Mathnawi Sohbets from the Ottomans to Present Day (December 2007)

By H. Nur ARTIRAN, Konya, 13 December 2007 

 

Based on historical evidence, Mawlana Djalaluddin Rumi’s Mathnawi was written between 1260 and 1267, and since then it has been read with much interest and admiration by millions of people from all denominations all over the world. The Mathnawi informs mainly on Religion, Islamic Mysticism (better known throughout the world as Sufism ) and Social affairs, relying frequently on verses from the Quran, Hadiths and folk tales. It covers almost every topic; sociology, psychology, history, mysticism, as well as science – including its more recent discoveries.

 

Although Mathnawi is generally accepted as didactic work addressing to ‘Reason’, it also possesses passionate and exuberant poems appealing to the ‘Heart’, similar to the ones in Divan-i Shems-e Tabriz or Divan-ı Kabir as otherwise called. 

 

The wisdom of the Mathnawi is not different to the revelations of the Prophets who came one after another to enlighten and guide Humanity. Prophets Jesus, Moses, Joseph and David are frequently mentioned. At times a reference is made from an Islamic Philosopher and at other times from a Christian Saint, all in accordance with Mawlana’s general view that Humanity is like a single body and different nations are like the different organs of this body. Religions may differ due to their unique ways of devotion but the spiritual eye only sees them as One. Nationalities may be many, but their spirit is one and the reason d’etre of all human beings is the same. In all his Works Mawlana has held Brotherhood of Mankind, Peace, Love and Unity above all.

 

In a research conducted by the Nobel Institute in 2002, the Mathnawi was included in the Masterpieces of Humanity and has been accepted by all religions and nations as part of World’s Common Heritage.

 

For the Mawlawis however, the Mathnawi is all important because it is regarded as the

‘initiating book’ for those who are on the Path.

 

In its unique didactic style, the Mathnawi investigates every detail of Islamic mysticism and sets a standard for the ‘annotation tradition’ that followed.

 

In fact it could be said that, Muhyiddin Ibnu’l-Arabi’s Fususu’l-Hikem and Mawlana’s Mathnawi – both regarded as the two major works of Islamic mysticism – are responsible for the introduction of the ‘annotation tradition’. To answer the question of how widely these two important books were read in the Ottoman Society, one could say that whilst the Fusus was read only by the ‘elite’, the Masnawi was read more widely, not only by those on the spiritual path but also by the general public.

 

The above mentioned aspects have deemed it neccessary to have a ‘guide’ to read and interpret the Mathnawi and in this way a new profession called Mesnevihan came into being which denotes: reading, translating, commenting on the meaning of Mathnawi and (occasionally) chanting it.

 

In Persian, the suffix han (as in Mesnevihan) meaning ‘reader’ or ‘instructor’ was

also widely used in the Ottoman language e.g Duahan or Mevluthan for prayers and

Gazelhan for Ghazals.

 

After Mawlana passed away or in his own words ’re-united with his Beloved’,

Husameddin Chelebi, his devoted friend, follower and scribe, began to read and explain the

Mathnawi to the people in public platforms. This is why, Husameddin Chelebi has been

regarded as the original expert of the Mathnawi and the first Mesnevihan. This tradition

continued through Mawlana’s son, Sultan Veled.

 

It is known that Husameddin Chelebi personally trained a handfull of special students

to succeed him, Mesnevihan Siraceddin being one of them. Other important figures during

this time were Sultan Veled’s son Ulu Arif Chelebi and Mahmut Dede who translated

Menakıbu’l-Arifîn into Turkish. When Arif Chelebi was assigned to the more important task of

spreading the Mawlawi Order throughout the Empire, Mesnevihans Siraceddin and Mahmut

Dede took over in the Konya Asitane to read and interpret the Mathnawi.

 

In the following era the Mesnevihan profession became an institution. Chelebi’s of Konya allowed non-khalifs (persons who were not trained by the Mawlawi’s, however as competent) to wrap the white destar (a white cloth wrapped around the sikke) around their sikke which signified that permission was granted to the holder, to instruct the Mathnawi as Mesnevihan.

 

As the Mawlawi Tariqa (‘path’ or in this case a Religious Sect) expanded and the Mawlawi Lodges started to emerge all over the country, it became the custom to place two pedestals in the Mawlawi Dargah’s (a place of gathering for the Sufi brotherhood, a Sufi Lodge) during the Mathnawi Sohbets. The first was occupied by the Senior Mesnevihan who recited the Mathnawi from memory and the other was for a second Mesnevihan whose job it was to interfere in case there was a mistake or an omission. Senior Mesnevihan was called Hafiz-i Mesnevi and his assistant Kari-i Mesnevi.

 

Although in the Mawlawi tradition it was (and still is) mandatory to be trained and to

be given authorization by the Mesnevihan of the day, there has been exceptions to this rule.

Certain spiritual personalities who were in sufficient command of Persion to comprehend the

Mathnawi, were also given special permission.

 

In the Ottoman Empire, the authorization of the Mesnevihan profession was given with the precondition to conform to what was called the Ankaravi (annotation) InterpretationIn the final stage of the Ottoman Empire, Sıdkı Dede (d.1933) in Konya, Hoca Husameddin Efendi in Eyup Hatuniyye Tekke (places for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood), Osman Selahaddin Dede in Yenikapı Mevlevihane, Mehmed Celaleddin Efendi (d.1908) and Shaikh Abdulbaki Efendi were major Mesnevihans. Esad Dede of Thessaloniki who taught Mathnawi to Mehmet Akif Ersoy (a famous Turkish poet and writer of the words to the National Anthem), was the Mathnawi instructor in the Fatih Mosque for almost half a century.

 

Also, during this time Ahmed Celaleddin Dede in Galata Mevlevihane, Ahmed Remzi

Dede in Beyazit and Uskudar Yeni Cami were famous Mathnawi instructors.

 

It is interesting to note that in the 14. Century, not only the Malawis but also some of the outstanding major Nakshibendi (one of the major Sufi orders of Islam) Shaikhs of Istanbul, acted as Mesnevihans. Upon the merging of the Mawlawi and Nakshibendi lodges, Hoca Husameddin Efendi, also known as Mesnevihan-ı suheyr (Master Mesnevihan), Hoca Nes’et (d.1807), Mehmed Murad Efendi (d.1848) (founder of Daru’l-Mesnevi) taught the Mathnawi, although they were Nakshibendi Shaikhs. They were allowed to wear Mawlawi sikke with destar and were able to instill in the hearts of the followers the so-called ‘Mawlawi joy and essence’.

