‘All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know.’
This quote by the world-renowned poet Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi meticulously sums up the principal aim of the swirling dance performed by devoted dervishes. Also known as the sema, the whirling dervishes momentarily leave this world as they transcend the limits of the physical world to experience the love of God.
Whilst whirling dervishes are a symbol of quintessential Sufism, the tranquil act of spinning tirelessly whilst resting one’s head symbolises more than just a visual spectacle. This simple yet remarkable gesture – which dates back 700 years – is a manifestation of what Rumi described as a pathway to God.
The teachings and poems of Rumi have influenced generations for hundreds of years and many have worked tirelessly to preserve his teachings. One such example of this is the efforts of the Rumi Revival initiative, which seeks to invite the world to an evening of enchanting spirituality.
The Rumi Revival event in the Stoller Hall in Manchester focused on the theme, Longing For Love, intending to give attendees a chance to reconnect with the timeless traditions of Rumi. Beginning with a heart-rendering recitation of Surah Duha by Mikhaeel Mala, the event revealed itself with a Mawlawiyyah Dhikr session which was followed by the mellifluous voice of Armin Muzaferija. But above all, the highlight of the transformational event was the spectacular display of the sema by the world-renowned Bosnian whirling dervishes.
Cladded completely in white and whirling as if in a complete trance, the act of swirling whilst their dress billowed was a symbol of connecting to Allah. As I watched in utter amazement, I could not help but feel spiritually captivated by the splendid performance. With the swirling dance being a part of the Mevlevi order for hundreds of years, it has stood the test of time and has influenced many from around the world.
Their tombstone-like hats in reality represent a tombstone of their ego whilst the white skirt acts as the shroud of their ego. Completely entranced by the well-preserved ritual, the audience was left charmed as the dervishes kept spinning whilst the name of Allah was constantly chanted by the singers. Their right hands were raised to the heavens to seek God’s blessings whilst their left hand was pointed downwards symbolising the passing down of God’s blessings to the world. As I kept watching this jaw-dropping spectacle, I kept wondering about the immersive experience of this intense form of meditation.
Get Involved With Revive
The Rumi Revival initiative was developed by the renowned charity organisation, Revive. As well as being engaged in humanitarian aid projects across Bosnia, Syria and Yemen, Revive also conduct spiritual tours in Bosnia and Konya. What’s more, with a network of reputable scholars, the charity organisation have also set up Darul Arqam Educational Trust which disseminates Islamic knowledge through online courses. To learn more and get involved, visit reviveda.org
Main Image Credit: Rumi Revival
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]