October 12: Ragib, Konya

This is a different kind of post today (Wednesday, 10/12/11) – not a focus on a specific woman – – until a surprise at the end of the day! – – but rather an incredible day with Ragib.

As our magical trip has progressed, we have been blessed by wonderful people, delightful “coincidences,” and synchronicities of being in the right place at the right time.  Today was a highlight when all of these seemed orchestrated to provide amazing experiences!

When we met with Cemalnur Sargut in Istanbul, she graciously suggested that perhaps one of her students in Konya might host us when we arrived there.  And we soon learned that indeed Mr. Ragib Bagriacik had apparently agreed to do this.  He met us at our hotel at 9:30 in the morn and took us first to a Mosque where one of Rumi’s close associates was buried.  It is small, beautiful – and the first thing I noticed was that women seemed to go any place they chose, rather than being required to stay in the back or upstairs.  When I asked Mr. Ragib about this, he smiled and noted that in Konya “We are not as strict as in Istanbul.”

As we made our way to the Mevlana Museum, we learned that Mr. Ragib and his wife and some others meet every Wednesday evening to study the teachings of the Koran, led by a woman who reads Arabic, and through the interpretations of teacher Cemalnur Sargut and others.  We also learned that he had lived in Boston several years, going there initially to get an MBA, but instead he found work in a textile organization and decided to “learn on the job.”  That he did, and now is back in Turkey managing his own organization.

When he bought our tickets to the Mevlana Museum he connected with a woman who was in a small building near the gate – – and explained to us that this was the 21st granddaughter of Rumi (Mevlana) and she would like us to have tea with her after we toured the Museum!

As we exited the Museum and found our way back to the small house – alas, it was filled with many people meeting with the granddaughter.  However, as the group broke and moved upstairs to another small room – – we were invited to join this group! ! !   Two or three Sufi teachers and some of their students comprised the group.  Soon all 35 of us were seated in a very small room with benches along the four walls.  And an awesome experience began.  The group sang and sang and sang – the singing interspersed with prayers.  Not understanding the words was wonderful as it freed us to allow the music, the sacredness to resonate within out hearts.

After several songs, accompanied by a single drummer, one of the seven men in the group took off his shoes, stood, and engaged in the dervish whirling dance.  The authentic presence and sacred belief of these people, and their welcoming of us, was an amazingly powerful experience.  What an indication of the oneness of our universe – – – which is, in fact, one of the basic Sufi principle.  We were touched and honored, and fully engaged with them – heart to heart.

The Sufis seem strongly committed to study AND practice.  The whirling Dervish, whose ceremony I was able to observe in Cappodocia, for example, were professional and business MEN.  This is the way they serve.  There seems to be no priestly class – well not a strong evidence of that is obvious.  Although Cemalnur Sargut was very clear in explaining to us that her commitment was to Allah and the Prophet – before her husband, her daughter, her son.

Ragib strongly emphasized that there is nothing between you and God.  And, that all are one in God’s house – which is the whole world.  He again told the story we had heard from Cemalnur about the fingers and thumb coming together, gently rocking the hand back and forth means “beautiful,” and inside each finger and thumb is different.  He also spoke of the world as a pomegranate – – composed of the many, many small parts.  I shared with him my awareness of the picture from outer space and how it teaches us that we all have the same home.

As we parted company with Mr. Ragib and exchanged cards – he said to me, “Oh, you must meet my wife!!! ”  And so, we arranged that he and his wife would come to our hotel that evening after work!   Her story is the subject of our next post….

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