The Wisdom of The Dervish
Whirling Through 20th Century Terrorist Literature

The Dervish is Quiet on the Western Front

Not My Doing
Often, many times I have said it, and once again I will say,
That it's not my doing, that with broken heart I go this Way.
In front of the mirror I see a dark man. Kill him I must, from inside to outside.

From trench to trench I go As my commander tells me. I blindly obey.
Whether I am the thorn or rose, it's due the circumstance at hand.

Those that reared and gave to me nourishment, could not see what end in this happenstance.
0 friends, don't go blaming me, heart-broken, astonished;
I did what I had to do.
Although it is a sin for rosy wine to stain the patched coat,
Do not criticize me; with it I wash hypocrisy's color away.
The laughing and weeping of lovers is from some other place:
In the night I am singing whisked away in my dream
I moan at dawn of day.


The Dervish Writes in The Night

Dear friends, there's a Friend
inside the night. Remember.
And the duty of serving others,
remember that. All those that suffer.
Remember those who lost.

Remember what things may have been if not for the evil that one does to another.
As the empty threshold
does, remember.
All things pass. If they repeat again, it is all in the way of Remember.

The Dervish Confronts A War In the Land of Egypt

In the name of Allah most gracious, most merciful, I am so distressed by the goings and coming of the people in this tale. How can Muslims stray so far of the teachings of the great Muhammad, may his name be blessed.
The Umda is the most distressing of all to me. A man that is given great wealth which he should use for the good of the people. Instead he is concerned with carnal desires, sex and food, chiefly as if the consumption of these things were the way to the path of enlightenment.
No. This is not the way, Umda. But you seem to not care in any sense. I am perplexed by what you see to be the meaning of your existence on this earth. Do you wish to love God? Do you wish to learn and seek out wisdom? Are you just passing time with carnal excesses until you have spoken the words of the Great Book by rote and absorbed none of its meaning? What are you then but merely a receptacle of lust?
Animal and vegetable, but not human. Do you only do the things you do because you feel all are doing this? All Umdas are corrupt? The system is corrupt?
Ha, yes I believe that excuse. Let me recite to you a tale from the dervishes...

When the waters were changed
Once upon a time, Khidr, the teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been especially horded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.
Only one man listened to the meaning of his advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.
On the appointed date, the streams stopped running, the wells went dry and the man who had listened, seeing this happening went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.
When he saw from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility, not understanding. At first the man drank none of the new water, but went back on his concealment, drawing on his supplies every day.

Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water and became like the rest. His fellows looked upon him as a madman that had been restored to sanity.

So my dear Umda, to follow the path of a Sufi is a lonely path...but it is not really. You are consumed with the love of the divine one. As Moulana Shah Maghsoud wrote:
I was searching for Him in the houses of worship,
As I opened my eyes,
There he was coming to me.
Who is He?
I asked, "Who are you?" and He answered me "You".
I asked again, "I"? He replied "no, not you but I!"
I begged Him to take me away from me,
He said, "You are not other than Me."
There is but one essence whirling within,
Infinity and finite.
Be existence becoming nonexistent.
Become what you are destined to be,
as the human is fated to become.


The Whirling Dervish Muses on Terrorism

Brothers and Sisters, the Beloved wants you to be free from all of your hatred and ill will. The Way suggests this; please reconsider your steadfast positions of hatred and bondage. You are all bound to one another. Love and freedom are the only way. Be free to choose what is important to your children’s futures. Do not speak ill of each other. Learn the true path of the Sufi.
Sufis are strong in their search for knowledge, they are not diverted from the Way by good fortune or hardship. Sufis do not rebuke these things, however; they are always mindful of the direction that they have freely chosen—the direction to love the Beloved.
Through this path, my Brothers and Sisters—you can actively take part in the higher evolution of humanity. We believe that one can determine his own evolution through the Love of the Beloved. So turn away from the ill will, cast not the stones that lie in the streets. Do not be tied to the land; do not be bonded to a cause.
As the great Rumi wrote, keep moving and keep growing.

