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Sema as Zikr: The Language of the Whirling Dance

Vida Mia S. Valverde

Abstract

This paper explores the parallels found in the dance of the whirling dervishes and Rumi’s poetry. The dance, or sema, is a remembrance of God, zikr, which Rumi beautifully describes in his poetry. It is an honoring and mirroring of the revolutions, cycles, circles, centers, and turnings of life. This poetry in motion, done in the silence of the dervish, brings us to the sema, as a pronounced capacity to
presence, because it is both poetry and thing. As poetry, it affords us to undergo an experience with language and the silence that bring us nearer to our center. There is much that is said in the sema even if nothing is spoken. What is said is heard in the silence cultivated by sema. The dance of the whirling dervishes is zikr, a remembrance of God. 

Keywords

Rumi, semazen, silence, zikr, god

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