TEL AVIV – During recent years, Israel has witnessed a rising interest in Islamic Sufism among it Jewish citizens. Now, the city of Jerusalem is all set to host the fifth annual Sacred Music Festival in September  – which consists of Sufi-inspired performances such as the dance of whirling dervishes.

According to The Washington Post, such ceremonies are regularly organised in many Israeli cities such as Jaffa and Jerusalem and the people who hardly knew of Sufism some 15 years ago, today, practiced it every single day.

The practice was first started by Ora Balha, an Israeli Jew, along with her husband Ihab, who is an Arab Muslim, several years ago in the city of Jaffa.

Ora and Ihab argue that the Sufism leads to universalism, which connects different cultures and religions on a spiritual level, adding that the Sufi music, the whirling dervish dance and other spiritual writings can bring together the people of different backgrounds.

“Sufism is the heart of Islam and…calls for unity.” Ihab went on to say.

Another jew, Ayelet Lugassi, who regularly participates in Sufi ceremonies, said: “It is a practice that makes me feel more in touch with my heart.  Yes, I am a Jew, and this practice comes from Islam. But that doesn’t matter because Sufism has a very important understanding of the universal feeling of believing of God,” said  Ayelet Lugassi, who regularly participates in Sufi ceremonies.

Sufism is a mystical order in Islam which promotes a personal connection with God and a number of Sufi orders can be traced to different parts of the world.

The dance of the whirling dervish was first developed by the Mevlevi order in Konya, Turkey, which was led by the followers of renowned poet and  philosopher Jalal ad Din Muhammad Rumi.