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A Sufi to Santiago

The stamp of the SultanpathIt had to come. The first Muslim who, with the blessing of a Roman Catholic bishop, would make the Way of St. James Earlier Sufi's checked out what was going on at the tomb of the apostle in Santiago de Compostela. What was the reason of the sudden popularity of this almost-forgotten medieval Christian pilgrimage. During the Third International Mevlana Congress in Konya, the Camino to Santiago was raised. What people thought of the idea to tear the historic Sufipaths too from oblivion? Until 1925 these Sufipaths draw pilgrims, even from distant parts in Europe, to the tomb of Mevlana. Still the most visited Sufishrine on earth. As a way to express the tolerance of Mevlana towards other religions and to offer Europe and the world a historical cultural alternative for the pilgrimage to a saint that was honoured with the name "Moorslayer".

It was therefore remarkable that Sufi Sedat Çakir for the first time in history was granted the special Santiago-blessing by the Amsterdam Bishop Punt. This blessing took place on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 and was done in the framework of the UNESCO Year of Sufigodfather Mevlana Rumi, who celebrated his 800th anniversary.

Voorzien van een boodschap van bisschop Punt voor de moslims gaat Sedat Çakir op weg naar Santiago de Compostela.The agency in Santiago that keeps the pilgrim registration record, had to laugh heartily at the question of whether there was a Muslim known that made the Santiago pilgrimage before with the official Special Bless?
Of course, in the context of the walk, there are now even Protestants that visit high holy tomb of the Killer Saint. The Moors themselves are obviously not anxious to come to St. James. Officially, the last time they dis, was in 997. Then came the Vizier of Córdobar, but that was more a punitive expedition. Exactly 1010 years later, Sedat Çakir arrived. With a special message from the Amsterdam bishop. That message Sedat opened in Santiago on the day that the Spanish king Juan Carlos came to to pay respect and official praise the saint for his magical assistance. In this age-old anti-Muslim ritual the king was assisted by the highest ecclesiastical authorities.

Sedat Çakir, director of publishing Webisrehberi in Amsterdam, calls Rumi "the opposite of the caricature that Catholics in Spain made out of of St. James. In the Middle Ages Santiago was after Rome and Jerusalem the most important pilgrimage of the Christian world.
Çakir: "The belief in saints is an essential part of the Catholic faith. Santiago is an important saint with his own feast on the Canon of Saints on July 25. It is sad that idiots have abused this holy man against Moors and Jews.

Çakir: St. Jacob has never seen a Muslim, let alone massacred. He lived in the first century AD, and was sentenced to death by the sword by Herod Agrippa, in the year 43 or 44.

Around 570, his tomb was, according to Antoninus of Piacenza on the Mount of Olives, and the early 8th century text from the northern Italian monastery Nonantola cites this also as the location of the grave of James.

But in Spain, the holy apostle lead an independent afterlife, as Beatus of Liebana mentions Saint James as the tutor, protector, and patronus vernulus of king Mauregatus of Asturias (783-788). After a hermit named Pelagius had a dream that the remains of the apostle were not in Palestine, but in Spain, it didn't lasted long before Theodomirus bishop of Iria Flavia (813-818) discovered in Compostela an ancient Roman cemetery with "the body of the apostle."

Around 840 Saint James appears on a white horse in the sky during the battle of Clavijo. To deliver the Christian army victory over the Muslims. That day
Santiago Matamoros was born, James the Moorsslayer. Patron saint of the Reconquista. Always ready to help the Catholic Kings of Spain from the clouds in their fight against the Muslims and Jews. The presence of his remains and military patronage made James Patrono de las Españas.

Precisely because the saint in Santiago was made and honored as the Moorsslayer, Mevlana is what they need there", believes Çakir. He wants to express the tolerance of Mevlana against other religions during his pilgrimage.

Although no more dolls are to be beheaded at the annual celebrations, in the night before July 25 a board paper mosque is placed in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Çakir can take it easy. The victory of the Catholics over the Moslems is no longer celebrated by putting this "mosque" on fire at midnight . For years nothing is heard about the traditional Moorhunting and the famous statue of the saint as el Matamoros in replaced to a sidechapel in the dark. Only on flash pictures you see the Moors trampled under the hooves of the horse of James the Conqueror of Spain.
Çakir does not believes in this Matamoros: "It simply can not be true. The apostle was already dead ten centuries. "

Mgr. Punt: A very convincing initiative

Çakir received from the bishop of Amsterdam a letter to the bishop of Santiago. Mgr. Punt recalls his participation in a Ramadan meal, a few years ago at the Amsterdam Turkevi. He stressed the importance of reciprocity in dialogue: "We share the view that respect and tolerance is something quite different than giving up or even perspective your own beliefs".