He said:
If a tree could uproot itself from one place to another
It would never need to fear the saw
Or any blows of bad luck.
Neither the sun nor the moon
Could lavish their light
If they stayed motionless as a rock.
The air that stagnates in a pit
Becomes poisonous;
Look how the air sickens because of its inertia!
When the water of the sea travels towards the clouds
It frees itself from bitterness
And acquires tender power.
See how Jesus, Son of Mary, in his continual wanderings
Became the water of life and made the dead rise.
I have shown you a few signs; now, learn the rest yourself.
Accomplish the journey beyond yourself and reach God.

The Dervish Speaks to a Flower

Little flower, Red Azalea. Born into an unjust system in which people dominate with their minds through the intimidation of others. This is not the Way of the Sufi. This way is not the course that individuals should take.

The Way is love. Great love, exhausting love, love that knows no boundaries. My little flower, have you ever experienced such love? I did not think so after hearing of your story. You were filled with the fires of lust, lust that has no moral boundaries---to love another, as you have done, in not the way in which the truest, purest, love is made.
You great loves that you speak of are nothing more than desires of the flesh revealed to you my little flower, by the impulses of your poor tortured soul. Oh how you suffered so, my little Azalea! I felt for you, I prayed that the Blessed One would find you and remove you from this mindless control of your very soul. I had no understanding that people from China had suffered so.

The Palestinian people claim great suffering, yet they are still able to pray to Allah, may his name be blessed. Who could you pray to? The state? The Red Guard? What torture it is to have no hope.
Many speak of the hope lost by the Arab peoples; but herein I say to them, they need not despair because they have Allah, may his name be blessed, they have a choice in their hopelessness to call out, to take action.
What choices did you have, my dear little flower? To be eaten alive by evil.

To know only lust and not love. Know of true love, my little Azalea, learn of it.
An example from the great Hafiz. Learn, dear flower.
Learn of love, love of the Divine.
The Sun Never Says.
The sun never says to the earth
You owe me.
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights up the whole sky.


The Dervish Climbs Soul Mountain

I am quite confused. I hear of your tale and I do not know what it is you seek. Are you trying to find yourself by making light of other people’s beliefs? They are entitled to them. People must find the light of the divine in their own time, in their own way. I hear of your restless wanderings, your longings, but I do not understand. What is it that you long for? You seem to long for this place, Ling Shan. Where is such a place? Ling Shan does not exist in the real world, sir, only the divine one!
I applaud you though in undertaking this quest. You are trying to pursue pure wisdom by exploring the paradoxes of truth. You are correct when you say that the truth contained in books does not endow one with true wisdom. Experience is the key. The key to wisdom. But what you forget is the divine! The divine is all!
Your forays into love are so often only about you—you seem to objectify every woman you meet on your journey. Do you not wish to know the freedom and purity of Ling Shan? Travel ten, beyond that which you seem to mock, those things you can’t understand. Be open to them.
To be a Sufi, is to detach from fixed ideas and preconceptions. Sufism states that one may become objective, and that objectivity enables one to grasp higher learning. Humans were invented to push their evolution toward real intellect---I applaud you then, on your journey to search, but you need to wrap yourself in the divine thought and being.
As Abu-Said uttered long ago;
“Do not look at my outward shape, but take what is in my hand.”


The Whirling Dervish enters the Black Water

Dear young one. How could you be so filled with desire in your heart that you have no sense at all? Down in the depths of the swirling black water, you finally met your God, but it was not the Beloved, it was the man, a mere man whose shoe you gazed at so longingly; did you think the shoe would save you? This man was only a man, perhaps more of an animal; filled with desire and lust, not for you, my dear Kelly, but for a brief time that he might own you.
Rumi one said that

those whose love had warmed you will dig your tomb,

and make you a food for reptiles and ants.

Those who come to you aflame with desire

will stop up their noses at your stink.

So be aware lovers, be aware of love. You need not deny yourself, just be aware of the power it has over you. Remember that denying the joys of life does not bring real strength, since denial is a mere negation. To practice denial does not mean simply to have control over ones wishes and desires.

