Ramadan we were invited to a dinner at the Hotel Lambousa, newly revamped by GAU (Girne American
University) Chancellor Serhat Akpinar, and
brought into a new modern shape with a sensitive hand that left the old shelf
intact. With respect to the religious days, an orchestra and four Sufis,
whirling dervishes, were going to show us the various ceremonies and entertain
us with the beautiful sufi music which is a devotional music inspired by works
of Sufi poets such as Rumi. It is also part of the Sema ceremony of the
whirling dervishes. It includes old instruments such as the Ney. It is a rather
solemn, also romantic, sweet music that carries one away to other levels of existence,
music for meditation.
I listened to the music – alas, the loudspeakers were turned to highest level again
– I was thinking about the mysticism connected to this form of religion. We in
Cyprus have our own Sufi Branch in Lefke whose spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Qubrusi al-Haqqani had died
recently at the age of 92. Imam Shakir Alemdar, the vice grand mufti of Cyprus,
confirmed the death. The imam hailed the Cypriot-born Sheikh Nazim as one of
the world's great Islamic scholars and a spiritual leader to followers of
Sufism, which traces its origins to the roots of Islam itself about 1,500 years
It is known that Sheikh Nazim had received many guests at his
home in Lefke where he lived with his wife and four children, people from far
away countries who came to seek his advice.
Sufi mysticism has exercised an influence on poetry, music,
chansons, also pop, and poets like Rumi
have become well known all over the world. Sufism represents the peaceful and
apolitical form of Islam. In their philosophy they have included as basic rules
for humanity: Tolerance, purity, harmony in one self and with the rest of the
world, respect, humbleness and humility, sincerity, constancy and courtesy; we
are not important as individuals but the whole picture, we are to open
ourselves and seek the truth and to find answers. I found some quotes to the matter:
“There are two aspects of individual harmony: the
harmony between body and soul, and the harmony between individuals. All the
tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack
of harmony. And harmony is the best given by producing harmony in one's own
life. ” Hazrat Inayat
lesson to learn is to resign oneself to the little difficulties in life, not to
hit out at everything one comes up against. If one were able to manage this one
would not need to cultivate great power; even one's presence would be
“The happiness of the drop is to die in the
“It is the message, not the man, which
is important .” Idries Shah, The Sufis
Many world powers have recognised the values of the peaceful
Sufi Order and have approached them for help in matters of aggressive islamists
and they see them suited for interreligious dialogue and
intercultural harmonisation in democratic and pluralist societies; they regard
Sufism as a symbol of tolerance and humanism—non-dogmatic, flexible and non-violent. Many
politicians, scientists, economists and socialists regard them, potentially, as
the greatest hope for the West.
The meaning of the Sema Ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes is –
with my own words – to empty oneself of all rubbish, to become a clean
container for wisdom with a humble mind, and to reach the goal of improving and
using our abilities to the best.
We normal humans try to cope with daily life but have too many distractions
in order to reach this high goal - and it must not be religious at all; I have
this sensation when I take my easel right into the pampas and paint for hours,
it must be similar to the ceremony of the Sufis. I mean, whatever work you do
with love and passion, it will improve your skills, will make you grow and will
give you a sensational feeling of joy. Then, the question of discipline, the
discipline of small daily things, it will improve your body posture , your
concentration and will bring you into balance, or as they say in harmony with
yourself which has an immediate impact on others. It is living with nature as a link in the big
chain and we must reach this insight that we are nothing but a link in the
chain of nature, we cannot break out of it if we don’t want to destroy
Rumi, the famous Persian poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi
mystic, was born in 1207 and died 1273. His fame reaches wide, and here I must
recite some of his poems and quotes:
“Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!
“How doest thou know what sort of king I have
within me as companion?
Do not cast thy glance upon my golden face, for
I have iron legs”
“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth,
but find it in the hearts of men”
“Listen, O drop, give yourself up
and in exchange gain the Ocean.
Listen, O drop, bestow upon yourself this honour,
and in the arms of the Sea be secure.
Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An Ocean wooing a drop!
In God's name, in God's name, sell and buy at once!
Give a drop, and take this Sea full of pearls.”
Three things cannot be retrieved:
The arrow once sped from the bow
The word spoken in haste
The missed opportunity.
Everyone is overridden by thoughts;
that's why they have so much heartache and sorrow.
At times I give myself up to thought purposefully;
but when I choose,
I spring up from those under its sway.
I am like a high-flying bird,
and thought is a gnat:
how should a gnat overpower me?
There is nothing left for me to add.