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whirling dervish

noun, Islam.
1.
a member of a Turkish order of dervishes, or Sufis, whose ritual consists in part of a highly stylized whirling dance.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Article for whirling-dervish

whirling dervish

fraternity of Sufis (Muslim mystics) founded in Konya (Qonya), Anatolia, by the Persian Sufi poet Rumi (d. 1273), whose popular title mawlana (Arabic: "our master") gave the order its name. The order, propagated throughout Anatolia, controlled Konya and environs by the 15th century and in the 17th century appeared in Constantinople (Istanbul). European travelers identified the Mawlawiyah as dancing (or whirling) dervishes, based on their observations of the order's ritual prayer (dhikr), performed spinning on the right foot to the accompaniment of musical instruments.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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