By Allison Collins
FRANKLIN/SIDNEY CENTER – Since 2003, a growing number of Sunni Muslims practicing the traditional Nakshibendi Sufi way have made 1663 Wheat Hill Road, Sidney Center their dergah: a place of gathering, a spiritual center of worship, somewhere to cultivate simple living practices such as farming and, above all, a welcoming community. The Osmanli Dergahi was founded by the late Sheykh Abdul Kerim el-Kirbrisi el-Rabbani; he passed in 2012.
Today, dergah members have invested spiritually and economically in the Delaware and Otesgo county-area, establishing several businesses and many positive relationships therein.
On Monday, Oct. 2 at The Tulip and the Rose Café in Franklin, an example of one such business, dergah members welcomed a broad cross section of area people to the group’s inaugural meet and greet.
Dergah member Omar Siddiqi said that the event grew out of the community’s desire to bring many conversations into one place, at one time.
To the crowd of about 35, Siddiqi explained, “Everybody is always asking us, ‘Who are you?’” The event, he said, served as a chance for the group to not only answer that question for representatives of local law enforcement, area school officials, chamber of commerce members, town supervisors and residents, but a way to continue and foster open dialogue.
“(This) is not to a particular end,” said Siddiqi, “it’s just a conversation that started organically (among) neighbors and we wanted to keep that going.” Siddiqi added that dergah members “live all around” and try to develop relationships and sate curiosity wherever they find the opportunity. The dergah itself comprises about 50 acres and includes roughly two-dozen families.