Shems Friedlander r.a. (May God have mercy upon him), whose The Whirling Dervishes and When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra became instant classics, offers us another jewel– unique in that it brings to light hitherto unpublished material on the sacred music and dance, or sema of the Mevlevi Dervishes. We are treated to a wonderful explanation of the significance and symbolism of the dress and movement of the dance performed in the semahane–the Hall of Celestial Sounds.
Friedlander was a member of the Mevlevi order of dervishes (known in the west as the Whirling Dervishes), founded by Jalaluddin Rumi, for more than 35 years and was initiated as a sheikh of both the Mevlevi and Halveti order of dervishes.
He brings an insight and understanding of the work of Rumi which links it to the roots of Rumi’s thought. This offers the reader an insider’s in-depth view of Rumi which other contemporary poets who have adapted his work for the west can fail to elucidate.
As Friedlander presents the “Roots of His Thought,” the story of Rumi’s life unfolds in an entirely fresh and accessible manner, sprinkled with the Master’s poetic insights. The work concludes with a most admirable explanation of the inner and outer nature of sacred music and we are shown how a “glimpse of Truth is revealed by vibrations and sound.”
• The Whirling Dervishes, Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu’ddin Rumi, Macmillan (New York, NY, 1975)
• Submission: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, hadith notations by Al-Hajj Shaikh Muzaffereddin, Harper and Row (New York, NY, 1977)
• Ninety-Nine Names of Allah, Harper and Row (New York, NY, 1978)
• When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra: Talks on Sufism, Perennial Library (New York, NY, 1987)
• Sunlight, Poems, and Other Words, Safina Books (Cairo, Egypt, 1997)
• Rumi: The Hidden Treasure, Fons Vitae (Louisville, KY, 2001)
• Winter Harvest, a Memoir (2015)
• The Forgotten Message of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (2017)
• Rumi: The Wings of Love (2002)
• The Circles of Remembrance (2005)
• Faisal: Legacy of a King (2011)
Shems Friedlander (January 8, 1940 – November 22, 2022) was an American Islamic scholar, Sufi master, visual artist, filmmaker, author and an emeritus professor of practice at the American University in Cairo. He is best known for his works on mystical traditions of Islam, especially the Mevlevi Sufi tradition founded after the name of Mevlana Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. Friedlander died in Istanbul on 22 November 2022 at the age of 82.