Mevlana and Sufism (1207-1273 )

Mevlana Celalettin Rumi is a 13th century philosopher and mystic of Islam who is known throughout the world for his exquisite poems and words of wisdom. The name Mevlana connotes to “our master” while Rumi relates to “the land of Rum”, or Anatolia, which is where he lived.

Mevlana was a Muslim, but not a Muslim of the orthodox type. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, Mevlana’s peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men of all sects and creeds. Mevlana was born on 30 September 1207 in Balkh, in present day Afghanistan. He died on 17 December 1273 in Konya, in present day Turkey. He was laid to rest beside his father and over their remains a splendid shrine, an emposing moseleum was erected. The Mevlana Moseleum is now a museum.Every 17 December, together with thousands of people from all around the world we celebrate Seb-i Arus, his ‘Wedding Day’ at this magnificient 13th century mausoleum.

Whirling Dervishes, Sema

The “dance” of the Whirling Dervishes is called Sema and is a part of the inspiration of Mevlana as well as part of the Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture.Sema represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to “Perfect”.Turning towards the truth, his growth through love, deserts his ego, find the truth and arrive to the “Perfect”. He returns from this spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation, to all creatures without discrimination of believes, races, classes and nations.

Sema ritual symbolizes a world united in love and keeping step with the world’s universal rotation. While one of their hands points to the sky, the other hand points to the ground meaning “Love from God spreads to the earth”. The spirit bursts forth from God and is immortal. The sound of the nay (a reed flute) tells of man’s longing to return to his initial source.He means that the universe is an endless place within the existence of God, and as a small part of the whole, man keeps that divine essence inside him by saying, “You who search for God, it’s you that you’re searching for….”

Come, no matter what you are,
Whether atheist or sun worshipper.
Whether you’ve backslid a thousand times,
Come, no matter what you are.

As we see, all mankind are brothers, and differences between religions do not square well with the divine presence. Mevlana attaches great importance to women and maintains that men and women are equal, saying, “The more you insist women should cover themselves up, the more you incite people’s desire to see them.

Mevlana was not only a great poet and philosopher but first and foremost he was a mystic, a spiritually touched man. His mind and heart had reached for heights and depths of the spiritual world. In his vision there were two universes which coincided in Man. The inner world was like an endless infinite ocean, which could only be felt and seen with the eyes of the heart, while the outer world was but like the passing foam which appears on the surface of the waves emenating from that ocean.

of the secret wine
all drank but just a sip-so as to become
so as to exist.
But I
drank barrels and barrels of that wine
so as to become
a mirror-pure.

Mevlana also integrated a dualist approach in his mind: In approaching issues pertaining to daily life he is a rationalist, but in approaching spiritual and mystical matters he recognizes only the mastery of the heart and emotions. According to him, the only way to approach absolute being is through love; and God’s love is everywhere, permeating everything. If one were to love another being in the name of God, one would find a pathway leading to the absolute. According to him everything in the universe, every being, even matter itself – all are but manifestations of God and exist in God and are united in the Absolute Being. Thus Mevlana views all existence as a united whole. In a sense, one could call his vision that of Unity Consciousness. This vision impelled Mevlana to transcend all differences and prejudices, and formed the basis of his immense tolerance and of his real and deep humanism.

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