‘Whirling Dervishes’ Share Dance, Music and Stories

Published on 05 October 2016

St. Louis College of Pharmacy recently hosted a performance of Sufi dancers, commonly known as Whirling Dervishes. Members of the Dervish Retreat Center in Spencer, New York, performed their unique, centuries-old whirling ceremony, share stories and sacred music. The performance is part of the College’s year-long enrichment series united under the theme of humble healing.

Sufism dates back to near the founding of Islam. It is often described as a mystical Islamic belief where followers seek both knowledge and divine love through a personal experience with God. The leader of the Dervish Retreat Center, Khadija Radin, is a leader at Sufi Ruhaniat International. The group’s mission is to “unfold their highest spiritual purpose, manifest their essential inner being, and live harmoniously with others, with the hope of relieving human suffering and contributing to the awakening of all of humankind.”

“This year, we are highlighting the work of all of those who put the needs of the sick before their own,” said Brian Walter, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Liberal Arts Convocation Series. “Through discussions and demonstrations like the Dervishes, we are helping students appreciate still more the importance of treating the whole person.”

As part of the series, the College has already hosted New York Times best-selling author Susannah Cahalan as well as listened to a stirring performance by members of the St. Louis Symphony. Upcoming guests include award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia, the Native American nurses featured in the documentary “Essence of Healing” and Therese Schroeder-Scheker, an Emmy Award-winning music thanatologist and dean of Chalice of Repose.

“It is a tremendous honor to bring speakers and performers of such rare and expansive accomplishment to share their gifts with our students and the St. Louis region,” Walter said. “As an institution, we focus on cultural awareness and the manifold benefits of connecting meaningfully with people from all backgrounds and perspectives. We work to help our students grow in all aspects of their lives, including the care they will provide to their future patients.”

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