Nabhan al-Babili assembles his followers every night in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza. The 62-year-old is the head of Gazaâ€™s al-Rifaiya order of Sufi Islam, a position that was held by his father, Abdullah, and his grandfather, Abdulqader, before him.
It is at such nightly gatherings, in a space richly decorated in green and Islamic calligraphy, and the larger weekly hadrat gatherings, that al-Babili leads his followers, or murids, in a spiritual journey of revelation.
The evenings include singing and poetry recital. Abu Omar, 60, a regular at these gatherings, speaks with a trembling voice but does not hesitate to take the microphone to recite traditional Sufi verse to the great pleasure of the assembled murids:
â€śOh rider, of white camels, stop by us so that we could bid them farewell. Oh rider, death is when you travel.â€ť
Abu Omar, who asked only to be identified by his informal name, also happily breaks into a song by Yassin al-Tohami, a popular Egyptian Sufi singer:
â€śLove is from you and to you. You granted me a trembling heart that loves. I am fond of everything you made, so how come I do not love you?â€ť
These are special nights to those assembled, especially during Ramadan. They invoke, said Abu Omar, the spirit of Sufism: â€śpurifying and healing the soul.â€ť
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