North Cyprus Travel | A Suggestion for a Weekend in Turkey

rumiNorth Cyprus Travel | A Suggestion for a Weekend in Turkey

In my little article on Catalhoyuk [ ] I explained how it was quite easy, after taking the sea crossing from Girne to Tasuku, to reach the city of Konya on Turkey’s central Anatolian plain. If you decide to stay there, arrange for your visit to include a weekend so that you can enjoy a memorable experience. Every Saturday evening at 8 pm, at the Mevlana Cultural Centre, there is performance by the Whirling Dervishes. There is no charge for entrance and there is usually plenty of room (except in early to mid-December when the annual Mevlana celebrations take place). The Dervish or ‘Mevlevi Sema’ Ceremony lasts for about two hours and, when I attended last year, I found it quite hypnotic, moving and thought provoking.

Konya is also the home of the Mevlana Museum which holds the Rumi Mausoleum and the tombs of his son and other important originators of the Sufi Mevlevi religion, which was founded after Rumi’s death. The Sufi Mevlevi Order is still regarded by many Muslims as heretical, its traditions of music and dancing being banned in all mosques. Jahal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (or Rumi as he is known in the West) was the original Whirling Dervish and is regarded by people of all nationalities as possibly the greatest mystic poet of all time. He was born in the thirteenth century in Central Asia (today’s Tajikistan) but lived much of his life in Konya, then part of the Persian Seljuk Sultanate.

Unlike within some other Islamic sects, where non-Muslims are regarded as infidels, Rumi’s religious ideas were ecumenical. The centre-point of his teaching was love. He welcomed as followers, people of all faiths or none. He said –

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”

One of his poems translates –

‘The dark thought,

The shame,

The malice,

Meet them at the door laughing

Invite them in,

Be grateful

For whoever comes,

Because each has been sent

As a guide from beyond’.

We could do with a Rumi in many places today, Syria for example (or even Northern Cyprus?). The Mevlana Cultural Centre is next door to the Konya Hilton Garden Hotel.

Michael Greening

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