The Zahuri Sufi Web Site
Thoughts on returning from the Seb-i-'Urus of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, December 2002.
The 'Philosophy' of Love
This year the 'Urs of Mevlana in Konya, Turkey, was, as in other years, at once very familiar
and very different. The familiarity comes in the external structure and features - the regular
visits to the shrines of Hz. Shems and Mevlana Rumi; the ziyarat to the shrines of the other
saints of Konya - Hz Sadruddin Konevi, Hz Ateshbazvelli, Hz Tavus Baba (Ana) and Hz.
Jamel Ali Dede, and to Mevlana's respected Doctor. It comes in the visits to the graveyard
where lies buried the body of my dear friend and guide Nuri Baba, and also so many other
perfected souls from Konya. It comes also in the marvellous great mosques where line upon
line of the pious and faithful kneel and prostrate to Allah in unison, and in the grand and
graceful Sema in the sport stadium. It comes in the sharing of the wine of love with regulars
and newcomers, in the 'turning' (whirling), in the soothing yet heart rending cry of the reed
flute; in the lively music and in the energetic repetition of God's name in the Zikr; in the
meeting of new friends in an atmosphere of social conviviality - especially in the Dergah of
Ali Baba the successor of Nuri Baba, but everywhere else too. It comes in the meals shared
around the circular 'trays' of Konya completed by a short Zikr and verses from the holy Qur'an
in the soothing mellifluous tones of Wahab Effendi.
And it comes in the climax of it all, the short simple ceremony known as Dua Torreni on 17th
December, in the shrine of Mevlana, packed to overflowing with pilgrims keen to pay their
respects and express their devotion by taking the one opportunity to kiss the silver plated step
in front to the sharine itself.
There was much exchanging of gifts too, but it was the gift of the love of Mevlana that was at
the heart of it all and which shone from the happy faces, light hearts and smiling eyes. I am
sure I will always carry with me the perfect living 'Christmas card' picture of Ali Baba and
his family standing in the deep snow outside their picturesque house in Mehram, waving as I
and two companions left, ploughing our way through the snow and gathering gloom of late
afternoon following a delightful meal with friends that was truly a meeting of hearts. It
occurred as a kind of farewell meal the day after the completion of the 'Urus - as Hafiz puts it
so eloquently - 'the musicians had left but the Sufis lingered on'.
The difference from year to year comes in how prepared we ourselves have become to
receive new inspirations, how much more spiritually 'cooked or burnt' by the intervening
twelve months. This year, as indicated, it came too in the form of the thick crisp snow that lay
a cold but beautiful white mantle over Konya.
Whilst attending the main 'Sema' (or public performance of the famous whirling Dervishes), I
was asked to talk, without preparation, twice for public TV. Once for an Italian TV film crew,
and once for Turkish TV. On both occasions a similar question was asked of me. 'Tell us what
you think or feel about the philosophy of love of Mevlana'. I spoke then about the unifying
effect of love on mankind - its potential to heal divisions and motivate individuals to work for
the goal of mankind's noblest destiny. I tried to reflect the simple but profound ideas that had
been at the heart of Zahurmian's untiring teaching and example, and was thus also able to make
sure that his name became heard publicly in the home town of the saint he greatly revered,
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.
I thought it would be fitting therefore to expand on this theme of the philosophy of love in my
'annual report' from the Urs of Mevlana for the members, guests, friends and visitors to the
Zahuri Web Site.
The term 'philosophy' can convey the idea of complex, abstract intellectual discussion and
thought that goes beyond the intellectual ability or interest of many. It can also be used to refer
to the expression of simple profound insights into the nature of reality and the state of man, his
needs and aspirations, his humanity and his spirituality, his degradation and his potential. It is
in this latter sense that I use and understand the word in the context of Mevlana.
Whole cultures can be distilled by an inspired representative. About the 'meditations' of the
great emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelias, it was once said that in the casket that contained his
writings, was the best, the very essence of what this mighty empire contributed to mankind.
The simple but profound poem 'If' by Rudyard Kipling may indeed serve as a similar epitaph
for the British Empire.
There are however some inspired souls whose voices rise above this, grand as it is, and that
shed their cultural ties altogether. Theirs is not the distillation or essence of what surrounds
them but comes from an altogether different level. Theirs is not a booming echo rippling round
the mountains but a 'still small voice' that transcends transcendence - that is in truth the origin
and source of all the echoes and images. It is concrete, clear, real, simple and true.
The philosophy of Mevlana and of other great exponents of mystical love and piety such as
Hazrat Abdul Qadir al-Jillani and Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti are of this nature. It is
true their thoughts and expressions have spawned an entire industry and culture - academics
study them, poets versify and praise them, calligraphers beautify their words, artists express
them, librarians collect their works, dancers are inspired by them, devotees and pilgrims visit
and pray to them, intellectuals expound them, sceptics criticise them, benefactors give
generously on their account, the poor and hungry are fed because of them, politicians associate
publicly with them, and merchants and traders make money from it all. Like a stone dropped in
water the ripples go on and on, reaching the further shores but they do not in the least effect the
reality of their cause.
When the souls of two such beings, I mean of course Hazrat Shems and Mevlana Rumi, met at
this level of reality the ripple became more like a 'spiritual' atomic explosion - the two could
not exist as other than one. From this reality waves of love spread through the soul of the
universe, like the emanating light and circle or globe of energy, expanding from the meeting of
invisible, minuscule atoms in the physical universe when two such collide.
And this reverberates through time as well as space since it transcends and is implicit in both.
