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Mevlâna Museum Review
When the Sufi mystic poet Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi died in 1273, he was buried in Konya beside his father and a great shrine was erected above them. As Rumi's mystic teachings of love and tolerance, ecstatic joy and unity with God spread and his poetry gathered a greater following, his mausoleum drew pilgrims from all parts of the Islamic world. In 1926, three years after the establishment of the Turkish Republic, his shrine was declared a museum, though the Sufi order he founded had been officially banned in 1925 as part of the drastic secularization of Turkish society under Atatürk. Today the museum is one of the most visited sites in Turkey, attracting more than 2 million people a year, the majority of them Turks. The Sufi dervishes have also been assigned a special status as "Turkish folk dancers," allowing them to perform their mystic whirling without the state overtly recognizing its undeniable religious basis.
The shrine is a holy site and, in line with Muslim traditions, women visiting it are required to cover their heads; scarves can be borrowed at the entrance to the museum. Visitors are also required to put plastic covers on over their shoes. You first pass through a courtyard with a large sadirvan, or ablutions fountain. At the entrance to the mausoleum are two gorgeous carpets, one from the 17th century and the other from the 18th. The interior of the mausoleum resembles the inside of a mosque, with its intricately painted domes, ornate chandeliers, and Islamic inscriptions on the walls. It is well lighted and there is music playing, unusual for a Muslim holy place and a further hint that Rumi was not a proponent of the traditional interpretations of Islam. The room contains many dervish tombs, all of them with carved stone turbans that serve as headstones and beautifully decorated in ornate cloth. Rumi's tomb is the largest and at its head are two massive green turbans. The place is usually filled with Muslim pilgrims standing with their palms outward in prayer, and it is not uncommon to see men and women crying before Rumi's grave.
Rumi was famous for his inclusiveness and would have welcomed you here, no matter what your beliefs. He said:
"Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, idolator, worshipper of fire,
Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, and come yet again.
Ours is not a caravan of despair."
The two rooms on the left contain beautifully preserved prayer books; dervish clothing and musical instruments; robes and a seccade, or prayer rug, that belonged to Rumi; and a mother-of-pearl box containing hair from the prophet Mohammed's beard.
The former kitchen of the complex (to the right of the main entrance) has a display of mannequins dressed as dervishes carrying out various activities in a kitchen, dining area, and living room, giving an idea of what life was like in the dervish brotherhood.
- Address: Mevlâna Mahallesi, Konya, 42030
- Phone: 332/351-1215
- Cost: 3 TL
- Hours: May--Oct., Tues.--Sun. 9--7, Mon. 10--7; Nov.--Apr., Tues.--Sun. 9--5, Mon. 10--5
- Location: Konya
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