Konya to Antalya


Western Turkey - Personal Journal
Day 11 - Saturday, 11 April 1998

We had a little time for shopping in the bazaar before we meet at the mosque and the Mevlana museum. In the mosque, Meli drew us into a corner and taught us about Rumi. The people who came in to pray found us interesting and a few sat at the edges of our group to listen for a time. Others stopped and stared. They stared especially at Meli, this woman teaching in a mosque. It must have looked strange to them. Or perhaps the whole group did - Americans seated in a semi-circle in a Turkish mosque, our shoes in plastic bags, the women wearing scarves purchased along the way.

Meli's Lecture in Konya

When women are in a mosque, men cannot pray behind them. Since part of the prayer routine involves being on your knees, face to the ground and buttocks in the air, it is a reasonable thing. The women, for their own modesty, usually pray at the back of the mosque. Even as Meli was speaking, some women came in and performed a perfect demonstration for her words. Then came in three women who went directly to the front of the mosque, unfazed, and went through all the motions of the prayer as Meli had demonstrated to us only yesterday in Guzelyurt. There are few people here today, and there is little fear that any men would be forced to kneel behind them, and so they pray freely. Prayers finished, they retreived their shoes at the door and went about their daily routines.

There was a man cleaning the mosque, and his noisy vacuum cleaner was distracting to Meli. We had trouble hearing her and she wanted to be sure we could hear. So she went to him to ask him to stop the machine. We giggled to each other about Meli's control over all situations, even to dictating when a mosque could be cleaned. But when she came back, she told us about her long running relationship with this man, whom she called Bubba, meaning father. He in turn calls her Anna, meaning mother. So perhaps it is not so unusual a request after all. But we have become quite confident that Meli has no qualms about asking for whatever she needs to accomplish her work in guiding this tour.

Jalal-ud-din Rumi

"Rumi," said Meli, "means Man of Rome." And the man, the mystic, dancing, devoutly religious poet known as Rumi, has followers in all nations. On the Silk Road in central Anatolia, there was a town called Beth in the Selcurkian Empire. A man lived there named Baha` ad-Din Walad, who was a noted mystical theologian, author, and teacher. The approaching Mongols caused him to leave his home and take his family, including little Jalal, to Anatolia and eventually to Konya, where he taught at one of the religious schools. Meli said that he wanted no pressure on what he could or could not teach, and he sought a faraway place to be free to teach astronomy, theology, literature, and languages. Was he looking for a guard or a guide? Rumi would later state that "our faith is our guard and our God is our guide."

Rumi's Sarcophagus

The little caravan wandered to Mecca, to Baghdad, to Damascus, and eventually someone said, "Go to Rum, the land of the Byzantines, where there is a just religious ruler who has shaken hands with the Christians." The sultan met them outside the city, and kissed the hem of the teacher's robe. "I want to be your student," he said, "please come into my palace." "The place of a teacher is in a school," was the answer, "not in a palace." So the sultan gave a school and became a student. The subjects taught in the school included Hebrew, Latin, Greek, math, geometry, Arabian, Persian, astronomy, and theology. Jalal-ud-din became an excellent teacher also.

The decisive moment in Rumi's life occurred on Nov. 30, 1244, when in the streets of Konya he met the wandering dervish--holy man-- Shams ad-Din (Sun of Religion) of Tabriz. He revealed to Rumi the mysteries of divine majesty and beauty, and said to this respected teacher, "You quote well, but what do you know?" His point was that intellect could be restricting.

It is said that Rumi threw his books into the well. (Meli hopes that is not true.) After the two men had talked for 40 years (remember the Anatolian meaning of 40 is many), Shams left. Some records indicate Rumi's family murdered him because they feared his influence on Rumi. In any case, Jalal felt abandoned and raw. But he was told that he was now ripened, and it was time to fall off the tree.

He sought spiritual purity, and realized that only fools praise the mosque while opressing hearts full of love. "We are God's creation, and His reflection," Rumi thought. "How can we be separated? There is no duality. It is the duty of a holy man to receive from God and give to man, and vice versa."

God gave us a mind to be responsible for ourselves and to overcome all difficulties. If the world crumbled, we would build a new one. Even if there are thorns everywhere, the heart is a rose garden.

