Konya is the center of orthodoxy for the House of Islam in Turkey. Remembering that Turkey has been a secular state since 1923 by initiative of Attaturk, Konya has maintained more of the cultural and religious facets of the House of Islam undoubtedly due to Mevlana, properly known as Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi. This God-loving spiritual master in love with divine love, a Sufi and a poet, identified himself with Konya, where he lived almost uninterrupted from his arrival in Konya in 1228 from Afghanistan. Mevlana maintains a serious love affair with the Turkish people still, due from my observation to credos such as this:
Come, whoever you may be,
Even if you may be
An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-
Ours is not a brotherhood of despair.
Even if you have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred
So his spirituality, as his poetry, is this beautiful, lyrical, enchanting, seductive take on life and all its problems that is not scolding nor daunting. In fact, it is laced and saturated with love. Love beyond Love. Think: the Puritans of Massachusetts and then do a 180. And in Konya is Mevlana's tomb, making it a pilgrimage site for the faithful worldwide; I know I went there in search of him.
By the time I had journeyed by car from Istanbul to Konya, I had observed enough of the architecture to form this opinion: Islamic art and architecture is the most beautiful in the world. It meanders, it flows, it frames; it define, articulates a flora and fauna that meets the senses in a delicious collision such as sweetness on the tongue early in the morning. It is a statement and an expression that is heard no where else in the world. It is engineered second to none. And it is is unmistakably, irrevocably feminine. But it was not until I got to Konya that I began to understand the entire essence of Islamic art and architecture. It is undeniably erotic. Go back and look at the pictures. Keep looking. So I finally begin to understand the Great White Father's reaction to this land of the soft mounds and penes of the mosques: they were and are damned afraid for their women. These Muslims are sexy, sexy, sexy.
Mevlana's tomb is spectacular. The Muslims bury each other on their sides, facing Mecca, or east. So the profile of the tomb is unlike that of a tomb in the western world. It is slim and tall, maybe the shape of a short upright piano, as they rest on their hip and shoulder. At one end of the tomb, rising from the head would be a projection, say in the shape of a very, very large thumb, I bet you get my drift, where of course, the turban rests. Or if he was a Dervish, his cylindrical hat. Draped over the tomb is an exquisite rug or silken tapestry, re embroidered many times over in decorative motifs that for me, are largely indescribable, they are so beautiful. Probably something in tulips, artichokes, carnations or the Tree of Life. Mevlana's tomb itself sits exactly under the Green Tomb, pictured here as the turquoise turret.
The Mevlana Museum is deeply, deeply moving; a place so holy that the Muslims always wash in the courtyard before they enter. It is beautiful, it is disturbing, it is unapologetic and the love overwhelms and whisks you away. And as you look down, you are riding on one of those gorgeous carpets high, high, high above the clouds.
Travel in its highest form should delight, fulfill, stimulate and educate you. Some days it humbles you and gently shows you how ignorant you really are. But if you are really lucky, and ride with the blessings, you get to go back home and think about it all, again and again. Ours is not a brotherhood of despair.
The 'Kan EWA