Zar

Tarik Sultan

New member
Dear Tarik,
And your point after all this Bullshit is?! ... :clap:
Best of Regards~Mahmoud
My point is that as the Koran tells you, don't belittle or insult other people's beliefs, (especially when you don't really know anything about it), lest in their ignorance they insult your religion in return. You do not believe in this spiritual system and that is fine. However, you do not have the right to call it mumbo jumbo, especially since you do not know anything about it to speak. You don't even know the difference between a Zar ritual and an exorcism, so...

I am a practitioner of a traditional earth religion which shares many similar aspects with the practice of which Zar is only one small part. I would like the same respect as such that you would like me to show you as a Muslim, without sarcasm or being condescending, nothing more. We do not need others to believe as we do, nor have we ever felt the need to convert anyone, nor do we believe that our way is the only way. We are live and let live. We believe in the same God you do. We worship him in our way, you in yours and that is fine. All we ask is to be shown the same respect and consideration that everyone else has and if you don't understand something about us, don't make shit up or act like just because your from XYZ place you know what we are about, because like I said before, and as you have demonstrated, You don't know jack diddly about us..... that's all...

Hey, I said this in only two paragraphs! Damn I'm good!:clap::dance::lol:;)
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Dear Makeda,
I call it as I see it .. here is the quote from your first post you seem to hold it from the the hip so we don't anger the spirits, we were talking about " Zar " it has nothing to do with your Christian believe if you think it is hocus pocus that is your problem not mine.
Best of Regards~Mahmoud
Basically what she's saying is the same thing I am. Just because its not her personal belief she doesn't think it would be right to call it nonsense. She has had people make fun of her christianity because they think her beliefs are hocus pocus and she found that insulting. Therefore, she does not want to insult anyone else. She respects their right to worship and believe as they like, without using language that is disrespectful and insulting. A principle which as I pointed out before, is stated in the Koran. Basically the Koran says, DON'T MAKE FUN OF OTHER PEOPLES BELIEFS AND PRACTICES AND DON'T CALL THEM HOCUS POCUS. SHOW THEM THE SAME RESPECT YOU WOULD LIKE THEM TO SHOW YOU. GOT IT?!

One paragraph. I think I'm on a roll!:yay:
 

Lydia

New member
I think Zar has nothing to do with religion...that is the problem...it has to do with tradition....when you mix tradition with religion then you have a problem....i do agree that it is not correct to insult anybody,s religion....But i dont see Zar as a part of religion,its a part of tradition...
Here where i live i see so much of this all kind of evil eye story,s jinn story,s...people that still visit other people that burn bagour under their clothes so the evil eye will be gone...ladys that collect sperm from their men and burn it with bagour to make sure the men will never cheat on her...you want to listen to more story,s like this ? i have plenty....again please think...i dont want to insult anybody,s believe ...i just ask you to think why ? why you think that some things are working because they believe in it...they want to believe its treu....I see so many things like that in the trible area from Oman or Maroco its a common practise...when i first came to the middle east it was even more common then now...please understand it has nothing to do with religion....its a tradional thing.....Dont get so wind up about it..i think you people just understand eachother wrong...i dont think Masrawi want to insult anybody,s religion......religion is separate from this whole thing...have a nice day everybody
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
I have come to this topic very late and it is a very interesting discussion.

Ok, here is how I understand things to add to the mix!

As far as I am aware, it is Muslims who practice Zar.
It is also wrapped in a kind of superstition.

I hear that it is mostly in Beledi areas and fellahin were it is practised. So therefore it is seen as ignorant or uneducated.
It is viewed as mumbo jumbo by many Egyptians who see it as a crazy primitive practice based on superstition (like we have walking under a ladder).

Some people in Egypt believe Djinns live in the toilet and others think this is total nonsense.

In terms of its effects, any repetative movement with spinning and shaking induces a form of auto intoxication, which in turn has a chemical effect on the brain.

I have never done a zar as a ritual but I have studied the movements for the purpose of theatre. I usually end up with a tender neck and dizziness.
As you can guess, I am not the sort of person who is into spiritual things but if it works for people then great. Whatever rocks your boat.
 

jenc

New member
I once went into a trance when pretending to be a possesed nun for a youth Theatre production of The devils. It's really easy and not necessarily related to any religion, just susceptabilities of person concerned
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
I once went into a trance when pretending to be a possesed nun for a youth Theatre production of The devils. It's really easy and not necessarily related to any religion, just susceptabilities of person concerned
Trance and exorcism are different names but a zar with it's particular ritual is unique to that culture and in North Africa and MED it is only practised by Muslims, not Christians. Christians will have their own unique version of it.
I think most cultures have some kind of ritual like this. They are tied with traditions and beliefs.