It is this reverberation whose ripples we feel at the time of 'Urs, since it is the concrete
example of the unification with the Beloved that occurs at the time of leaving the mortal body
and uniting with the Soul of souls.
When this unification is reenacted within us we are uplifted, and its light spreads from within
and unifies the souls of which we are composed - I mean the soul of the intellect, the soul of
the heart, and the soul of the body, as well as the more concealed souls. We become bereft of
purpose other than the purpose (devoid of selfishness at any level) of allowing that light to
spread through us and in so doing to effect transformation in others. The souls, some more
dense, some less dense, that come into the orbit of such love become coloured by it and adopt
a similar motivation - this motivation expresses itself in the desire to serve others, to develop
mankind, to serve a higher purpose.
From this union is born social service, selfless behaviour, morality, caring, helping,
friendship, neighbourliness, forgivingness, politeness, sincerity, honesty, humility, kindness,
generosity, mutual help, charity, and the various qualities which give society hope, and which
establish true quality of life (or 'better living') whatever the material quality of the surrounding
conditions. They are the children, the offspring, of the love of the true mystics and prophets.
If the multiple injustices evident in life around us today at home and abroad - the abuse of
power, the inequality of material resources, starvation and waste sitting cheek by jowl,
humiliation and degradation visited by one group or individual upon another, abuse, violence,
murder, intolerance, narrow mindedness, the breakdown of social values, lust, greed anger,
terror, oppression, and the other multiple inequities that derive from our clinging to our lower
nature - are to be countered by any means at all it will be by love. Because it is love that
inspires us to build a fairer society. Fairer both in the sense of being more just, but also in the
sense of being more beautiful. The Turkish people have a marvellous term that corresponds
with this - 'Guzzel'!
Those who serve God's purpose (as good or bad we all must) by disbelief, i.e. those who
refuse to acknowledge the spiritual in man, cannot really understand why man should feel
inclined to build a better society other than for the purpose of 'collective survival' (yes, I have
heard those lies!). The reality is that it is love that motivates and inspires this drive in man.
Consider when you feel warm and loving towards someone, your parents or children, husband
or wife, sister or brother, your friend or companion, or even your pet - do you want to hurt
them or do you feel inspired to do something for them to help them and to benefit them even at
the cost of your own discomfort? Of course it is the latter!
This is the ordinary kind of love, its effect may be limited to those with whom we identify, our
group, our family, our country and so on, but the source of it is a universal love for all beings
that derives from His Love for His creation.
The most intense moments of love for some may be that between two human beings who feel
irresistibly drawn towards each other as in romantic love, but in fact this is also but a
reflection of that Universal Love into which Mevlana was absorbed and from whom, by
association we may draw inspiration and enlightenment.
To move from partial love towards Universal Love is the way of Mevlana, to infuse Universal
Love into the social, religious, familial and personal lives of men, women and children is the
philosophy and teaching of Mevlana - if God so wills it we can be inspired by it, drawn into
its ambiance, and for the fortunate few be absorbed into it.
Other than those who were preordained to a greater prophetic role such as Lord Jesus, or the
holy prophet Muhammed Mustafa, can there be a higher calling? Can there be a better goal or
greater reward or a more valuable gift?
'Gel, Gel, Yeni Gel' - 'Come, Come, Come again'. O Mevlana in our minds, hearts, and actions
make thy philosophy of Universal Love ours - for yours is indeed not the court of
disappointment but of fulfilment, not of separation but of union, not of division but of
integration. From you and those who abide with you in the unseen can we, the sons of Adam
and the daughters of Eve, receive the precious gift by means of which unification and
uniqueness coexist within us without contradiction. Or to express myself more simply - thank
you again and again, and thanks and praise be to Him the One, Living, Almighty, Creator for
Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri. Southampton. December 25th 2002
Personal Post Script.
I cannot leave this article without expressing my sincere affectionate gratitude to so many I
met in Konya this year: I have already mentioned Ali Baba and his family and the many
disciples of Nuri Baba but I also thank Zeynep for her patient translating but more for simply
being who she is; Abdullah for his safe driving and patient, charitable, charming and loving
nature that could never do enough; the sturdy and solid Tahir for making his shop so
welcoming; Monika (Katije) and Marina who opened my eyes to the effect of Mevlana's love
on Christian and Muslim, man and woman, alike; Wahab the perfect pious Muslim gentleman
and qiraat; the many musicians such as Kazim from Iran, and many others such as Ali, whose
soulful musicianship provided the vehicle through which Mevlana moved our hearts and in
some cases our bodies; Alim and his circle of Dutch friends who I meet every year with
pleasure. This year too I am thankful to Sahin, Zeynep's philosophy teacher who so
courteously invited us to the Seljuk University.
Thanks are also due to the marvellously calm and dignified dervishes of the Mevlevi, their
musicians and their Sheykh; the descendants of Mevlana, Essin Chelabi and her mother, who
not only invited me to sit in the most honoured seat in the auditorium as their guest but
showered me with gifts of books and cards and discs; Goli's delightful mother from Iran and to
the other ladies who asked so solicitously after my wife Farhana. Nor can I forget to thank that
sturdy Turk 'Alanya' Ali who made me so welcome and who could not do enough for me and
who has now supplied me both with sturdy walking stick, a Konya felt hat, and also warm
gloves. Also the ever courteous staff of the Dergah Hotel including Ramadan the manager and
Daud (who enabled me to rediscover my French). Thanks are due to others too who I wont
attempt to name here but who I am sure know they could not be left out of my thoughts. And
certainly not least to my wife Farhana and her sister Sajja and my nephew Rizwan for ensuring
a comfortable, clean and warm home awaited my return.