Miki Cohen is a 58-year-old college teacher who has ‘discovered’ the works of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a 13th-century Muslim poet and Sufi mystic.
Attracted by Rumi’s writings and philosophy, Miki translates his works into Hebrew and practices whirling in worship.
What makes Cohen’s story so remarkable is that he is an Israeli. The son of holocaust survivors and a veteran of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Cohen found himself searching for answers to his spiritual identity.
“I was in the Israeli army in the ’73 war. And the war mentality, the killing mentality, the feeling that we are on one side victims and on the other side we are the oppressors. So, what are we? So I started, you know, looking for bigger answers let’s say or deeper …. For many years I was looking in many places,” he explains.
Along with several other Israelis, he undertakes a spiritual search and is attracted by the mysticism of Sufism.
But Miki goes a step further. He travels to Konya in central Turkey, the resting place of Rumi and a city once known as the ‘citadel of Islam’ with a reputation for religious conservatism. It is the centre for the Mevlevi Sufi order of Islam.
Miki becomes one of few outsiders – and certainly the only Israeli – to be granted access to the inner sanctum of the whirling Dervishes.
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