The Whirling Dervishes are part of the Mevlevi Order, an offshoot of the mystical Islamic teaching known as Sufism.
Their name comes from their practice of turning, or whirling – a dance-like form of physical prayer. They were outlawed in Turkey in 1925 by General Atatürk because their mystical beliefs are often considered blasphemous by orthodox Islam.
They are, however, permitted to turn – but only at “dance ceremonies” put on for tourists.
Regular “Mukabele” ceremonies (meaning “coming face to face”) live on at the Study Society in West London.
Not on the Wires had the opportunity to attend one of these Mukabeles, and asked Michele Occelli about his reasons for joining the order.