a community of lovers
A few of us have been lucky enough to visit Konya recently and we wanted to share some highlights from our trip.
Rumi Hotel is located next to the Mevlana Museum (where Mevlana is buried alongside his family). You get a great view from most of the hotel rooms and especially the roof-top terrace restaurant…what a great way to start breakfast!
Traditionally, you pay your respects to Shams-i-Tabriz before visiting Mevlana. Shams’ mosque is a short ten minute walk from the Museum and is situated in a park. The mosque itself is quite small and intimate, and seems to vibrate with power that one can only associate with the being of Shams – the Sun.
Mevlana’s tomb has been turned into a museum but the grounds and building retain a hushed atmosphere. This magnificent building is the centre of Konya and can be seen from most directions. The famous Rose Garden surrounds the grounds, and around the garden are the Dervish Cells that were used to house new members who joined the tekkye (sufi lodge). Traditionally, newcomers would be housed in these cells for the 1001 days training period. These tiny cells now display memorabilia from the tekkye days – clothes, music, manuscripts – and provide a wealth of information from the days of the living tekkye.
On entry to the tomb, you can hear the beautiful music of the ney flute that plays all day long. Mevlana’s tomb is surrounded by beautiful calligraphy and is always busy with visitors, but it never seems to feel too busy…the feeling at Mevlana’s seems to be of joy and love, and people gently float through, paying their respects and viewing the few items on display next to the semahane (whirling hall). A few benches are provided for those who wish to sit a while and do prayers and zhikr.
Next to the Museum is the International Mevlana Foundation, run by Mevlana’s family. The current president of the Foundation is Faruk Hemdem Celebi (22nd grandson of Mevlana and the current Celebi), and the vice president is his sister, Esin Celebi Bayru (22nd granddaughter of Mevlana). We were lucky enough to meet Esin Celebi Bayru and her husband, Osman Bayru, during our visit to the Foundation.
Celebi is the title given to the Mevlevi leaders and family of Mevlana who safe-guard the tradition. Among Anatolian people Celebi also means ‘gentleman’, ‘well-mannered’ and ‘courteous’. After Mevlana’s death his pupil Husameddin Celebi was offered the post. Later it became a tradition to select a Celebi among the male members of Mevlana’s family. Faruk Hemdem is the 33rd Celebi to occupy the post. For more information on the Celebi line, see here.
On our final day in Konya, we went to Shams’ mosque. It was very quiet and a woman was praying in the mihrab (the semicircular niche at the front of a mosque that indicates the direction to Mecca). Usually, the women sit at the back of the mosque or upstairs. We decided to take the rare opportunity to pray at the front. The caretaker was wandering in and out and did not seem overly bothered at this break in ‘traditional protocol’. As we finished our prayer another lady joined the front row…and another…until there was a whole row of women praying at the front. We turned around and realised that the men had started praying in the women’s section! This beautiful and surprising turn of events continued until an elderly man joined the row of women at the front. For a brief moment it looked like mixed prayer had been achieved in Shams’ mosque…and then the women finished their prayers and got up. Normal service resumed and the men came forward. But it felt like a beautiful message from Shams, that equality, love and unity can, and will, be achieved.
We are blessed to know this community, may we continue to be blessed to know Hazreti Mevlana and Hazreti Shams.
Haqq Dost! Huuu…
See more pictures on our facebook page.
~Uzma Taj & Saimma Dyer
Konya, November 2013