The ratiep art form of South African muslims.
The ratiep is a peculiarly South African trance-linked art form characterised by stabbings with sharp objects to the arms and other bodily parts, the piercing of the ear-lobes, the cheeks and the tongue by alwaan (skewers), the performance of certain standard dhikr to the accompaniment of the rebanna and dhol, and a highly stylized movement. The ratiep art form is rooted in Sufi Muslim traditions. Similar trance-linked art forms, called the dabos and Sufi ceremonies, exist in Sumatra and Syria respectively. These are all linked to Abdul Kader al-Jilani, founder of the Qadiriyyah Sufi fraternity. The South African variant of the art form also characterised by unusual self-mutilating acts, has been practised for more than 200 years, and started amongst the Cape Muslims. The literature provides historical evidence of the controversy regarding its "Islamic" nature, which has existed since the latter half of the previous century amongst South African Muslims. It has become dissociated from Islamic practices generally, and is regarded as bidat (innovatory). The South African Indian ratiep performance relates to its Cape Muslim counterpart. Both subgenres show a special relationship to the different genres and styles of music constituting South African Islamic and 'Cape Malay' music which are unique outflows of the cultural heritage, the social milieu and the enslaved, deprived and indentured work circumstances of early South African Muslims. In its vocal style the khalifa performance relates to qiraat and the secular nederlandslied; the latter is a transitional form between the sacred orthodox qiraat and the secular homophonic oulied. A voorwerk and giyerwee sharif precede respectively the Cape Muslim performance and its Indian counterpart. Like the ratiep, they have well-defined textual and musical forms. Ratiep musical instruments. the characteristic movement, the praboes (sharp instruments) and the bank with its decorations of flags add to the totality of the ratiep performance. Metaphysical and medical considerations are important in understanding the nature and purpose of the ratiep performance and the absence of bleeding; the results achieved thus far are still inconclusive. Ratiep acts are often seen as skilful swordplay and exhibitionism, rather than a physical testimony of faith.