(11.12.) Our trip started in Istanbul, where our large group had been coming to by different routes. Our decent, esteemed and dear friend Hameed Chishty from the far away Ajmer (India), the sheikh of the Chishty order, also joined us and shared the whole journey with us.
Right on the first evening of our stay in Istanbul we had an unforgettable meeting with the sheikh of the Bektashi order – Mehmet Rasim Mutlu – Mutlu Baba, who invited us to his house. We didn’t even know how the time passed when having an engaging talk about Sufism and zikr. Who are we? Where are we from and where are we going to? What do we live for and what do we wish? The wisest sheikh with sparkling eyes was catching us off-guard with more and more eternal questions – such simple and complex at the same time. The questions, which we will be answering during the whole life, and, as out Master explained afterwards, which we will ask ourselves over and over again, in attempt to get to the very core of our inner transformations. At the end we received a Mutlu Baba’s good-bye instruction – the sheikh called on us not to be afraid of wishing, making mistakes and falling, as everything in our lives happens only by the will of God, and even when we fall we are given wings from the heaven, which help us to rise and to continue our Way.
(12.12.) God gave us another wonderful day in Istanbul, sunny and warm like in the spring. Some of us for the first time had an opportunity to feel the busy rhythm of the Taksim area, to travel by tram around Istanbul and to take the tube. Having prayed in the mosque of Sultan Ahmet, and having admired its beauty and greatness, we set out to the Temple of Transformation, which itself had passed through amazing transformations: there were neither swimming fish, nor water. It turned out that the water, having accumulated all the energies of modern life in the megapolis started destroying the underground temple from inside. Restoration experts had to pump all the water out to protect the walls and the columns of the temple. To our joy the ancient sacred place has not lost its mystic powers and reminded us that souls come to this Earth from the divine ocean as perfect drops, but, just as a ray of light, which passes through the layer of water and changes its path, our “ray” undergoes refraction when passes through the thick earthly space.
After the underground temple we went to the mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. This is the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul – Suleymanie – the architect Sinan’s masterpiece. The yard of the mosque keeps tombs of the Sultan himself, his wife Hurrem Haseki-sultan, and their daughter Mihrimah, as well as of two other Ottoman Sultans – Sultan Ahmet the Second and Sultan Suleyman the Second. We had a rare opportunity to enter the sepulcher, to bow our heads and to pray that a great power of love for good would prevail in our lives, same as in the life of Suleyman the Magnificent, who was inspired by it to create the most powerful and prosperous empire of that time. Same evening we visited one of the most ancient Sufi darghas in Istanbul – the Rifai dargah – AYNA ALI BABA.
(13.12.) Early in the morning, on a comfortable train, going with an incredible speed of 250 km/hour we set out to our spiritual roots, going to our “home” city – Konya – the city of Rumi and Shams. Having accommodated and relaxed a bit in the wonderful hotel Pasapark, with throbbing hearts we went to the tombs of our Peers – Nuri Baba and Ali Baba. In the evening, after the conversation with our Master about Sufi issues, we were meeting our dear friends at the hotel for zikr. Our old and dear friends and participants of the festival “RUMI FEST” from different years – Nurullah Özdem, the skillful hattat and wonderful singer, the ney player Hulusi Özbay and the kudum and bendir player Engin Baykal. It was an amazing evening filled with gratitude and remembrance of God.
(14.12.) In the evening, on the square in front of the Mevlana mausoleum, under the starry sky of Konya, our zikr found new sound, colours and depth – the voice of ney and whirling dervishes – just as in ancient times of Rumi and Shams – were inviting to celebrate together life and love. That morning we went to Karaman. First we visited the mausoleum of Yunus Emre, the Turkish poet considered to be the founder of Turkish prosody. His most famous verses are “Sevelim ve sevilelim”, translated from Turkish as „Let’s love and be loved”. Yunus Emre was a Kuran hafiz, he knew perfectly the Hadiths and helped common people to understand the holy scriptures by retelling them in everyday Turkish language. Afterwards we made namaz and zikr in the mosque that keeps the tomb of Mümine Hatun – Rumi’s mother inside. In the evening, in Konya, we expected to meet with our good friends from Istanbul and Iran. And, by convention, at the end of another wonderful day, we made zikr in the circle of close friends.