 

During the Ottoman Era, Mesnevihan profession established itself within the protocol and the code (of conduct) of the Mawlawi Order and Mawlawi Society. The Mathnawi was taught primarily in Mawlawi tekkes (lodges) but also in selatin mosques (Mosques that are designated for the Sultans), Darul-Mesnevis (Traditional name for an education center dedicated to studying Mathnawi) and Sultan’s Palace. Furthermore, according to Feridun Nafiz Uzluk (a descendant of Rumi’s who did translations and annotations of Mathnawi), new foundations were formed for the sole purpose of teaching Mathnawi. Later on, Damat Ibrahim Pasha (Grand Vizier during two periods under the reign of last Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV)decreed Islamic mysticism and Readings of the Mathnawi to become compulsory in the madrasah (Religious school of the day) that was built in his name. From then on Mathnawi would be included in every madrasah’s curriculum.

 

In the 14. century a new institution named Daru’l-Mesnevi or Mesnevihane was established with the purpose of teaching Mathnawi to non-Mawlawis, i.e the ordinary public. By attenting these institutions, ordinary people had the opportunity to learn and benefit from the Mawlawi culture. Interest for the Mathnawi had become so widespread that a new institution was needed.

 

Daru’l-Mesnevi was established by the Nakshibendi Shaikh Mehmed Murad Efendi in Fatih Carsamba, near Murad Molla Dergâh which was a Nakshi tekke (lodge). Sultan Abdulmecid was present in the opening ceremony. According to Cevdet Pasha who was taught Persian and Mathnawi by Shaikh Murad Efendi, there were two Mesnevihanes (local places where Mathnawi was taught exclusively) in Istanbul. These were Hoca Husameddin Efendi’s Mesnevihane in Kucuk Mustafapasa and Daru’l-Mesnevi in Carsamba. Sheikh Yahya Galip Efendi of Cerrahi tekke (lodge) and Midhat Pasha were the two prominent personalities taught by Sheikh Murad Efendi in Daru’l-Mesnevi during this time.

 

By the end of the 14. century, Mesnevihan profession had extended to mosques and became part of regular preaching to the public. Esad Dede was the first Mesnevihan at Fatih Mosque, teaching Mathanawi once a week. He was followed by Karahisarlı Ahmed Efendi and following his death, Tahiru’l-Mevlevi succeeded him.

 

The last in the long lineage of Mesnevihans from the Ottomans to date were Tahiru’l-Mevlevî and his successor Sefik Can. Tahiru’l-Mevlevi adopted “Olgun” as surname following the Surname Act. He was the Kâri-i Mesnevi of his teacher Mehmed Esad as well as Celaleddin Dede (Sheikh of Yenikapi Mevlevihane) before he started his Mathnawi lessons in Fatih Mosque (1923- 1925).

 

The period between 1925 and 1948 has been silent for Mesnevihans for political reasons during the transition from the Otoman Empire to Turkish Republic. Then in 1948 the political situation of Turkey changed and Mathnawi teaching was again possible. Consequently, Tahiru’l-Mevlevi was able to perform his Mesnevihan profession at the Suleymaniye Mosque and Laleli Mosque until his death in 1951.

 

With his many talents as poet, author, Mawlawi Master, Journalist, Mesnevihan and literary Historian, Tahiru’l-Mevlevi has been a very important figure keeping alive the Mesnevihan Tradition during the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic.

 

Following Tahiru’l-Mevlevi, his student Sefik Can took over the spiritual mission. His training by Tahiru’l-Mevlevi started in 1935 and Sefik Can served his teacher with great love and respect until his teacher’s death in 1951. He then continued to serve as Mesnevihan with unending passion from 1960 until the end of his life.

 

In the Sixties, Sefik Can started Mathnawi teaching in a house that belonged to Mrs. Seniha Bedri Goknil. Later on he continued his lessons in numerous venues; Munevver Ayaslı’s house, the conference hall of a private school in Erenkoy called Gunes College (Now Isik High School), the library of Mustafa Nazmi Ersin Mosque, Nezahat Nurettin Ege’s house, conference hall of Maltepe elderly rest home, various locations provided by God lovers who loved Mawlana and his Mathnawi, an education center in Uskudar, Yunus House in Kiziltoprak and finally Kazim Karabekir Cultural Center.

 

Until the year 1998 Sefik Can annotated the Mathnawi in the classical way, that is page by page, sometimes reading it in original Persian and sometimes in Turkish.

 

In 1999 due to the deterioration of his eye-sight, Sefik Can could not continue and so he relied on the asistance of the author of this article to prepare topics from the Mathnawi, under his supervision. During his last years he continued his lectures with his asistant reading the chosen topics and he commenting on the religious, scientific and literary aspects of what was read.

 

It is an ironic fact that whereas in the past new Mesnevihanes were being opened everywhere, Sefik Can had difficulty in finding venues to teach during the last period.

 

This is how Sefik Can recalls those days in his own words and with humour:

The first venue was no more, when its owner Seniha Bedri Goknil passed away. The second venue which was Munevver Ayaslı’s house came to an end when the maid was exhausted after carrying endless number of chairs from the neighbours !
At Gunes College some of the neighbours complained that religious practice was taking place. At Mustafa Nazmi Ersin Mosque, some worshippers didn’t approve men and women sitting together during the classes. In the Home for the Elderly, the elderly could not get any rest… In Yunus House it was time for renovation. In the Uskudar cultural center, the administration changed. Consequently time after time because some people got disturbed we were moved. Now here at Kazim Karabekir Cultural Center, we shall stay- that is until it is time for my removal! 

 

Indeed, time proved him right and he did give his last Mathnawi lecture at Kazim Karabekir Cultural Center.

 

Sefik Can, who was the last of the lineage of the Mesnevihan Tradition from Celebi Husameddin to present time, handed over the spiritual responsibility to H. Nur Artıran (who is the author of this article), before he united with his Beloved in 2005.

 

Thereby making her the first female Mesnevihan since Mrs. Kamile (who was the daughter of Kucuk Arif Chelebi of Konya) and her daughter Mrs.Fatma (who took over the mission from her mother in the early 17th century).

 

Shortly after the demise or ‘reunion with the Beloved’ as he put it, of her teacher Sefik Can, the author of this article has started reading and teaching the Mathnawi at the Sisli Mosque Foundation in Istanbul. She has also started lecturing at the “Self Transcendence Psychology Association” in Uskudar and in the “Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center” situated within the Galata Mevlevihanesi – a place which has become almost synonomous with Sheikh Galib (one of the most important Sufi poets of 18th century. Author of Husnu Ask).

