Dervishes Of Kurdistan

Transmission date: November 1973

Kurdistan, situated in the heart of Asia Minor, covers an area as large as France. An ethnic and national entity, Kurdistan is still not an independent state; its territory is divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Most Kurds speak their own language, an Iranian branch of Indo-European languages, and many know no other, not even the official languages of the countries in which they live.

The Kurds belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, putting them at odds with Iranian Shi’ite Muslims. As a result of this turbulent relationship, 12 dervish sects have taken root in Kurdish communities. The DW film features a small rural community in Iran belonging to the Qaderi dervish sect which is one of the largest such ‘break-away’ Islamic groups. Adherents to this order are found principally in Turkey and Iran with smaller groups in Syria and the USSR. They believe that with a strong enough faith all things become possible. It is proof of God’s love for them that they can chew glass or toy with venomous snakes without ill-effect, or push skewers through their cheeks and not be injured.

Being fervently Muslim the society prohibits women and men to socialise together. Occasions such as weddings are celebrated separately.

Listening to this track one joins a men’s wedding song. Then we hear a male singer self-accompanied on the bendir (frame drum).

The influx of modern ideas (such as the introduction of compulsory education where two of the teachers are women)rather than pressure from other Islamicsects, threatens to undermine this Qaderi community.

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