Mysteries of Israel | Sufi and other tours

Sufi and Other Themes Tours


Sufi and other Day tours of the Galilee - one day excursions upon request

These tours touch mainly the theme of Sufism and other religions and spiritual traditions that developed out of it, such as the Baha’i faith and the Druze sect. The tours can be combined into a 3-day tour in northern Israel, where the most sacred places in the world for the Baha’i and the Druze can be found. We will also visit Akko, home to the world center of a large Sufi order called the Shadeli Yashruti.

Read more about the Sufis in Israel

 

1. The dervishes of the Galilee – Sufi sects in Islam
Sufism is the mystic tradition of Islam and has deep roots in the Galilee. Some Sufi orders actually started here, like the Shadilli Yashruti order, which numbers 4 million people around the world. The friends and followers of Muhammad roamed the land in ancient times, and 1,300 years of Muslim rule left their mark in the veneration of Sufi saints, holy places and tombs.

We will start our tour by visiting the White Mosque in Akko, once the capital of Ottoman Israel, which houses a hair from Muhammad’s beard, making the place the most important mosque in the north. From there we will walk to the world center of the Shadilli Yashruti order, an extremely impressive complex, where we will meet the order’s representatives to hear a bit about their beliefs, history and lives.

From Akko we will drive to either Sakhnin or Nazareth to meet representatives of another Sufi order – the Kadiri order. On our way we will visit the local shrine of Abu el Hija, near the village of Kaukab. During our tour we will hear the story of the Muslims in the Galilee.

 

2. Solution for world problems – new world religion – following the Baha'i  faith
The land of Israel is sacred not just to the 3 great world religions, but to a new emerging one as well, the Baha'i faith. Baha'I started at the end of the 19th century by Bahahula, who lived and died in Akko. He started a new religion based on love and equality, and nowadays it is the fastest-growing religion in the world, numbering already more than 7 million. All Baha'is pray towards Akko and Haifa, make pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime and consider Akko to be the most sacred place in the world. The Baha'i hanging gardens in Haifa are considered to be one of the wonders of the world, the administrative center along with a temple of the new faith sits in Haifa, and the gardens and tomb of Bahahula in Akko are quite impressive as well.

We will start our tour by traveling through the hanging gardens in Haifa from top to bottom, and then we will visit the Golden Shrine. Afterwards, we will drive to Akko to visit the tomb of Bahahula and the surrounding garden complex. We will then drive to Akko, where Bahahula spent 7 years - 1 year in jail and 6 years in a house where he wrote his most important book.
During the tour we will explain in detail the history of the Baha'is and Bahahula, their beliefs and the solutions they propose for world problems.

 

3. Arbel Valley - The secret doctrine of the Druze sect and other anecdotes from history
In the Arbel Valley we find the holiest place in the world for the Druze sect - the tomb of the Prophet Yitro, who was the holder of the secret doctrine at the times of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. Somehow many anecdotes from history have emerged from the valley: nearby is Mount Hittin, where the crusaders lost their decisive battle against the Muslims. On the other side of the valley, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, are the towering cliffs where the Jewish zealots fought King Herod to the death. In the valley itself there are remains of an ancient Jewish village and synagogue, where, according to Jewish tradition, the messiah, on his way to Jerusalem, will pass through. The valley today is home to a few thriving Jewish villages with tourist attractions that include horseback riding, jeeps and more. The nearby city of Tiberias is a good place to visit afterwards, where we can eat in one of the fish restaurants and even bathe in the city’s famous hot springs.

 

4. Elijah cave and the monastery of the lion – around the village of Deir el Asaad
Our tour will center on the picturesque village of Deir el Asaad (“the Monastery of the Lion”) and its dramatic surroundings. We will start by walking to a local holy place for the nearby villagers – a cave within the cliffs that overview the entire lower Galilee. The cave is used as a place of prayer, seclusion and healing, and inside we will find Koran books, straw mats and a small water spring. According to legend, the cave was first used as a meditation place by the Prophet Elijah; it is one of many such local shrines that can be found in the hills of the Galilee, made sacred by popular belief from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Druze faith.

From the cave we will walk back to the village center to visit an old monastery building from the time of the crusaders. Monks lived here until the 15th century, when a Sufi sheikh came to the monastery riding on a lion, driving the monks away. Many of the village’s residents today are descendents of this sheikh.

We will walk the village streets, meet with the friendly locals and stop at the local hummus place for a short lunch. Following our meal, we will go up the mountains surrounding the village to visit an ancient Hashmonite fortress nestled within the woods; an ancient Christian village and church from 1,600 years ago; and the area’s new and diverse Jewish settlements, where we will stop for coffee and cake.

The tour can be combined with many activities and including a sampling of the area’s delicacies, most of which will require an extra charge.

 

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