 

In the recent past, when there was an insufficient number of Mesnevihans trained in the Mesnevihan tradition, various institutes and foundations in Istanbul, Ankara, Konya, Bursa, Urfa and Sakarya flourished and certain spiritual men (or men of the Heart as they are often called) volunteered to fill the gap.

 

In the Mathnawi Mawlana says: So long as the World exists and life goes on, the poetry of the Mathnawi will last and give pleasure to everyone who reads it. Indeed, his predictions have come true, as today we see around the world and in Turkey, an immense interest in Mawlana and his Mathnawi.

 

God All Mighty says: There are such holy people under my Heavenly Dome that no one knows but me. Who knows how many souls, Men of the Heart over the centuries have silently and patiently devoted a lifetime with Mawlana and the Mathnawi?

 

Here, I tried to mention in the time and space allowed, the invaluable services of just a few venerable men during the course of history. However, with deepest respect and gratitude I would like to pay a tribute to all those great men and women of the past who are not mentioned here but who have made their notable contributions.

 

 

 

(This article was presented by H. Nur ARTIRAN in “International Traces of Mawlana in the World” Symposium organized by Konya Selcuk University on December 13th-15th, 2007.

Translation: Münir Akdoğan and Nurcan Yıldırımçakır.)

 

 

 

 

Traces of Hz. Mevlana Jalal al-din Rumi in Europe (Dec 2007)

Peter Hüseyin Cunz, President of the International Mevlana Foundation Swiss Branch 

International Conference, 13. – 15. December 2007, Selçuk University, Konya

 

 

There are two types of traces of Hz. Mevlana in Europe. One is the academic work produced by elder scholars such as Reynold A. Nicholson, Eva de Vitray Meyerovitch, Annemarie Schimmel and Johann Christoph Bürgel, but unfortunately very few known academic works from younger scholars of European universities are to be found. The other trace – prominent but difficult to measure and evaluate – is the substance of what remains in the hearts of individuals that have been in touch with the message of Hz. Mevlana.

 

The academic traces are characterized by a scientific or philosophical approach with a high degree of objectivity and a choice of expression that is easy to be communicated on an international level, such as in this conference. In contrast to this the expression of a touched heart is subjective and often emotional, is expressed in a metaphorical language and is influenced by patterns originating from education and personal experience. In both cases the expression will be guided by the cultural and social setting of the concerned person. Since culturally and socially there are remarkable differences between Orient and Occident, these differences reflect in the way of expression – be it scientific or emotional.

 

Differences have to be understood on both sides. Considering that the cultural flow is much stronger from the Occident to the Orient than vice versa, it is only obvious that oriental people find it easier to acquire an understanding of western mentality than vice versa. Westerners who thoroughly understand oriental values and mentalities are scarce. This fact is of particular relevance when spiritual requirements and work become involved, such as those practised in the Mevlevi Tariqah. In Europe we are confronted with these differences, for in the Mevlevi Tariqahs of Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, both, western and oriental persons come together to learn and deepen a common understanding of Hz. Mevlana’s teachings.

 

We must see the historical context in which Europe has developed. In the Middle Age the Christian church was the dominant force of spiritual thought and work. But in the 17th and 18th century the Christian church lost much of its power, and it had to give way to values of the Enlightenment, which include the notion of citizenship, the concept of democracy, the idea of secularization and the acceptance of reason as the only and last authority for the determination of methods, truth and errors. In today’s Europe ethical values take a higher rank than religion, and yet we all know that the highly esteemed reign of law in western democracies was not able to eliminate the abuse of power, dictatorship and injustice; the living of ethical values is not more in the western societies compared to tribal or theocratic societies. But we must see and consider the point of view from which “educated” Europeans attempt to view and understand spiritual values, with the rational mind being the dominant factor. Yes, there is acceptance of irrational esoteric and religious values in Europe, but these have to be in harmony with accepted ethical values.

 

To merge traditional Islam with democratic ideas is difficult and probably not possible without compromises on one or both sides. This is today subject of controversial discussions and political debates, and we experience this controversy also within the Mevlevi Tariqah. Some of my friends and colleagues in Turkey argue that the Shariah is first to be considered and to be observed, and then in addition we may seek for Tawhid (experience of unity in God). On the opposite, I, as a European, tend to say that the yearning for Tawhid is the first condition for any spiritual progress, and that Islam is one possible way offered by God to reach Tawhid. Being responsible for the Mevlevi Tariqah in Switzerland I do not want it to be seen as an imported Islamic sect but rather as a place where any sincere seeker may discover an acceptable context for his or her spiritual growth. It is indeed first of all the atmosphere and Barakah (divine power of grace) that he or she experiences within the Ummah (gathering of believers) of the Mevlevi Tariqah which attract non-Muslim Europeans. They are touched by the beauty and tolerance of Hz. Mevlana’s message and the ethical values they find in it. To first require from newcomers the strict observation of traditional Islamic dogmatic rules is not helpful, considering the Islamic requirements’ incompatibility with European values such as the spatial separation of men and women and the restrictions for women in their dressing codes, public appearance and other rights. Rather there is a necessity for rational explanations about the difference between Koranic requisites and cultural influences, and there is a necessity to question issues of the Sunnah and Shariah and to accept a debate about it. Unfortunately such debate on an academic level is still very little if not even suppressed. In my view Turkish universities with their experience of all aspects between orthodoxy and liberalism could play a prominent role in such international debates.

 

All religions started in a specific cultural environment and adapted through history to social and cultural changes. From a European point of view this issue needs more clarification. What parts of Islamic behaviour is to be respected under the constitutional guarantee for free religious expression, and what parts are to be seen as of cultural origin? Are the dressing codes, the circumcision or arranged marriages – to name some of the hot issues – part of religion or part of culture? Such questions are difficult to address because they provoke strong emotions in the camp of traditionalists. Personally, I categorically refuse to import oriental culture into Switzerland, my home country. The observation of the Sunnah should not be at the detriment of a visible respect for our Swiss brothers and sisters. I do not support the creation of Islamic parallelism, and it is not my duty to spread Islam in its conservative form, as some of my friends and colleagues in Turkey would like to see. In our Mevlevi Tariqah we come together to learn to live Islam for the good of our personal relation with our Lord (Rabb il alamin), and this includes the living an exemplary social life and the testifying of full respect for others, independent of their religion and their willingness to accept our way.

