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12 December 2017 / Culture

Konya and Rumi: Reaching for Spiritual Peace

Mention spiritual peace and the essence of being at one, and most people will mention the timeless, world-renowned Buddha. Yet, hardcore spiritualists will also pay homage to Rumi, and even though most people do not associate with the name, they will have read or heard his life quotes.

Who was Rumi?

Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, and his legacy shines through in his work that transcends social boundaries caused by race, religion, and culture. Many people, regardless of their creed and beliefs find spiritual peace in his poems of which the fundamental essence focuses on the heart, soul and mind.


Indeed, in America, Rumi is the best-selling poet of all time, even though many Americans do not know or recognise his name.

Born in present-day Afghanistan, Rumi (full name Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi) was asked by Sultan 'Ala' al-Din Kayqubad of the Seljuq empire to move to present day Konya in Turkey, where he practised Sufiism, a branch of Islam defined by its profound teachings of looking inwards towards one soul.

Famous Quotes by Rumi

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

“What you seek is seeking you.”

Rumi was also a scholar and philosopher. Such was the wisdom yet simplicity of his teachings, upon his passing, his followers founded the Mevlevi Sufi order, that many travellers and tourists visiting Turkey recognise as the whirling dervishes.

Most notably known for their whirling ceremony called Sema in which they attempt to be at one with God, anyone intrigued by the order would do well to travel to Konya in the heart of the central Anatolian region. This is where the tomb of Rumi is, and every year, a two-week festival commemorates his life.


The Mevlana Museum of Konya, Turkey

The Mevlana Museum in Konya is also the mausoleum of Rumi. Upon his death, a lodge for whirling dervishes continued his work in honour of his memory. In 1923, the newly formed Turkish republic banned the Sufi order, and all activity ceased, but in 1926, both the mausoleum and lodge reopened to the public as a museum.

Entering the museum through the main gate, visitors walk into a courtyard and pass by the whirling dervish rooms before entering the tomb gate leading into the mosque and mausoleum section.

Rumi’s tomb, engrained with verses from the Quran, sits under the famous green dome alongside his father and son. In other rooms nearby, personal items owned by dervishes, from the 14th to 18th century including musical instruments, clothes and books are on display to the public, giving a marvellous insight into their simple lifestyle.

Although the museum is open all year round, the beginning of December sees people from many different countries descending on Konya for the annual 10-day Rumi festival of Konya. Such is the popularity; tickets sell out early, and hotels quickly run out of vacancies.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims attend the event, of which the main ceremony is twenty plus whirling dervishes performing Sema to feel love for oneself and inner peace of heart and mind.

Visiting Konya

Konya is in the central Anatolian region of Turkey and a great holiday when combined with a stay in nearby Cappadocia. All buses from Istanbul stop in the city, where you can book a one or two-night stay before heading on. Konya is not a typical tourist destination, and visitors should have a conservative dress sense.


An Alternative in Istanbul: Galata Mawlavi House Museum

If you want to know more about whirling dervishes or seeing the Sema ceremony, but cannot make it to Konya, there is an excellent alternative in the large city of Istanbul. From the outside, The Galata Mawlavi House Museum, sitting behind the tall walls on a narrow path seems far from impressive, yet it is a marvellous collection of personal items belonging to whirling dervishes over the years. Telling their story, through displays and information boards, the sema ceremony is also held in the beautiful central hall.


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