The king said to a (Mevlevi) dervish, "What is this robe
[khirqa] and this (tall) hat [kolâh] which you have put on your
The dervish replied, "O eminent king, the (black) robe is
my tomb and the (tall) hat is my grave stone."1
(The king) said, "How can a dead man speak words, O
(The dervish said), "O king, perhaps you haven't heard that
there are questions and answers in the grave?"2
(The king) said, "Can a dead man dance in the (present)
world (in the same way) that you also have risen up to dance, O
(The dervish) said, "The moment when the trumpet reaches
the ears (of the dead),3 the people of the graves come into (the
state of) dancing at that time."
(The king said), "What is the secret of the circling dance
which exists in the Mevlevi Way [Tarîq], O dervish [dede]?"
(The dervish) said, "These secrets must be discovered.
From anywhere you have come, you will go (back) to the same
place [of origin]."
He said (further), "The beginning is the point of return. It is
our Master [pîr],4 who is good and beneficent, who has given an
indication (of it)."
(The king) asked, "What is the secret of the Master
[shaykh]? Give an answer (about the one) who is pausing, like the
sun in the upper part of the (astrological) constellation!"
(The dervish) said, "O king of the world, listen, so that I
may explain the secret of that for you.
"At the time when there were no people in the world (and)
no created beings had existence in the world,
"Our God [Allâh] was like a hidden treasure5 (and) there
were no others existing, O king.
He wanted to become known by his Attributes. Anything
other than Him was nonexistent in its essence.
"He wanted to be known by His Qualities (so) He
completed His creation with the command of "'Be!' (And it is)."6
"That King made a mirror for Himself so that He could
view His own Attributes in it.
"Man [Adam] is the Divine mirror7 in which God, with His
Names and Attributes is visible.
"Men, jinns,8 and possibilities are travelling together
within an imaginary circle.
"Know that the circle has two sides.9 Acknowledge one
(on) the right and one (on) the left.
"The outer world is (represented by) its right side and the
inner world is (represented by) the left side.
"Opposite that One10 is the position of humanity. From that
perspective, man [Adam] is the mirror of the Most Merciful
"A point on the imaginary circle is travelling; when the
point comes (back) to itself, it revolves.
"When the point has returned to (its) origin, all of its
branches and derivative aspects become erased.
"Thus, you may say that a point is all these things other
(than Him), existent beings and possibilities.
"They are travelling within the imaginary circle, just as
knowledge is completed by travelling to the known.11
"When the possibilities return to their origin, no different
things other than His pure Essence remain.
"Then at that time God reveals an illumination to his
servant by means of the name, 'Peace' [Salâm].
"Saying, 'O (My) servants, peace be upon you, since you
have escaped from doubt and uncertainty at this time.'"
"'You have discovered the "knowledge of certainty"12
[`ilmu 'l-yaqîn] (of the Divine Unity)-- therefore, peace be upon
you O believers [mu'minîn].'"13
"Hear the secret of the second circling14 [ikinji devrin], so
that I may explain the secret of that dancing.
"The lovers (of God) [`âshiq-ân] are circling [devr] the
second time so that they may become completely annihilated (of
"Then the Lord of mankind causes an illumination and
says, 'Peace be upon My lovers!
"'You have seen (the Divine Unity) by means of the "vision
of certainty"15 [`aynu 'l-yaqîn], and you have known with certainty
that I am (both) the Witness and the Witnessed.'
"O chosen one, listen to what the lovers of the 'truth of
certainty' [Haqqu 'l-yaqîn]16 say about the third circling [¸ch¸nj¸
"They call it complete annihilation,17 death and absolute
effacing, as well as passing away.
"At that moment, God speaks with the name of 'Peace': 'O
lovers, peace be upon you!
"By 'dying,'18 you have found salvation from death. And by
'annihilation,' you have jumped the (very) way to Me.'
"The (spiritual) master [shaykh] who is the assigned
Deputy of God,19 has no [personal] existence and is absolutely
annihilated [of self].
"The Deputy is the interpreter of God and he offers the
three greetings of peace20 by means of the speech of God.
"This state is a secret concerning the 'distance of two bow
lengths'21 (Q.53:9) regarding which Mullâ Jalâl22 has given an
"(And) the revered Mullâ Jalâl's Shams-i Dîn23 has (also)
revealed such secrets about the certainty (of Divine Oneness).
