What is Sufi Dancing?

From the beginning of time, sacred movement, song and story have brought people together at times of seasonal ceremony and celebration, as part of everyday life and life passages, and in daily renewal and meditation. Sufi Dancing is part of this timeless tradition of Sacred Dance.

Sufi Dancing is an uplifting group spiritual practice to cultivate inner peace and harmony, which in turn foster outer and world peace. The dances are simple circle dances. We set sacred phrases from the world's religions and spiritual traditions to music and we dance using basic folk dance movements.

As a moving meditation, or body prayer, Sufi Dancing reveals the unity of all spiritual experience. We gather to embody Spirit, to praise and give thanks, and to offer our prayers for Peace, Love, Harmony and Beauty.

The Dances were founded by Murshid (teacher) Samuel Lewis and are based on the teachings of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan and dancer Ruth St. Denis. They exemplify the principle of the Unity of Religious Ideals.

The Dances are taught by a dance leader. They are easy to learn, meditative, joyous and open to all. No experience necessary! There are neither performers nor audience; old hands and new join to form the sacred circle. As Samuel Lewis, the originator of these Dances, said, "Let us eat, dance and pray together."

Why is it called "Sufi" Dancing?

The term "Sufi Dancing" was the earliest popular name for the dances known formally as "Dances of Universal Peace." It is an appropriate term for several reasons:

  • They were brought into being by a Sufi teacher, Murshid Sam Lewis.
  • Murshid Sam occasionally used the term "Sufi Dancing," although he referred to them more often as "Dances of Universal Peace."
  • Murshid Sam's Sufi teacher was Hazrat Inayat Khan. The Inayati orders (Sufi Order International, Sufi Ruhaniat International and Sufi Movement) are unique among Sufi orders in that they are not exclusively Islamic, but honor a great many of the world's religions. Thus the eclectic nature of the dances, that they honor many religions, is specifically Sufi in the Inayati tradition. Doing these dances is a Sufi practice designed to lead one to an experience of mystical unity.

Where else is it done?

All over the world! Any place you go, look around for "Dances of Universal Peace." Regular dance meetings are listed on the Dances of Universal Peace web site, www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org.