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Muslim mystics, members of the Sufi sect.
The dervishes are organized into communities and orders—that is, “brotherhoods” (their first appearance is traced to the 11th century). These orders have their rules, clerical hierarchies, and cloisters (khanaka, zawiyya, takiyya [takka]); they also venerate hermits. The most well-known dervish orders are the Kadiriyya, Nakshbandiyya, Yasewiyya, Mawlawiyya, Bektashiyya (Bektashi), and Sanusiyya. The foundation of the teaching of the dervishes is the personal communication of man with god, which is achieved through mystical ecstasy (from silent meditation and self-contemplation to the group recitation aloud of prayers accompanied by singing, music, and ritual dances). Dervish orders exist in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Iran, and in several African countries. No statistics concerning them exist. The activity of dervishes was outlawed in republican Turkey in 1925. In the Soviet East vestigial forms of dervish orders still exist.