Whirling Dervish

Turkey.  Sufism is an order of Islam founded by the Turkish theologian Rūmī in the thirteenth century.

When I was in Turkey in 2009, I was lucky enough to attend a service.  The congregation was super gracious.  I recall music and refreshments in their mosque hall.

When it came time for the service, I donned a scarf over my head and went with the women to the balcony level.  Men sit in the downstairs mosque and women sit in the balcony.  I was a bit unsure about this intrusion into their service, but I was heartily welcomed into the midst of the female congregants. They encouraged me to take photographs, which I share today.

There was a musical ensemble and a group of six male dancers. The English program said, “The fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve.”

“Fix-footed, the samisen provides a point of contact with this Earth through which the divine blessings can flow. Turning from right to left, he embraces all creation as he chants the name of Good within the heart.”

“In the fourth selam, the sheikh enters the circling dervishes, where he assumes the place of the sun in the center of the circling planets.”

They whirled so quickly yet never lost their balance. This is one of my strongest memories from my time in Turkey (Türkiye). I’m grateful to the Congregation for sharing this moment. –TMLL

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