Monday, September 5, 2016

Rūmī (1207 – 1273 AD) ... Persian Poet and Sufi Mystic


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Rumi was born in 1207, in what is now know as Afghanistan. It was a period of remarkable social and political turbulence. The 13th Century was the era of the crusades; also the area where Rumi lived was under constant threat of Mongol invasion. The great upheavals Rumi faced during his life is said to have influenced much of his poetry.

Rumi met many of the great Sufi poets. For example, as a young boy he met the Sufi Master, Attar. Attar is said to have commented about Rumi…
“There goes a river dragging an ocean behind it.”

“However the most important turning point in Rumi’s life was when he met the wandering dervish Sham al- Din. Sham was eccentric and unorthodox, but was filled with heart - felt devotion, that sometimes he couldn’t contain. Sham appeared to be quite different to the respectable and prestigious scholar, (as Rumi was at that point.) However Rumi saw in Sham a divine presence. This meeting and their close mystical relationship was instrumental in awakening Rumi’s latent spirituality and intense devotion. It was at this point Rumi abandoned his academic career and began to write his mystical poetry.”


Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī (Persianجلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎‎), ..... more popularly simply as Rumi (1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian poetjuristIslamic scholartheologian, and Sufimystic. Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: IraniansTajiksTurksGreeksPashtuns, otherCentral Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet" and the "best selling poet" in the United States.
Rumi's works are written mostly in Persian, but occasionally he also used TurkishArabic, and Greek,in his verse. His Mathnawī, composed in Konya, is considered one of the greatest poems of the Persian language.His works are widely read today in their original language across Greater Iran and the Persian-speaking world.Translations of his works are very popular, most notably in TurkeyAzerbaijan, the United States, and South Asia.His poetry has influenced Persian literature, but also TurkishOttoman TurkishAzerbaijaniPunjabiHindi, and Urdu, as well as the literature of some other TurkicIranian, and Indo-Aryan languages including ChagataiPashto, and Bengali.


Rumi was born to native Persian-speaking parents,originally from present-day Afghanistan. He was born either in Wakhsh, a village located on the Vakhsh River in the greater Balkh region in present-day Tajikistan, or in the city of Balkh,.......Balkh was at that time a major centre of Persian culture and Sufism had developed there for several centuries. The most important influences upon Rumi, besides his father, were the Persian poets Attar and Sanai.....Rumi expresses his appreciation: "Attar was the spirit, Sanai his eyes twain, And in time thereafter, Came we in their train" and mentions in another poem: "Attar has traversed the seven cities of Love, We are still at the turn of one street". His father was also connected to the spiritual lineage of Najm al-Din Kubra.


"With the Beloved's water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved's rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?"

From Thief of Sleep
Translated by Shahram Shiva

Thief of Sleep...Translations of Rumi's short devotional poems, or quatrians. The translator Shahram Shiva has drawn them from his study of more than 2000 of Rumi's poems, presenting a cross-section of the poet's many moods - from passion to adoration, all from the original Persian.


The Greek Poetry of Rumi

"Medieval Sufi masters where Islamic scholars who were well versed with the Koran and the Hadith and frequently quoted from these sources in their speech and writing. They were also imbued with early Islamic mysticism. Nevertheless, they were attacked by orthodox ulemas, accused of heresy and blasphemy, and even subjected to persecution and execution. This was perhaps due to alien ethnic origins of Sufism, with emphasis on love, harmony, and some elements of pantheism versus the rigidity of other orthodox Muslims. Arguments about the roots of Sufism in ancient Indo-Iranian religions (Zoroastrian/Vedanta) are well recorded are not relevant to the present discourse. On the other hand, the Greek influence, which came much later, is attested by Greek poetry of Rumi and his son, Sultan Valad.

As the Sufi orders developed, they deviated in many ways from the early Islamic mysticism. Sufi doctrine grew in several stages, enriched by contacts with Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and even Buddhism. They were also influenced by Greek philosophy, especially the works of Aristotle, which reached them through Islamic philosophers like Avicenna (d. 1037) and Averroes (d. 1198). When Rumi and his movement were established in Konya, the city was still under the influence of Christianity, and the Greek language was common among communities around the city. Thus the Sufis could not avoid being influenced by the Greek culture and philosophy that were promoted by the Christians. The English orientalist, F.W. Haslucke, describes these situations and states that in a mosque in Konya, that was formerly the St.Amphilochius church, was a tomb that was beloved to be that of Plato and the Muslims in the city had reverence for it and even some considered Plato a prophet*. There are also indications that both the Sufi masters and Saljuq monarchs encourages harmony and friendship between the Sufis and Christians. Much later when the Ottoman Sultans ordered the persecution and massacre of Armenias, Sufis sheltered and saved the lives of some of them.

Under these circumstances, we can assume that Rumi and his son knew Greek and wrote the so-called Greek poems.

Both Rumi and his son Sultan Valad wrote their poetry and prose primarily in Persian but there are occasional writings, in the orders of frequency, in Arabic, Turkish, and Greek. The Greek verses are mixed with Persian and Arabic lines and Turkish words, and they are written in the Persian/Arabic alphabet!"


"Konya, 261 km (162 miles) south of Ankara (map), is Turkey's city of Whirling Dervishes, and has been for 800 years......Located right on the ancient Silk Road, Konya is an extremely old city, its roots going back to the days of the Hittites, who called it Kuwanna. As a Roman city, it was Iconium....the Mevlana Museum which shelters the tomb of Jelaleddin Rumî (1207-1273), known to his followers as Mevlana (or Rumî), a Muslim poet and mystic and one of the great spiritual thinkers and teachers of all time."

"Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumî (1207-1273) was born near Balkh, Afghanistan, his life's work was as a religious teacher in Konya, capital of the Seljuk Turkish Sultanate of Rum.....Called Mevlâna ("Our Guide" in Persian, the court language of the Seljuks), and Rumî ("of Rome," that is, of the Seljuks' western, formerly Roman, lands), he first studied with his father Baha'uddin, then went on to teachers in Haleb (Aleppo) and Damascus before returning to Konya in 1240.....His passionate poetry addressed to "the Beloved" was facilitated between 1244 and 1247 by his passionate spiritual friendship with Şemsi Tebrizi. The "Sun from Tabriz," an older mystic, became Rumî's soulmate and the foil for his spiritual ecstasies......The two mystics were so close that Rumî's disciples, angered at the older man's overwhelming influence on their master, put Şemsi to death.....Disconsolate, Rumî withdrew from the world to write his poetic masterwork, the Mesnevi (Mathnawi in Persian). He lived and worked in Konya for another quarter century, sometimes whirling in the streets from sheer joy and spiritual delirium......After his death (known as Şeb-i Aruz), a Sufiorder called the Mevlevi ("Followers of Mevlana," or Whirling Dervishes) was founded by his son, Sultan Veled, based on Rumî's principles and practices."


Northern New Mexico

November 2016


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