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Middle East Monica Dispatch

Mevlana Rumi:
Divine Love Throughout all Things

March 8, 2000

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Whirling, twirling, dancing to the heart's delight! A turquoise colored dome shines above the city of Konya, in central Anatolia, and as I look at it, I imagine it swirling and turning in my mind, just like the Mevlana Rumi. The dome seems alternately bright blue and bright green as I walk towards it. I am excited to see the Mevlana Rumi, whose final resting place is inside that dome.

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The "Green Dome" of the mausoleum
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Jalaluddin Rumi, also known as Celaleddin Rumi, is famous for his mystical poetry. He is also the inspiration for the "Mevlevi" order of the Whirling Dervishes. Rumi was born in modern-day Afghanistan in 1207, but because of the Mongol invasions, he left at the age of 13 with his parents to Anatolia and eventually settled in Konya. Anatolia's name at the time was Rum, or Country of the Romans, so his surname became Rumi. His title, "Mevlana," means "Our Master" or "Our Guide."

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Inscriptions inside the entrance
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As I walk inside the courtyard of the Mevlana Muzesi (Mevlana Museum), I take off my boots and walk in sock-covered feet through the entranceway. This building dates from the Seljuk era, with rooms added on through Ottoman times: both Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleyman the Magnificent supported the Mevlevi order. Women inside cover their hair as a sign of respect, and I not only have a headscarf on but also a woolen scarf, gloves, and two fleece jackets: it's quite cold here in wintertime!. Directly inside the museum you see inscriptions on the walls, all delicately embroidered or stitched and framed.

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An invitation to all
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Inside the air is sweetly still, and young people, old people, men and women and children all walk reverently and quietly through the main hallway, where sarcophagi of Rumi's followers are resting, with large turbans placed upon them as symbols of spiritual authority. One young man passes next to the Nisan Tasi, a large jug in which April rainwater was collected. The Mevlana's turban would be dipped in that water and then dabbed on people who were seeking physical or emotional healing.

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Boy at the Nisan Tasi
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Rumi passed away on December 17, 1273. Many think of this night as his wedding night, when he finally joined in union with his Allah. After Rumi's death, his son organized the Mevlevi, or Whirling Dervish order, which exists today throughout the former Ottoman Empire. Kavitha even attended a ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes in Egypt. Inside the museum, Rumi's sarcophagus is in a corner, covered with velvet and a large turban. All who pass by pause in silence a moment, or bow their heads as a sign of respect. I see one woman mouthing words and touching her prayer beads. Rumi's life and death affected many people, regardless of their religion, and this museum, housing his tomb and honoring his life, continues to affect the many that choose to visit.

Vocabulary

saarcophagi - a stone coffin, often inscribed or decorated with sculpture
reverently - feeling in awe, filled with respect and emotion

Rumi's collection of works was written in Persian, and they are all about love...Love....LOVE. He explores divine love as a way to communicate, between everything and everybody. This theme carries through today. As I exit through display cases of rugs and Korans and banners and embroidery celebrating his life, I meditate on the words that the Mevlana used to encourage people, "Come, come, whoever, whatever you may be, come."

Outside, there is a fountain. I pour out a cup of water and as I drink it, it refreshes my thirst. There is a poster nearby with the "Seven Advice of Mevlana," and as I read it, it refreshes my thoughts. Here, I share it with you:

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Rumi's sarcophagus
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In generosity and helping others be like a river. In compassion and grace be like sun. In concealing others' faults be like night. In anger and fury be like dead. In modesty and humility be like earth. In tolerance be like a sea. Either exist as you are or be as you look.

For more information about Rumi, read Kavitha's dispatch, look his writings up on the Web or at your local bookstore.

Monica

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...monicaflores@bigfoot.com
 

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Monica - Father of the Nation, Builder of the Capital
Abeja - London, Paris, New York, Istanbul
Jasmine - Black History Month Continues...Dare to Dream!

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