Sufis practice for the purpose of becoming stronger than the call of any desire. Becoming the owners and controllers of themselves. They are not tempted by what they see and are not so compelled to avoid seeing it. Although the needs of the physical body must be satisfied, a human is not born merely to lead an animal existence. A Sufi creates his own life by his own will.
This life is a lesson for you, dear one. Over and over again, you played out your terror and your special song of desire, never acknowledging the Beloved who gave you life, who gave you the breath that you so desperately crave, the bubble of life that will determine your final hour. If only you had been mindful of the needs of your soul and not your desire. Rumi writes;

Oh my friend, bear the pain of the needle
To escape the poison of your dark soul
Heaven, moon and soul prostrate in adoration
Before those who have escaped their own existence.


The Dervish Speaks to Mohammed Atta

Your corruption of the Holy Book is sad. You spent your whole life as an
Urban planner studying how to make cities glisten and gleam with
Vitality. You could have used this great knowledge for the good of all
your fellow Muslims-- instead you destroyed innocents.
The task of Sufism (and I believe of all Muslims) is the education of
the whole human person until it reaches the full realization and
perfection of all its possibilities.
For as Rumi says;
The moment thou to this low world wast given,
A ladder stood whereby thou mightst aspire.
This is not a ladder upward via the crashing and flames of your actions,
Atta-- but a call to turn from outward towards the inward. As Sheik
Seyyed Nasr reminds us, " Man seeks his psychic and spiritual needs
outwardly precisely because he does not know who he is. Islam reminds man
to seek all that he needs inwardly within himself, to tear his roots from
the outer world and plunge them in the Divine Nature, which resides at
the center of his heart."
The Honorable Sheik goes on to say that the Quaran accepts the
authenticity of previous religions and that Muslims should work towards
the "transcendent unity of all religions".
Let others be, Atta. One CAN lead an intense contemplative life while
outwardly remaining active in the world. The Sufi can bear spiritual
poverty (faqr) within himself even if he lives amongst the riches of the
world; he can not be seduced by the world if he is dedicated to the
So Atta, you and your ilk need not fear Mc World.

Greetings from
The Whirling Dervish


The Dervish Counsels John Walker

To John Walker:
John, I love you with the faith of the great beloved. Your dedication to the beloved inspires one to take up the path and follow your example; to leave your home, as Rumi has often said, to uproot yourself to learn the Way. This devotion can be the light in your life…
How is it dearest John that you have lost your way? That you have corrupted yourself with the sour taste of violence, the bitter seeds of hatred have sprouted within and you have turned against your own people and the family that gave you life?
What evil serpent’s tongue slithering out of the mouth of a suffering mullah has crossed your eye so you cannot see the face of a delicate young child crying, longing, for her dead father to come home…
What evil has turned you, dearest John? The way is only peace. The teachings of Rumi are expressed in three ways; dance music and love. The words are not of war. Listen to the music of the beloved, dear, young, foolish John; listen to the slow spinning, the whirling path toward enlightenment. Faster and faster, love begets love, faster and faster, light begets life, spin dear John with the greatest passion!
Be inspired not to violence! Be inspired to whirl and greet the light and life that awaits you after the annihilation of your tortured spirit.
Greet the new day with love in your heart and faith that the Way will bring the changes you seek, only the Way can do this. Do not take up arms against a friend. Live fully in the light of enlightenment. Seek the Beloved. Seek peace in the tender motion, the enveloping circle of inspired divinity.
Peace be within you;

The Whirling Dervish


About Sufis

The Sufis believe that music begins where speech ends, and that music has the ability to contain and expose what words are unable to. The language of music is love and devotion, and it is universal. For more information on music’s ability to give meaning beyond words see:

The Sufis believe in the evolution of the individual. To seek a higher purpose, to expose oneself to a greater desire than that of material things. Conservation in movement and thought, Sufis seek to lessen their desire for excess and consumption. To read about how excess and consumption in modern society is slowly destroying a vital member of our ecosystem, see:


