On Wednesday, March 13th the Charleston Music Hall welcomed the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi to its stage for an enlightening performance of personal and spiritual revelation. Presented by the South Carolina Dialogue Foundation and hailing from Konya Mevlana University in Turkey, the Dervishes delighted the audience by offering a look into an essential part of Turkish customs, history and culture. The performance was a “meditation in motion”, in which the Dervishes were accompanied by mystical music consisting of flutes, strings, percussion, a chorus and poems by Rumi. The origin and roots of Sufism lie in the life and practices of the Prophet of Islam and the Qur’an. Sufism espouses a well-founded and thoroughgoing interpretation of Islam, which focuses on love, tolerance, worship of God, community development, and personal development through self-discipline and responsibility. A Sufi’s way of life is to love and be of service to people, deserting the ego or false self and all illusion so that one can reach maturity and perfection, and finally reach Allah, the True, the Real. The Order of the Whirling Dervishes is one branch of the vast Sufi tradition of Islam. The universal values of love and service shared by all Sufis are very much relevant to the social and political realities of today, and this ritual, which is only performed by the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, has come to symbolize these values in the hearts and minds of millions throughout the world. The Whirling Dervishes program is performed for audiences to translate one of the remarkable ways of achieving this state of sublime: the way of Rumi, the great Muslim mystic and poet. Due to the traditional and religious manner of the performance, audience members were unable to applaud until the Dervishes had left the stage. The acknowledgement that they were in the midst of something both extraordinary and unique, however, was evident from the respectful silence and mutual captivation demonstrated.
– Heather Corcoran, CMH Intern