(15.12.) That was the day of hospitality, art, music and beauty – there was arranged the sufi session “Heart speaks to Heart”. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon we were expecting the guests from all over the world, so that we could share with them our memories, gratitude and love to the heritage of Jalaladdin Rumi and our dear Peer Ali Baba – the Sultan of Sultans, the peer of many orders and tariqas, the sheikh of the Mevlevi order. Together with our kindred friends from Konya – representatives of the centre Destegül Güzel Sanatlar Merkezi, and magnificent musicians from Konya and Iran we had prepared the program, which featured three parts. The first part of the program presented the master class of the famous hattat (the master of calligraphy) Ali Kemal Kakan, the founder of the cultural centre Destegül. The master told about the stages of calligraphy learning, and we could see the creation of a new masterpiece to the incredibly beautiful tune. And we are expressing our special gratitude to Serpil Kakan for her perfect translation from Turkish to English. In the second part of the program we were admiring how fabulous flowers and astonishing ornaments were appearing on the water under simple waves of brush by the Ebru artist Yonji Eryilmaz and could enjoy performance of songs to Rumi’s poetry by the Iranian musical group. The program finished with the performance of Latvian and Turkish musicians – the singer Hulusi Özbay and the ney player Tayyip Enes Korkmaz. Nothing better than mysticism of zikr and sema could finalize the Sufi session and brighten up the evening in Konya.
(16.12.) Our last day in Konya we started by visiting the sacred places: the Mevlana mausoleum, the tomb of Ali Baba and the tomb of Shams. Having received the blessing, we gathered for the last Sufi conversation in this trip. Filled with joy we went to Ali Baba’s dargha. After dargha, under the starry sky, near the Mevlana mausoleum, we were singing zikr together with kindred people and then we went to celebrate Seb-i-Arus in a huge concert hall of one hotel in Konya, where Mevlevi dervishes (Riga) were whirling to the music of Iranian musicians.
(17.12.) Leaving home – our beloved Konya – is always sad. But there is no reason for sadness, because this place lives eternally in our hearts, and we, in sha’ Allah, will return there again. We will return there to meet with everything and everybody that is dear and precious for us…
Besides, Seb-i-Arus hadn’t finished yet, and we were going to Istanbul, where we were invited for the dinner at the oldest dargha of the Kadiria order, existing since more than four hundred years. The megapolis met us with dazzling sunshine.
After a short rest we set out to the dargha. During the ferry tour along the bendy gulf of Golden Horn (turk. Haliç) we could see marvelous sights of Istanbul. Exactly at the set hour we stepped over the threshold of the oldest dargha.
The dargha of the Kadiria order has not ceased to exist for many centuries and has kept the Mevlevi Sema ceremony tradition. When political thawing came and the Mevlevi order could renew its activities officially, the Kadiria dargha returned the right to perform the Big Sema Ceremony to the city of Rumi, Konya.
The women had an opportunity to get acquainted to the honoured Betül Erkmenkul, the wife of the current sheikh. We learned a lot about the history, customs and traditions of the ancient dargha. The men talked in the presence of eight sheikhs of different sufi tariqas headed by the Peer of Kadiria, highly esteemed Kamil Eren Erkmenkul – Eren Bey.
That festive night we became a part of the ancient mystery of the Mevlevi order – a part of the Big Sema Ceremony, performed by semazens of the Mevlevi order (Riga) and our brothers, Turkish musicians Nurullah Özdem, Hulusi Özbay, Ahmet Cavit Altınkaynak and Harun Korkmaz. This will remain with us forever.
(18.12.) Having safely returned back home, we could not believe that we had been away from Riga only for eight days. So meaningful and eventful was our unique trip to Turkey.