Derwīsh

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Derwīsh or dervīsh (Pers., ‘beggar’). A member of a Muslim religious fraternity (although the word may mean simply a religious mendicant, in Arab. faqīr). The fraternities perhaps began in the custom of groups gathering around a particular Sūfī teacher. The particular ritual of a group is as important as ṣalāt (prayer). The elimination of outward stimuli is achieved by many different techniques, of which the best-known is the whirling dance—hence the ‘whirling dervishes’, more correctly known as Mawlawīy(y)a, transliterated as Mevlevis.

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