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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ABOU EL GHEIT DERVISHES at the Tanboura Hall

El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music will host a night of spiritual music with the Sufi group Abou El Gheit Dervishes on Thursday February 2, 2012 in El Tanbura Hall at 9:00 PM. Entry tickets available at the entrance (20 EGP) .
If you haven't been there yet, do try to go. It is a very nice experience both on the musical and on the human side. The people at El Mastaba are really friendly and they do, against many odds, an amazing job reviving and bringing to the general public Egyptian traditional music. I always had a lot of respect for their work.

The Story of the Dervishes of Abou El Gheit
Abou El Gheit is the name of an island near Qaliyubia where a queen called Anja once lived. She used to enslave people to work for her on her enormous property for next to nothing.
Sheikh Hassan Ebeid was a religious man, who had given up on any greed or material aspirations, and did not approve of Anja's behavior. He was called Hassan Al Ghitani, which means the one who always resides in the 'gheit' or field.
Hassan would help the poor, mistreated farmers and workers of queen Anja, and in the remaining time would pray in the fields. One night he found a dead body floating in a canal near a field where he had spent the night praying to God. He buried it carefully and fell asleep. During his sleep he was touched by a soft whisper of a messenger of God, who promised him that God would care for him and protect him.
Queen Anja tried to kill Hassan several times, but never succeeded as he was protected by God's mercy.
People began calling him Sheikh Abul Gheit, and coming from all over the country to enjoy his presence and witness his miracles.
Sheikh Abul Gheit died in 1830 and his son Sheik Attallah Abul Gheit followed in his footsteps. He had many devoted admirers and was known for the Sufi "zikr" rituals he would perform all over Egypt.
One night, Sheikh Attallah Abul Gheit was in an area called Arab Al Mohamadi, known for its Sudanese community and frequent zar performances. The leader of this area was a tough man named Mohamed Morgan, who wouldn't allow anyone to have entertainment or conduct a zikr without his permission. During a confrontation with him, Sheikh Abul Gheit prayed that God would purify Morgan's soul, and overnight Morgan had became Abul Gheit's most devoted follower. Morgan joined him in every journey after that and lead the zikr nights after Abul Gheit's death.
Morgan was the link between Arab Al Mohamadi and Abul Gheit and the distinct styles of Egyptian and Sudanese Zar. Through him, his sons and his followers, a new and unique kind of music came to life. Through constant traveling and experimenting, Abul Gheit's dervishes created an exceptional fusion, a new kind of zar that did not believe in 'ghosts' or 'spirits', but was in fact a tool to awaken the spirit and touch the deepest levels of the soul.*

"Sufi singing is characterized by its power to deeply penetrate into the human soul. The dervishes of the Ghitani way have penetrated even further: in their weekly gatherings their chanting can lead to a kind of healing of the pain and suffering of the soul. This brings together those who seek the spiritual help that can give relief to their wounds.
We are not claiming that you will touch the same spirituality as in their ritual gatherings, but if you come to see them at El Tanbura Hall, you will discover a spiritual world you haven't seen before."

* Information provided by El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music.

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