Tuesday’s Turkish Tradition: Whirling Dervishes



The Dervish is a Muslim religious man who is undergoing an apprenticeship of learning the profession that will bestow him with eternal livelihood. Whirling is one of the various methods, which is used by the Sufis (Islamic ascetics) to get closer to their revered Allah. Whirling Dervishes perform near the Mevlevi Museum in Konya in the annual Mevlana festival as well as in Istanbul. Dervishes wear tall, conical felt hats, white robes with full skirts and voluminous black cloaks above it. The hats symbolize the tombstones of their egos; white robes the shrouds of their egos and the black cloaks represent their tombs. At the beginning of the ceremony, the black cloak is discarded to signify their liberation from the attachments of this world. The whirling ritual of the Dervishes begins with a chanted prayer. Then a kettledrum sounds (symbol of divine order) followed by a musical improvisation on the “ney” or reed flute (symbol of divine breath). After this, the master bows, leads the Dervishes in a circle and then on reaching the head of the hall they bow to each other. On completion of three circles, the Dervishes drop their black clothes, approach the master with their arms folded on their breast and then after bowing, kissing his hand and receiving instruction, they spin out on the floor. While whirling, the Dervishes’ arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, turned toward the earth. The whirling of the Dervishes implies their renunciation of the worldly life to be reborn in union with God. It is sad to think that these men believe that this is a way to please God and get themselves to God but what they really need is the truth of the gospel and to know how to have true union with God! Please pray we will  be able to raise our support quickly and have an opportunity to see Dervishes come to Christ in Turkey!

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