Friday, May 29, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey- Part IX- Whirling Dervish Show

D6- 26th March, 2015

We reached the place for whirling dervish show roughly about 6pm. Once reached there we were greeted by a person at the entrance who gave us a pamphlet on whirling dervish ceremony.  We were among the first group reached the hall. The hall had a stage for the dervishes to perform in the centre and the benches were arranged in semi-circular arrangement. Above there were names of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w along with all 4 rightly guided caliphs as well as the names of Saydina Hassan and Hussein names hung from the ceiling. At first I only saw the name of Saydina Hussein (Hehee... thought of whether there's Syiah influence), but after I looked around, I realised they put all the names. On the stage, at the far end, there was a hat or tarbush with surrounding light. According to Finar, that was supposed indicating or symbolised  Mevlana Jalaluddin Ar- Rumi. I didn't know whether it's true or not, because when I read the pamphlet later it didn't mention it. Furthermore I guessed it might be a symbolic that the Mevlana was there. Hehehe...kind of creepy.

I tried to read the pamphlet before the performance, but I definitely could not concentrate at that time. Partly it was already late and we were kind of tired and partly due to the light was not suitable for my old eyes to read. So, I just put it aside for reference later once I need it. We were seated on the right side of the stage. Later, the other audiences from other nationalities entered into the hall and filled up the empty benches. The hall was almost full.

Roughly at 6.30pm, the light was dimmed and the dervishes entered the stage and the ceremony about to began.

Ok before I give my own view on this topic, let's learn something what's this ceremony all about. Basically I took the information from the pamphlet which was given to me earlier to understand their view first.

[Sema (the whirling dervish ceremony), is the inspiration of Mevlana Jalaluddin ArRumi (1207-1273) as well as Turkish custom, history, belief, and culture. Sema has seven parts and each part symbolised a stage of the mystic journey to perfection called ascension ('Mirac' in Turkish).
Contemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no object or being which does not revolve, and the commonality amongst beings is the revolution of the electrons and protons in their atoms, which constitute all things from the smallest particles to the stars in the sky.
As a consequence of this similarly, everything revolves and man carries on his life, his very existence by means of the revolution in his atoms, in the structural elements of his body, by the circulation of his blood, by his coming from the earth and return to it, and by revolving with the earth itself.
However, all of these are natural, unconscious revolutions. But man is the possessor of a mind and intelligence which distinguishes him from and makes him superior to other beings. Thus, the whirling dervishes ("Semazen" in Turkish) cause their minds to participate in the shared similarity and revolution of all other beings. 

The sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection ("Kemal" in Turkish). Turning towards the truth, a dervish grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth, and arrives at "Perfection".
Then he returns from his spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to all of creation, and to all creatures without discriminating in regards to belief, class, or race.

The dervishes, with their head-dresses ( representing the ego's tombstone), their white skirts (representing the ego's shroud) are spiritually born to the truth by removing their black cloaks, and they journey and advance to spiritual maturity through the stages of the Sema ceremony. At the onset and at each stage of the Sema ceremony, holding their arms in a criss-cross position, they represent the number one, and testify to God's unity.
While whirling, their arms open, their right hands directed towards the sky and ready to receive God's beneficence, gazing up, they turn their left hands towards the earth and turn 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, they embrace all of humankind, and all of creation with affection and love.

The Sema ceremony consists of several parts with different meanings...
1. It starts with a eulogy "Nat-iserif" to the Prophet, Muhammad, who represents love and all prophets before him. To praise them is praising God, who created all of them. 
2. This eulogy is followed by a drum sound symbolising the divine order of the Creator... "Kun=Be!"
3. Then follows an instrumental music improvisation ("taksim" in Turkish) with a reed wind instrument called a "ney", which represents the first breath which gave life to everything: The Divine breath.
4. The fourth part is where the dervishes greet each other and perform their thrice repeated circular walk called the "Devri Veledi", accompanied by music called "peshrev".
This part symbolised the salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.
5. The fifth part is the Sema (whirling), which consists of four salutes or "salams". At the end of each salute, as in the onset, the dervish testifies to God's unity with his appearance.
A- first salute is man's birth into truth through feeling and the mind. It represents his complete conception of the ecstasy of God as the creator and his own state of being.
B- second salute expresses the rapture of man witnessing the splendour of creation in front of God's greatness and omnipotence.
C- third salute is the dissolution of rapture into love and thereby the sacrifice of the mind to love. It is complete submission; it is the annihilation of self in the love one, in His unity.
This ecstasy is known as "Nirvana" in Buddhism and "Fenafillah" in Islam. In Buddhism, this is the highest state of ecstasy. However, the highest rank in Islam is the rank reached by Prophet: He is called God's servant foremost and subsequently his messenger.
The aim of Sema is not unbroken ecstasy and loss of conscious thought, but realisation of submission to God. 
D- The fourth salute: Just as the Prophet ascended to the "Throne" and the. Returned to his task on earth, the whirling dervishes, following the termination of their spiritual journey and ascent, return to their tasks and to their state of subservience. 
At the end of their salute, they demonstrate this again with their appearance, arms crisis-crossed over the chest to represent the unity of God, consciously and feelingly. 
6. The sixth part of the Sema is a reading from the Quran, especially of the verse " Unto God belong the east and the west, and wherever you turn, there's God's countenance. He is All embracing, All Knowing" (Surah Baqarah, verse 115)
7. The Sema ceremony ends with a prayer for peace of the souls of all Prophets and all believers. after the completion of the "Sema" ceremony, all the dervishes return silently to their cells for meditation ( "tefekkur" in Turkish). ]***

