Known to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the
Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century.
The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment.
They survive today as a cultural brotherhood.
They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred
rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a
serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer
trance to Allah.
Mevlevi believed that during the sema the
soul was released from earthly ties, and able to freely and
jubilantly commune with the divine. Dervish literally means
"doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from this material
world to the spiritual, heavenly world. The Whirling Dervishes
played an important part in the evolution of Ottoman high
From the fourteenth to the twentieth
century, their impact on classical poetry, calligraphy and
visual arts was profound. Rumi and his followers integrated
music into their rituals as an article of faith. Rumi emphasized
that music uplifts our spirit to realms above and we hear the
tunes of the Gates of Paradise.
Whoever you may be, come
Even though you may be
An infidel, a pagan or a fire-worshipper, come
Our brotherhood is not one of despair
Even though you may have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.