Spiritualism is big business in the West. You can go shopping for it or have it as a hobby.
 

masrawy

New member
My point is that as the Koran tells you, don't belittle or insult other people's beliefs, (especially when you don't really know anything about it), lest in their ignorance they insult your religion in return. You do not believe in this spiritual system and that is fine. However, you do not have the right to call it mumbo jumbo, especially since you do not know anything about it to speak. You don't even know the difference between a Zar ritual and an exorcism, so...

I am a practitioner of a traditional earth religion which shares many similar aspects with the practice of which Zar is only one small part. I would like the same respect as such that you would like me to show you as a Muslim, without sarcasm or being condescending, nothing more. We do not need others to believe as we do, nor have we ever felt the need to convert anyone, nor do we believe that our way is the only way. We are live and let live. We believe in the same God you do. We worship him in our way, you in yours and that is fine. All we ask is to be shown the same respect and consideration that everyone else has and if you don't understand something about us, don't make shit up or act like just because your from XYZ place you know what we are about, because like I said before, and as you have demonstrated, You don't know jack diddly about us..... that's all...

Hey, I said this in only two paragraphs! Damn I'm good!:clap::dance::lol:;)
Hello Tarik,
I think you should practice what you preach :shok: ... I don't know if you truly believe the racist crap you posted before or I just ticked you off :think:. Congratulation for new improved to the point post.:clap:
Deepest Regards~Mahmoud
 

cathy

New member
exerpt from Egypt Today article on Zar

I have not participated in nor seen a Zar ritual (though I have seen Zar music performed). Here is what I read in an Egypt Today article from March 2005:

- - - - - - - -

In its original form, Zar is a ritual where a small circle of people gather to communicate with unseen entities or spirits. It’s one of the few healing ceremonies performed mainly by women for women in an attempt to pacify the spirits and win some measure of inner harmony.

Traditional Zar music originated in the Sudan. Poly-rhythmic, rich and complex in melody, it is distinctively different from other Egyptian musical traditions. The underground culture was not originally intended to be a performance art and is shunned by the religious establishment, the state and the orthodox cultural elite.

The result: In recent decades, practice of the ritual has died out and ancient songs have been forgotten, helped along by the popular misconception that Zar is all about exorcisms.

For participants, it is most often a cathartic experience often leading to an altered state of consciousness, or in some cases, trance.

- - - - - - - - - -

I am not sure that only Muslims practice Zar, but I think Sudan is mostly Muslim. I would say that most or all cultures have rituals for achieving altered states of consciousness or trance. Maybe it's partly a class-based thing. Here in the US there are certainly rituals such as speaking in tongues or snake handling that those who do not practice, look down upon.

What about self-cutting. That's a practice that appears to be growing among girls especially in the West, that I imagine has the effect of relieving tortured feelings. I don't think it's religion based.

I think I once saw a video of people in the Middle East involved in some kind of ritual that ended with sticking metal skewer-type things right through their cheeks. We might think "eeeyuuuw" but what about the early Christians walking on fiery coals etc.

There are differences between religion and tradition, though they can also be related, or at least appear to be from the outside.

Cathy
 

Makeda Maysa

New member
Yeah ... was gonna do the whole back-and-forth thing, then decided that it wasn't worth it. I want to engage in actual discussion, not have someone spout nastiness at me.

I stand by what I said.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I just read this whole thread with great interest and think I will stand over with Makeda, especially when she says:
It is never wrong to treat subjects of spirituality with wisdom and respect.
 

kayshier

New member
Just read the article. Its not really as simple as the article leads to believe. Its a whole religious system, its not a dance or a "ritual" but rather, rituals and ceremonies are part of the larger system. Its similar to our traditional systems in the Caribbean like Santeria, or Chango Baptist in Trinidad, or other systems derived from Orisha devotion. What is actually done depends on the circumstances of the person involved. In some cases it could be that the person is being harmed by negative forces sent by someone or attracted to the person because of something they did. That would require one type of ceremony. It could be the case that the spirit is what we would call a guardian angel, protector, who for whatever reason needs to establish a closer relationship with the person and therefore, does things to get attention so that they are aware of the situation. It could be that the person is meant to be a sheikha or shaman herself and once again, their guardian spirits are trying to get their attention so the process of apprenticeship can begin. In the latter two cases, this is a life long relationship which will require annual parties to honor the guardian spirit.

However, unlike what the article leads to believe, Zar is looked down on by the orthodox Islamic community, just the same way that the official Christian clergy looks down on Shango Baptist, Pocominio, Obeah etc. Its also considered to be a very low class thing, but you know how it goes. Just like in the West Indies, people say one thing, but when they need help, they tend to visit the most strangest neighborhoods, of course without telling their friends where they're going.

