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Home » Georgia » Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists

Every Friday at around 11 am, a women's Sufi fraternity, belonging to the Kunta-haji Kishiev wird, meets in an old mosque in Duisi. Under the guidance of Alcani, leader of the fraternity, they perform the dzikr ecstatic prayer. They pray in Arabic, Chechen and Georgian — and often in the Kist dialect, intermediate between Chechen and Georgian, spoken by the majority of Georgian Chechens.

The women welcome to their mosque everyone who is interested in Sufi traditions. This is one of the greatest attractions of the Pankisi Gorge, comparable to the famous whirling dervishes of Turkey. Women are allowed to watch the prayer inside the mosque, while men may take a peek through the door.

The Pankisi women persist in their hope that their prayers will bring peace to northern Caucasus. As in the nineteenth century, when a scarf thrown by a woman on the battlefield interrupted fighting. Alas, no one seems to notice the scarf today or understand its meaning.

Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists

People, culture
Travel enthusiast Nuaga
2009-12-27 23:48:19
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They are all here, waiting for us. The Hadjistek women are sitting in a circle. Alcani, resting majestically on her cushions, is the master of the ceremony. After two pilgrimages to Mecca she put on a green dress and white scarf. All the villagers consider her a holy person. She makes a sign. The old women stop grumbling and fall silent. The prayer - dzikr - begins! The women pray in Arabic and in the Kist dialect. They call God by all His names. They repeat them rhythmically, then they start clapping their hands, striking the ground regularly and rocking back and forth. They pray to God for peace in Pankisi, for eternal life for their deceased, for health for their families and prosperity for the guest, who is listening to their dzikr. Then they sing about Chechens fighting for independence in the nineteenth century, about those who were banished to Siberia and about those who are dying in the present war... When the tension reaches its zenith, they rise and push away the pillows. They begin to move in a circle, at first slowly, majestically, then faster, falling into the rhythm. And again they call God by His innumerable names, clapping their hands and striking the ground with their feet. At last, the women - each of them over 70 years old, barely able to shuffle their feet just a moment ago - are now running in a circle, ecstatic, as if floating above the ground. When Alcani makes a sign, they change the direction of their movement and lapse into a trance in absolute obedience to the rhythm of the prayer, repeated over and over again. Finally, Alcani gradually slows down the pace. Exhausted, sweating, feeling light as a feather, they pass from a run to a majestic walk. Finally, they come to a stop, as if calmed down. Alcani gives her blessings to all. From every corner one hears "amin, amin, amin". Everybody thanks one another for coming and for the common prayer. And so do we.

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Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists Dzikr — a traditional Sufi prayer of the Kists
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