|Photo © Amer Kapetanovic -All Rights Reserved|
Sema means listening in Arabic, and is performed as "zikr", which means the devotional remembrance of glorifying God and the Prophet Muhammad. The use of music and song can range from somewhat raucous and repetitive (as the Egyptian zikr) to the more subtle (musically-speaking) of the Sema in Turkey. In the same vein, the Gnaoua (or Gnawa) of Morocco perform their characteristic African Islamic spiritual religious songs and rhythms.
It is said that performing the Sema is a way to spiritually meditate through melodies and dancing. It brings out a person's love of God, purifies the soul, and is a way of finding God. It represents the mystical journey of individuals on their ascent through mind and love to union with God.
Although I photographed the Gnawa Sufis in Morocco, the Badawi Sufis in Egypt and various Sufi manifestations and ceremonies in India, I was only able to photograph the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul along with hundreds of tourists; a delightful experience but not one that I found particularly intense at all . Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to visit Konya; the city where the Sufi saint Jalaluddin Rumi is buried.
Until I do visit Konya, the wonderful (and large) monochromatic photographs of a Whirling Dervishes sema by Amer Kapetanovic will suffice.