Thursday, February 22, 2007

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 - 1273)

When I am asleep and crumbling in the tomb by Rumi

When I am asleep and crumbling in the tomb, should you come
to visit me, I will come forth with speed.
You are for me the blast of the trumpet and the resurrection,
so what shall I do? Dead or living, wherever you are, there am I.
Without your lip I am a frozen and silent reed; what melodies
I play the moment you breathe on my reed!
Your wretched reed has become accustomed to your sugar lip;
remember wretched me, for I am seeking you.
When I do not find the moon of your countenance, I bind up
my head [veil myself in your mourning]; when I do not find your
sweet lip, gnaw my own hand.


Jalal al-Din Rumi was born on September 30, 1207 in Balkh (Afghanistan). His father Baha' Walad was descended from the first caliph Abu Bakr and was influenced by the ideas of Ahmad Ghazali, brother of the famous philosopher. Baha' Walad's sermons were published and still exist as Divine Sciences (Ma'arif). He fled the Mongols with his son in 1219, and it was reported that at Nishapur young Rumi met 'Attar, who gave him a copy of his Book of Mysteries (Asrar-nama). After a pilgrimage to Mecca and other travels, the family went to Rum (Anatolia). Baha' Walad was given an important teaching position in the capital at Konya (Iconium) in 1228 by Seljuk king 'Ala' al-Din Kayqubad (r. 1219-1236) and his vizier Mu'in al-Din. Rumi married and had a son, who later wrote his biography. In 1231 Rumi succeeded his late father as a religious teacher. His father's friend Burhan al-Din arrived and for nine years taught Rumi Sufism. Rumi probably met the philosopher ibn al-Arabi at Damascus.

In 1244 Rumi's life changed dramatically when he met the dervish Shams al-Din of Tabriz. Rumi spent so much time with him that his disciples became jealous until Shams was murdered in 1247. To the music of flute and drums Rumi invented the circling movements of the whirling dervishes and began writing mystical love poetry. his disciples formed the dervish order called the Mevlevis.

After 1249 the Seljuk governors paid tribute to the Mongol empire. As vassal of the Mongol Baiju, Mu'in al-Din governed Rum for twenty years starting in 1256, and he patronized the mystical poet.
His disciple Husam al-Din Hasan urged Rumi to write mystical poetry and tales called Masnavi in the style of Sana'i and 'Attar. Rumi completed six books of these before he died on December 17, 1273. Many of his talks were written down in the book Fihi ma fihi, which means "In it what is in it" and is often referred to as his Discourses.