Al Jazeera documentary 'The Israeli Dervish'
The Al Jazeera news network has shot a documentary depicting one the journey of the only Jew to be allowed into the inner sanctum of the whirling Dervish order.
A Dervish is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path
or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity. In this respect, Dervishes are most similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.
Israeli Miki Cohen, a 58-year-old college teacher, claims to have "discovered" the works of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a 13th-century Muslim poet and Sufi mystic.
Attracted by Rumi's writings and philosophy, Miki translates his works into Hebrew and practices whirling in worship.
The son of Holocaust survivors and a veteran of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Cohen found himself searching for answers to his spiritual identity.
"I was in the Israeli army in the '73 war. And the war mentality, the killing mentality, the feeling that we are on one side victims and on the other side we are the oppressors. So, what are we? So I started, you know, looking for bigger answers let's say or deeper .... For many years I was looking in many places," he told Al Jazeera.
Along with several other Israelis, he undertakes a spiritual search in the documentary and is attracted by the mysticism of Sufism.
He also travels to Konya in central Turkey, the resting place of Rumi and a city once known as the "citadel of Islam" with a reputation for religious conservatism. It is the centre for the Mevlevi Sufi order of Islam.
Al Jazeera stated it was the first crew to film the ritual as Miki became the first Jew ever permitted to join the zikir ritual in that Mevlevi order.
The documentary is available for viewing on the Al Jazeera website.