Mgr. Punt explains in his letter (see below) that in Christian symbolism the pilgrimage to the far West, the place of death and the end of the world, is to reflect on and be aware of errors.

The bishop called the pilgrimage of Mr Çakir a "particular convincing initiative", well worth his prayer.


bischop Punt met Sedat

April 13, 2007

Dear Mr. Çakir,

Thank you for your visit. It struck me that you possessed as a Muslim the openness of heart and spirit to ask a Catholic bishop the pilgrimsblessing for a trip to Santiago de Compostela. You want to display a sign of dialogue and peace between our religions. I greatly appreciated this. I myself made some years ago a sign by attendin a Ramadan meal of the Turkish community in Amsterdam, which I store memories.

Genuine dialogue and peace can only be built on reciprocity in all respects.
In the Netherlands, but also elsewhere. Our time calls courageous testimony against fundamentalist intolerance. We share the view that respect and tolerance is something quite different than giving up or even perspective our own beliefs. On the contrary, it includes the very freedom to contribute to them.

A pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has in the Catholic tradition a special meaning. Christian churches are oriented to the east, the part of the rising sun, the Holy One, Christ. The West is the place where the world ends and death begins. On the west side a church also has traditional a tower, build as a fortress to protect the believers against the devil. The rose window in the west tower of many churches often portrays the Last Judgment out.

In this symbolism a trip to Santiago has the meaning of a journey to the far west of the Occident, and a reflection on the end of all things and life. In medieval pilgrimage was imposed on criminals in order to pay their sins and recall the Last Judgment. According to tradition, the apostle James was the first apostle who died as a martyr under Herod Agrippa (42 AD) in Jerusalem. His relics were later transferred to Santiago.

In our time more and more people make this pilgrimage. Not only for penance,, but also for rest and reflection to find new inspiration and to deepen their faith. You add a new reason: The provision of a sign of reconciliation and dialogue between Christianity and Islam. It is an unusual and convincing initiative.
I wish you a pilgrimage that also gives you great satisfaction, new strength and blessing. Pilgrim one becomes as I hear often, just on the go. With my prayers, I will support you.
I will gladly learn about your experiences after you have returned.

Best regards,

+ Joseph Marianus Punt
Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam


video Thanks to the Persdienst Bisdom Haarlem / Wim Peeters


By Murat Kirbaçoglu - editor Türkevi

Konya - At the Third International Mevlânâ Congress of the Selçuk University of Konya, the writers Mohamed el-Fers and Veyis Güngör suggested that the 800ste anniversary of Mevlânâ should be celebrated as an European Day of Tolerance, reason and access to knowledge, in accordance with the principle, thoughts and love of Mevlânâ. Four Turkish ministers that were present agreed, but why limit the most eminent philosopher and mystical writer of Islam only to Europe? The whole world needs Mevlânâ!

On January 14, 2005, the Turkish Permanent Delegation to UNESCO requested in a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO that the year 2007 would associate with the 800th Birthday of Mevlânâ. This request was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, since Mevlânâ was born in Balkh in the north eastern Afghanistan.
The Director-General noted that the proposal meets the criteria of the UNESCO. Accordingly the 800th Birthday of the man who for centuries had its stamp printed on the Islamic culture and devotion, was celebrated worldwide, as TÜRKEVi and MOKUMTV celebrate the birth of the Master of the Free Spirit on a smaller scale in Amsterdam, the Capital of the Free World.

Mr Güngör Veyis of Türkevi Amsterdam was very pleased with the support of UNESCO, as this' guarantee that the whole world now has access to the mystical knowledge of the masterpieces that Mevlânâ produced. '
Mr Mohamed el-Fers said that "the work of Mevlânâ and his universal ideas are significant up to today, even outside the borders of Turkey and Europe."

Stamps collected on the Sufipath to Konya

In that respect the Sufipath is really "together on the road."

Irz - chastity monitoring

As the (Roman Catholic) priests guard the chastity of the Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, the chastity surveillance along the Sufipath in Turkey is one of the tasks of the Turkish gendarme (jandarma). So behave yourself according the traditions in the areas you walk.

More information about the chastity control in general ("ırz ve malının korunması" in Turkish) by the gendarme in Kırklari you find under the heading MÜLKİ GÖREVLERİon the site of this unit.

The E8 is an initiative of the European Association for Long-distance footpaths.


The Mevlana-project was conducted in cooperation with the following organizations:
Association Turkish House
Mokum TV Amsterdam
Foundation KULSAN
Turkish Writers Association Netherlands
Association IFKSAN
Colorful Dance Foundation
Mosaic Culture and Art Foundation
Foundation Troya
Foundation Tevazu
Foundation Mokum Plus
ODA Foundation
Foundation Kardelen
CWI Amsterdam
Historical Museum Turkey-Netherlands Hoorn
Foundation Mysticism
Zaman Netherlands