The City of the Great Mevlana, RUMI!

Trip Start Apr 29, 2012
Trip End Aug 27, 2012

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Flag of Turkey  , Konya,
Thursday, August 9, 2012

Looking at the stars outside Rumi's Shrine complex

    I got from Antalya by bus today, super early. This time, my night bus accommodation trick didn't work out so well, I woke up in Konya still feeling the need for a few more hours of sleep. I held on for a bit though. I dropped off my bag at a locker at the bus station and grabbed a mini bus to the Mevlana museum.

    In the Mevlana museum rests the world famous Sufi poet and philosopher, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, poplularly known as Rumi, who is the founder of the Mevlevi Order of Sufi Islam.
The moment I arrived to the museum complex, I instantly felt a feeling of relaxation by the calming Semah music being played all around. So much so, that without thinking twice, I found a nice park bench and slept for a few hours.

    After I woke up, I went directly to the Mevlana museum. Personally speaking, it was the most interesting museum I have seen so far in Turkey! It contained details of Rumi's philosophy, the daily lives of the dervishes in the Semah lodge, amazingly preserved Islamic artifacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman Eras, and above all else, an indescribable spiritual energy that was simply heart trembling.

    This was not your average museum, for it contained the grave of Rumi himself and was where he and his followers used to perform the Semah ritual. It used to be a dervish lodge, where dervishes lived, learned Islam, and participated in rituals unique to the Mevlevi Order, such as the Semah. By the way, a dervish is like a monk or a holy man.
    Also interesting was to see how a new dervish was initiated into the Mevlevi Order. The new dervish had to show his renunciation of the world, his desire to be part of the order, and have within him a proper temperament of patience and wisdom. If he did not meet all of these criteria, his shoes would be placed the other way around when exiting the lodge indicating that he is no longer welcome to be part of the lodge. When the dervish was initiated into the Order, he would first have to do menial tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and buying groceries, to destroy the ego.

    When the dervish used to go shopping for groceries, he used to always carry with him a set of steel tongs in his waist belt. This would indicate to the merchants of the bazaar that this man is a holy man and they would not waste his time with useless blabber, but give him a fair price and have him be on his way.

    The Mevlevi Order became so popular that it reached the level of a religious and ceremonial institution in medieval Anatolia. Dervishes would give advice to both layman and king, but themselves never hold governmental office. Also dervishes were prevented from begging in the Mevlevi Order so many dervishes used to accept gifts but never directly ask for anything.
Leaving the Mevlana museum, I was overcome with a feeling of tranquility. I am not a superstitious person, but I do believe something special lies in that complex. If you have a desire to understand Islamic spirituality, then a visit to the Mevlana museum is a definite must.
As a city, Konys is quite busy and non-touristy, which is good for seeing Turkish people in their "element". I really liked it because I prefer cities that have a good mix of sites to see but also of people living day-to-day lives.

    Around Konya, there is an amazing tile museum, which describes, in detail, ancient tile making. In the museum were some excavated tiles from the Seljuk era and it confirmed my view of how the original Seljuk Turks must have look liked. They looked more like semi-Mongoloid central Asians, kind of like Uzbeks, than modern-day Turkish people. Which makes sense as the Seljuks came from their ancestral homeland on the Central Asian Steppe and immigrated and conquered Anatolia, gradually mixing in, Turkicizing, and Islamizing the region as the time went by.

    I loved Konya as a city and it's a bit unfortunate that I only had a day to spend here. If you want a neat place to come relax and just meditate, come to Konya!

Off to Cappadocia.
Till next time,
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