The semazen becomes a conduit through which God's blessings are poured onto all humanity. In this sense, everyone attending the sema becomes a participant.
Each semazen turns from right to left; it is said, he turns around the heart. He whirls, his white skirt billowing.
The sema consists of seven parts. It begins with the Nat-i-Serif, a eulogy to the Prophet Muhammad, followed by the awakening call of a kettledrum.
Then come four selams, four cycles of the dervishes whirling, with their sheikh — their leader — sitting at their center.
The first selam signifies the birth of truth through knowledge; the second expresses the rapture and splendor of creation; the third represents full submission to and communion with God; the fourth, when their sheikh joins their whirling, gathers them together.
A recitation from the Koran and a greeting of peace, accompanied by ecstatic music, brings the ceremony to a close.
"It unites the three fundamental components of human nature," Kahveci said. The sema unites the mind, with knowledge and thought; the heart, with expressions of poetry and music; and the body, with the dervishes' whirling.
It is the turning of the human soul toward God. It is a communal awakening, which is the very heart of the Sufi way.
MICHÈLE MARR is a freelance writer from Huntington Beach. She can be reached at email@example.com.