That was the explanation step by step from the pamphlet. Hmmm...sound ok in some part and not so ok in the other. I am not here to judge whether they are a deviated sect or not, nor do I have the right to talk about fatwa whether it's haram or halal. Let's those in authority give their verdict. Talking about's like a coincidence because once I came back from Turkey, majlis fatwa Malaysia gave the fatwa on 'zikir menari'. So in a way it gives us a clear answer on this subject.

Ok, what I am going to tell here is my own opinion after seeing the performance. Some might have different opinion...depends on how you think about it.

After the light was dimmed, about 10-12 dervishes walked to the stage. The hall was suddenly quite. We were not allowed to make noise or make any recording. There's going to be another session after they had completed the performances for the tourist to take photos or record it. Half of them were the 'performance' who did the dancing part and the rest seated at the back and their job was to play the musical instruments including flute. All of them stood up and facing the place where the tarbush I mentioned earlier and bowed down, a sign of salutation. I was not sure to whom the bowed down, whether the salutation was meant for the Prophet as what mentioned in the pamphlet or 'the spiritual Mevlana' as mentioned by Finar. Then they positioned their arms in criss-cross and bowed as a salutation to one another. 

Then they started whirling around with the right hand pointed up and the left hand pointed to the ground. They kept this movement for quite a long period with their trained foot step to make them maintained in the same posture. If one looked at them...they were like immersed in their own world without knowing what's happening outside their realm. Ida said that she thought she could do this movement...hahaha. I was just afraid she'll get vertigo after few whirling...😜😝😛. One of the dervishes (don't know whether he's the leader) ...still wearing the black cloak, kept walking in the middle like wandering around while reading something (I guessed he read zikir). The people who seated at the back were the one who played background musical instruments which accompanied the dervishes dance and the one who recited few Quranic verses at the end of the session.

I think the whole ceremony took approximately 1 hour. I didn't know the exact time...but I felt it was so long. Seeing the dervishes just whirled around made me sleepy, especially with a very good ambience to sleep. I was amazed that Fauzan could sit quietly watching this ceremony, when I was already bored....😜.

Few points I would like to mention here, why I am not in favour of this 'whirling dervish'
1. It is definitely not a sunnah from Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. In other word it's bid'ah. Especially when it comes to bid'ah in the name of worshipping Allah.
The Messenger of Allah s.a.w said: "Every innovation is misguidance and going astray". reported by Abu Dawood (no. 4607), at-Tirmidhee (no. 2676) and it is saheeh.
And he s.a.w. also said: "... and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire." Reported by an-Nasaa'ee (1/224) from Jabir bin Abdullah and it is saheeh.
2. The 5 obligatory daily prayer are the best way of worshipping Allah. It doesn't need all these stupid dancing to get closer to Allah. Solah is the only act of worship which Allah directly ordered to our beloved Prophet without any intermediary by the angel Jibrail. How high is the status of solah. It's better to do the voluntary prayer rather than perform this whirling dance. Do as much as you want the voluntary prayer and speak directly to Allah.
3. For me such act of worship by dancing is just a waste of effort. Allah does not ask us to perform in such a way to worship Him. So why do something which was not prescribed by Allah and never been done by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w
4. Our act of worship is not base on the sheikh or maulana...We already have a perfect example and the best role model who ever walked on this earth. Why we need to follow a maulana when we have Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. as our role model
5. Allah s.w.t said " Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessings upon you, and chosen Islam as Deen (religion and a way of life)- Al- Maeda (vs 3).
Our religion is already perfect without this kind of innovation.
6. The issue of background music accompanied the act of worship....I think this is wrong. The scholars even debating about whether we can play the musical instruments especially when it comes to flute or something which works in similar manner. May be some allow 'duff' something like 'gendang'...but I don't think it is allowed to accompany any act of worship.
7. Lastly worth to mention here... It was maghrib prayer time when they did the performance. And it took almost the whole time of maghrib. The evil side of me asking...did they perform their maghrib prayer? The good part of me said...Jangan bersangka buruk. They might rush for maghrib after the ceremony...😇. By the way...malam ni malam Jumaat pulak tu...😑

