This piece is republished from an original post on Sidra’s own blog, Healing Hearts. I met Sidra Mushtaq when I attended the 2011 Rihla in Bursa. Alhamdulilah our hearts connected from the very beginning and our friendship blossomed to include a highly memorable trip to New York. Sidra is based in the UK, has travelled widely, and writes for her blog Healing Hearts.
I had always wanted to visit Konya, just so I could visit the blessed tomb of Mevlana Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, one of the greatest mystical poets of all times. I had been to Istanbul a couple of times before, but for one reason or another, I never got the chance to visit Konya; however this time, I was determined to make that extra journey and go spend a day in Konya. So, on the 28th December 2009, I got a flight from Istanbul to Konya. I had no knowledge of what Konya was like, nor did I bother to read up about the city, and to be very honest, I didn’t really care because my prime aim and purpose of the trip was just to visit the blessed tomb of Mevlana.
I arrived at Konya airport at 8am, and my tour guide was waiting outside for me. We headed straight to Mevlana’s Mausoleum first. Whilst driving up to the Mausoleum, I sensed a completely different atmosphere; the roads were empty and quiet, hardly could see people out and about, there were not that many mosques in sight, everything seemed a bit dull to me, it was totally different to Istanbul!
The weather that day was cold and cloudy, which didn’t exactly uplift my mood, but then my gaze fell upon the beautiful green done ...
“Come, Come, Whoever you Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.”
This is the main entrance of the Mausoleum, inside here are the tombs of Rumi’s family and descendants. The headstones for the male graves have either a green or white turban; the green represents the fact that the person is from the family of Prophet Muhammad salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam, and the white represents that the person is just a descendant of Mevlana. The female graves obviously have no turbans on them, so you could easily identify them. At the corner, right beneath the green dome, is the tomb of Mevlana Rumi. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to take pictures inside the Mausoleum, especially of the tombs, therefore I do not have any to share, but at that point, taking pictures was the last thing on my mind anyway because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed ...
I stood there in awe, unable to hold back my tears, and still couldn’t believe I was standing at the grave of this great person who has moved, transformed, cured and healed many hearts and minds through his poetry, and guiding people to Divine Love. I first came across Mevlana Rumi about 5 years ago, when I didn’t really have any interest in poetry, or even Sufism at that point in my life! But something about Mevlana’s words had an impact on me, and I started reading more of his poems and quotes. I’ve often found great solace, and many answers to my problems/issues in his poetry and advice, therefore for me to visit his blessed grave was something very special and personal. I stood there giving salams on behalf of all those who had asked me to, and then made du’a. I cannot fully describe the feeling I got whilst standing there, one really has to visit and experience it themselves in order to understand.
Beyond Rumi’s tomb, there was another room which was used for the Sema (whirling dance) ceremony once upon a time, but is now used to exhibit old manuscripts (Rumi’s own poetry collection like Mesnavi, Divan etc), various types of Qu’rans, some were small as the palm of a normal person’s hand! They were extraordinary to see, especially since they had been handwritten! Also, to view were instruments such as the Ney, clothes, tasbihs etc. There was also a display with a small box which had the blessed hair of the beloved Prophet Muhammad salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
My tour guide then took me around Konya. Here are some pictures I took:
Alaeddin Camii (Mosque)
The Alaeddin Mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in Konya, in fact, it was the first mosque made in Konya.
We then went to the top of the highest building in Konya (sorry folks, forgot the name!), just to get a birds-eye view of Konya:
Next on the sightseeing list was Shems Tebrizi Cami (Mosque):
All that sightseeing, made us a little hungry so we stopped at a restaurant to eat “Etliekmek”, the traditional dish of Konya. It’s basically a very long piece of bread with meat.
I was reluctant to try this because it didn’t look too appetizing, plus I’m not a huge fan of meat, especially not mince meat! However, I wanted to experience the complete culture and tradition of Konya, therefore felt I had to try it. I was actually surprised at how good it tasted, it’s quite similar to Lahmacun (Turkish equivalent of pizza), but slightly better in my opinion.
We then visited Mevlana Cultural Centre, where the Sema (whirling dance) takes place every Saturday evening:
In the winter, the Sema takes place in this hall which is inside the actual Mevlana Cultural Centre ...
And in the summer, the Sema takes place outside ...
As the day went on, the grey clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and the sky looked brighter than it had when I first arrived in Konya. We then visited a few more mosques, and here are some of the photographs I took:
We then went to the outskirts of Konya, and here are a couple of pictures of some of the ruins we saw as we drove past...
By 3pm, I had pretty much seen most of Konya, well most of the touristy places for sure. My flight back to Istanbul wasn’t until 8pm, and there was nothing else I really wanted to do or see, so I asked my tour guide to take me back to Mevlana Rumi’s Mausoleum because that is where I really wanted to be. The security man at the Mausoleum said that I could sit near the grave until the Mausoleum closed at 5pm. I had 1 hour 45 mins approx, so I found a corner where I sat and read Mevlana’s poems, and just contemplated. The Ney was being played in the background, I felt really relaxed and peaceful. Then the Magrib adhan was called out by the muezzin, it was so clear and beautiful that I wanted the muezzin to continue doing the adhan over and over again. By this time the Mausoleum was empty, I was the only one there. The security man came and said he’ll let me have a few more minutes just to say goodbye to Mevlana, so I tried to make the most of my last moments there...
Still had a couple of hours left before my flight, so I went around some gift shops- the usual stuff tourists do!
Before I left the UK, I remember a friend telling me that Konya is very industrial, ugly, and the only amazing thing to see is Mevlana’s zawiyya. I didn’t take much notice of his words at the time, but having seen Konya myself, I can somewhat agree with my friend. I wouldn’t go to the extreme of calling Konya ‘ugly’, but I felt that it didn’t steal my heart like Istanbul has, apart from the beautiful Mausoleum of Mevlana which has secured a special place in my heart.
I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to visit Konya, simply just to visit Mevlana Rumi’s tomb, you won’t regret it! Feel free to contact me if you need any tips.
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
“Patience is the key to joy.”