In recent months, the world of Islam has shown it can be a revolutionary force, capable of toppling kings and influencing events throughout the rest of the world.
In recent months, the world of Islam has shown it can be a revolutionary force, capable of toppling kings and influencing events throughout the rest of the world. Turkey is one country where there has been a history of tension between Islam and the state, although recently a significant date was celebrated by Moslems who remembered a poet who preached peace.
The population of Turkey is mostly (98.2 percent) Moslem, and this town of Konya in Anatolia is the home of the significant Moslem Sect, the Mawlawiyah, sometimes known as the "Whirling Dervishes".
In Konya, Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, otherwise called Mawlana, revered as the greatest mystic poet of the Persian language, lived most of his life and died on December 17, 1273. He is buried in this mausoleum. And each year the death of the teacher of peace and tolerance is remembered with music and dancing.
After his death, his disciples became organised as the Mawlawiyah order, the so-called "whirling dervishes". Formerly, this ceremony was held by his followers wherever they gathered together but in 1925 a Turkish law prohibited all such activities. There had been strong rivalries between the numerous Dervish orders, and early this century they were politically active. But the secularising reform of Kemal Ataturk saw disadvantages in the continuation of the Dervish orders and their ritual and the Dervish orders in Anatolia were banned for 26 years until 1953, when the ceremony was again permitted, but only in December and only in Konya.
As a government concession to religious revival and to relieve the tension between the ardent Moslems and the westernised leaders in Ankara, the ceremony was revived and an audience was invited to a cinema in Konya for the first newly-authorised Mawlana ceremony. Since then, the event has become so popular that annually ever larger venues have been required.
This year (1979) is the seven hundred and sixth anniversary of the death of Mawlana. His doctrine advocated unlimited tolerance, reason, goodness and charity, and awareness through love.
His didactic epic, "Spiritual couplets" widely influenced Moslem mystical thought and literature. Looking through eh same eye on Moslem, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teachings have reached men of all creeds.