Rumi: What you seek is seeking you ما تبحث عنه يبحث عنك

Ahmed Mahmoud , Friday 23 Sep 2016

Rumi is a shining example of a religious Sufi poet whose religion was love


What you seek is seeking you, 

O brother, you are a mere thought and what is left of you is some skin and bones.

This is how the Sufi poet and scholar Jalal El-Din El-Rumi perceived the world.

Born Mohamed ben Mohamed Ben Hussien Bahaa El-Din Al-Balkhi in 1207 AD or 604 AH, but known as Jalal El-Din El-Rumi, the poet is the founder of the Sufi Mawlawia sect. He died in 1273 AD.

El-Rumi, who was born in Balkh in Afghanistan, moved with is father to Baghdad at the age of four. He and his father moved through many countries during his childhood until settling down in the town of Konya in Turkey in 623 AH during the reign of Saljouk.

The famous book The 40 Rules of Love by the Turkish writer Elif Shafk is inspired by Rumi's original manuscript of the same title.

However, the Turkish writer featured two parallel themes, one of an American woman of Jewish origins who is going through a midlife crises and the other the 13th century when Rumi first met his Sufi mentor Shams Al-Tabrizi, describing how both of them managed to create the epic Sufi poetry The 40 Rules of Love, which they managed to write during 40 days of Sufi spiritual solitude.

Writer Mohamed Eid Ibrahim in his translation of Rumi quartets explains: "Rumi was 37 years old when he first met Al-Tabrizi, who was in his sixties.

Rumi then was a traditional Sufi, when Al-Tabrizi took all his books and threw them in a deep well, to show him that he needed to live and experience what he was reading and writing about. After that they became best friends which made many Al-Tabrizi followers jealous of Rumi's closeness to one of the Sufi gurus of the time. Unfortunately in 1248 Al-Tabrizi was assassinated and until today no one knows who killed him.”

Rumi's quartets number 1,659, out of which 331 were translated into English by John Moein and Coleman Barks in 1989.

Rumi was known for his brilliance as a teacher her of fiqh (philosophy of Islamic law).

However after the death of his father in 628 AH, he quit teaching and the whole materialistic world and focused on Sufism. He was into sports, music and reciting as well as composing poetry. Rumi was a pious Muslim but he attracted lots of followers of different religious beliefs because of his flexible and tolerant thoughts.

He respected other beliefs and always adopted a positive attitude as he promoted charity, piety and kindness. Rumi believed that perception ought to be through compassion. To him and his followers, all religions are good, and true in its own right. He also believed that the way to know God could be sought through music and poetry and zikr, spiritual music to him helps the seekers to be closer to God.

This high spiritual state of transcendence developed into the idea of the whirling Sufi dance that became a Sufi ritual. His poetry and other Sufi books that were written in Persian, his mother tongue, left a great impact on Islamic culture especially on the culture of Persia, the Arab world, Turkey and on Bengali culture.

In the modern age, lots of his books have been translated into different languages. His most famous works are the quartets, The Book of Courting, and many others

He died in 1273 AD and was buried in Konya. After his death, his son Sultan as well as Rumi's followers established the famous Mawlawia Sufi sect which is famous for its whirling dervishes. 

For the Mawlawias, listening to music is a spiritual journey that escalates one through the self and compassion to a state of perfection (complete harmony with the universe and its maker). This journey starts by whirling which multiplies compassion and decreases selfishness, clearing the path of truth so people can reach perfection. After this act, the mourid (seeker), becomes more mature and full of love and compassion in the service of humanity. This Sufi path is still practiced today in the Ghouri Cultural Centre.


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