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A clipping from the New York Times, 17 April 2003, which mentions a "Maarifa Street" in Qualat Sukkar, Iraq. In Arabic, "maarifa" means "knowledge/wisdom". I thought to myself, what could be more pertinent today than asking what kind of answers might suggest themselves by putting "wisdom" and "Arabic" together? Why isn't the "street of wisdom" the yes-to-life poetry of Rumi's ecstatic vision instead of the no-to-life piety of fundamentalists East and West?

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there. —Rumi—



about rumi

JALAL AL-DIN MUHAMMAD RUMI or Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also known as Mowlavi or Moulana, meaning my guide in Iran, India and Pakistan or Mevlana meaning our guide in Turkey) (September 30, 1207 – December 17, 1273 CE) was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic, who was born in Balkh (then a city of the greater Khorasan province, Persia at that time, present Afghanistan) and died in Konya (present Turkey, then within the Seljuk Empire's territory). When the Mongols invaded Central Asia, his father (Baha'al din Veled) set out to Konya, Anatolia within the westernmost territories of Seljuk Empire. Rumi was 18 years old at that time. Rumi was sent to Damascus and Aleppo to obtain religious education. His father became the head of a Madarassah (religious school) and when his father died Rumi succeeded him, at the age of 25. He was trained in the religious and mystical doctrines by Syed Burhan al-Din but it was his meeting with the dervish Shams Tabraiz that changed his life completely. Rumi spent most of his later years of life in Anatolia and also completed his masterpiece there. He died on December 17, 1273 in Konya in present day Turkey; Rumi was laid to rest beside his father, and a splendid shrine was erected over his remains.

teachings of rumi

His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and his disciples, all religions are more or less true. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew, Buddhist and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men and women of all sects and creeds. The 13th century Mevlana Mausoleum with its mosque, dance hall, dervish living quarters, school and tombs of some leaders of the Mevlevi Order continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world. The Mevlevi,"The Whirling Dervishes" or Mevleviye, are one of the most well-known of the Sufi orders. It was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death, particularly by his son, Sultan Veled Celebi.

major works

Rumi's major work is "Masnavi-ye Manavi" (Spiritual Couplets), a six-volume poem regarded by many Sufis as second in importance only to the Koran. In fact the Masnavi is often called "Qor'an-e-Farsi" (The Koran in Persian). It is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry. Rumi's other major work is the "Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz-i" (The Works of Shams of Tabriz—named in honor of Rumi's great friend and inspiration, the dervish Shams), comprising some 40,000 verses. Both works are among the most significant in all of Persian literature. It is believed by some that Shams was murdered by disciples of Rumi who were jealous of his relationship with Shams (also spelt Shems).


Rumi's importance transcends national and ethnic borders. Speakers of the Persian language in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan see him as one of their most significant classical poets and an influence to many poets though history. He has also had a great influence on Turkish literature throughout the centuries. His poetry forms the basis of much classical Iranian and Afghan music. Contemporary classical interpretations of his poetry are made by Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (Iran), Shahram Nazeri (Iran) and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti (Afghanistan). To many modern Westerners, his teachings are one of the best introductions to the philosophy and practice of Sufism. Pakistan's National Poet, Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (November 9, 1877-April 21, 1938) called Rumi his spiritual leader and got inspiration from his poetry. Therefore Dr Iqbal addressed him as Pir Rumi in his Urdu and Persian poems.

(From the Wikipedia.)

Dance, as though no one is watching,
Love, as though you've never been hurt before,
Sing, as though no one can hear you,
Work, as though you don't need the money,
Live, as though heaven is on earth.


collections of writings by rumi

Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, JOHN MOYNE, COLEMAN BARKS

Threshold Books ISBN: 0939660067 (1983)

The Essential Rumi-by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, John Moyne, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson, Jelalludin Rumi

Castle Books ISBN: 078580871X (1997)

The Illuminated Rumi by JALAL AL-DIN RUMI, MICHAEL GREEN (Contributor), COLEMAN BARKS (Translator)

Broadway ISBN: 0767900022

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