There was a strict hierarchy within the order and the dervish was required to undergo a series of tests and trials before being raised from one level of dervishhood to the next. The first of these levels was affiliation, whereby an aspirant became an affiliate of the order or muhib. First, the aspirant had to reach the age of eighteen. Secondly, he had to prove his maturity and the earnestness of his desire to confess, to show a keen interest in the order and possess sufficient knowledge, intellegence and propensity for attainment. Having fulfilled these requirements, the aspirant would then apply to the head of the order in his town or region, asking for consideration as a potential affiliate member of the order. The sheyh of the convent to which he had applied would listen carefully to his application, observing his words, attitudes and intellegence at close quarters and would then enquire about him from other sources. After concluding his 'enquiry, he would then send word to the aspirant to come to the convent bringing the headgear of the Mevlevi with him. Some time may pass before such an invitation was proffered, and in some cases, such a call was never made.
During the intervening period, the members of the order would carry out a thorough investigation into the background of the aspirant, his family, past education, social standing and behaviour and his morals. Only then, if their findings were in his favour, he was invited to join the order.
When he received this invitation, the aspirant took up his bundle containing the sikke- headgear of the order- and entered the convent, performed ritual ablutions and presented himself to the sheyh, whose hand he kissed in reverence, kneeling before him in the appropriate manner. The sheyh rested the aspirant's head on his knee, and blessing the sikke, placed it on his head. The blessing was known as the "sikke (affirmation) formula".
When the ceremony was complete, the aspirant had become an affiliate - muhib. He was free to set up house outside the convent and to take up a profession, and could return to the convent from time to time to take part in rituals and ceremonies, and to engage in discourse with the resident dervishes. A muhib, if he wished could become a neophyte, entering the novitiate of the order, by undergoing castigatory retreat. He would then become a permanent member of the order, with his own cell in the convent.
Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Mevlana and the Mevlana Museum".
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