Tourists and pilgrims from across Turkey and around the world flock to the tomb of Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273), one of the greatest poets and Sufi masters in Islam. Since 1925, the Turkish government has relentlessly struggled to control Islamic influences in society and to channel people’s devotion to the memory of Kemal Ataturk (d. 1938) and his secular ideology. This article argues that by restructuring the layout and presentation of the tomb complex of Rumi, and putting the sacred space through the process of museumification, the Turkish state has attempted to regulate the place in order to control people’s experience of the sacred. The Museum functions simultaneously as a sacred place and a tourist site and the role of visitors as pilgrims and tourists is ambiguous. This article examines the history and politics of the space in order to illustrate how it functions as a site of contestation and how visitors act as important agents in the construction of the space’s meaning.


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