Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi The Great Spiritual Master and Poetical Intellect -Mahmudul Hasan Jobayer
Maulana Jalal Uddin Rumi was a great medieval Muslim philosopher, poet, dervish, theologian and Sufi mystic. He described the spiritual world with the language of insight in his poetry. Rumi’s poems have achieved extensive popularity throughout the world, especially among the Iranians, Turks, Tajiks, Greeks and Pashtuns. His spiritual works have been greatly appreciated even in the west. Many of his poems have been translated into different languages.
Rumi’s life was not the life of a normal boy living peacefully under the care of his parents in a settled family. His early life was full of diversity. He was born on 30 September 1207 in ‘Balkh’ of greater Khorasan of Iran. His father, Bahauddin Walad, was a theologian, jurist and a mystic who was known as Sultan al-Ulama or “Sultan of the Scholars” to his followers. His mother’s name is Mumina Khatun. He had to leave his home while he was still a child of five years old though he came back later. However, he had to witness the terrible and Gorgonian massacre committed by Khwarizm king of poor and innocent people. Later he saw the cruelty of Mongols. The memories of these events left an irredeemable impression on his young mind, which was no means an adjutant way to a peaceful child’s mental development.
After the Mongol invasion of Central Asia, between 1215 and 1220, Rumi left Balkh with his family and a group of scholars. Bahauddin and his caravan travelled tremendously in the Muslim lands, including Baghdad, Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan, Sivas, Kayseri and Nigde. During the time of his travel, Rumi encountered one of the most famous mystic Persian poets, Fariduddin Attar, in the Iranian city of Nishapur, located in the province of Khorasan. Then they went to Hejaz and performed the ‘hajj’ at Mecca. On 1 May 1228, after the insistent invitation of ‘Alauddin Keyqobad’, the Seljuk Sultan, Bahauddin came and finally settled in Konya in Anatolia within the westernmost territories of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. In 1225, Rumi married Gowhar Khatun in Karaman. They had two sons: Sultan Walad and Ala-Eddin Chalabi. When Gowhar Khatun died, Rumi married again and had a son, Amir Alim Chalabi, and a daughter, Malakeh Khatun.
After the death of his father, Rumi at the age of twenty-five years old inherited the position of the Islamic Molvi in a madrasha where his father was head of the madrasha. Rumi had been trained in the shariah and tariqa, especially that of Rumi’s father by One of Baha’ud-Din’s students, Sayyed Burhan ud-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi. For nine years, Rumi practised Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din until his father died. The period of his teaching from his father was the foundation period of his mental make-up being truly laid. This was the period of revolt against the influence of Greek philosophy. In this period, he learnt the value of devotion to duty in the face of all obstacles erected by human tyranny and social persecution. His public life began at the age of thirty-four when he became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons the mosques of Konya, thus became the leader of people. During this time, he travelled ‘Damascus’ and stayed there for four years.
On 11 November 1244, the thirty-seven-year-old Rumi met a great Sufi named Shams-e-Tabrizi of sixty years old. This meeting brought a radical change in his course of life. He was transformed into a saint from a well-established teacher and jurist. They first met at a market of Konya When Shams asked Rumi about the location of another famous Sufi ‘Abu Iyazid Bostami’. At first sight, Rumi loved Shams that brought a wave of knowledge and wariness from the world of spirituality and plunged him into it. On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. Rumi’s friendship with Shams was such a muse that Rumi wrote 40000 verses in the honour of, and mourn over the death of, Shams. The collection of those verses is named ‘Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. He himself went out searching for Shams and journeyed again to Damascus. Then he realised:
Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself.
(This poem is collected from ‘The Essential Rumi,’ Translations by Coleman Barks)
Rumi’s key philosophy of life is to become acquainted with the self with introspection. Rumi wrote many nailing and passionate words that may incite a person to think deeply and differently about life, the motive of life, Humankind and Nature. Especially, his words would peddle a person to unfurl his virtues, piety and dormant power. Here are some of the most beautiful words composed by him:
l “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”(*)
l “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” (*)
l “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” (*)
l “Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.” (*)
l “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” (*)
l “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?” (*)
l “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” (*)
l “Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought! Why do you stay in prison When the door is so wide open?” (*)
l “Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” (*)
(* Source: powerofpositivity.com)
Rumi’s poetic works are mainly extended into ‘Rubayat’ – Quartrains, ‘Ghazal’- odes of the Divan and some prose works. Rumi’s best-known work is the ‘Ma?nawiye’ or ‘Ma’snawi’ Which is a series of six books of poetry that put together amount to around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. Rumi’s other major work is the Diwan-e Kabir (Great Work) or Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi mentioned earlier.
Fihi Ma Fihi is the finest prose that provides a record of seventy-one talks and lectures given by Rumi on various occasions to his devotees. Another prose Maj?les-e Sab’a contains seven Persian sermons or lectures given in seven different symposia. Makatib is the collection of letters written in Persian by Rumi to his disciples, family members, and state men.
Rumi’s religious outlook was not confined with Muslim ethnicity; rather, his broad-mindedness came to light from his statement:
“The Light of Muhammad does not abandon a Zoroastrian or Jew in the world. May the shade of his good fortune shine upon everyone! He brings all of those who are led astray into the Way out of the desert.”
( source: Ibrahim Gamard (2004), Rumi and Islam, p. 163)
His ‘Masnawi’ comprises different fables narrated in Holy Quran and Hadith and many other diurnal tales.
In December 1273 Rumi became ill and died on 17 December 1273 in Konya. He was buried beside his father in, present-day, Mevlana Museum of Konya. Besides general Muslims and his followers, Other religious, ethnic groups like Christians and Jews mourned over his death. It is enormously recommended that life and poetry of Rumi be studied for having a good spiritual and unspoilt life.