"O king of the world, since you have heard this: that the
Way of the lovers and saints (of God)
"Has abundant secrets and hidden mysteries of which no
one except the saints are aware --
"Then that person is fortunate and happy who has never
been a denying rejector of the saints.
"Because the denier is unable to clearly perceive those
secrets, and that unfortunate one becomes like a (blind) bat.
"As long as he doesn't close the eyes (which see only) this
world, he will never see the straight path.
"Jalâluddîn-i Rûm is from the light of Shams,24 and the
(spiritual) sciences [known to him are] brighter than the sun and
"But you may say (that) his dervishes are the stars and are
the guides to the Way of Jalâluddîn-i Rûm.
"In comparison to his light, the sun is deemed a (mere)
mote (of dust), in such a manner that this one of lofty rank is a
luminous light in this world.
"(And) I am a moth (flying around) the light of that beauty;
burning night and day, I am (like) a crazy man.25
"I am (merely) a (vile) wolf-like dog at his threshold, (and)
it is for this reason that I'm not the Lion of the World.26
--Translated by Ibrahim Gamard, 4/27/03
from a Persian translation (by Tôfîq Subhânî) and with reference
to the original Ottoman Turkish (from Sobhânî's translation of
Golpinarli's "The Mevlevi's After Mevlana")
1tomb and... grave stone: these are standard symbolic meanings of
Mevlevi dervish clothing.
2questions and answers in the grave: refers to the Muslim belief
that after burial, two angels (named Munkir and Nakîr) question
the soul in the grave as to whether it believes that there is no god
but the One God and that Muhammad is His Prophet.
3when the trumpet reaches the ears (of the dead): during the
Whirling Prayer Ceremony [samâ`], the dervishes sit wearing their
black robes. They hear a reed-flute improvisation [taqsîm], that
invokes their yearning to return to the soul's original Home. Then
they hear three drum beats which inaugurate a "mystical
resurrection of the dead" and they stand up and walk three times
around a circle, slowly and with dignity. They face each other
[muqâbala] and bow at the top of the circle, where the shaykh's
red-colored sheepskin [pôst] lies on the floor. These three circlings
are called "Dawr-i Waladî (in Turkish, Devir-i Veledi), or the
"Circling (in honor) of Sultan Walad, Mawlânâ Rûmî's son. This
poem is an interpretation of this part of the Ceremony only, which
occurs prior to the four sections of whirling prayer which follow,
when the dervishes remove their black robes wearing white
costumes that float above the floor giving an angelic appearance as
4our Master [pîr]: refers to the founding master [pîr] of the
Mevlevi Sufi Order, Mawlânâ Jalâluddîn Rûmî.
5a hidden treasure: refers to a Divine Saying [Hadîth al-Qudsî], in
which the Prophet reported (mainly according to sufis) that God
said, "I was a Hidden Treasure, and then I loved that I might be
known, and then I created the creation so that I might be known."
6Be: refers to a verse of the Qur'an, "And when He decrees
something (to be), He says to it, 'Be!' And it is." (Q.2:117)
7Man [Adam] is the Divine mirror: This is the teaching of the sufi
genius, Ibnu 'l-`Arabi (died, 1240).
8jinns: a kind of parallel creation with humanity, except they are
(usually) invisible and can change form instantly. Some are true
believers in God, others are mischievous, others are evil.
9two sides: the left side is called the arc of descent (from the
Divine Throne, via invisible forms, to mineral, plant, and animal
stages to the point of humanity. The right side is the called the
arc of ascent, to higher stages of humanity beyond angelic
levels back to the top of the circle.
10Opposite that One: standing at the bottom of the circle is the place
of man, facing the shaykh's sheepskin [pôst], and also facing the
prayer-direction toward Mecca. In other words, humanity faces
God in this circle, within which are reflected all of God's
Attributes, from those reflected in various minerals to those in
angels. And, according to the theosophy of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi, the
completed saintly human being reflects all of the Divine Names
11travelling to the known: means that the journey to understand
something is completed when the thing becomes known for what it
12knowledge of certainty: an interpretation of the term "knowledge
of certainty" [`ilmu 'l-yaqîn], the first of three kinds of spiritual
certainty in the Qur'an (102:5). It is commonly understood to mean
knowing something about Divine Reality, the goal of the first
circling of the Mevlevi Ceremony.