 

The resistance against Islam in European feelings would be much less if today’s mainstream-Islam had the opportunity to appear more prominently with its essentially universal message, beauty and openness for other religions. It would already be helpful if the holy Koran were translated correctly. The Arabic word islam means surrender unto God. But in most translations the word islam is left in Arabic, giving the impression to be the proper name of what we see today under the label Islam. A European would love to read The only true religion in the sight of God is man’s self-surrendering unto Him (Koran 3:19), and he or she may not feel at ease reading The only true religion in the sight of God is Islam, as it is rendered in most translations. As a matter of fact, for us Europeans it is a real sign of the universality of Islam when we correctly read the last legal injunction that was revealed to our Prophet three months before he passed away, setting a seal on the message of the Koran: Today have I perfected your religious law for you, and have bestowed upon the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self-surrender unto Me (Islam) shall be your religion. (Koran 5:3, translation taken from Muhammad Asad)

 

Yes, there is merit to keep a tradition in its original way as precise as possible. While a ritual is kept alive it accumulates morphologic power from which a follower of a tradition will take advantage when participating in this ritual. But it has to be in balance with what the followers’ mind can accept, and such a balance will be different in Europe compared to Islamic cultures and societies. Through the years I served as teacher within our Mevlevi Tariqah I could observe how the message of Hz. Mevlana opens the sight of Non-Muslims for the beauty and universality of Islam, and in the experience of Tawhid their mental viewpoint shifts slowly to the place of a believer. It’s a shift away from the rational control with its attitude of free will to an attitude of devotion for a spiritual path linked to a religious tradition, including the forms and rituals that belong to this tradition.

 

There are not only Non-Muslims in the European Tariqahs. In Switzerland for instance a third of participants are native Muslims, many of them of Turkish origin. They do not face the hurdles of Non-Muslims as mentioned before; instead they face other difficulties. One of them is the confrontation with the view that Islam is not the only correct religion. For the Muslims in Europe it is a challenge to accept that the Muslims can as much learn from the Christians as the Christians from the Muslims. A further challenge for native Muslims is to be ritually united with Non-Muslims who in their daily life do not strictly observe traditional Islamic rules, and to accept them as truly equal brothers and sisters. And for people with a Turkish origin it is sometimes difficult to separate national folklore from spiritual work, and they may have to be reminded that Hz. Mevlana is neither Turkish nor Iranian.

 

In the last years Sema has become an object of business and a flourishing cultural export from Turkey. Thanks to the advertising of Whirling Dervishes, Europeans are going to Turkish concerts to which otherwise they would never go. Yes, some grasp a bit of the beauty of Turkish music, but many are disappointed to have seen mere folklore and little spiritual values. This business with pretended Mevlevi spiritual values is a huge challenge for our Mevlevi Tariqah. Whereas my colleagues in Turkey may have some justification to do Sema in public because it is part of Turkish culture, we in Europe have no basis that justifies a public show. We do not respond to the many requests for public Sema; we leave this to Turkish music groups. We consider Sema as a prayer, and a prayer needs an atmosphere of intimacy. Therefore we do Sema with personally invited guests only who join us in Dhikr before the Sema starts. And in such privacy neither Turkish nor other participants with an Islamic culture find it embarrassing if we allow men and women to turn together.

 

Summing up it may be said that the European Mevlevi Tariqahs are places where the religious dialogue is fruitfully lived, and where Non-Muslims and Muslims essentially come closer together, this thanks to the spiritual yearning of each participant. In Europe it is neither the common religion nor the culture that unites us in the Mevlevi Tariqah, but it is that yearning which Hz. Mevlana expresses in the first 18 lines of the Mesnevi and in numerous poems of his Divan that acts as common denominator. As followers of Hz. Mevlana we train to leave the rough and fluctuating surface of the sea and learn to dive into the depth of the ocean where the pearls are to be found. In other words: we try to get into the present moment where the past and future collapse into the Here and Now. This happens with the help of rituals within the Ummah. Especially Dhikr and Sema attract European searchers, and it is beautiful to observe how Europeans who have left the church for various reasons, find again a taste for religious rituals.

 

The potential of religious impact of the traces of Hz. Mevlana in Europe is tremendous, however in reality it is controversial and limited due to the seemingly negative perception of Islam. Therefore it is of utmost importance that more work is done on an academic level where the international dialogue is easier. I would like to see that European universities increase their interest to invest in projects linked to Hz. Mevlana and his message, and to seek for partnership with oriental universities. An intensified exchange and collaboration between occidental and oriental universities would also be a substantial contribution for peace in this world. 

 

 

 

 

Rumi and Shiism

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)

 

Some poems that are not Rumi’s have been added to collections of Rumi’s poems. These poems are poems by extremist, Shiite poems of the Ismailiyye creed who deify Ali. These poems have no relation to Rumi at all both in terms of form and substance. For example, there are many poems falsely attributed to Rumi in a collection of Rumi’s poems prepared by Hidayet Khan, an Iranian literary figure, and printed in Tehran in 1280/1863 under the title Divan-i Shamsu’l-Hakaik. There are also many poems that are not written by Rumi in a large size edition of the Kulliyat-i Shams-i Tebrizi printed in 1302/1884 in India.

 

These poems that are not Rumi’s, i.e. poems by Shiite poets, do bewilder the readers. Fortunately, the forgiven Firuzanfer, a professor at the Tehran University, has prepared a very reliable edition of Divan-i Kebir, in seven volumes, by working without taking the Shiite side, very impartially with the love of knowledge. In this edition he selected the poems that truly belonged to Rumi by reviewing all other editions of Divan-i Kebir, printed or handwritten, and showing the differences between editions. The fake Rumi poems where Ali is deified are excluded in this principal edition of the Divan-i Kebir.

 

Everybody wants to draw great personalities to their side no matter what their real views may be. Therefore, the Shiite who read these poems where Ali is described not as a human being but as a Deity consider Rumi one of them, just as some Bektashis who view Rumi as the deputy of Haji Bektash. (Golpinarli, Mevlana’dan Sonra Mevlevilik, p. 300) But Rumi cannot be confined to a group. Rumi is everyone’s.

 

Dawlatshah who very well understood this truth wrote for Rumi in his Tezkire-i Dawlatshah:

Followers of all creeds have praised Rumi and he is accepted by all groups. (Tezkire-i Dawlatshah-i Semerkandi, edited by Muhammed Abbas, p. 213)

 

It is for this reason that in Rumi everybody found their own approach, their own view and themselves and hence thought of Rumi as one of themselves. It is for this reason everybody saw him in a different light. Some thought that he was Melami, some Shiite, some Jaferi and some Bektashi. But in reality Rumi is a Sunni saint completely on the path of our Prophet.

