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

Peter Hüseyin Cunz, President of the International Mevlana Foundation in Switzerland
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.


The Mevlevi Order in a European Context (Mai 2007)

UNESCO-Conference, Istanbul, 9th May 2007


I would like to start by affirming the existence of the authentic Mevlevi Order (or Tariqah) with worldwide activities, and I would like to present some thoughts based on my personal experience as one of the appointed teachers (Shaykh) within the Mevlevi Order.


Known as a powerful and much respected organisation during the Ottoman Empire, the Mevlevi Tariqah’s profile changed with the confinement of all Tekkes and Zawiyahs by law in 1925 during the establishment of modern Turkey and the loss of all assets as a consequence. Today the true kernel of the Mevlevi Tariqah as a religious path is relatively small and spread all over the world. In Turkey its expression is mainly seen in well-esteemed cultural activities such as classical music, Sema, fine arts and philosophical circles, whereas in Europe and North America it serves directly and openly a religious or spiritual purpose. In my speech I’d like to concentrate on the religious value of Hz. Mevlana’s works and messages, as seen from a western and particularly European point of view and in a European context.


When analyzing the spiritual needs of people we are immediately confronted with cultural and social questions, for it is the cultural and social environment that mostly influences the psychological patterns of an individual. Culturally and socially there are remarkable differences between Orient and Occident, and these differences reflect in the way we react to and reflect on religious messages. Whereas many oriental people have an understanding of the western way of thinking and feeling, the opposite is less obvious: there are very few Westerners who really understand the oriental way of reflection and feeling. I find it much easier to discuss with oriental people about western values than to discuss with Westerners about oriental values, and I feel a lot of esteem for those few who see clearly in both worlds, such as the great philosopher Mohammad Iqbal.