Rumi was influenced perhaps by Heraclitus, who stressed the need for men to live together in social harmony. Heraclitus is the one who is quoted as having said, "you cannot wash your feet in the stream in the same water twice." The actual quote from Heracleitus' famous analogy of life to a river is "Upon those who step into the same rivers different and ever different waters flow down." To Jalal ud-Din, 1200 years later, it was time to turn a new page.

"In the book of Galations," Meli said, "it is said that the law divides, and love unites." The emphasis for Rumi is on inner faith. You must have God in your heart. The emphasis is on three things for complete being: wisdom, feeling and conscience. Maintaining these three in perfect balance is transcendental, and makes a man a masterpiece of perfect art, and sure of himself. To follow Rumi is to enter into the "door of love".

Sufi music is Rumi's music; those who follow him practice Sufism. It is a branch of Islam that is humanistic, ecumenical, universal. The message is, "Do not fear anything." Meli told us a story of a man who was caught in a flood and called on God to save him. Three boats came by, and he turned them all away because he was waiting for God's divine intervention. When he drowned and came face to face with God, he asked "Why didn't you save me?" God told him, "I sent three boats and you rejected them all."

Jim Drahovzal reflected on his Grandmother's saying, "Do your best and trust in the Lord for the rest."

Meli talked about the secular way of looking at theology. The sultans were composers of music, such as the Sufi music. It is played on a Ney reed with 11 sections, and is played with the breath, which is life, forced through the reed.

A dervish is one who has had Sufi training, of the mind and of the soul. "You can do the dance, but is your mind in line with your feet?" is Meli's question to those who practice the art. They celebrate union with God by dancing in a circle, moving around the self and also in an orbit.

A teaching of Rumi is that death is your wedding day - when you are rejoined to God.

April Rain Bowl

Meli directed us to look for certain things as we went into the museum. Above the entrance, look for the tree of life painted on the keystone. Look for three tableaus of Rumi's mentality, the crescent, with the throne above it, and the hat of Rumi on top. Inside the museum, notice the sarcophogi, the largest one is Rumi's. Notice that one is standing, near the foot of Rumi's sarcophagus. The story is that its occupant would not lie down in Rumi's presence.

The museum is filled with people, and one must look carefully to find the things of importance. One very large bowl caught my eye and I read the inscription beside it. It is called the Nisan Tasi, the April Rain Bowl. It was used to collect rain during Nisan (April) and the water then was considered holy water.

We leave Konya for Antalya

We checked out of our hotel, ate lunch at the same restaurant as dinner last night, and loaded into the bus. We are headed for Antalya, another long bus ride.

For the first time in Anatolia, we saw irrigation pipes in the fields. Meli talked about the changes happening in these valleys. These are the people who have always believed, "If we are good to God, He will be good to us and send rain when it is needed." That attitude is giving way to, "We can control the water ourselves." Dependence is shifting from God to self.

As the bus climbed up the side of the Taurus Mountains, Meli talked about the name Taurus being the symbol of power. These mountains have long stood as a barrier to invasions.

St. Paul would most likely have crossed this same way that we are going, when he traveled from Iconia to Laodicia.

A rest break near the top gave us a chance to breathe mountain air, walk or run a bit, pick up rocks and learn more about the geology. Spring wildflowers are just beginning to pop out. The tour following us will see breath-taking sweeps of color.


There are three important sights to see in Aspendos, the bridge, the theatre and the aqueducts. Meli told us the story of three men competing for the hand of the emperor's daughter, who created these works to try to impress the emperor. In the amphitheater, the emperor could hear the builder whispering to himself, "I must have her, I love her so much." The emperor realized the extremely sensitive acoustics therein, and gave his daughter to the builder of the amphitheatre. We spent some time exploring it, then went off to take pictures of the aqueduct in the sunset.

Aspendos Aqueduct

Our next stop was Antalya, where two Pensyons awaited us. The first and smallest one insisted on offering refreshments, and it would have been rude to refuse. So after a quick drink, we moved on to the second one, which has a large lobby. There, Meli could comfortably talk to us, to give us instructions for the rest of the day and the next morning.

Dinner was "on our own" as half of us got Turkish baths! The other half will go tomorrow. It was a wonderful experience, one that we could get used to easily. Sleep came quickly and we slept well. Our bathroom was "en suite" but up a small flight of steps. It looked quite odd.