Sufism, hermitism, vow of celibacy and renunciation of property - this is the calling card of the dervish. A wandering beggar dervish or living in a monastery has no right to ask for alms, must completely obey the teacher and seek spiritual perfection from the heart, not from the mind.
Dervish is at the same time a Muslim prototype of a monk, and a wandering beggar, and a fakir, a doctor, a soothsayer for the poorest strata of the population of the countries professing Islam. The variety of dervish essences has evolved over the centuries, starting from about the 8th century. Dervishes live and continue to search for spiritual perfection in Pakistan, India, Iran, some countries of Southeast Asia and North Africa.
Such different dervishes
Dervishes are wandering and living in monasteries (tekie, khanaka). In any case, the dervishes should not have property, they are obliged to fully obey the teacher (sheikh) and, ideally, observe the vow of celibacy. There are, however, dervishes who have their own trade or position, their homes and families and live outside the walls of the monastery. In this case, they should be generous, hospitable, ready to part with property, for everything belongs to Allah. They are charged with performing special prayers of the brotherhood at certain hours and visiting the monastery 2-3 times a week and on religious holidays.
The Essence of Dervish Religious Belief
Dervishes are united by the desire for a hermitic life and Sufism - one of the main directions of Muslim philosophy. The main idea of the latter is in the individual achievement of connection with God, in the cleansing of the heart from everything except God. The ways to achieve spiritual perfection can be expressed in silent, in-depth contemplation, in general prayers aloud, accompanied by singing, in ritual, with religious overtones, dances to music. Mystical ecstasy coming from a pure heart helps more than attempts to intellectually comprehend the teachings.
There are more than 70 known orders of dervishes, founded by eminent elders, or sheikhs. The oldest of them is the Elvani order, which was founded by Sheikh Elvan (died in Jeddah in 766). Other ancient orders are the Edgemites, Bektashi and Sakati. There are also sects deviating from the basic laws of Islam, the so-called. free (asad) or lawless (bicher). Devout Muslims bring rich gifts or contributions to the monastery related to one or another order. However, the dervishes must take care of their attire on their own. The color of the clothes is chosen black or dark green; the sheikhs have white and green. The dervish's head is covered with a turban of various shapes.
Many dervish orders existed in the former Ottoman Empire. In 1925, during the transition of Turkey to the republican system of government, the dervishes and their orders were banned. Since the middle of the 50s of the XX century, the state's attitude towards the dervishes has softened. Some dervish orders have integrated into modern life in Turkey and have become a tourist attraction. For example, the dancing dervishes of the Mevlevi order in Konya, 200 km south of Ankara. Twice a year, their festivities are accompanied by an exciting whirling dance filled with deep mystical meaning.