December 16, 2013

The Mystics are Gathering in the Streets - Rumi by Duncan Mackintosh

 Whirling Dervishes mark 740th anniversary of the death of Mevlana

"Whirling Dervishes mark 740th anniversary of the death of Mevlana" by Oleksandr Rupeta, Demotix, December 16:
The 740th anniversary of the death of the Sufi mystic Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi was commemorated in Konya by the world renown dancers The Whirling Dervishes.
The 740th Wedding Night (Source: AnadoluJet Magazine):
Philosopher and Sufi mystic Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi’s 740th anniversary of passing away to eternity will be commemorated with special Şeb-i Arus or “The Wedding Day” activities in Konya. The commemoration will begin on December 17, 2013 at 02 pm with “Waking the Lamps” ceremony and end with the Ayin-i Şerif (Supreme Ceremony) which will begin at Sama Hall the same day at 07 pm. The celebration program features lectures on the Masnavi, conferences, exhibitions, music performances, symposia, poetry performances and panels.
Excerpts from, "Who threatens Rumi’s heritage?" by Riada Ašimović Akyol, Al-Monitor, December 16:
Last week, Istanbul hosted the “Seb-i Arus” celebration, in honor of the 13th century poet, mystic and master of the Mevlevi Sufi order, Mawlana Jalaleddin Rumi. Politicians of the highest ranks including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign diplomats joined the annual celebration. Spiritual music accompanied recitals of Mevlevi philosophy, while dervishes performed the “Sema,” or whirling ritual. On Dec. 17, a magnificent closing night of “Seb-i Arus” is expected to take place in Konya, one which will see Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in attendance.

Since Rumi believed that death is birth into a new life and reunion with God, the anniversary of his death became the annual occasion for a birthday celebration. Hence, the name of the celebration "Seb-i Arus," which means wedding night, or when lovers unite.

Rumi, the man on whom all these rituals are based, was born in Balkh (now part of Afghanistan), but spent most of his life in Konya, in the central Anatolia region of Turkey, where he died in 1273. Among what many agree is the greatest work of both Islamic mysticism and Persian literature is his six-volume spiritual poem Masnavi Ma’navi (Spiritual Couplets), each volume of which is made up of about 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. Last year, Konya’s mayor proudly stated that Masnavi Ma'navi has been translated into 22 languages.

While the perceptions of Rumi’s teachings vary across the world, they inspire people for benevolence, love and tolerance. According to Ibrahim Gamard, a California-based sheikh of the Sufi Mevlevi order, "There continues to be a strong interest in Sufism [in the United States and the West], but this is because it is presented as a type of mysticism that is not dependent upon Islam and which transcends particular religions.” Therefore, compared to other commercialized books, Garnard's book Rumi and Islam (2004) did not sell very well, though he still claimed, “By reading even the most popularized Rumi books, Americans are learning about many traditional Muslim values and teachings of wisdom.”
Numbers show at least huge commercial incentives for those who choose to ignore the importance of the authenticity of historic remnants. Besides spiritual value, there has also been global commercialization of Rumi as an increasingly lucrative brand. The Mevlana Museum attracted 900,000 visitors during the first half of 2013 and ranks second on the list after the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Tickets sell fast, and hotels in Konya operate at full capacity during the week of the Rumi celebrations.

Economic gains on the side, Konya authorities’ “relocation” of Rumi’s pool confirms a pressing need for more transparency, accountability, improved communication and education on Turkish cultural heritage. A sacred memory also obliges that the material manifestations of history are respected and not forsaken.

On a more universal level, the quest for Rumi’s soul continues, reflecting conflicting attitudes. I believe Elif Safak was right when she observed in The New York Times, “… people like Rumi remind us that stereotypes and dogma are products of our minds. Behind all appearances, we are, and have always been, one.” In other words, while those conservative Muslims who emphasize that only the very dedicated can become true Mevlevis in terms of norms and rules are not wrong, they might be missing another point: Rumi’s heritage is unmistakably Islamic but is best protected when serving as a spiritual bridge that unites and opens hearts, while connecting Islam with the rest of humanity.
Video Title: The Mystics are Gathering in the Streets - Rumi by Duncan Mackintosh. Source: 108morris108. Date Published: August 11, 2012. Description:
Two short poems from Rumi - Also details of his shows at the Edinburgh festival.

Duncan Mackintosh is Britain's best reciter of Rumi!