Secularization and Commercialization of Rumi – Rasim Basak


Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi 1207 – 1273) has been a universal figure for people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. He has been recognized as a literary and spiritual figure. Rumi’s philosophy is rooted to an understanding of universe and existence through love. Love is the whole thing and we are the pieces. In the last decades, we clearly can observe a deterioration of Rumi, his spiritual philosophy and his traditional, sacred, worship ritual Sema. Love is fundamental in Rumis philosophy. Popular media constantly dwells upon love, using the deep human feeling and longing for love. However, the media signifies this love not as an understanding of existence, but as a marketing strategy. Rumi and Mevlevism has been the target of secularization attempts cutting its ties with Islam and further packaging it as a secular, cultural phenomenon and a folk dance form. These attempts yielded authenticity issues and further exploitation of the unique Mevlevi heritage. Rumiǯs concept of love has also become à la mode in the last decades. Sema as a form of islamic worship is increasingly being commercialized and exploited. Whirling Dervish imposters can be seen whirling publicly in restaurants, bars, at openings, in hotel lobbies, and even in shopping malls in Turkey. These imposters are even hired for childrens circumcision ceremonies, as background dancers in music concerts and performances, in engagements and weddings. Another misconception stemming from an Orientalist perspective is seeing Sema as a dance form, although, Sema is a Dhikr (Remembrance of God) and a prayer; it is a form of submission to divine love and unity; it is a form of worship