“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings.” ― Rumi
The poet we call Rumi is known to Turks as Mevlâna, meaning 'Our Master'— Rumi simply refers to the land of Rum, where he lived. Celaleddin Muhammed Rumi was a Persian poet, philosopher, theologian, and Sufi mystic who lived in the 13th Century Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. After his death, his followers founded the Mevlevi sect of the whirling dervishes in Konya, where he is entombed in what is now the Mevlana Museum. Formerly a dervish lodge, the building was reopened as a museum in 1927, after a law passed in the new Republic of Turkey that banned all dervish orders, with the aim to secularize the nation.
The streets of Konya were empty, save for a few shopkeepers tending to their displays, and it seemed upon entering the museum, that all the people missing outside had come to see the old lodge and Rumi's tomb. Where dervishes once slept and meditated, the cosy cells now house displays of musical instruments, religious paraphernalia and clothing, and beautifully hand-painted texts.
The curves of Arabic script are their own poetry, and whether a page is tattooed with whispers of love and exultation or simply a list of supplies to buy from the market, I love each letter. I have yet to read any of Rumi's poetry, but I have been told that his words teach tolerance and compassion.
It was forbidden to photograph the interior of Rumi's tomb, and I dared not sketch inside with so many people praying and paying their respects. I cannot remember the architectural terms to describe what I saw, but numerous sarcophagi of important dervishes led to the ornately draped, silvery tomb of their Mevlâna. The space was intimate, and glittered with colour.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” —Rumi