Thursday, March 1, 2007
A group of Hawaiian-Americans who embraced Islam through the Sufi order associated with Mevlana Rumi called the Mevleviyye will build a Mevlevihane - a dervish lodge for the whirling ceremony - on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
In a statement to a reporter of the semi-official Anatolia News Agency, Esin Çelebi, who is the second president of the International Mevlana Foundation as well as being a 22nd generation lineal descendant from the Muslim Scholar and Sufi Mevlana Rumi, said that the Mevlevi Order as founded and understood by Mevlana is reaching more and more people every year.
She particularly noted that those whose first encounter with Islam came about after the September 11 attacks normally hated Islam; but that even those people who began their researches in hatred, had started to see Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace after studying Mevlana, so much so that they had in some cases adopted and claimed the teachings of Mevlana, even though they may be in the far corners of the world.
One of the examples of this is in Hawaii, Çelebi said, and added: "A group of Americans from Hawaii had come to Turkey to attend the commemoration ceremony of Mevlana some years ago. They started coming every year after that.
It turns out that they had first come across Mevlana in books published in America, or in his books such as Masnavi or Divan-i Kebir (Collected Works), and they were deeply affected and decided to come to Turkey. Most members of this group live on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
When they came, they also learnt how to whirl, and through a gradual process of coming to know Islam, they became Muslims.
I don't know the exact number in their group: however, they invited us to Hawaii three and a half years ago for a conference. When we were speaking, there was such a big crowd that a great number of guests had to listen to the conference standing: in some parts of the hall, it was even impossible to stand, it was jam-packed."
This group adopted the love and teachings of Mevlana and the Mevlevi Order with such devotion, Esin Çelebi noted, that they have decided to build a Mevlevihane in Hawaii.