When it was over, there had a separate session of whirling dance for the benefit of those who intend to take photos or record the movement of this dance. Only 2 or 3 of them performed. The rest already out. 

When the event finished, it was already dark outside. We run to our bus and went back to Ramadha hotel. Tomorrow we will have another long journey...Cappadocia-->Ankara--> Bolu.

Till next time...👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Travelogue to Turkey- Part VIII- Sight seeing in Cappadocia

D6- 26th March, 2015

I rushed to my room after breakfast, took a quick shower and prepared to go down for another  tour today. Before 9 a.m, I'd already down in the lobby but found nobody there...So I went outside looking for our bus. Few buses there looked almost similar in colour made me confused which one was my bus. In my mind I was thinking...No...It couldn't be they'd left me alone here. After few rounds looking for our bus...I turned back to hotel lobby and saw the rest were just on the way out. Hehee... I was earlier then them and I saw our bus just arrived at the lobby parking. 

There were few interesting places we were going to visit today, namely the underground cities, pottery factory and  Gerome open air museum which had old cave churches. 

Our first destination was the underground city... We reached there quite early. We had to walk quite a bit from our bus to reach the interest area. On the way, as usual there were professional photographer following and snapped our pictures, hoping that we'll buy the product later once it had completed. 

A little bit on this underground city... It's the Kaymakli underground city, an ancient multi-level underground city. Extending to a depth of approximately 60m and large enough to shelter approximately 20000 people together with their livestock and food stores. It's one of the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia. It incorporated areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pit for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms and bathrooms.

Caves may have first been built in the soft volcanic rock during the Indo-European era back in 8th-7th centuries B.C. It was later inhabited by Christians, who expanded their underground caverns adding chapels and inscription. The city was used in Byzantine era, for protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine war. Some artefacts discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D.  These cities continued to be used by the Christian inhabitants as protection from the Mongolian. After the region fall to the Ottoman the cities were used as refuges from Turkish Muslim rulers. Hahhh...All about Christian running away from Muslim.

We entered the first chamber.... Finar explained briefly on the underground city while we're still there. The first chamber was a stable where they tied their horses...some of the areas on the wall, we could see they had made a hook (or more or less like a small hole on the wall) to tie the horses or other livestock. If I was not mistaken, it was part of the strategy to deceive people who enter this area...people who came here, might not realised there're a city underground. 

From there we went down through a series of tunnel. Some of us already backed off due to some medical problem and afraid to go further. Some areas, we had to bend down to go through the tunnel. May be due to my size...I found it was not that difficult. But, It would not be a good exercise for those who had knee or spine disease. You might injured your joints and spine.  The tunnels here anyway were much bigger than chuchi tunnel in Vietnam. At some points we needed to climb up or down the staircases. In between the tunnel there's flat surfaces or chambers where the previous activities had taken place. These included, cooking area, food storage area,  rooms for families and chapels. It had been their culture may be ...even in this underground city, there's also a place for making wine and wine storage. 

We went up and down, sometimes climbing stairs and sometimes went through a narrow path. I was among those who walked in front and followed Finar for her explanation. On and off, I could hear people at the back already making noise...'Bila nak habis ni'...Hahaaa. Frankly speaking you need to be fit to enter this underground city. On and off we had to slow down our pace to wait for the rest at the back to catch up with those in front. 

Overall, I would say.... I was not that excited that much with this place. could be an ancient site and one might be impressed a little bit with their hard working to live in such place. Making tunnel and a strong protection from enemies. But...hmmm...going to Christian site ...a place where they were hiding from Muslim pulak tu...Doesn't impress me that much. At least not a place I was looking forward to see. Some of us felt relieved once we out from this city.