 

In Islam, tolerance is the rule. In Quran it says that there is no forcing in religion. Therefore since Rumi is completely on the Muhammedan path, he never looked down on others and tolerance and lenience was his distinguishing characteristic. Since he treated followers of all creeds and religions with respect, Christians and Jews shed tears after his funeral along with Muslims. When he said I am of seventy two creeds, he meant to say that the essence of all creeds and religions is one according to the Divine Predestination.

 

If Rumi had in fact been Shiite, he would, like many Shiite scholars, never mention the names of Abu Bakr, Omar and Osman. However, Rumi loves these dear Companions of our Prophet along with Ali and remembers them in his works. I would like to point out how many times Rumi mentions these four dear Companions of our Prophet in the Mesnevi and the Divan-i Kebir to give my readers an idea:

Rumi speaks about Abu Bakr at 10 places in the Mesnevi and at 8 places in the Divan-i Kebir; Omar at 18 places in the Mesnevi and at 20 places in Divan-i Kebir; Osman at 4 places in the Mesnevi and at 8 places in the Divan-i Kebir; Ali at 41 places in the Mesnevi and at 23 places in the Divan-i Kebir.

 

Who doesn’t love Ali? Since one enter the city Divine Knowledge through the door of Ali, every believer who loves Allah and the Prophet loves also Ali. Ali is a close relative of our Prophet and has been subjected to injustice. He has been the victim of Muaviye who wanted to establish his own kingdom and damaged the Islamic Republic. Also the conscious tells us to love Ali. But we have to love Abu Bakr, Omar and Osman just like we love Ali. We must love Ali like we love our Prophet and his Companions. We shall not deify him because Ali himself has rejected this extreme kind of love. He had those executed who prostrated in front of him as a deity. (Izmirli Ismail Hakki, Muhassilu’l-Kelam ve’l-Hikme, p. 107, 1336, Istanbul) How nice did our friend and master Suud-I Mevlevi express love of Ali with this following quadruplet:

I am the servant of the Prophet’s family, supporter of Ali, 
I am Sunni, Hanefi, Mustafevi and Murtazawi, 
God forbid, I am neither hurufi nor an astray Shiite, 
Praise be to God, I am a strong Muslim.

 

One of the reasons that Rumi is mistakenly thought of as a Shiite is that some descendants of Rumi and Mevlevi Shaikhs that came after Sultan Veled behaved hereticly, drank alcohol, did not perform prayers, had Shiite and Batini beliefs, had long moustaches as the Bektashi Babas and committed unislamic acts that were renounced by the public. Those who saw such people thought that Rumi whom these people claimed to follow was Shiite. Indeed it is narrated that, like the Shiite, some Mevlevis gathered in a graveyard in Sutluce, Istanbul, on the tenth day of the month Muharrem, cooked ashoorah, whirled, shaved off their heads and wounded their heads and chests with razor for the love of Huseyin. (Abdulbaki Golpinarli, Mevlana’dan Sonra Mevlevilik, p. 226) No matter what others think we rely on the infinite tolerance of Rumi and know that we have no right to criticize anybody because of what they think, feel and do. We also know that in the Mevlevi order which was founded after Rumi died, a division soon occurred.

 

On the one hand, there was the path of pious Sultan Veled who was completely on his father’s footsteps, i.e. fully compliant with the Islamic Law. On the other hand, there was the path of those who followed Shams-i Tebrizi who was ardent, cheering, laughing, difficult to restrain and somewhat unconventional (rind). Some name the Veled branch “Mevlevi bigots” and the Shams branch “unconventional Mevlevis” (rind). This categorization is a purely personal opinion and inclination. It is also quite natural for everybody to differently interpret according to their own inclination the path of Islamic Law that Sultan Veled followed who was completely on his father’s footsteps who was both, a lover of God, unconventional, ardent, and at the same time was saying: I am the slave of Quran as long as I shall live, and he would spend nights with worship. Hence, Golpinarli wrote: We see that the Mevlevi spirit which froze solid with Sultan Veled regained its livelihood with Ulu Arif Celebi. Is this livelihood? Or is it a departure from Rumi’s path? I don’t know. I leave this for the consciounces of my readers to decide. But as far as I know there must be clear differences between Rumi’s lifestyle and the lifestyle of the followers of the Shams branch who indulge themselves in an unorthodox joy, abandon some of the limitations of the Islamic Law and live in a strange spiritual pleasure. Rumi who holds beads even in his imagined portrait has never reached for a glass of wine of this earth which is forbidden since his holy hand holds the glass of the heavens. Our great Rumi says the following in one of his odes:

Don’t knock on every door like a beggar. You are a supreme being. You are strong and your hand can reach the door of the heavens. So you should knock on that door. 
Once the glass of love of beyond has taken you from yourself then forget this world and do not think about it.
(Divan-i Kebir, vol. 5, no. 2933)

 

Does a hand that can reach for the heavens care for the glass of this earth? How nice does Rumi describe this thought in the following quadruplet:

We do not need any wine to be intoxicated. We do not want any musical instruments to make our assembly more cheerful and interesting. We are already enraptured and intoxicated before seeing the face of the beautiful beloved, hearing the musician play or drink the earthly wine from the saki.

 

Abdulbaki Golpinarli writes the following when describing the last Mevlevi lodges before all lodges were outlawed and closed:

In fact, the Bahariye Mevlevi lodge was well known with unorthodox and Shiite practices. Shaykh Nazif (d.1860) was a more fanatic Shiite than a Bektashi, and his son Huseyin Fahreddin Dede was in the same inclination. Shaykh Nazif and especially his son Huseyin Fahreddin Dede would drink alcohol almost every night. The Yenikapi Mevlevi logde which was previously known for unorthodox and Melami inclinations was known for piety in its last days. 
Once they asked a Mevlevi dervish why their hats were so long. He replied: “It is long enough for the bottle. When strangers come in we hide the bottle.” I heard this from Shaik Nazif.
(Abdulbaki Golpinarli, Mevlana’dan Sonra Mevlevilik, p. 211)

 

 

 

 

How was Rumi Praying?

