Female Sufi’s in Iran

When I used to visit a Sufi gathering in the 80’s with my mother, it was perhaps one of the most mesmerising experiences that I had with her, which I miss desperately since she passed away. Of course then, and as now Islam has not been kind to music or heightened self expression.

My mother and I would sit at the back and listen as the chanting turned into a beautiful rendition of desire and love for the supreme creator. Small children, girls and boys aged 6 and over would go into a trance like state and rock from side to side and I feared that they would bang their heads into one another, causing a bloody explosion.

So when I came across and extract of ‘Mystic Iran’ a documentary by from filmmaker Aryana Farshad’s film exploring sacred locations in Iran, I was struck by the women and their defiance of orthodox Islam that is so prevalent in Iran and that has gripped so many other parts of the world.

The documentary was shot in 2002 and is 52 minutes in length. Aryana Farshad’s ‘Mystic Iran’ is a testament to those who defy conservative and right wing elements in Islam and who continually reach out for a self defined expression of worship.

Chechen Sufi Chants

“A wolf asks a dog “why are you chained up”, the dog replies: “That’s how it is”. “I prefer to be free”, says the wolf and walks away. That’s how it is for us. If only for a day, or a year…”

An old man sits in his house, as if from a forgotten age and shares his wisdom. In this clip of the Chechen Sufi Chants if perhaps the most mesmerising footage I have seen of Sufi’s in worship.

It is emotional, frightening, captivating and uncomfortable. In the far distance you can see a large mosque on the hill that dominates the village and to its right are the gallows.

The combination of spiritualism and a firm belief that the Chechen Islamic way is the only way forward is contrary to the beliefs of Sufi’s, confirming that religion is a matter of interpretation and not fact.