Outside the underground city, some of us continued shopping at nearby shop. Some took photos as usual. I went straight to the bus. Nothing interesting. Outside the bus, a lady sold our photos taken while we were on the way to underground city just now. It was sold as a photo engraved on the plate. It was quite nice as a memory. Frankly speaking, I bought it because I didn't like my photo to be displayed there...hmmm...😏

From there we were brought to Gerome valley and Uchisar Citadel. This was the area I saw from the balloon this morning. It's just this morning I saw the view from the sky. The same thing but from different view. 

Gerome is a district of the Nevsehir province in Turkey. After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2000 years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in Cappadocia region.The softer rock was eroded by wind and water, leaving the hard cap rock on top of pillars, forming the present day 'fairy chimneys'. People of Gerome, realised that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries.

Our bus stopped at the roadside. So we went out, took some photos with the beautiful background views of the houses made from the soft rock. From far, it looked like a giant pigeon holes. People still leaving in these houses up to this day and age but may be inside they already decorated to suite the modern design. It reminded me on the stories of Ad and Thamud narrated in the Quran. But, of course these was not huge enough compared to what has being told in those two tribes which Allah had destroyed earlier without a trace. The people whom Allah gave strength and power and carved the mountain to make their house. Allah destroyed them without a trace because of their arrogance.

From here we could see the panoramic view of the city made up of the similar structures. Some remained as multiple pointed rock and some carved into houses and inhabited by human. The view there was spectacular...and the best to described it was just Subhanallah and Mashaallah. Nothing happen in this world without His permission and everything in his world belong to Him alone. This beautiful landscape was one of the signs of His existence and His power. However, people still persist in making mischief in His land and forgot the Creator and submitted to the creation who were powerless.

Before lunch, we went to a pottery and ceramic shop, where we were shown how they made a pottery. If I  remembered correctly, Finar did mention the source of clay used in pottery factory here were from the red and white river, which produced red and white clay. Once reached the pottery shop, we were brought to an area where they showed us how they made a pottery. He mentioned about the types of clay used, red and white clay. Red clay used for pottery products for the purpose of decoration where else the White clay products were usable for daily usage.  The person in charged jokingly informed us, for a man to get married, he should passed the test to produce a pottery pot with its cover perfectly fixed the mouth of the pot. After the explanation of the types of pottery, we were then brought to the areas of ceramic that considered part of its shop. The product here mostly were a high quality and the price ranged from few hundred to few thousands USD, depending on the piece of products. Some ceramic designed to glitter in the dark and of course this piece of work will be more costly. 

At first I didn't think that I would like to buy any of those was supposed to be just 'window shopping' session. However, influenced by Ida who would like to have a piece of souvenir for herself, I took one buying more pieces, at least it was less expensive ...😃. Hahaha...until now it still lying in touch on my table.

After the pottery session, we went for lunch and jama'  zohor and asar prayer in 'Dorak' restaurant. Dorak is the name of our local travel agent and seems it had more than just a travel agency.

In the afternoon, our first destination was to 'Open Air Museum'. It was basically a monastic  complex composed of monasteries placed side-by-side it's own church. The structure made was similar to the houses we saw earlier in Gerome valley and Uchisar Citadel. The only thing, here were the complex of churches. We walked uphill toward one of the chapels. Nothing much, just another chapel with decorations of Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary painted on the wall. I did not really entered it, just had a peeped from outside. Some of the Christians gave their prayer in this chapel. There were many more churches up hill. Some were very excited to walk further to other churches which situated at a higher level and need some effort to climb up. Our group showed disinterest to this site and made a U turn after the first chapel. After all we wouldn't  be rewarded for our extra effort to climb the hill just to see the chapels...😅

I did raised this issue to our tour leader...Knowing me..😉.I asked why we need to take so much time visiting this place. One or two places may be still ok...but too many churches was not something I like to see. It might be be different to the non Muslim group. What I suggested was, why not focused more on Islamic civilisation places which I thought might be more useful for Muslim. The answer given to me was...all the local tour agency will go through the same route and these places were the famous site of tourist attraction. Yaaa... They preferred to cater places for the non Muslim rather than Muslim..😏. That's very typical. My argument was, Turkey had a very important Islamic civilisation ...only if the Muslim agency in Malaysia approached the correct Muslim tour group from Turkey and chose more 'Islamic' site to visit.. That would be interesting... To learn the Islamic history of Turkey first hand ....not to learn the civilisation of Christianity. What a pity...we come all the way to Muslim dominated country...only to learn about paganism and trinity.