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)

 

As Sipehsalar writes whenever the time for prayer came Rumi would face Kible (Mecca) and the color of his blessed face would change. Rumi’s preparation for daily prayer would remind one of Ali’s prayers. As commonly know the Ruler of the Faithful, Ali’s face would change colors, and he would start shaking of fear when the time for the prayers came. When he was asked: O Ruler of the Faithful, what is happening to you? he would answer: It is time to turn to Allah and perform the duty of the Divine entrustment Allah has offered to the heavens, earth and mountains and they were afraid and declined the resposibility. I am afraid that I don’t know whether I will be able to duly perform the duty that I have assumed.

 

Rumi’s prayer was a prayer perfromed with an openness of the heart and a prayer of forgetting one’s self. In his prayer he would find himself completely in God and reunited with God. In fact, the purpose of prayers is find Allah spiritually, to reunite with God by forgetting about one’s self and escaping one’s imaginary existence. It is for this reason that our Prophet says: “Prayer is reunification with Allah. But those who only look at the appearance of things cannot see and understand how this reunification will happen.

 

It is also for this reason that prayer is viewed as the pillar of the religion and ascention of a believer to the heavens. It is frequently observed that our Great Prophet started a prayer after the night prayers and by the next morning he kept on praying the two rekat prayer and forgot himself in the presence of God. This way it was also observed that He remained in prostration and bowing for a day or for a night.

 

Rumi’s prayers were not like other beliver’s prayer performed only as a duty to attain God’s pleasure. Rumi’s prayers were not only a prayer of God’s pleasure but also a prayer of heart and a prayer of love.

 

As can be seen in the following poem that Sipehsalar took from Divan-i Kebir and put in his book, Rumi would confuse the Rekats and would not know what chapter of Quran to recite because he was in the presence of God and in the prayer of heart.

When the time comes for the evening prayer, everybody lights up their houses, prepares the table, but I find the ghost of the Beloved in my heart and start to cry out and lament. Since I make ablution with my tears my prayers are so fiery. When the sound of ezan (call for prayers) reached the door of my mosque, it burns it down. Which way is kible (direction for prayers)? I missed my prayers, I need to make up for them, you and I receive a lot of tests (challenges) because of this missing prayers. I wonder if the prayers of those who are enraptured with Allah’s love are right. You tell me because the ecstatic never know the time and place. Is this the second rekat that I am praying? Or is it the fourth? Which chapter did I recite? I can’t speak because of excitement. How can I knock on God’s door? Because neither hands not heart remained in me. I am not in me. You took my hand and heart. O my Allah! Nothing remained in me. At least you give me assurance and trust. By Allah, I do not know how I pray. Did I complete the bowing? How is the imam? I have no idea. From now on let me be like a shadow in front of and behind every imam so that I may sometimes shrink and prostrate with the fear of the One who makes my shadow fall and creates me, and sometimes stand up and lengthen.
(Divan-i Kebir, 2831)

 

On the other hand since we love this world and focus our attention to much on our daily business, we do not think that we are in God’s presence in prayer and think of the things we have done or we are going to do. No matter how much we try we cannot escape these random thoughts. We concentrate on the matters of the world that randomly pop up in our minds that we confuse the prayers. As seen in the above poem since Rumi performed a prayer of love, since he was enraptured with the love of Allah, he could not know which chapter of Quran he recited, which rekat he is praying. Since we, on the other hand, are intoxicated with the love of this world we cofuse the prayers and cannot throw away the random thoughts in our minds.

 

 

 

 

On Rumi’s Ecstasy and Love

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)

 

Sipehsalar writes: If I was to describe one tenth of Rumi’s ecstasy, love and “attraction”, I couldn’t fit it into this book. (Sipehsalar, Persian version, p. 22)

 

O reader, may Allah make you succeed. Know that rapture of attraction is a state of fascination and ecstasy induced by God’s attracting his slave to Himself. It is being overwhelmed such that one forgets one’s self, it being fascinated by God’s greatness, power and attributes. Attraction is reunion with God, dying before death, and attaining God while living. If there no spiritual talent in the person walking on the path of Allah, no matter how much that person strive or how much he performs self-mortification, he never attains union with God. Attraction is a favor of Allah, the Most Glorious, in the eternal past. That is it is a spiritual bestowment that Allah has granted on the spirits of some people in the world of the spirits before coming to the world.

 

Our Prophet says: There is an attraction among the attractions of Allah that is better than the worship of the whole mankind and ginies.” If there happens an pause, a joylessness, a hopelessness to the person who walks on the path of Allah when he reaches a level, Allah, Most Dominant, Most Glorious, takes the traveler of the path of Allah to safety with his attraction due to the abundance of His Mercy and Favors and makes him attain his destination.

 

The eternal attraction bestowed by God was clearly visible in Rumi. Therefore, of every level and stage he attained with the continuously coming and overflowing attractions he would tell somewhat:

The love burak (a vehicle for ascending to the heavens) of meanings has taken away my mind and my heart. Ask me: ‘Where did it take them?’ It took my mind and heart to that side which you don’t know, to beyond. I reaches a pavilion from where I saw no moon, no sky. I arrived in such a world that there even the world ceases to be the world. For one moment, excuse me, spare me, so that my mind returns to me and I can tell you what the spirit is and talk about its beauties. Don’t disregard my words. Listen to me, you, too, have a spirit. Try to understand the spirit. There are favors of the Beloved to us, bestowments, grants and gift. These are amazing, never before seen favors and bestowments. These are unique gifts. From the path of the senses comes clear lights and the hearts are being enlightened. When the spirit which resembles the star of Canopus, appears from the direction of rukn-i yemani(?) moon ceases to be visible as well as the sun and the seven poles of the skies. The light of the spirit overpower them all. For a moment take the religion which resembles a piece of gold and put it under your tongue so that you may realize how valuable an ore is in your heart, inside yourself. Enlighten the lights of the five sense that are in you. See them as the five daily prayers. Your heart is like the Chapter Fatiha which consists of seven verses. Every morning there comes a voice from the heavens. If you can remove the love of this world from your heart you can hear it and find the trace of the path of truth and start to walk on it. 
(Divan-i Kebir, 3039)

 

 

 

 

Rumi’s Love of Humanity

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)

 

After Rumi has discovered his self and sensed what was in him he saw in others what was in him, too. This way he unified the Love of Allah with the Love of Humanity. He came to the conclusion that to love human beings is to love Allah. When read carefully, the following couplet makes it quite clear actually to whom Rumi’s infinite love of Shems was.

Shems of Tebriz is a pretext. In fact, we are the one peerless in beauty, the one peerless in boons and favor.
(Divan-i Kebir, v. 3, no. 1576)

 

In another poem, Rumi advises us to appreciate the value of each other and to love each other because we love our loved ones not because of their physical beings but because of Allah.