13believers: means Muslims, who believe in One God who has no
partners or offspring, and believe in the revelations of the Prophets,
particularly the last and final revelation revealed to the Prophet
14the second circling: begun after the shaykh has completed the first
(counter-clockwise) circling, followed by all the samâ`-zan-ân (in
Turkish, semazenler, or "whirling" dervishes). Each Mevlevi bows
to the other in front of the shaykh's sheepskin at the top of the
circle, then moves further along the circle.
15the vision of certainty: an interpretation of the term "vision of
certainty" [`aynu 'l-yaqîn], the second of three kinds of spiritual
certainty in the Qur'an (102:6). It is commonly understood to mean
a direct glimpse of Divine Reality, the goal of the second circling
of the Mevlevi Ceremony.
16the truth of certainty: an interpretation of the term "truth of
certainty" [Haqqu 'l-yaqîn], the third of three kinds of spiritual
certainty in the Qur'an (69:51). It is commonly understood to direct
realization of the truth of Divine Reality, the goal of the third
circling of the Mevlevi Ceremony.
17complete annihilation: here, a number of Arabic sufi terms are
used, "annihilation"[fanaˆ] (of the "idol of self"), and "effacing"
18By dying: refers to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad: "Die
before you die," which is interpreted by sufis to mean the death of
ego, together with its illusions of being separate and its obsessions
with selfish desires.
19the assigned Deputy of God [qâ'im-i muTlaq-i Haqq]: means the
shaykh, the leader of the Mevlevi Ceremony, who represents
Mawlânâ Jalâluddîn Rûmî and is therefore viewed as the Vice-
Regent [khâlîfa] of God of the present time.
20the three greetings of peace: the shaykh offers three silent
greetings of peace (in Arabic: "salâm-un `alayk-um) to the chief
whirler [semazenbashi], and thus to all the other dervishes in the
Mevlevi Ceremony at the start of each of the three circlings.
21the distance of two bow lengths [qâba qawsayn]: refers to the
experience of the Prophet Muhammad, during his "Night Journey"
into the Heavens, when he approached the Divine Presence, when
"he approached and came nearer, the space of two bow lengths or
nearer" (Q.53:8-9). This also involves the story of the inability of
Gabriel to come any nearer to the Divine Presence, and feared
being consumed by fire if he accompanied the Prophet any further--
interpreted by sufis as meaning the innate spiritual superiority of
the completed saintly human being over the angels. Also, two
bows put together make a semi-circle-- another aspect of the
interpretation of the secrets of this circle.
22Mullâ Jalâl: means Mawlânâ Rûmî, who referred to the spiritual
secrets of this verse in the Qur'an in the Masnavi (I: 1066-67; IV:
1888-90; IV: 3800-04).
23Shams-i Dîn: Mawlânâ's beloved spiritual master, also known as
Shams-i Tabrîzî. He is quoted as referring to the Prophet's Night
Journey, "And still (the Prophet) had not arrived to the (Divine)
Presence, since he said to (the Angel Gabriel), 'Come!' (And
Gabriel) said, 'No, if I come nearer by (the length of) a finger, I
will be burnt up.' I told a certain shaykh, '(May) God take you to
Hell!' He said, 'May it happen! So that I may see what becomes of
this (spiritual) light of mine from (being in) Hell, and what
becomes of Hell due to (the effects of) my light!'" (Aflâkî, "The
Glorious Talents and Abilities of the Knowers of God," Chapter 3,
24Shams: his name, "Shamsu 'd-dîn," means "the Sun of the
25crazy man: here, Divane Chelebi mentions his own name, in
Persian, "Divâna," at the end of the poem, as is customary.
26not the Lion of the World: here Divane Chelebi speaks humbly of
himself. He may be referring to Hazrat-i `Alî, the cousin and
son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, who was known as the
"Lion of God" because of his heroism in battle--since Divane
Chelebi was a Shi`ite. He was a descendant of Mawlânâ through
one of the daughters of Sultan Walad (Mutahhâra), and was an
antinomian dervish with extreme Shi`ite tendencies (Horûfî,
Qalandarî, and Bektâshî--but none of the teachings of these sects
are expressed in his poem above). He was also a Mevlevi leader
who wrote poetry in Turkish. He died sometime after 1545 C.E.