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Islam / Orientations/ Sufism /
Turkish: Mevleviyah
Arabic: mawlawīya

Mevlevi dervishes, or Whirling dervishes, Istanbul, Turkey.
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Mevlevi dervishes, or Whirling dervishes, Istanbul, Turkey.

In Islam, Sufi order (tariqa) headquartered to Konya, Turkey, founded by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi in the 13th century. He was known to his followers as "Mevlana", from Turkish meaning "Our guide", hence the name of the order.
The Mevlevi are mainly known as Whirling Dervishes, due to their unique style of dancing dhikr, known as sema. The purpose of the whirling dance is the same as with most other Sufi orders practicing dhikr: The achievement of nearness to God. Through the dance, the sufis pass through certain stages, where the ego is left behind, truth is realized and perfection achieved at the end.
The sema dance is performed spinning on the right foot.
The Mevlevi order has through history produced famous poets and musicians. It is especially with music that the Mevlevi have achieved influence in Turkey, having shaped much of the country's traditional music.
The Mevlevi order has spread to Syria and Egypt, where it is known by its Arabic name, "mawlawi".
In modern times, the Mevlevi order in Konya has been outlawed in Turkey, later permitted to perform sama to the entertainment of tourists, usually limited to certain times through the year.

15th century: Mevlevi order grows to control the region of Konya.
17th century: Mevlevi is introduced in Constantinople.
1925 September Mevlevi is, together with other Sufi orders, outlawed by the new republican regime of Turkey. Mevlevi would survive in a few strongholds in Syria.
1954: The Mevlevi are partially allowed by the Turkish authorities, mainly due to its value as a tourist attraction.

By Tore Kjeilen