Jahriyya followers continue to hold the view that it is their particularly loud and melodious chanting that sets them apart from other Sufi and non-Sufi Muslims in China. At times the significance of sound even surpasses that of textual learning in assessing the position of a Sufi in the spiritual hierarchy.
To many like Alaa who have witnessed the brutality of the Assad regime first hand, what is happening in Syria is not just a war, but a revolution. He chuckles, visibly proud of the fact that the uninitiated eyes of Turkish art dealers can not locate the 'war' in his pictures. "How could it not be there, yani?" he muses. "It is a part of me."
Regarding those meetings with other organizations, quite often I would head to a meeting and find a foreigner, usually from a Western nation who had just arrived in the West Bank, but would be the “knowledgeable” resource person I was supposed to look for to gain insight into the current situation. I sat with one expert lauded by a previous team for her knowledge on local communities only to be told by those in said local communities that she barely interacted with them and kept a ‘healthy’ distance when it came to village visits. Yet these “gatekeepers” are deemed better resource persons than the people they supposedly represent.