Friday, 08 December 2023
Shems Friedlander Has Passed Away

Shems Friedlander Has Passed Away

Shems Friedlander, an American writer of Jewish origin who converted to Islam after meeting Mevlevi, died in Istanbul at the age of 82.

Friedlander, who has been undergoing cancer treatment for some time, will be sent off on his last journey from Fatih Mosque tomorrow afternoon.

Friedlander, who is also a graphic designer, photographer, painter, poet, filmmaker and author of books on Sufism, was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims of 2012 by the Institute of Islamic Studies.

Born in New York in 1940 to Russian Jewish parents, the author began working as a graphic designer in New York City after graduating from college, and in 1972 he met the Mevlevis, who came to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to perform a sema show.

Shems Friedlander, who was later invited to Konya by the Mevlevis, came to Konya for the first time in 1972 and became a Muslim.

After working as a professor at the American University in Cairo for 20 years, Friedlander moved to Istanbul in 2014 and was in Konya every year throughout his life, especially during the Şeb-i Arus ceremonies.

The author, who has nearly 10 books on Rumi and whirling dervishes, also exhibited his paintings in New York and Cairo. His drawings and photographs were included in many private collections.

In an interview in 2018, Friedlander said that Mevlevi deeply affected him, and said: 

"The Sema is a dhikr. I am not interested in Mevlana as a historical figure. I'm interested in his message, what he says. I am interested in what Rumi said, how I can benefit from him. I look at how I can reflect his writings in my life. This is the problem of the world today. He was a great saint, a great leader, that's not it, we shouldn't get hung up on that. We need to turn not to our souls, but to Allah. Islam should be everywhere in life. That's why I integrated my whole life into Islam. Islam is a way of life. You cannot separate Islam from your life. Islam is not just going to prayer on Fridays. People ask me, 'Where, when, why did you become a Muslim?' Look, that's why Hz. Abu Bakr Siddiq became a Muslim, that's why I became a Muslim."