Come, come, let us appreciate each other, know the value of each other. Because you never know we might be suddenly separated. Now that our Prophet has said: ‘The believer is the mirror of the believer.’ why are we turning our face from the mirror? Grudges and hates darken the friendship and injure the heart. Why don’t we rip off and throw away the grudges from the heart?
(Divan-i Kebir, v. 3, no. 1535)

 

Come, join us. We are Lovers of God, you join us so we open you the doors of the garden of love. Sit in our house as a shadow we are the neighbors of God’s sun. We are invisible to the eye, just as is the soul, we have no trace or mark, just as the love of the lovers. But our signs are in you and in front of you because we are both hidden as well as apparent just as the soul. Whatever you may be talking of look further and higher and even beyond that because we are beyond the beyonds. You are like water, but you remain in a hole, you are imprisoned. Open up a way for yourself so you may join us, because we are a flood flowing towards God.
(Divan-i Kebir, v. 3, no. 1540)

 

Come so we may speak to each other from spirit to spirit, talk to each other hidden from eyes and ears. Let us laugh without lips and teeth just as the rose garden. Let us discourse without lips and mouth just as the thought. Let us tell the secret of the world completely with our mouth closed at the level of “Akl-i Evvel” and in the awareness of God’s existence. Nobody talks to themselves with a loud voice, since we are all one, let us call out to each other from our hearts without mouths or lips. How can you say to your hand ‘Hold!’ Is that hand yours? Since our hands are one let us talk about this issue. Hands and feet are aware of the state of the heart. Let us make conversation with our tongue being silent and our hearts vibrating.
(Divan-i Kebir, v. 6, no. 3020)

 

Rumi’s love of humanity is infinite. Starting with the ancient Greek and Latin poets, take all the classical poets, dramatic writers, philosophers and sociologists of the West, none has a love for humanity that Rumi feels and lets his readers feel. Shame on those who don’t know and understand Rumi and who don’t count him as a classical poet.

Come, come, get closer. Till when is this banditness going to continue? Since you are I and I am you, what is this ‘us and them’? We are God’s holy light, we are God’s mirror. So why are we struggling with each other? Why is one light running away from another light so much? We, all human beings, are gathered like a body in the being of a mature human. But why are we squint-eyed? Although we are limbs of the same body why do the rich look down on the poor? Why does the right hand look down on the left hand of the same body? Since both of them are hands of your body what is the meaning of lucky and unlucky on the same body? We, all the human beings, are in reality all one essence. Our minds are one, and our heads are one. But we have been seeing one as two due to the curved heavens. Come, liberate yourself from this selfishness and reconcile with everybody and be nice to people. As long as you are in you, you are a grain, a particle. But when you mix and unite with others, then you become an ocean, a mine. Every human being carries the same soul but the bodies are in hundreds of thousands. Similarly, there are countlessly many almonds in the world, but there is the same oil in each of them. There are many tongues and dialects in this world but the meaning of all of them are the same. Water put in different containers unite when the containers are broken and start to flow together as one stream. If you understand what the unity (tevhid) means, if you attain unity and if you rip and throw away meaningless words and thoughts, the spirit sends news to those whose eyes of the hearts are open and tells them the truth.
(Divan-i Kebir, v. 6, no. 3020)

 

In the above examples, Rumi’s thoughts on the love of humanity are illustrated. Rumi will whisper many secrets to the ears of those who carefully read these and reflect on them thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

Rumi’s Inner and Outer Characteristics

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)

 

One can find plenty of imaginary pictures, portraits and miniatures of Rumi. There are even mention of painters who painted pictures of Rumi in those days. There are also others like Eflaki who describe his physical characteristics. For example, someone told to Muiniddin-i Pervane that Rumi’s face was pale due to continuous fasting while Sultan Veled had pink cheeks. Can we imagine Rumi’s physical appearance based on these accounts and paintings?

 

Rumi had a thin and slender body and a pale skin. It has been told that one day he went to a Turkish bath. When he looked at himself in the mirror he noticed that he was very thin. He pitied himself and said: “In my whole life I was never ashamed of anybody; however today when I saw my thin body in the mirror I am ashamed of myself.”

 

Although Rumi had a pale skin he was very benevolent looking and awe-inspiring. The eyes of the holy saint were very attractive. They were very sharp and filled with exuberance. The glances of his luminous eyes were so powerful that whenever somebody, unaware of the power of Rumi’s eyes, would look directly at his luminous eyes, would come under the influence of these powerful eyes and would have to remove his eyes from him.

 

All these accounts and descriptions are related to Rumi’s physical characteristics. But how was his inner characteristics? In the Mesnevi, he says:

I wonder how I can see my face. I wonder what kind of a complexion I have. Am I someone with a clean and spotless face? Or am I someone with a dirty and sinful face? How can I observe this? To see my inner face, the picture of my soul, I have been struggling and searching. Yet my inner face was not showing in anybody and nothing was showing my inner face to me. I told to myself ‘For what purpose is the mirror invented? What end does it serve? Is it not invented so that everybody can look into it and see who they are and how they look?’ But the mirrors that we know of are made to show peoples outer faces and physical attributes. Where and how is the mirror that shows the face of the heart? The mirror of the heart is very expensive and very valuable. The mirror of the heart is nothing but the face of the Beloved. The face of the Beloved that shows our inner face, the face of heart, is not in this world. It is in the spiritual world.
(Mesnevi, Vol. 2, Couplet 95)

 

Where can the Beloved that can reflect Rumi’s inner world and character be found? Who can depict the inner characteristics of Sultan-ul-Ulema’s son? How can Sultan-ul-Ashikeen, the King of Lovers, be described? Nobody can fully understand or describe this great saint who was nourished with the knowledge, manners and character of his father, the King of Scholars, and who was burnt and melted in the pot of Divine Love. He was a superior being that was cleansed from grudge, hatred, evil, selfishness, ostentation and from all human desires with the influence of Divine Love. He was a man of goodness and perfection and a man of love and gnosis. When he dived into the ocean of love he was freed from all contradicting views. He was detached from good and evil. In Mesnevi, he says:

When you reach the ‘world of colorlessness’ just as you were in the eternal beginning, you will find that Moses and the Pharaoh have made peace.
(Mesnevi, Vol. 1, Couplet 2467)

 

The fact is fluctuating, waving, foaming or looking blue or green all occur on the surface of the ocean. But in the depths of the ocean, there remains neither a wave nor a color. In fact, deep in the ocean, there are no waves, the ocean looks all in one color.

