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What are some Sufi destinations around the world where Sufi dervishes live, like Buddhist monks, in a group?

Are there Sufi destinations in Turkey, China, Russia, Europe or any other part of the world that would be in a peaceful and war-free country?

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FWIW, India and most of the Middle East are perfectly safe. –  Ankur Banerjee Aug 6 '12 at 13:38
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Does anybody know what would be available in Morocco? –  hippietrail Aug 6 '12 at 21:39
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@hippietrail, yes, I expect that, too. –  BROY Aug 7 '12 at 14:28
    
@Ankur Banarjee, Indian Sufi destinations are not nice to visit. They are mostly dirty and are overly crowded. Also, tourists are not as safe as I need. And, MiddleEastern destinations are in the midst of war. –  BROY Aug 7 '12 at 14:31
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4 Answers 4

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I don't know about other places, but when I visited Istanbul a few years ago I had the opportunity of seeing a ceremony of Whirling Dervishes in the former train station of Sirkeci (where the Orient Express used to end its journey). It is held in the evening, I think more than once a week (but I was there in late December, so perhaps it was more frequent than in other periods of the year). The tickets could be bought at the ticket office in the train station.

I don't know whether you are deeply interested in Sufi philosophy and traditions or if you are just curious (the way we were); if the latter holds, you may have a look at this link about their dances or even this YouTube video. If you are interested in getting in closer contact with this group, you may want to visit the Mevlana Foundation.

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More info on their web site: Galata mevlevihanesi müzesi. –  mouviciel Aug 6 '12 at 17:20
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You can find Sufis wherever you find Muslims but in little numbers. Most Sufis are in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

If you want to find large groups outside these areas it will be hard. Anyway, your best shot outside these areas will be Turkey, where a large portion of the Muslim population is made up of Sufis. You can find a lot of tarikatlar (or lodges) where they practice Sufism and as far as I know they are open-minded and will welcome anyone to join them. Furthermore, Sufis have different sects among them and each one is different from the other. For example, the Mevlevi Order are more into music and dancing and body moves while the Naqshbandi and Qadiriyya are more about songs (Hymns) and less music and body moves. I think you would be more interested in Mevlevi.

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Sufi orders are officially banned in Turkey, which isn't to say that they don't exist there, but that they are highly politicised and mostly exist underground. You are unlikely to find them as a tourist.

The modern Mevlevî "whirling dervish" performances are specially designed for tourists; they might be visually authentic but they do not represent a functioning sufi order. The Mevlevî museum in Konya is pleasant enough to visit, but there isn't a whole lot going on there.

One lesser-visited site in Turkey with connections to sufism is the shrine to the mystic Hacı Bektaş Veli in the town of Hacıbektaş in the province of Nevşehir (close to Cappadocia). This is not a functional sufi lodge, but Turkey's largest religious minority, the Alevis, regard it as a holy site, so it is much more relevant than any of the "touristic sufi" locations in Turkey. I believe they hold performances of some sort there at certain times of year and there is an annual pilgrimage (in December?).

You can also visit sufi shrines in many other countries, but outwardly most are not much different than any other burial places for holy men. For example, there's a large complex for the founder of the Naqshbandi sufi order just outside Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The only place I've ever witnessed an actual sufi devotional ceremony was in Pakistan, but that doesn't fit the criteria you've set out in your question.

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I would say Sindh, Pakistan and Hunza, Pakistan. People there live with Sufi concepts and traditions. In the Northern and Southern part of Pakistan they Islam was preached by Sufi masters while in the middle Pakistan, Punjab (excluding Multan region) the ready-made religion was imported from the Arab world and therefore people mostly practice Arab culture but not spiritual side of Islam (Sufism). In contrast, Northern Pakistan (specially, Hunza) is populated with 90% of Ismailies and there practices are deeply rooted in Sufism Islam as it was brought to the region around 12 century by sufi masters who traveled from Samarkand to Egypt and came back to the Badkhashan - Northern Pakistan to teach the religion (Sufism). Those Sufis tought the Sufism in-terms of local culture but didn't bring anything from outside except Sufim itself.

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