Khalwah (All-Night Spiritual Retreat) Print

Khalwah

Khalwah in most Sufi traditions means retreat or withdrawal from the world. For us this practice is an all-night silent vigil under the guidance of either Sidi or one of his spiritual teachers. This sacred offering is a means of walking deeply and letting go of old thought forms and patterns of the nafs.

The Sufis have always done many of their sacred traditions in the evening after sunset and in the darkest part of the night, considered the time when the dunya or the physical world is most settled down. Thus the unseen world is more unveiled and accessible. We do most of our khalwahs traditionally after Salat al-Magrhib and continue until the early morning hours
The usual practice is a specific number of rounds of the daily Wird, the traditional Shadhuli practice using the masbaha beads. The leader determines the number of rounds based on the preparedness of the group, and this number usually varies between 500 and 2000 rounds of each of the three Arabic chants of our practice. Between each chant, we do two rak‘ah of Salah. Usually we do a half to one hour of remembrance with the eyes open looking at the written name of Allah, then a half to one hour of remembrance with the eyes closed.

It is our tradition to fast from eating during the khalwah. Water or tea may be taken, but only in an area away from the sacred space of the group.

Because this is a deep and powerful spiritual practice, it is important that anyone who does the khalwah has taken hand (bay‘ah) with either Sidi or one of the spiritual teachers. This places an individual in the spiritual vessel of the Guide and guarantees their safety during this deep spiritual practice.

There is also a donation involved, which has deep significance to an individual's soul. We believe that charitable giving is one of the ways that individuals can purify themselves and this is especially important for the khalwah. Each person is asked to give a donation of between $250 and $700 that is used to buy food to feed the poor people in the Holy Land.

The sages have always taught that group spiritual practice heals not only those involved, but also the loved ones and the local region where the practice is done. This is the motive behind so many groups traveling to war-torn parts of the world to pray. In a similar sense, the entire tariqah, individuals, family members, and the local community feel the power of the khalwah also where it is done.