Introduction to Sema, October 2015 in Canada and USA

By Peter Hüseyin Cunz, Toronto and NY State, October 13th – 20th 2015

Good evening dear ladies and gentlemen! 

Let me start with the first four verses of the well-known masterpiece of poetry, the Masnawi, containing over 25’000 mystical verses dictated by Celaleddin Rumi and recorded in writing by his pupils in the 13th century. The teaching within our Sufi-Order – the Mevlevi-Order – is based on the messages of this saint and spiritual master. His interpretation of the Koran and of the Islamic tradition is highly humanistic and modern. Also traditional Muslims consider him to be one of the greatest saints in Islam. Today he is also much appreciated and loved by non-Muslims. Books with scientific translations and interpretations as well as with romantically adapted translations of his poems are nowadays much in demand. 

Listen to the reed-flute, how it is complaining!
It is telling about separations, saying,
“Ever since I was parted from the reed field,
men and women have lamented in my cries.

I want a heart which is torn, torn from separation,
so that I may unfold the pain of yearning.
Anyone who has remained far from his root,
seeks a return to the time of his union.

(Masnawi 1:1-4)

What did Rumi express in these verses? Please allow me to give some guidance:

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What I learned from Şefik Can Efendi (January 2015)

Speech by Peter Hüseyin Cunz

10th Commemoration of Honourable Şefik Can Dede
Konya, 23rd and 24th of January 2015

Dear Chair-Lady, dear Maqam Çelebi, dear Ms President of Şefik Can International Mevlânâ Education and Cultural Association, dear Governor of Konya, dear Mayor of Konya, honourable Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for inviting me to this event and allowing me to address a few words in remembrance of Şefik Can Efendi. It means a lot to me for the simple reason that I learned a lot from this remarkable man. I met him first in 1996 and many other times in Istanbul and in Switzerland. I thank Allah for these opportunities.

Next to Şefik Can Efendi I always felt a balance of authority and gentleness. With the time I understood that these qualities originated from his authenticity and not from being bound with his nafs. Şefik Can Efendi went through an academic and military career, and until his old age he had clear opinions on political, social and cultural questions. But it was certainly through his engagement with Hz. Mevlana’s messages that his opinions ceased to be an expression of his nafs. In his argumentation I recognized an immense knowledge with free and clear reasoning.

From time to time we invited Şefik Can Efendi to visit us in Switzerland. His sohbets were always heart-warming and elevating, and we were left with a treasure of remembrance and knowledge. Once we celebrated Sema, and of course I asked him to be Postnişin by using my destar. And we had to smile because the destar was too big for him, and we had to find a way of fixing it on his head. Şefik Can Efendi had a great sense of humour also about himself. Vanity was non-existent.

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Public Sema in Zurich, Switzerland

Dear reader, you could find the information about our upcoming public Sema and Sheb-i Aruz ceremonies 2023 on the German version of this website by going to “Aktivitäten / Activities” in the menubar.
Date : Sunday, 18th of September 2022
Time: 14:00 Introduction to the Ritual 14:30 Dhikr and Sema-Ritual 15:30 Encounter with tea and cake
Place: City-Church ‘Open St. Jakob’ in Zürich (at the tram-stop “Stauffacher”)
   
 
 
 

Speech of Celal Çelebi at the Vatican (September 2014)

Your Eminence, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen.

Since Turkey is a part of Anatolia we know that we are also former citizens of the Great Roman Empire. We are aware that, Tutte le strade portano a Roma. Tonight, as the 23rd generation descendant of Jelaleddin Rumi and a representative of the 800 year old tradition, I am glad to be with the distinguished and honoured members of your great society.

In his book On Heaven and Earth, His Holiness Pope Francis underlined the importance of dialogue and said: “In order to establish dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defences, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.” First of all, we have come here to build a better dialogue between East and West. Rumi says “I am neither of the East nor of the West; no boundaries exist in my heart.”

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Acting with and in relation to Hz. Mevlânâ’s message in Europe (December 2010)

Workshop in Konya, 16 December 2010

Peter Hüseyin Cunz,

 

1. Our organization and purpose

We are acting as the official Mevlevi Order (tarîqah) in Switzerland, following its tradition and purpose under the auspices of the International Mevlânâ Foundation. The members meet every Thursday evening in Zurich for ritual prayer (salâh, nâmâz), the remembrance of God (Dhikr Allâh), the whirling (Semâ) and teaching (sohbet). 4 times per year a full Semâ is celebrated in a church with access to friends and newcomers who wish to celebrate with us. In spring we organize a 3-days workshop together with members of the Mevlevi Order from Germany and the Netherlands. In summer we organize a hike in the mountains for our families and children.

2. Assertion of challenges and experiences

We are embedded in a European cultural environment with its strong and advanced academia in theology, philosophy, orientalistic and social science, and – as contrast – a public with limited knowledge on Islam. Animated by populist parties Europe faces political debates on social problems with immigration also from Islamic countries, leading to strong and negative emotions about Islam. These debates give prominence to the European values of secularization, democracy, the right for free expression, citizenship and laic ethical values with equal rights for men and women. Any claim contradicting such values are rejected, and therefore concepts of Islamic Law (sharî’ah, Sunnî schools of law) contradicting to these values are heavily criticized.

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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)

 

 

 

 

Links to Mevlevi websites of English language

The family Çelebi:  www.mevlana.net  

 

puttygen , palatino; font-size: 12pt;”>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