Mawlana Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi is a world renowned Persian Poet and Scholar, who was born in Tajikistan (Wakhsh) on 30 September 1207 in a highly educated family of scholars, originating from the city of Balkh, Afghanistan.
Rumi’s Family Background
Rumi’s father was a famous jurist, Bahaud-din Walad and mother, Mumina Khatun, belonging to a long generational line of Hanafi jurists. Rumi had brothers named, Alauddin and Husayn, and a sister, Fatima Khatun.
Rumi married Gowhar Khatun in 1224, and had two sons, Sultan Walad and Alauddin. After Gowthars death in 1245, Rumi married a widow, Kerra Khatun with whom he had a son (Muzaffar Chelebi) and daughter (Malika Khatun).
He travelled and studied in a wide number of places, institutions and teachers.
Rumi’s poetic works, literary writings and activities are linked with the mystical sufi aspects of the Islamic faith.
The poetry aims to reach out to the inner dimensions of a human being’s mind and soul, developing its connections with the divine Creator.
He was inspired by the famous sufi teacher, Shams-e Tabrizi and goldsmith companion, Salahud-din-e Zarkub.
Rumi’s poetry explores the deeper purpose of life, the existence of mankind, the human connections with the Creator and uses broad loose artistic literary words in his poems. The latter has led to much controversial discussions about him maintaining and going beyond the allowed faith boundaries to explore life, society and humanity.
Rumi intertwined the use of poetry, music and dance in order to motivate followers to get closer to the divine Creator.
He has written in Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. His influence has been international in nature and is widely popular even today.
Rumi’s inspiring poetry has managed to inspire followers and admirers from the wider non-muslim scholarly community.
Rumi has a wide extensive body of literature written about him and his poetry, by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars alike. He is a popular figure in the literary world.
During the mongol invasion, Rumi and his family travelled extensively throughout many Muslim lands (Khorasan, Samarkand, Makkah, Baghdad, Damascus) until eventually settling in Konya, Anatolia (Turkey). Rumi died on the 17th of December 1273.
Rumi served as a scholar and teacher in a school madrasah in Konya, taking over from his father.
The Mewlewi Sufi Order was founded after his death by Rumis followers, Husam Chalabi, then led by his son Sultan Walad. It has remained within the lineage of Rumi’s descendents ever since.
Rumi’s Literary Works Include :
- Diwan-e Kabir (Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi – approx 40000 verses)
- Mathnawi (Six books totalling approx 25000 verses)
- Fihi ma Fihi (Collection of 71 talks and lectures)
- Majales-e Saba (Seven Sessions – contains 7 Persian sermons on the Quran and Hadith)
- Makatib (The Letters)
Rumi’s Poetry – Some Examples
Mathnawi VI: 255-260
Wealth has no permanence: it comes in the morning,
and at night it is scattered to the winds.
Physical beauty too has no importance,
for a rosy face is made pale by the scratch of a single thorn.
Noble birth also is of small account,
for many become fools of money and horses.
Many a nobleman’s son has disgraced his father by his wicked deeds.
Don’t court a person full of talent either,
even if he seems exquisite in that respect:
take warning from the example of Iblis1 .
Iblis had knowledge, but since his love was not pure,
he saw in Adam nothing but a figure of clay.
Mathnawi VI: 2955-2962
The spirit is like an ant, and the body like a grain of wheat
which the ant carries to and fro continually.
The ant knows that the grains of which it has taken charge
will change and become assimilated.
One ant picks up a grain of barley on the road;
another ant picks up a grain of wheat and runs away.
The barley doesn’t hurry to the wheat,
but the ant comes to the ant, yes it does.
The going of the barley to the wheat is merely consequential:
it’s the ant that returns to its own kind.
Don’t say, “Why did the wheat go to the barley?”
Fix your eye on the holder, not on that which is held.
As when a black ant moves along on a black felt cloth:
the ant is hidden from view; only the grain is visible on its way.
But Reason says: “Look well to your eye:
when does a grain ever move along without a carrier?”
Whispers of Love
Lover whispers to my ear,
“Better to be a prey than a hunter.
Make yourself My fool.
Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck!
Dwell at My door and be homeless.
Don’t pretend to be a candle, be a moth,
so you may taste the savour of Life
and know the power hidden in serving.
Life & Death
look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love
look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known
why think seperately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last
look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs
look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once
the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me
be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words
my beloved grows
right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be
What is to be done, O Muslims? for I do not recognise myself.
I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Muslim.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;
I am not of Nature’s mint, nor of the circling’ heaven.
I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity.
I am not of India, nor of China, nor of Bulgaria, nor of Saqsin
I am not of the kingdom of ‘Iraqian, nor of the country of Khorasan
I am not of the this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan.
My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless ;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know J One I see, One I call.
He is the first, He is the last, He is the outward, He is the inward;
I know none other except ‘Ya Hu’ and ‘Ya man Hu.’
I am intoxicated with Love’s cup, the two worlds have passed out of my ken ;
I have no business save carouse and revelry.
If once in my life I spent a moment without thee,
From that time and from that hour I repent of my life.
If once in this world I win a moment with thee,
I will trample on both worlds, I will dance in triumph for ever.
O Shamsi Tabriz, I am so drunken in this world,
That except of drunkenness and revelry I have no tale to tell.
Rumi’s poetic works still live on today.