There is no problem going through the motions in a staged show though. You'd only be doing a theatrical tableau, not an attempt to conduct an actual ceremony.
while i agree with this post, i would tend to add to the point that i placed in bold though that 'theatrical performances of something that is steeped in religious tradition is somewhat tricky, as one can be going into unknown territory, delving into things they may not understand with consequences that they may not be able to control.
the fact is these traditions are very very powerful, and should be respected for what they are.
 

kayshier

New member
Hello All,

I just read this article on Zar :

egyptian_zar_belly_dance_costumes_bellydance_dvds

I thought it was an interesting insight into the culture. My question then is, is it kind of disrespectful for bellydancers in performing to imitate some of the things described there? When I was studying drum rhythms with Jenna's Heartbeat of Bellydance dvd, Raquy was saying that to a zar rhythm you could toss your head or do "any trance-like movements".

Now i know the article says that the middle and upper class of Egypt don't really ascribe to zar so it mightn't actually matter much to them, but what do you think?

Where i'm from in Trinidad there's alot of rich cultural history and there's certainly some of it that my family doesn't ascribe to, but my mother always says "don't interfere in things you don't know about". For example, obeah - which has its roots in african mysticism but tends to have alot of negative connotations. My mother doesn't believe in obeah, but she wouldn't mess with it either - it's like a kind of respect in a way for what could be.

Does anyone feel the same way about Zar? Or am i just silly and superstitous?
Mya i don't think you are being silly or superstitious. Fact is there are traditions steeped in spirituality. We are all spritiual beings housed in a body, there are cosmic relationships that most of us don't understand or have not even begun to tap into. Dance, Music as a matter of fact any artistic form is steeped in spirituality.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
I think Zar has nothing to do with religion...that is the problem...it has to do with tradition....when you mix tradition with religion then you have a problem....i do agree that it is not correct to insult anybody,s religion....But i dont see Zar as a part of religion,its a part of tradition...
Here where i live i see so much of this all kind of evil eye story,s jinn story,s...people that still visit other people that burn bagour under their clothes so the evil eye will be gone...ladys that collect sperm from their men and burn it with bagour to make sure the men will never cheat on her...you want to listen to more story,s like this ? i have plenty....again please think...i dont want to insult anybody,s believe ...i just ask you to think why ? why you think that some things are working because they believe in it...they want to believe its treu....I see so many things like that in the trible area from Oman or Maroco its a common practise...when i first came to the middle east it was even more common then now...please understand it has nothing to do with religion....its a tradional thing.....Dont get so wind up about it..i think you people just understand eachother wrong...i dont think Masrawi want to insult anybody,s religion......religion is separate from this whole thing...have a nice day everybody
There's a big difference between spiritual practices and simple superstition. You can't always tell what is what unless you are involved in it. So as I said before, yes, there are people in all spiritual practices and religions who do stupid nonsensical things, but that doesn't mean that that is all there is to it.

Let's put it this way, just because many priests turn out to be child molesters does not mean that all priests are, nor does it mean that this is something advocated by the Catholic doctrine. These are abuses by disturbed individuals. Like wise, with many traditional spiritual practices, you will find people who are not sincere and are only interested in exploiting the desperation of people who feel powerless to control their lives. With all things you must be careful. The legitimate practices do not advocate the kind of things that both you and I know all too well. They advocate finding emotional physical and spiritual balance and most of all taking responsibility for one's own actions in life, not in finding quick answers in magic tricks. This should be your first warning sign. If someone is telling you they can cure all your problems by doing XYZ, buying some lucky charm, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

My concern here is that we do not lump everyone in the same category. Like I said. I follow a spiritual tradition very similar to the one that Zar is a part of. We are so tired of being misunderstood as devil worshipers, witches, savages, explaining that no, we do not practice human sacrifices etc. You can't tell what Zar is about by just going to a ceremony or seeing a video or watching a biased 3 min news report any more than you could tell what Catholicism is by watching a mass. What people don't know about or see is what happens AFTER the Zar ceremony. This is the only way to know what the individual or community is all about. However, because it does conflict with Islamic traditions, people tend to be very suspicious about talking to outsiders about it, just as we in the Caribbean had to hide our religion behind Catholicism. Its only within the last 30yrs that we've felt comfortable enough to speak with the larger public so that they understand us. To understand the world of Zar, you have to do some real research.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Trance and exorcism are different names but a zar with it's particular ritual is unique to that culture and in North Africa and MED it is only practised by Muslims, not Christians. Christians will have their own unique version of it.
I think most cultures have some kind of ritual like this. They are tied with traditions and beliefs.

