Sema Ritual

What does the sema ritual symbolise? Part 1

From the beginning up to the 2nd Salaam

Performing “Sultan Veled Circling” prior to the Sema ritual symbolises the completion of the visible part of the knowledge. It is now time to demonstrate the knowledge of certainty they have attained. They gracefully raise their hands and the Sema begins. The literal meaning of Sema is to hear.

The first Salam refers to the Nafs al-Ammara (The Inciting Soul). At this stage, one strives to comprehend his own nature and the things that harm him. Dervishes do not glance at their right or left hand while whirling. It is an indication of acknowledging that sustenance is in Allah’s knowledge and unquestionable. At this point, the dervishes is at peace with his Creator and simply contemplates his own actions. 

The whirling dervishes tilts his head slightly towards his heart and focuses on the remembrance of Allah, as the heart is the place where the divine secret manifests itself. The whirling dervishes silently recite the name “Allah” during each rotation. It refers to the verse of the Quran “To Allah belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn you are facing “towards” Allah. Surely Allah is All-Encompassing, All-knowing.” (Al-Baqarah, 115)

It is a continuation of the first salam, this is, the inciting soul. At this stage, the remaining flaws of the  inciting soul are attempted to be eradicated and through this salam, the outcomes of the first salam are achieved.