Sufi Trail reveals secrets of Islamic mysticism

Through hikes and rides along the hills of the West Bank, the Sufi Trail is a chance for foreign and local tourists to learn more about the roots of Islamic mysticism. (APTN)

While Sufi shrines and dargahs are being indiscriminantly destroyed by criminals and vandals masquerading as defenders of Islam – In Palestine a group is working through cultural tourism to save this invaluable history.

Sufi Trail reveals secrets of Islamic mysticism

Wednesday, 07 November 2012

The Associated Press West Bank

Perched high on a hilltop, this Sufi shrine was erected in the 16th century to honor the Sufi mystics.And today a group of tourists are gathered to learn more about Sufi mysticism in the Palestinian village of Birzeit, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Raed Saadeh is briefing visitors before the start of the Sufi Trail.Saadeh is one of the creators of the Sufi Trail and Chairman of “Rozana”, a Birzeit-based association dedicated to the promotion of agro-tourism as well as architectural and cultural preservation in the Palestinian Territories.Sufi Trail participants are a group of a dozen foreigner and local people interested in discovering the Holy Land through a walk off the beaten track.The first stop is at the al-Qatrawani shrine, a 16th-century sanctuary built on top of a previous Byzantine monastery, its history shrouded in mystery: according to “Rozana”, a local tradition says that it was built in honor of a Muslim holy man, Sheikh Ahmad al-Qatrawani, a mystic from the Islamic Sufi order from the village of Qatra near Gaza; a parallel Christian tradition attributes the name al-Qatrawani to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.The two folk legends are intertwined, as it happens in places with millennia-old history: “Catherine, Qatrawani, so another connection to the name, ok?, Qatrawani, Catherine. And it’s also connected to the same myth, that Catherine actually was descended into Mount Sinai and this guy was descended to this location, so there might be also similarities,” Saadeh explains to the group.

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