From there we went to a carpet factory. We were brought to the site where they showed us the manual way of making a carpet...from weaving the thread to the complete piece of work. It was a meticulous work and only dedicated person would give so much attention to do this. The full process might take at least three months to be completed...of course depending on the size of the carpet. The thread used were wool, cotton and silk.

After went through the process of making a carpet, we were brought to the display room. We were seated around and served with pomegranate drink, while the workers started display one by one of the carpet. All the carpets displayed were beautiful and we were like 'rambang mata'. The texture of the carpet also was very nice. The carpets came with wool, cotton and silk or in combination of these materials. Of course silk carpet would be much more expensive. When I said expensive, it was not just expensive but very very expensive...hahaha. A small 100% silk carpet might cost nearly as much as USD5K...which if we converted to RM...would cost roughly 15-20K. Hmmm...😓. I, on the other hand could not really differentiate the material...but of course the silk carpet looked shinier that the other two. Nobody bought anything here...sooo expensive lor...😂. I was wondering what the owner might be thinking...with all the effort of his workers...none of us bought it. 

From the carpet shop, we were brought to jewellery or diamonds shop. Ok, that was enough....I preferred stay in the bus. Knowing that wasn't my type. I thought I could stay on the bus and got connected to wifi while the rest shopped, but somehow Mustafa turned off the wifi. He might not even realised that I was still on the bus. So at the end I just tried to sleep while the rest 'cuci mata' with the glittering of diamonds.

Our last stop for the day would be 'The Derwish Show' a.k.a ' The whirling dance'. The show began at ~ 6.30 pm. So we had quite a lot of time before it started. So we were brought for an evening walk around the town of Cappadocia. The weather was nice that day, so strolling around the park and some of the shop wouldn't be that tiring. But of course in my mind, it would be better at this time to rest in the hotel after quite a pack tour around Cappadocia. Usually with other travel agency which I traveled before, we were given free time at least to rest in the hotel or had our own free and easy program. Earlier I thought since we didn't travel and change hotel today and just had our tour in Cappadocia only, we would have time to go back to hotel earlier. Anyway, may be it's good too....once going back we were already tired and just sleep and made used all our energy and tour during the day time. 

Ok I am already tired typing this and will continue with the Derwish show part in my next entry. See you next time.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Terima kasih PM
Kerana tuan kami kini sudah berakal
Kalau dulu kami mungkin berfikiran dangkal
Kini kami dah makin pandai
Maklumlah hari-hari di asak dengan berita di TV nasional
Hingga makcik dan pakcik di kampung pun dah makin pintar
Kalau tidak percaya tuan bisa saja beri soalan menduga akal
Jika di beri kertas untuk di uji
Bisa saja kami lulus kelas terpuji
Bukan setakat CGPA 3.85 lagi
Lebih dari itu pun kami bisa beri
Kerana akal kami lebih sedikit dari akal menteri

Kami sayang PM
Banyak sungguh yang telah tuan beri
Hingga kami rasa malu sendiri
Duit BRIM tahun lepas pun belum habis kami makan lagi
Kini masa kami pula membalas budi
Minta apa saja kan kami beri
Mahu di minta bantu bayar hutang 1MDB
Jangan risau nah cukai pendapatan tahunan kami beri 
Tak cukup kami tambah dengan cukai GST
Buat lah pelaburan dengan tabungan TH kami
Lambat lagi pun kami boleh naik haji
Kalau tuan mahu ambil dulu lah tabungan pencen dan KWSP
Naik kan saja harga minyak lagi
Kami tak kisah berjalan kaki
Pandai-pandai lah kami hidup berdikari
Kerana kami memang suka berbakti

Kami sokong PM
Jangan lah tuan hiraukan musuh yang menyerang
Itu semua fitnah yang terancang
Kerana mereka hanya cuba mencari peluang
Menanti saat bila tuan akan tumbang
Namun tak usah lah tuan bimbang
Di belakang tuan ada permaisuri terbilang
Tak kurang juga badut-badut sekeliling pinggang
Mereka sanggup saja berjuang demi wang
Berpura-pura menghunus keris bila ditentang
Lagak bagai panglima dan hulubalang
Cuma hati-hati dengan tikaman dari belakang
Jika saat kejatuhan itu tetap mendatang 
Ada baik nya tuan berfikir secara matang
Jangan teruskan angan yang panjang
Berundur lah secara hormat sebelum tuan ditendang

11 May 2015