Sufi Sema Music from Turkey: A Gift from Mevlana Rumi


Sema or Turkish Dervish Whirling Music was a spiritual ritual attributed to Maulana Jalaludin Rumi (Mevlana Rumi in Turkey), one of the greatest Sufi saints of all times.

Sema was a ritual that was performed by Sufis of Mevlevi order usually in secrecy as it was a act of devotion to connect with the Creator using a novel way of whirling at the sound of Ney.

Rumi was a scholar of religion, but after the mysterious disappearance of Shams Tabraiz, he went into state of despair and disorder. The knowledge of books was of no solace all.

In his bewilderment, he started Sema, a phase of ecstasy and whirling. It was a deeply spiritual exercise, not a dance, as it may appear to ordinary eyes.

Some scholars of Islamic Fiqh were against music, but Rumi’s Sufi music was different as it was a medium to connect with Allah. The Sufi ensemble begins with Hamd, followed by Darood and Salam on all Prophets, followed by whirling ceremony.

As explained in 7 Phases of Sufi Whirling Ensemble Ceremony , the ritual has 7 parts:

  • Part 1: Testifiying to God’s unity
  • Part 2: Drums; God order to the Creation
  • Part 3: Ney; The Divine Breath
  • Part 4: Greeting
  • Part 5: Sema, The Whirling
  • Part 5: Salutes
  • Part 6: Reading of Quran
  • Part 7: Closing with Dawood on all Prophets


Mevlana Rumi begins his Masnavi book with verse ‘Listen to the Reed’, as he narrates his woes at the mysterious disappearance of Shams Tabraiz, his spiritual mentor. Even after hundreds of years, Turkish Dervish Whirling continues over Ney Music, which you can listen here. 



You may also like...