The mystic poet, Rumi, lived in Konya for most of his life, and today we'll explore the historical and spiritual landmarks associated with him and his work. Our walk starts here, on Mevlana Street, in front of Maraj al Bahrain. It's a small, 2.5m high glass vitrine with a ceramic lamp inside. I hope the lamp is lit for you today!
Afganistan, Iran and Turkey all claim and celebrate Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. In Afghanistan he's known as "Mawlana", in Iran as "Molavi" and here in Turkey as "Mevlana", which means “our Master”. But Rumi, as he’s known in the West, transcends borders.
I’m Nathalie and I welcome you to Maraj al-Bahrain, which means "where oceans meet". It is here that Rumi and Shams e Tabrizi, who is more commonly known as Flying Shams, met in 1244. You'll find a variety of versions of the story, but all agree that it was a life-changing, illuminating encounter. It was also the catalyst for Rumi’s most sophisticated literary output, notably the Mathnawi and Divan e-Shams, or the Collected Poetry of Shams.
Before we set off, let me explain how this works: VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. You can put your phone in your pocket, and focus on your surroundings. You’ll hear my voice again when you reach the next destination, and I'll give you directions to keep you on track.
Yalla, let's go. Turn your back to Alaadın Tepesi or Alaadin’s Hill, and head down Mevlana Street, towards the Mevlana with its trademark turquoise green dome.
Most sources agree that Rumi was born in Wakhsh in present-day Tajikistan, then part of Persia, in 1207. He moved East with his family as a young boy, possibly to flee the invading Mongols. His father was a highly reputed scholar, known as Sultan of the Scholars. After various stops along their journey west, the family eventually settled in Konya, the Seljuk capital, in 1228.
To be honest, I'm far from an expert on Rumi or Sufism in general. But after settling in Beirut, Lebanon in early 2012, I found myself closer to the region in which Islam and Sufism are rooted. My first trip to Konya was like a pilgrimage… I boarded a ferry from Tripoli in Northern Lebanon that took 15 hours to reach Taşucu in southern Turkey. Then a bus that wound its way up through the spectacular Taurus River valley until I finally reached Konya. It was so worth it! Unlike other pilgrimage sites I’ve visited, Konya always had an uplifting and truly captivating effect on me.