Although Rumi was born in Afghanistan and lived in Turkey. His poetry was written mostly in Persian, and his Sufi religious beliefs transcended national bound- aries. Afghanistan was on the edge of the Persian Empire. And Rumi’s father was a traditional Islamic religious teacher who trained his son to follow in his footsteps. When he was forty, Rumi had a religious epiphany when he met Shams, a wandering Sufi, who was about sixty. Rumi became a Sufi, and the outpouring of poetry that followed was staggering. Sufism combines ideas from Islam, Christianity. And Bud- dhism, and it attempts to achieve union with God: not by logical means (which is beyond the ability of the human mind), but by emotional means.
Rumi founded the Mevlevi order of dervishes, sometimes called whirling dervishes because of the spinning dance that they do to achieve a trance-like state. Despite the loss of Shams, who may have been murdered by Rumi’s jealous disciples, Rumi continued to write, amassing over forty thousand couplets of poet- ry over his lifetime. The Divani Shamsi Tabriz is a collection of individual poems, including poems in the ghazal form and the rubaiyat form (which are different ways to group couplets). The Masnavi (also spelled Mathnavi or Mathna- wi) is referred to as the “Quran in Persian”; it was meant to teach his followers the spirit of Sufi Islam, drawing on the Quran, folktales, and anecdotes (among other forms) for the prose sections between the poems.
Unlike the Divani Shamsi Tabriz, the Masnavi is a cohesive collection, with a moral to each story. Today Rumi is the most important medieval Persian poet and one of the most widely-read mystical poets. Perhaps in part because of his emphasis on the positive, and his embrace of all religions, Rumi is now the best-selling poet in the United States (Ciabattari). Written by Laura J. Getty image 6.3: rumi | A portrait of Rumi (or Molavi, as he is known in Iran) well-dressed and with a white beard. Author: User “Bellavista1957” Source: Wikimedia Commons license: Public Domain
285 Divani Shamsi Tabriz and Masnavi Selections from the Persian mystics Jalálu’d-Dín Rúmí, edited by F. Hadland Davis, L. Cranmer-Byng, and S. A. Kapadia Sorrow Quenched In The Beloved Through grief my days are as labour and sorrow. My days move on, hand in hand with anguish. Yet, though my days vanish thus, ‘tis no matter. Do Thou abide, Incomparable Pure One. The Music Of Love Hail to thee, then, O love, sweet madness! Thou who healest all our infirmities! Who art the Physician of our pride and self-conceit! Who art our Plato and our Galen! Love exalts our earthly bodies to heaven, And makes the very hills to dance with joy! O lover, ‘twas Love that gave life to Mount Sinai, When “it quaked, and Moses fell down in a swoon.
” Did my Beloved only touch me with His lips, 1 too, like a flute, would burst out into melody. When The Rose Has Faded When the rose has faded and the garden is withered, The song of the nightingale is no longer to be heard. The BELOVED is all in all, the lover only veils Him; The BELOVED is all that lives, the lover a dead thing. When the lover feels no longer love’s quickening, He becomes like a bird who has lost its wings. Alas! How can I retain my senses about me, When the beloved shows not the Light of His countenance? The Silence Of Love Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries. A lover may hanker after this love or that love, But at the last he is drawn to the king of Love.
However much we describe and explain Love, When we fall in love we are ashamed of our words. Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear, But Love unexplained is better. Earthly Love Essential To The Love Divine In one ‘twas said, “Leave power and weakness alone; Whatever withdraws thine eyes from God is an idol.” In one ‘twas said, “Quench not thy earthy torch, That it may be a light to lighten mankind. If thou neglectest regard and care for it, Thou wilt quench at midnight the lamp of Union.” The Eternal Spendour Of The Beloved Why dost Thou flee from the cries of us on earth? Why pourest Thou sorrow on the heart of the sorrowful? O Thou who, as each new morn dawns from the east, License: Public Domain
Compact Anthology of World Literature286 Art seen uprising anew, like a bright fountain! What excuse makest Thou for Thy witcheries? O Thou whose lips are sweeter than sugar. Thou that ever renewest the life of this old world. Hear the cry of this lifeless body and heart! Woman Woman is a ray of God, not a mere mistress, The Creator’s Self, as it were, not a mere creature! The Divine Union Mustafa became beside himself at that sweet call, His prayer failed on “the night of the early morning halt.”
He lifted not head from that blissful sleep, So that his morning prayer was put off till noon. On that, his wedding night, in the presence of his bride. His pure soul attained to kiss her hands. Love and mistress are both veiled and hidden. Impute it not a fault if I call Him “Bride.” “He Knows About It All” He who is from head to foot a perfect rose or lily. To him spring brings rejoicing. The useless thorn desires the autumn, That autumn may associate itself with the garden; And hide the rose’s beauty and the thorn’s shame, That men may not see the bloom of the one and the other’s shame; That common stone and pure ruby may appear all as one. Resignation True, the Gardener knows the difference in the autumn, But the sight of One is better than the world’s sight.
Resignation The Way To Prefection Whoso recognises and confesses his own defects Is hastening in the way that leads to Perfection! But he advances not towards the Almighty Who fancies himself to be perfect. Love The Source Of Light Rather Than Vanishing Form Whatsoever is perceived by sense He annuls, But He stablishes that which is hidden from the senses. The lover’s love is visible, his Beloved hidden.
The Friend is absent, the distraction He causes present. Renounce these affections for outward forms, Love depends not on outward form or face. Whatever is beloved is not a mere empty form, Whether your beloved be of the earth or heaven. Whatever is the form you have fallen in love with— Why do you forsake it the moment life leaves it? image 6.4: Jalal al-din rumi mathnavi-i ma’navi | The pages of a Persian manuscript. Author: Hussain ibn Shaikh ‘Ali Source: Wikimedia Commons license: Public Domain
287 Divani Shamsi Tabriz and Masnavi The Religion Of Love The form is still there; whence then this disgust at it? Ah! lover, consider well what is really your beloved. If a thing perceived by outward senses is the beloved, Then all who retain their senses must still love it; And since Love increases constancy, How can constancy fail while form abides? But the truth is, the sun’s beams strike the wall. And the wall only reflects that borrowed light. Why give your heart to mere stones, simpleton? Go! Seek the Source of Light which shineth alway! The Religion Of Love The sect of lovers is distinct from all others, Lovers have a religion and a faith of their own.
Though the ruby has no stamp, what matters it? Love is fearless in the midst of the sea of fear. “Pain Is Treasure” Pain is a treasure, for it contains mercies; The kernel is soft when the rind is scraped off. image 6.5: masnavi | Pages of a Persian manuscript with beautiful blue decorations around the text. Author: Georges Jansoone Source: Wikimedia Commons license: CC BY 3.0
Compact Anthology of World Literature288 Selections from the Flowers of the Persian Poets Jalálu’d-Dín Rúmí, edited by Nathan Haskell Dole and Belle M. Walker “I To Myself Am Unknown” Lo, for I to myself am unknown, now in God’s name what must I do? I adore not the Cross nor the Crescent, I am not a Gianour nor a Jew. East nor West land nor sea is my home, I have kin nor with angel nor gnome, I am wrought not of fire nor of foam, I am shaped not of dust nor of dew.
I was born not in China afar, not in Saqsin and not in Bulghar; Not in India, where five rivers are, nor ‘Iraq nor Khorasan I grew, in this world nor that world I dwell, not in Paradise, neither in Hell; And from Eden and Rizwan I fell, not from Adam my lineage I drew. In a place beyond uttermost Place, in a tract without shadow of trace, Soul and body transcending, I live in the soul of my Loved One anew