Byline: SHAHMEER MOHYDIN - Lahore
982, Main Street, Brooklyn NYC - I sat at Cafe Istanbul encircled by a culturally diverse set of people. Despite the differences that held them they all seemed to enjoy the Turkish cuisine and relaxed themselves to the Sufi Kalam playing in the restaurant. As I helped myself to the Turkish delight and coffee I speculated the Cafe walls which were adorned in Turkish paintings. Suddenly, my attention was caught by a graceful yet stunning painting of a man wearing a tall conical hat, which appeared to be whirling in a radiant circle as derived from the raising and flailing of his long white robes.
Through thousands of years, hundreds of diverse civilizations, with many different colours, sounds and rhythms have been composed in Turkey. They are blended, they get various shapes but if you look and listen closely, you can see the signs of all that great civilization living, like I saw in that painting of the Whirling Dervish at Cafe Istanbul.
The culture of Turkey combines a heavily diverse set of elements that have been stem from the Ottoman, European, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian traditions and we see the fusion of the East and the West in the Turkish Cultural Identity, which also represents a continuum that bridges the past and the present.
When I visualize that painting of the Whirling Dervish, it tells me the story of the East and the West- the coexistence of Islamic tradition and Turkish modernity and people from different ethnicities living together in harmony, in its homogenous, coherent and distinctive language. A Whirling Dervish is merely a Sufi mystic, who believes in the power to revolutionize this world. The aim is to bring divine love and guide humanity to see that we all are one. This way the world can be made into a better abode.