the sound of your wife but my feelings are confirmed because she liked “Les Chats”. I would type a smile but it would show up as one of those horrid yellow things.

    I see that I am very talkative today, and it is making me feel a little nervous….en garde! Turn up the dimmer switch!

    Selams to you both,

    fi amani Allah


  7. Dreamfable says:

    Hahaha… The flu is keeping stuck with my computer. Seems to make me talk to much too.

    Please understand that I did not want to judge on the clips you shared with us. when I talked about the inner and outer I was only referring to my own experience with public performances. From what I see in Tunisia it is more and more show. And maybe it is also the more orthodox side of me that is a bit conservative. When I see a guitar in a Dhikr performance… well… let’s just say that it is not for me.

    Your question about shaytan made me wonder. Shaytan, of course, is the fallen angel Iblis. And to my knowledge shaytan is the whisperer. That is the more orthodox explanation I think.

    However… both shaytan and ego seem to have a common goal; to separate, to divide.
    So maybe they are one and the same. Or ego is the result of years of whispering by shaytan. Am afraid that my knowledge limits me, when it comes to the truth in this question.

    Salem Aleykum,


  8. Dreamfable says:

    P.s.. Fatima,

    You mentioned that you are also participating in a tariqat. Is that the Halveti order?

  9. fatima says:

    Greetings Raoef,

    Yes these are concepts to examine closely if you are so inclined and I seem to be.

    So much of my everyday inner life goes along unobserved that I don’t even notice my unquestioned beliefs and opinions until they are challenged, usually from something appearing from without. Noticing inner resistance in its various forms is becoming a real help in this effort.

    No apologies please for being the person you are. I hope I will become more orthodox. I would consider it a blessing. Maybe as I age/mature….hmmm ….….time is short. Martin Lings, Hamza Yusuf, M. Asad, are among my modern day heros and you can’t be more orthodox then they are. Then there is Rumi, r.a. and Hz Rabia, r.a., etc. ……. Orthodox. Who wants to argue with success? Good question.

    Orthodoxy is the core of Sufism it seems to me. Tolerance, generosity, compassion and, of course, love are all part of orthodox Islam if that means what was demonstrated by the words and actions of the Prophet s.a.s., his companions and community.

    In response to questions from specific people, my Sheikh too, yes he was Halveti, said, as your Egyptian Friend said to you, “You can read your own Qur’an (follow your heart)”. Apparently it applies to me too. Although I didn’t realize it at the time.

    Another time he said, “If you are in the market for a car wouldn’t you want the latest model?” “Yes.” “Well, in religion, Islam is the latest model.” and “There is no Sufism without Islam.” He said that in general, but more specifically he said, “There are many teachers in the world, but to follow this path, and with me…..we are muslims and our religion is Islam.”

    On the other hand, there is a knot in me that begs to be untied around this subject. This western muslim/dervish person that I think I am is somehow mixed in with an agnostic secular humanist with a cultural overlay of Christianity. Actually, I don’t really suffer over it any more. Just is.


    I don’t think that I can I can share anything of the incredible depth and breathe (spell check where are you?) of this amazing tradition but ……I am happy that you are happy that I/we are here.

    Here is a video that in 10 minutes pretty much clears a lot of outlying brush from the subject of Western misconceptions about the Qur an. I really couldn’t help but admire her and her incredibly succinct talk. Such an odd impression I had listening to her.

    I would be interested in your comments.

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