By Anouar Majid
On December 15th, 2005, I sat at the Mevlana Cultural Center in Konya, Turkey and raised my hand in prayer with the shaykh
at the end of the sama’
ceremony, performed by what are known in the West as "whirling dervishes." Except for the occasional mention of Mawlana Rumi, the founder of the order; Shams al-Din Tabrizi, his mystical mentor; and the Prophet Mohammed, I didn’t understand much of what was being said. But my wife and I felt the sweetness of the Spirit and the power of a community bonded by faith. That moment of final prayer came after a member of the Mevlevi musical ensemble, a young mujawwid
, had recited from the Qur’an with such mesmerizing power that I could almost see his angelic voice rise to heaven. Hundreds of spectators in the state-of-the-art auditorium listened and prayed intensely. Looking at them, I was reminded of the Sufi mantra that as long as a wali
, or qutb
is in the community, God will spare the land and its people. It is fair to say that, for me and my wife, the sama’ event in Konya was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences we had ever had.