Experiencing Interruptions?

Sufi Ecstacy: a journey through spiritual Egypt

Sheikh Nasser Khawatim, a farmer and Sufi mystic, guides us on a journey from his home in Sohag, Eygpt to the colourful four-day celebration of the Sufi Saint Sidi Abdel Reheem El Qinawi in Qina. One of many Mawlids (Sufi Festivals) that he visits every year; he attends with the purpose of gathering with friends on the path and with the hope of receiving personal messages, orders and blessings from the saint. He submits himself to the Mawlid without any expectations – in his words, “you can find anything you’re looking for (there) as long as you’re on the right path”.

Over the four-day celebration, the area surrounding the shrine is completely transformed by the community and its visitors. Temporary structures to eat, sleep, and dance spring up, whilst other areas are transformed into a market space, selling clothes, jewelry and toys. Traditionally, a fairground is also erected.

Nasser guides us through these spaces as well as taking us between various services organised by the Sufi groups to provide free food and places to rest (Khidma’s).
In these Khidma’s we meet many of the films passing characters who discuss with Nasser the meaning of Sufism, their relationship to the saints, why they attend the Mawlid and their understanding of Islamic religious teachings. In the evening a space is cleared for the collective Zikr, where visitors dance and chant in remembrance of God in spiritual ecstasy.

Along the journey we meet Iman, Nasser’s ex-wife. Although Nasser has been avoiding her, discussions about a cure for her diabetes and the meaning of love and forgiveness helps to ease some bitter feelings from their past.

Nasser’s journey to Sidi Abdel Reheem is an experience that sheds light on the cultural, social and spiritual relevance of the mawlid, and the power and relevance it still carries within Egyptian and Islamic culture today.

  • Yasmin Kamal
  • Yasmin Kamal
    The Square (2013)
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    وجد صوفي - Wajd Sufi
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    26 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • BBC Arabic
    Country: United Kingdom
Director Biography - Yasmin Kamal

Yasmin Kamal is a London based filmmaker with a passion for finding exciting, entertaining, thought provoking stories with social and political relevance. 

After finishing a BA in Film she worked in Egypt with Youssef Chahine’s Misr International Films on projects such as feature documentary Zelal which premiered at Venice and won the FIPRESICI prize, five short fiction films titled Women in the New Egypt commissioned by the British Embassy and British Council, Feature Film Ghosts of the City and was a curator for The Panorama Film Festival. 

In 2011 she began documenting the Egyptian uprising. During that period, she met Producer / Director Jehane Noujaim and began working on feature documentary The Square which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary at the 86th Academy Awards and went on to win a number of other awards including three Emmy’s. Her role on the film was Edit Producer, Associate Producer and Camera operator. In the same year she supported the edit of Netflix feature documentary Salam Neighbour. Following this she has worked on feature documentary’s Free Trip to Egypt, Za’atari Captains, Television series Tales of Travel, GT Academy and Egypt from Above.

She has recently finished Producing and Directing a documentary titled Sufi ecstasy: a journey through Spiritual Egypt for BBC Arabic

Add Director Biography