Spiritualism is big business in the West. You can go shopping for it or have it as a hobby.
This isn't true. It is practiced by both Muslims and Christians. Most people dismiss it as superstition because they don't belong to that world, so they don't know about it. and those of us who do follow this way of life just get too tired trying to explain, so we just tend to keep it quiet and keep to ourselves, or we tell people what we think they can understand or what they want to hear. Like I keep saying, there is more to it than JUST A RITUAL Just as a mass and communion are only very small parts of a much larger spiritual philosophy in Catholicism, so too is the Zar only a small part of a much wider world view and spiritual perspective. To just focus on Zar without really knowing the world view and philosophy behind it is to take it out context.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Hello Tarik,
I think you should practice what you preach :shok: ... I don't know if you truly believe the racist crap you posted before or I just ticked you off :think:. Congratulation for new improved to the point post.:clap:
Deepest Regards~Mahmoud
Once again you misunderstand what I was saying. Do I believe those things? HELL NO! I was trying to make a point. I was showing you that if a person wanted to, they could make any religion or spiritual practice look ridiculous. To an atheist, all religions are superstition and I just showed you why Islam, Christianity and Judaism, would seem that way. That is all. So while you may see no harm in calling a way of life that you really know nothing about, other people in their ignorance look at Islam as being a violent religion, superstition. I stand by my basic statement, treat other people with the same respect you would want to be shown. This is something that you really don't understand, nor will you ever unless you become involved or if you did some very real anthropological research. At the very least, just show it some respect. I can accept if you said I am a Muslim and such things are not in agreement with my spiritual beliefs. That is fine. But to just dismiss something as hocus pocus I can't accept because I've had to deal with worrying about people thinking I'm into all kinds of dumb shit that they see on T.V. or confusing me with con artists. My entire community is. We understand more about this because as I said, it is very similar to our practices. But what people don't know about is the philosophy. They think its all about lucky charms, burning incense and killing chickens and having the news media make us out to look like backward savages.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Where the Zar practice comes from

The Zar is only one ritual in a much larger spiritual philosophy. Contrary to what most believe, they are not really polytheistic religions. They believe that there is one supreme creator. However, they do believe that there are spirits, saints, or spiritual entities who are associated with the forces of nature and all aspects of human life and emotions. They exist to facilitate the will of the creator and to help mankind find balance in themselves, with each other and with nature. Nature is very important because all aspects of nature are believed to contain aspects of the creators vital life energies. This concept is known by many different names, in Hawaii its called: manna, in West Africa: Ashe, in India: Prana, in China: Chi, in parts of the Middle East its called: Baraka.

Rituals like the Zar are meant to help a person to achieve balance with their energies, not to get rid of bad spirits. Its not a dance or an exorcism, but something much more profound. Similar spiritual beliefs are Hinduism, Wicca, Native American Shamanism, JApanese Shinto, Caribbean Santaria and the native religion of the Hawaiian Islands.

Central to these beliefs is the reverence for the creator, all his creation, and a respect and gratitude to our ancestors for the gift of life they have given to us. They are honored and remembered in various ways.

This belief system came to Egypt from Ethiopia and the Sudan and was the first religion in those areas before the advent of Christianity and Islam.

This article gives a very simple overview of the belief system of which Zar is a part, that came to Egypt from Ethiopia, even though it is very biased. I believe the website is from a Christian fundamentalist group, hence the negative introduction at the beginning. Its almost impossible to find anything on the net that is objective and not biased in some way with regards to such systems. This was the best I could find:

OROMO RELIGION OF ETHIOPIA

Like I've been saying. There is much more to Zar than killing chickens and flopping your head around to drum music. However, when it is uprooted, practitioners have often had to find ways of disguising what they do or merge it with the dominant religious belief in order to maintain it. Santeria is one example where the African Saints or Orisha were hidden behind the image of Catholic Saints. So for instance Chango, the Orish associated with the forces of fire and lightening was associated with Saint Barbara who dies when the tower her father locked her in because she refused to renounce Christianity, was struck by lightening. They found the saints thta had the same attributes as their Orishas and continued to pray to them, just as Christians pray to their saints.

These practices are not just mumbo jumbo and should not be confused with crude superstitions any more than one would confuse Hinduism, Wicca, or any other world religion with such things. In India there are frauds who call themselves God's men. In the Catholic Church at one time there were priests who sold pilgrims "relics of the saints" and pieces of the true cross. In Islam there are people who make charms from pages of the Koran which are supposed to offer protection. Wouldn't it be a great mistake if we didn't take the time to research the doctrines and philosophies of these great religions and instead judged them based on the actions of the dishonest people in those religions who abuse the religion's name by doing things to exploit people's desperation and fears? Frauds seek to take advantage, real spirituality seeks to help people find balance and overcome their fears. Such is the case with Zar. There are those who are benevolent and sincere and there are those who claim to be practitioners who are only trying to make a fast buck any way they can. These are the people who give all practices a bad name.
 
Last edited:

Lydia

New member
i volunteer!!!!! but we go for diner after and see zar!! Hi Caroline ,it is not realy only a moslim thing i have seen it aswell with other faiths....have a great day everybody oooo eid mubarak in advance hugzzzzzzzzzzzzzz;)
 
Top