African Hebrew Israelites (06:47)
Peter Owen-Jones visits a vegan commune in Jerusalem, populated by African-Americans; they believe they descended from ancient Israeli tribes and fulfill a Biblical prophecy by returning to the promise land. He attends a seminar at the village hall; devotees study the Old Testament.
Three faiths claim Jerusalem as their Promised Land; Owen-Jones witnesses a Good Friday ceremony wherein devotees recreate Jesus Christ’s journey to Golgotha. The pilgrimage ends at Church of Holy Sepulchre, built where the deity was sacrificed.
Judaism: Purim (06:14)
Owen-Jones visits the Wailing Wall, leaving a prayer in ritualistic manner; he attends synagogue for the celebration commemorating the Jews’ escape from Persian attack. The Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood drinks heavily as part of the ceremonies.
Judaism: Politics (07:38)
Jews have migrated to Israel since its formation; Owen-Jones visits an Efrat on Palestinian land, discussing Zionism with the Rabbi. He inspects the Dheisheh Refugee Camp nearby; a local explains that their homes were stolen and defends his suicide-bomber daughter’s actions.
Sunni Islam (05:57)
Owen-Jones visits Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Devotees believe prayers should be recited everywhere; a shop owner explains the physical motions and directional aspects of praying.
Sufi Dervishes (03:51)
Owen-Jones travels to Aleppo to witness the famous whirling dance rituals; participants seek direct spiritual union with God. The sect is suspiciously viewed by mainstream Muslims and secular governments.
Turkish Alevis (05:13)
Istanbul’s oldest religion is practiced secretly to avoid conservative Muslim attacks. The faith shares aspects with Shia Islam and Christianity; love is central to their beliefs. Owen-Jones attends a weekly meeting in a home, noting that men and women worship together.
Iraqi Yazidis (08:04)
Owen-Jones travels to Irbil to discover why the sect has been accused of devil worship; he is shown several rituals. The ancient faith developed from Zoroastrianism; devotees worship archangel Taus Melek. Muslims regard the figure as Lucifer, and regularly attack believers.
Owen-Jones visits a 3,000 year old sect on Jordan River’s West Bank; they follow Old Testament rituals and claim to uphold Israelis’ true faith. On Mount Garizim, they sacrifice several sheep at sunset.
Owen-Jones attends a yearly ceremonial gathering; the faithful silently walk around the shrine to the religion’s founder, Bahaullah. Devotees are not required to give up their existing religions to convert as all beliefs are respected and considered.
Credits: Rituals: The Middle East (00:30)
Credits: Rituals: The Middle East
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