In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer ( 2 3 4 5 ), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
Dhikr (or Zihr) is a islamic devotional act involving the remembrance, the chanting, and repeating of the names of God. Though this often happens in silence, the Sufi tend to have ritualized group ceremonies ranging in style from the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi to the fervid dancing of the Chechen.
"IN THE COURTYARD OF THE BELOVED is a visual and aural portrait of Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, a Sufi shrine in New Delhi, India. Made from over 18,000 still images and ambient sounds recorded on-site, rapid-fire bursts of kaleidoscopic imagery assemble into fractured collages where a moment expands outwards and then converges back into itself, fleshing out a three-dimensional rendering of place."
Music and the Brain The Library of Congress' Music and the Brain podcasts offer lectures and conversations about new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Sufi rituals, Wednesday is Indigo Blue (synaesthesia), Your Brain on Jazz, The Music of Language and the Language of Music, and more.
A previously unheard of group, The Sufi Muslim Council, claims to speak for the silent majority of Muslims. Others see it as an attempt to co-opt Sufi-ism to push neoconservative ideals. One of the main authors, Zeyno Baran has even authored a report for the conservative think tank, The Nixon Center, suggesting just that. Other think tanks have also made similar suggestions [pdf] in their publications. ( via Craig Murray )
"White Muslim." Converting to which Islam? Most of the new Muslims I read about in the usual media feel impelled to join the "orthodox" Sunni (if not outright Wahhabi) variety, as if there is no other. But, as many of you no doubt already know, a non-negligible minority of the world's Muslims are Shi'ite, whose biggest "Twelver" branch was made famous by this Ayatollah. To further refute the image of "monolithic" Islam,within the Shia minority are a minority known as "Seveners" or Ismailis , whose biggest branch is run by this gentleman , whose conception of Islam as "a thinking, spiritual faith, one that teaches compassion and tolerance" seems more congenial to the self-selected strata inclined to, oh, post to MetaFilter, perhaps especially to "Secular Humanist" atheists like me. (I'll bet some of you can even relate to his divorce.) Further reading from these links (perhaps with Google's help) should further belie much of the dumbed-down propaganda "mainstream" Americans are spoon-fed about Islam, showing the kaleidoscopic nature of one of today's One True Faiths. (And then there are the almost Zen-like Sufis, and ....)