Founder of the Mevlevi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes, Muhammed Celaleddin-i Rumi, lived in Konya from 1228 until his death in 1273. He was given the name Mevlana (Our High Master) by his followers.
The nearly 6500 m2 land, on which the convent lies, used to be a rose garden belonging to Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. He gave the area to Mevlana's father, Bahaddin Veled. as a gift. Bahaddin Veled was buried here in accordance with his will. From that day on, this place became a popular visiting spot. The building of the tomb began in 1274, only after the burial of Mevlana beside his father. In 1396, the tomb was covered by a cone shaped dome decorated by exquisite turquiose tiles.
The building has gone through many modifications during different periods in history and it has turned into a collection of buildings, an institution. In 1926, the Mevlana Convent opened as a museum. The artifacts presented to the convent throughout the centuries are on display. The most interesting section of the museum is under the green dome where the sarcophagi of Mevlana and his son, Sultan Veled, stand. On display are hand-written copiess of the sayings and books about Mevlana and Mevlevi order, musical instruments, metal glass and wooden objects, carpets and kilims. In the former dervish cells, the garments of the order are exhibited.
"Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are."
Sema (Whirling dervishes ceremony), is the inspiration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207 - 1273) as well as part of the Turkish culture, belief and history in Konya. It symbolizes the different meanings of a mystic cycle to perfection (Ascension - Mirac).
Contemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no object, no being which does not revolve. Every thing whirls and man, a whirling dervish, carries on his life, his very existence by means of the revolution in the atoms, structural elements in his body, by the circulation of his blood, by his coming from the Earth and return to it, by his revolving with the Earth itself.
The Sema (whirling dervishes) ceremony represents all a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through love, finding the truth and arriving to the "Perfect". Then he returns from this spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole creation, to all creatures without discriminating in regard to belief, class, or race.
The dervish with his hat (his ego's tombstone), and his white skirt (his ego's shroud) is spiritually born to the truth. When he removes his black cloak, he journeys and advances to the spiritual maturity through the stages of the Sema. At the beginning and each stage of the Sema holding his arms crosswise he represents number one, and testifies to God's unity.
While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the sky ready to receive God's beneficence, gazing his left hand turned toward the earth for giving what he received to poor, he turns from right to left, pivoting around the heart. This is his way of conveying God's spiritual gift to the people upon whom God "looks with a Divine" watchfulness. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all of humankind, all the creation with affection and love.