“Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes”

hanging my focus away from Christianity I discovered the Sufi order of Mevlevi, referred to as the Whirling Dervish.  I felt that I had finally found a method of meditation that uses the practice of whirling as a form of “remembrance of God”.  The Mevlevi Whirling Dervish order was founded in 1273 by the followers of the great poet Rumi after his death.

The story of the creation of this unique form of dhikr (remembrance of God) tells that Rumi was walking through the town marketplace one day, when he heard the rhythmic hammering of the goldbeaters. It is believed that Rumi heard the dhikr “There is no god but Allah (The God), spoken by the apprentices beating the gold.  He was so filled with happiness that he stretched out both of his arms and started spinning in a circle. 

Sama is performed by spinning on the left foot.  The dervishes wear a white gown (tenure) (symbol of death), a wide black cloak (hirka) (symbol of the grave) and a tall brown hat (sikke), symbol of the tombstone.

As I researched further into this peaceful inner-seeking spiritual practice I discovered that they have been banned in their land of origin.  Turkey does not now allow them to have their places of worship.  However, they are allowed to perform at Turkish tourist locations.  I read that one of these dervishes “performs” nightly in a Turkish club.  Asked how he felt whirling before foreigners, he only said, “that when he is performing his meditation he is completely focused inward.”       

Somehow while looking for a religious practice of peace and tranquility to counter my anger with Christianity, I felt I was successful.  Instead, prejudice and misunderstanding appeared.  I did discover that this Mevlevi Whirling Dervish religious practice is alive in the U.S.  Women are now invited to become initiates.  Also, the robes are made of additional colors to the traditional white.

“Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes”

26"H x 20" W

Acrylic paints, gold leaf, inks, pastels, oil pastels on Bristol Board

Photo by Lance Kuehne

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