Recorded by Ruard Absaroka, 6.30am, 28 March 2014.
These worshippers belong to the Khufiyya menhuan, one of the main branches of the Sufi orders that were introduced into this part of China in the late 17th century. The menhuan are both socio-economic and religio-political institutions which grew out of the Sufi schools established by followers of early saintly leaders. The Central Asian Sufi Naqshbandi order, founded by Bahar al’Din Naqshband (d. 1389), is represented in Linxia by two menhuan: the Jahriyya and Khufiyya. More than twenty branches of the Khufiyya order are active across China today, especially in the northwest. The Huasi branch of the Khufiyya menhuan was established by Ma Laichi, who travelled widely in Middle East, and whose tomb lies in Linxia.
As Jonathan Lipman’s keynote lecture “Head-wagging and Obscene Music” argues (see conference podcast), the Khufiyya were known for performing a silent form of dhikr, and they successfully led the Qing administration to prosecute the rival Jahriyya for the “unorthodox” nature of their loud dhikr. However, in this clip, we see members of the Khufiyya order performing a distinctly loud and powerful dhikr, clearly accompanied by the head movements once perjoratively described as “head wagging” which form a part of their spiritual practice.
(Place on map at: 北寺, 甘肃省临夏回族自治州临夏市, 坝口44号)