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Whirling Dervishes
Known to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century. The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood.

They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah.

Mevlevi believed that during the sema the soul was released from earthly ties, and able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. Dervish literally means "doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. The Whirling Dervishes played an important part in the evolution of Ottoman high culture.

From the fourteenth to the twentieth century, their impact on classical poetry, calligraphy and visual arts was profound. Rumi and his followers integrated music into their rituals as an article of faith. Rumi emphasized that music uplifts our spirit to realms above and we hear the tunes of the Gates of Paradise.

Whoever you may be, come
Even though you may be
An infidel, a pagan or a fire-worshipper, come
Our brotherhood is not one of despair
Even though you may have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.

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