10 Pages

The Role of Music in Islamic Mysticism

ANNEMARIE SCHIMMEL Ladies and gentlemen,1 I cannot claim to be either a specialist in music or a musician; rather, I am simply

a lover of Sufi music. Let me therefore begin with a little story about an event that happened long long ago in connection with the Mevlevi sema. I had joined the İlâhiyat Fakültesi in Ankara in the fall of 1954. In early December I received an invitation from Mehmet Önder, the director of the Mevlâna Müzesi [museum] in Konya, to participate in the celebration of Ha ret-i Mevlâna’s anniversary that was to be held there on December 17 and was asked to give a speech on ‘Mevlâna’s influence in East and West’. A few days before travelling to Konya I had a dream: the Mevlevis were turning like white butterflies as heavenly music filled the air. Apparently, there was no possibility that this dream might foretell a real event, as the dervish lodges had been closed since 1925, and no trace of the ritual remained. Nevertheless, I told my lovely dream to one of my colleagues in the Faculty, a hafiz with a wonderful voice who-as I learned-was also to attend the celebration, and with a smile he said: “Perhaps it was a true dream!”