This story, while seemingly minor, is extraordinary in a number of ways.
It may even be significant. The reason is that Sufism, a main current within Islam but also sometimes described as the esoteric core of all religions, has historically operated in secrecy.
It is therefore somewhat surprising that a modern Sufi would “go public” in a way to share the essence of a particular Sufi tradition — in this case the whirling ritual of the Mevlevi Order dervishes.
This could signal a willful projection of Sufi ideas into contemporary Western culture, an organized opening of ancient secrets, so to speak. But it could mean other things, as well.
According to the late Idries Shah, a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohamed and head of the Naqshbandi Order of Sufis, the whirling dance of the dervishes was introduced to the Mevlevi Order by one of the greatest mystics of all time, Jalaludin Rumi, in order to cure a certain lethargy that had gripped the Persian culture of his time. It was to energize, awaken and inspire the local society that he taught his dervishes (students) to whirl.
It is also notable that the exponent of Sufi ideas in this instance is a woman. The observer is challenged to make of that what he (or she) might. As the news report notes, “the soul is neither masculine nor feminine” in Sufi thinking.
Whirling dervish performances are not unknown as tourist attractions in Spain and other parts of formerly Muslim Europe. Rana Gorgani’s whirling seems of a different category to me.
The best advice is Rumi’s: “Don’t ask what shape it is, take what is in my hand.” Here’s a video: