The Mawlaw'īyya /
Mevlevi Order (Turkish: Mevlevilik or Mevleviyye
Persian: طریقت مولویه) is a
Sufi order in
day Turkey) (capital of the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate) founded by the
followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th-century Persian
poet, Islamic theologian and
Sufi mystic.  The Mevlevi are also
known as the
Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of
whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God).
Dervish is a common
term for an initiate of the
Sufi path; the whirling is part of the
formal Sama ceremony and the participants are properly known as
UNESCO confirmed "The Mevlevi
Sema Ceremony" as amongst the
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
2 Origin of Sama
4.1 The Mevlevi Regiment
4.2 Since 1925
5 See also
7 External links
Model of a dervish studying
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The Mevlevi order was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his
death, particularly by his successor Hüsamettin Çelebi who decided
to build a mausoleum for their master, and then their master's son,
Baha al-Din Muhammad-i Walad (or Çelebi, Chelebi, meaning "fully
initiated"). He was an accomplished
Sufi mystic with great organising
talents. His personal efforts were continued by his successor Ulu Arif
The Mevlevi believe in performing their dhikr in the form of a "dance"
and musical ceremony known as the Sama, which involves the whirling,
from which the order acquired its nickname. The Sama represents a
mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to
the "Perfect". Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through
love, deserts his ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the "Perfect".
He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached
maturity and a greater perfection, able to love and to be of service
to the whole of creation.
Rumi has said in reference to Sama:
For them it is the Sama
of this world and the other.
Even more for the circle of dancers
within the Sama
Who turn and have, in their midst,
their own Ka'aba.
Origin of Sama
Mevlevi dervishes, 1887
The origin of Sama is credited to Rumi,
Sufi master and in whose name
Mevlevi Order was founded. The story of the creation of this
unique form of dhikr tells that
Rumi was walking through the town
marketplace one day, when he heard the rhythmic hammering of the
goldbeaters. It is believed that
Rumi heard the dhikr, "la elaha
ella'llah" in Arabic "لا اله الا الله", or in English,
"There is no god but Allah (The God)", spoken by the apprentices
beating the gold, and was so filled with happiness that he stretched
out both of his arms and started spinning in a circle. With that, the
practice of Sama and the dervishes of the
Mevlevi Order were born.
The Sama was practised in the samahane (ritual hall) according to a
precisely prescribed symbolic ritual with the dervishes whirling in a
circle around their sheikh, who is the only one whirling around his
axis. The Sama is performed by spinning on the Left foot. The
dervishes wear a white gown (tennure) (symbol of death), a wide black
cloak (hırka) (symbol of the grave) and a tall brown hat (kûlah or
sikke), symbol of the tombstone.
Sama ceremonies are broken up into four parts which all have their own
Naat and Taksim – Naat is the beginning of the ceremony where a solo
singer offers praise for the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The first part
is finished with taksim (improvisation in free rhythm) of the ney reed
flute which symbolises our separation from God.
Devr-i Veled – During the following Devr-i Veled, the dervishes bow
to each other and make a stately procession in single file around the
hall. The bow is said to represent the acknowledgement of the Divine
breath which has been breathed into all of us. After all the dervishes
have done this they kneel and remove their black cloaks.
The Four Salams – The Four Salams are the central part of Sama. The
samazens or whirling dervishes are representative of the moon and they
spin on the outside (sufi whirling) of the Sheikh who is
representative of the sun. They, as previously mentioned, spin on
their left foot and additionally, they have their right palm facing
upwards towards Heaven and their left hand pointing at the ground. The
four salams themselves are representative of the spiritual journey
that every believer goes through. The first one is representative of
recognition of God, the second one is recognition of the existence in
his unity, the third one represents the ecstasy one experiences with
total surrender and the fourth one, where the Sheikh joins in the
dance, is symbolic of peace of the heart due to Divine unity. After
the four salams, this part of the ceremony is concluded with another
Concluding Prayer – The fourth part of the ceremony is a recitation
from the Qu'ran and a prayer by the Sheikh and then the Sama is
Mevlevi dervishes whirling in Pera by Jean-Baptiste van Mour
The Mevlevi became a well-established
Sufi order in the Ottoman Empire
by realising a blood relationship with the Ottoman sultans when Devlet
Hatun, a descendant of
Sultan Veled married the sultan Bayezid I.
Mehmed I Çelebi became the next sultan, endowing the order,
as did his successors, with many gifts.
Mevlana Museum in Konya
Many of the members of the order served in various official positions
of the Caliphate. The centre for the Mevlevi order was in Konya, where
their 13th century guiding spirit, Jelaleddin al-
Rumi is buried. There
is also a Mevlevi monastery or dergah in Istanbul, in the Beyoğlu
district, where the sama is performed and accessible to the public.
Ottoman Empire era, the Mevlevi order produced a number of
famous poets and musicians such as Sheikh Ghalib, Ismail Ankaravi
(both buried at the Galata Mevlevihanesi and Abdullah Sari. Vocal and
instrumental music, especially the ney, plays an important role in the
Mevlevi ceremony and famous composers such as Dede Efendi wrote music
for the ayin (cycle of Mevlevi ceremonial music). The ayin text is
normally a selection from the poetry of Rumi. If one buys a CD of
Sufi music, chances are it will be a Mevlevi ayin.
During the Ottoman period, the Mevlevi order spread into the Balkans,
Egypt and Palestine, especially in Jerusalem. The
Meša Selimović wrote the book "The
Dervish and Death"
about a Mevlevi dergah in Sarajevo.
Mevlevi Order has some similarities to other
Dervish orders such
Qadiri (founded in 1165), the
Rifa'i (founded in 1182), and the
The Mevlevi Regiment
During World War I, the Mevlevi Regiment served in
Syria and Palestine
under the command of 4th Army. A battalion of some 800 dervishes was
formed December 1914 in
Konya (the Mucahidin-i Mevleviyye) and was
sent to Damascus. Another battalion of regular recruits was added at
the end of August 1916, and together they formed the Mevlevi Regiment.
This unit did not fight until the end of the Palestine campaign and
was disbanded at the end of September 1918.
Mustafa Kemal met with members of the
Mevlevi Order in 1923 before its
institutional expression became illegal.
Part of a series on Islam
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Mevlevi Order was outlawed in
Turkey in September 1925 by the new
Turkish Republic. The
Dervish lodge in Konya eventually became
the Mevlana Museum.[clarification needed]
It is believed that since 1925, Rumi's descendants still practiced
their unique form of dancing zikr, called "sama" by the Mevlevi. In
1953, the Mevlevi were given partial rights to perform sama in public
but primarily because it was important as a tourist attraction for
Turkey, but as a
Sufi order they are currently still banned. In
1971, they performed in London with
Kâni Karaca as lead singer. In
1972, they toured North America for the first time with Kâni Karaca,
Ulvi Erguner, and
Akagündüz Kutbay among the musicians. They
performed in France, for
Pope Paul VI, and at the Brooklyn Academy of
Music and other venues in the
United States and
Canada - under the
direction of the late Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede. In 2007 and
2012 the order initiated tours of the U.S. where they performed to
sold-out crowds in places such as Denver, San Francisco, Portland, and
The order is still active in Turkey, currently led by the 20th
great-grandson (22nd generation descendant) of Rumî, Faruk Hemdem
Çelebi. Tourists can attend ceremonies in
Istanbul and Konya.
François Pétis de la Croix
^ Julia Scott Meisami, Forward to Franklin Lewis,
Rumi Past and
Present, East and West, Oneworld Publications, 2008 (revised edition)
Sema of the Mevlevi".
Mevlevi Order of America. Archived from
the original on 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
^ "The Mevlevi
Sema Ceremony". UNESCO. Archived from the original on
April 26, 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ Sheikh Abdul Azziz (1 Apr 2014). "
Schools of Sufism:
Rumi and the
and the International Association of Sufism. Retrieved 8 May
^ "Mevlevi - LookLex Encyclopaedia". Looklex. Retrieved 8 May
^ "Mevlevi Australia". Mevlevi Australia. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. "Mevlana Celaleddin
Rumi - The Whirling
Dervishes, Sema". The
Rumi Family. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ See Omer Tarin, 'The Turkish Mevlevi Sufis and their Retrenchment in
Turkey from the time of Ataturk onwards', in Anderoon: A
Journal of the Inner Self, 1999, Vol 32, No 2, p. 42
^ Galata Mevlevihanesi
^ Yavuz Özedmir (2013-11-18). "T.C. Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi
Resmi Web Sitesi". Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi Müdürlüğü.
Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ "About the Mevlevi Order". International Mevlana Foundation.
Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ "Mevlana Celaddiin-i Rumi, 13th century Muslim saint and Anatolian
Rumi Family. Retrieved 8 May 2014. Mevlana
Celaleddin Rumi, the great Anatolian philosopher and the father of the
^ Koentges, Chris. "13 Things The
Whirling Dervishes Can Teach You
About Spinning". The Very Ethnic Project.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dervishes.
Galata Mevlevi Ensemble
Mevlevi Order of America