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Graphic Photographs From Muslim ‘Dhikr Rituals’

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper has posted several photos taken from an Islamist video which purports to depict Muslim “dhikr rituals.”

The photos show clerics inserting metal skewers into the heads and bodies of their followers:

They also show a young child eating a fluorescent light bulb:

Maybe Mohammedans really aren’t like the rest of us after all.

If you are seeking further enlightenment about all things Dhikr, you won’t find much from the (always so sensitive to Islam) folks at Wikipedia:


Dhikr , ذکر (Zikr in Urdu and Zekr in Persian) (Arabic “pronouncement”, “invocation” or “remembrance”) is an Islamic practice that focuses on the remembrance of God. Dhikr as a devotional act often includes the repetition of the names of Allah, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Qur’an.


The origins of dhikr and its practice is an issue which is disputed within the Muslim community. While most Muslims agree it has sanction in both the Qur’an and sunnah, it’s method is disputed with some considering types not mentioned in the above sources as bid’ah while others disagree.

Dhikr Beads

Known also as Misbaha, these are usually beads upon a string, 99 or 100 in number, which correspond to the ninety-nine names of God and other recitations. The beads are used to keep track of the number of recitations that make up the dhikr.

Muslim inmates in the United Stats are allowed to utilize dhikr beads for therapeutic effects. This was a result of a successful action brought pursuant to 28 USC @ 1983 (by Imam Hamzah S. Alameen in the State of New York against Thomas A. Coughlin III, the Department of Corrections) arguing that prisoners have a First Amendment Constitutional right to use dhikr beads.

Some Islamic scholars argue that using the beads are forbidden, however. Many claim that the usage of the fingers to count is better as that is what was practiced by Muhammad. The issue is still hotly debated in some communities and there are a number of differing opinions on the matter.

Sufi view

The Sufi orders engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies. Each order or lineage within an order has one or more forms for group dhikr, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, instrumental music, dance, costumes, incense, meditation, ecstasy, and trance (Touma 1996, p.162). Dhikr in a group is not limited to these rules but most often done on Thursday and/or Sunday nights as part of the institutional practice of most orders.

Dhikr is sometimes accompanied with traditional instruments such as the Daf, Ney, Dombak, Tar (lute), Setar (lute), Santur, and so on. Recently, modern instruments have also been used to perform dhikr.

A group dhikr ceremony in Arabic countries is usually called the hadrah. The hadrah marks the climax of the Sufi’s gathering regardless of any teaching or formal structure. Musically this structure includes several secular Arab genres and can last for hours. (ibid, p.165)

The hadrah section consists of the ostinato-like repetition of the name of God over which the soloist performs a richly ornamented song. Often the climax is reached through cries of “Allah! Allah!” or “hu hu” (“He! He!”), with the participants bending forward while exhaling and stand straight while inhaling. The articulation of the name of God progresses as follows, with upward beams indicating inhalatio.

Note that there is nary a peep about driving spikes into people’s heads.

Why is that, do you think?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 4th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Graphic Photographs From Muslim ‘Dhikr Rituals’”

  1. yonason says:

    It says “15 responses” but I can’t see a one of them. What gives?

  2. yonason says:

    Great, and now only one, the one I just posted. I know that can’t be right because I posted to this when it first came out. Again, what gives?

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