Personal Memoir of 9/11

It had been a difficult year for me, up until September. I was in the middle of fighting a chronic condition that made it hard for me to walk and almost impossible for me to travel without getting sick. I was working hard at my physical therapy, trying to get better, trying to get back to the job that I had been doing for the past 15 years until I became ill.
It was a time of despair for me, early September, the kids were going back to school and I could not. I drove a school bus, but this September was the first time I was unable to get behind the wheel. I looked out the window longingly at the yellow busses that charge noisily through my local streets; I wanted to be out there, not locked up in here. I wanted to work again, to walk again, and to drive again.
Each time I heard a bus roar past my window, I felt sad and full of longing. On the morning of September 11th, I put on the TV to get my mind off my troubles, but trouble was just beginning.
I thought it odd that I could only get channel 2 on my TV. The picture was fuzzy, and in black and white, but I was able to make out what was happening. One of the Twin Towers was burning. It was 8:50 AM, shortly after the first plane hit. I could not believe what I saw unfolding before me.
The phone rang. My boyfriend, Chuck, called to see if I left for the city. He was worried that I might be downtown. Normally, I would have gone to physical therapy that morning, but I was feeling sick, and cancelled at the last minute. My express bus would have passed right under the World Trade Center at 8:50 AM. In fact, I was there just two days earlier; Chuck met me right in front of building four. I can still remember sitting on one of the concrete benches looking across at Century 21 Department store, watching the people come and go, feeling so out of place because everyone was going somewhere and I was too sick to do anything but sit right where I was, watching the world go by.
It was that thought that filled me with fear and terror as I watched the second plane hit the building. All the people! All the people! There must be thousands of people in those buildings and in the labyrinth of levels below, in the subway, in the Path station and in the adjacent buildings.

Chuck and I both knew after the second plane hit, that this was no accident. We started to talk about the possibilities of the fire affecting the structure of the buildings. We watched as people began to jump out of the windows. We struggled with emotions ranging from fear to anger to disbelief. We hung on the phone and talked about how hot steel has to get until it buckles. Chuck mentioned that a jet had hit the Empire State Building with no ill effects. The building withstood the impact. I was not so sure. I had taken a metallurgy class some 10 years before. I knew that 1500 degrees would melt that building. The fire I saw was hotter than that for sure.

We talked about all the possibilities for more attacks; we listened to the attempts on the Pentagon and the White House. Would this be the beginning of the next World War?
Who would dare do this to so many innocent people?
We watched as the building began to buckle. Chuck cried out, I just cried. My first thought as the first tower collapsed was of my brother. The firemen! “All the firemen,”
I cried. My brother was with Engine 329 based in Rockaway. We had no way of knowing if he had made it into the towers before they collapsed. I suddenly became aware that there was a good chance my brother could be dead. I began to wail as Chuck tried to comfort me, telling me that it was unlikely that my brother had made it all the way from the Rockaways to the World Trade Center in an hour.
Somewhat comforted by this, I still was worried. After the second tower fell, Chuck and I decided that we needed to be together rather than cry over the phone.
Due my illness, I did not drive much, but I knew that buses and trains would be spotty at best for the rest of the day. I pulled myself together and headed out into Brooklyn towards Chuck’s house. As I drove, I saw people with handkerchiefs over their faces waiting for buses that never came. The sky spewed ashes all over Brooklyn. Thick, choking smoke headed down Ocean Parkway just behind my car. I ran the windshield wipers to clear the windshield of dust and debris. I didn’t want to think about the fact that maybe some of this ash contained the ashes of people, even my own brother.
“Where should we go?” Chuck said as he climbed into the car. I needed to be near the site, to see it with my own eyes, not through television. We headed to the 60th Street Pier in Brooklyn. Chuck and I had been there many times, always admiring the World Trade Center from this pristine vantage point. It was a bird’s eye view of the Twin Towers with the Woolworth building and others in the background, always a real treat for the eyes especially at night, when the towers gleamed.
Today there was just smoke. Black clouds of smoke that would rise for days and days to come. The Skyline changes for all time in a millisecond. What we thought always would be there, was forever, gone. Nothing like this had ever happened before. How could something so vital to the city disappear in a wink, and take with it so many good and decent people? What kind of world was this now? Was it worth living through this?
The pier began to fill with people. Thousands of Brooklynites knowing of this special place to view the magnificence of the Twin Towers were filing in to pay their respects. The pier was getting dangerously full, and was finally closed by the police. People filed into the adjacent park and craned their necks to see the smoke. The smell permeated the air. The smell of fire, of death, and of lost hope. It would be 24 hours before I heard that my brother had been at the World Trade Center that morning. He was one of the lucky firemen that made it out alive.

--Ruth Snapper