 

This is the reason why Rumi looked at all the nations and sects with the same view. His approach to everybody and everything was from this point of view. He treated everybody the same. He looked at everybody with the same eye. In his view, Moslems, Christians, Jews and fire-worshippers were all the same. Therefore, he was reminding the people that it was essential not to look down on non-Moslems, and to respect their religions and believes. In the Islamic countries, it is common to see churches and synagogues next to the mosques. The Moslems respect all religions. This view of Rumi, which is completely Islamic, should not be misunderstood. Of course, since Islam is the final religion and since with its coming all other religions became invalid the religion conveyed by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is superior to all religions. Our Prophet (pbuh) is the prophet of the Latter Day and there came no prophet after him. Rumi’s view of all religions as one should not bring to mind the thought that he saw Islam the same as other religions. In terms of being a religion, all religions are equal. Yet they differ in the practices they prescribe. However, their essence is the same.

 

Rumi was regarding all religions, sects and nations as the waves of the ocean of Unity. In fact, while God sees all prophets as one, as stated in the Quran 2:285, ….. We make no distinction between one and another of His messengers. ….., in Verse 253 of the same chapter He states that He sees some of the prophets as superior to others: Those messengers we endowed with gifts and made superior some above others. ….. This way while all religions and sects are one they have differed in practices they brought. And since Islam is the final religion it is above all religions.

 

Rumi touches this issue in another part of Mesnevi and says:

In this world, there are stairs that stretch to the heavens step by step. To every group there is a separate stair. To every walk (of life) there is a different sky to which to ascend. Each of them is unaware of the others. The destination is an infinite land. It has neither a beginning nor an end.
(Mesnevi, Vol. 4, Couplet 2556)

 

These couplets are illustrating this beautiful Prophetic Tradition. The paths that lead to Allah are as many as the souls of the creatures.

 

The way to see everybody and everything as one (the view of unity) and leniency were at their peak in Rumi. It is related that one day during a whirling ceremony while Rumi was whirling in ecstasy a drunk entered among the whirling dervishes. He couldn’t control himself. During whirling he would lurch and from time to time hit Rumi. The Rumi’s friends scolded him. Upon seeing this Rumi said: O friends, he is the one to drink the wine, but you are the ones to get drunk. Why are you scolding him?

 

Rumi was so patient, tolerant and tender that everybody would be amazed. He would never reply badly to the slanders and gossips that his adversaries who spiritual eyes were blind would produce and with his good manners, gentle ways and tolerant views he would bring these people round to the right views.

 

It is also related that one day Rumi said: I am with seventy-two different sects and creeds. Sirajuddin of Konya was a man of grudge. To hurt Rumi and to discredit him in the eyes of the public, he sent one of his religious friends to ask Rumi in public whether or not he actually said that he was with seventy-two sects and creeds. He advised him to insult, curse and swear at him if Rumi admitted to saying those words. That man came and asked Rumi: It is said that you said: “I am with seventy two sects and creeds.” Is that true? Rumi didn’t deny what he had said, so he replied: Yes, that is what I said. That man immediately started to swear and curse at Rumi. Rumi just smiled at him and said: In spite of all that you are saying I am also with you.

 

 

 

 

Sema, the celebration of Whirling Dervishes

The Mevlevi Whirling Prayer Ceremony (Sema)

(Taken from the sister-website Dar al Masnavi, and partly simplified for easy reading.)

 

The Whirling Prayer Ceremony (Sema) of the Mevlevi Order (“Whirling Dervishes”) begins in the traditional manner of Islamic gatherings with praises of God and the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and give him peace). The poetic form of such praise is called the “Noble Praise” or “Noble Eulogy” (Naat-i Shareef) of the Prophet. The poem used in the Ceremony is a Persian ode (ghazal) which consists of six lines and is traditionally believed to have been composed by Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (may God be merciful to him).

 

For the last three centuries it has been sung according to the musical setting of Mustafa Itri. In Itri’s composition, praises of Rumi have been added to the original poem. This is a feature of Sufi music, in which exclamatory praises of God or of individual saints are added during pauses in vocal music. In the case here, the added exclamatory phrases do not match the meter and rhyme of the original poem and were never intended to change its meaning. It is a common misunderstanding among non-Muslim listeners that the Naat-i Shareef is addressed to Rumi rather than to the Prophet, as it is intended, since the opening line addresses him with “O our sublime master” yaa Hazrat-i Mevlana).

 

Following the Naat-i Shareef, a musical section (taqseem) begins: a solo improvisation, mostly played on the reed flute (nay). This evokes the famous opening lines of Rumi’s masterpiece, The Masnavi:

Listen to the reed flute, how it is complaining.
It is telling about separations, saying,
“Ever since I was severed from the reed field,
men and women have lamented in the presence of my shrill cries.
But I want a heart which is torn, torn from separation,
so that I may explain the pain of yearning.”

 

After the reed flute solo, the Dervishes slap the floor (which evokes the thunderous sound initiating the Day of Resurrection), stand up, and begin walking counter-clockwise (the direction in which pilgrims circle around the Kaaba in Mecca). This part of the ceremony is in honour of Rumi’s son, Sultan Veled, and is called the “Sultan Veled Circling”. The music for this part is the “Introductory Peshrev music”, which is in 56/4 or 28/4 time.

 

After the third circling, the dervishes take off their black cloaks (symbolizing their graves) and they appear dressed in their white grave clothes, joyously resurrected, to begin the first of four “Salams,” or segments, of the ceremony. The Dervishes are simultaneously anchored to the ground and “flying”, and their aspiration is “union with God” (as the Sufis have called it), meaning ecstatic nearness to God, the Only Beloved. Each of the four Salams has its own tempo, musical quality, and spiritual-mystical flavour. After the vocal part of the Fourth Salam has ended, the musical composition continues with two brief instrumental sections (in 4/4 and 6/8 time), followed by a final musical solo improvisation. The dervishes continue whirling and stop when they hear the recitation of the Holy Quran.

 

 

 

 

Links to Mevlevi websites of English language

The family Çelebi:  www.mevlana.net  

 

The International Mevlana Foundation:  www.mevlanafoundation.com  

 

Shaykh Ibrahim Gamard Efendi, USA:  www.dar-al-masnavi.org  

 

Shaykh Kabir Helminski Efendi:  www.sufism.org   

 

Website of friends in Konya:  www.semazen.net/eng/   

 

The Masnavi in Persian, English and Turkish on the Web:  www.masnavi.net 

 

Our contacts in Poland:  www.sufi.org.pl