Jalaluddin al Rumi, one of the greatest Muslim saints and mystics, has also been hailed by Western scholars as the greatest mystical poet of all time. Popular versions of his poetry have made him the best-selling poet in America in recent years, after a period of over 700 years, during which his fame has endured in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

The popularity of his poetry has spread in the West because of its heart-felt themes of lover-beloved mysticism, and its spiritual joy which seems to emancipate even from the most distorted versions in English. However, this has also been attained by sacrifices; a lack of accuracy of the meanings of his words and teachings; and a deliberate belittlement and evasion of verses in his poetry that revealed that he was a pious Muslim all his life, and a very devoted follower of a daily life filled with prayer, as exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

He was born in what is now the nation of Tajikistan (the country north of Afghanistan) in the town of Wakhsh , where his father worked as a Muslim preacher and scholar. Wahksh was part of the cultural area of the ancient city of Balkh (in present-day Afghanistan), which had been a major center of Islamic learning for five hundred years before Rumi was born. His father, also a great mystic, or sufi master, was from Balkh. He named his son Muhammad, but later called him by the additional name, Jalâlu 'd-deen ("the Glory of the Faith"). His full name was Jalâlu 'd-deen Muhammad bin Husayn al-Balkhî. Later, when he moved to Anatolia (present day Turkey) with his family, he became known as Jalâlu 'd-deen Muhammad al-Roomee. This is because Anatolia had been called for centuries "Rûm" (Rome) which meant "the land of the Greeks" (who had long ruled the area from Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire). In the East, he has always been known as Mawlânâ.Only in the West has he been called "Rumi.."

Rumi must have memorized much or all of the Holy Qur'an when he was young, because the Mathnawi and his other poetry are filled with direct quotes in Arabic, Persian paraphrases, and references to Qur'anic verses.

Rumi was 37 years of age when he met his second sufi master, Shamsu 'd-deen Muhammad al-Tabreezee (from Tabrîz), traditionally believed to have been about 60 years old. In a biography of Rumi, written by a disciple of Rumi's grandson, Aflâkî, are many accounts of how Rumi prayed the five daily Islamic prayers, fasted during the month of Ramadan, and did many extended voluntary fasts. But it is in the masterpiece of his later life, the Mathnawî-ye Ma`nawî (literally, "Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning") that he reveals himself as both a profound mystic and an extremely devout Muslim. And a study of his stories and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad reveals his veneration and love for the Holy Prophet and the Revelation that was sent to him from God Most High.

Mawlânâ Jalâluddîn Muhammad al-Balkhî al-Rûmî died in 1273 and was buried next to his father's tomb in Konya, Turkey. The anniversary of his death was commemorated for centuries according to the Islamic lunar calendar, but has been celebrated in Turkey for the past 50 years according to the Western calendar on December 17. On the night of this date, Mevlevis all over the world whirl in remembrance and glorification of God, and many kinds of groups read Rumi's poetry in their own languages.




The "Divan" is the inspiration of Rumi's middle-aged years. It began with his meeting Shams-i Tabriz, becoming his disciple and
spiritual friend, the stress of Shams' first disappearance, and the crisis of Shams' final disappearance. It is believed that he continued to compose poems for the Divan long after this final crisis - during the composition of the Masnawi.

The Divan is filled with ecstatic verses in which Rumi expresses his mystical love for Shams as a symbol of his love for God. It is characteristic of Persian sufi poetry for it to be ambiguous as to whether the human beloved or the Divine Beloved (= God) is being addressed. It is also an essential feature of the particular kind of sufism Rumi practiced that mystical "annihilation in the spiritual master" [fanâ fi 'sh-shaykh] is considered a necessary first stage before mystical "annihilation in God" [fanâ fi 'llâh] can be attained.

The Divan is filled with poems expressing this first stage in which Rumi sees Shams everywhere and in everything. Rumi's "annihilation" of his separate self was so intense that, instead of following the tradition of including his own name in the last line of odes/ghazals, he often uses the name of his beloved spiritual master and friend instead. Or he appeals to (mystical) Silence [khâmosh] which transcends the mind and its concepts.

"Divan" [Arabic: dîwân; pronounced "dîvân" in Persian] means the "collected works" of a poet. It has been publised with a variety of titles: "Dîvan-i Kabîr," "Dîvân-i Shams-i Tabrîzî ," "Kulliyât-i Shams," "Kulliyât-i Shams-i Tabrîzî."

(material sourced from About the Divan)


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Words of the "Mathwani"

The Masnavi or Masnavi-I Ma'navi (Persian: مثنوی معنوی), also written Mathnawi or Mesnevi, written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, the celebrated Persian Sufi saint and poet, is one of the best known and most influential works of both Sufism and Persian literature. Comprising six books of poems that amount to more than 50,000 lines, it pursues its way through 424 stories that illustrate man's predicament in his search for God.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Love's Call

At every instant and from every side, resounds the call of Love:
We are going to sky, who wants to come with us?
We have gone to heaven, we have been the friends of the angels,
And now we will go back there, for there is our country.

We are higher than heaven, more noble than the angels:
Why not go beyond them? Our goal is the Supreme Majesty.

What has the fine pearl to do with the world of dust?
Why have you come down here? Take your baggage back. What is this place?
Luck is with us, to us is the sacrifice!

Like the birds of the sea, men come from the ocean - the ocean of the soul.
How could this bird, born from that sea, make his dwelling here?
No, we are the pearls from the bosom of the sea, it is there that we dwell:
Otherwise how could the wave succeed to the wave that comes from the soul?
The wave named, 'Am I not your Lord' has come, it has broken the vessel of the body;
And when the vessel is broken, the vision comes back, and the union with Him.

Al Rumi - the Mathnawi


I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He was not there;
I went to the Temple of the Hindus and to the old pagodas,
but I could not find a trace of Him anywhere.
I searched on the mountains and in the valleys
but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I able to find Him.
I went to the Ka'bah in Mecca, but He was not there either.
I questioned the scholars and philosophers but He was beyond their understanding.
I then looked into my heart and it was there where He dwelled that I saw Him;
He was nowhere else to be found.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


The Blessed Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "For forty mornings, if a person serves God with all his soul and heart, springs of wisdom begin to flow from his heart to his tongue."

While our Prophet was explaining these words among his companions, one of the friends went and occupied himself with prayers for forty days in solitude. Then he complained to the Blessed Prophet, "O Messenger of God!" he said, "Such a state has come to such and such a friend that his eye, word, and hue have changed, and, while you were declaring that state, you mentioned the hadith [of "forty mornings"]. I went and made as great an effort as I could for forty days. And, as it has been said in the Qur'an: "God offers a burden in proportion to one's capacity." [ 2:286]. There can't be any lies in your words, God forbid.

The Blessed Prophet responded, "I said, if he serves with all his/her heart and his/her soul. To really serve with all one's heart and soul, is to do it only for God's sake. Otherwise, it's not real service or worship if it's for the sake of other wishes or desires."

- Jalal'uddin al-Rumi -

"In order to reach his/her goal, the seeker must undergo a great deal of spiritual exercise and hardship. There is one method, however, that guides the spirit rightly. That is, acquiring the heart of one who has given his heart to God, for that heart is the focal point of God's attention."

- Abu Muhammad 'Ali ar-Ramitani al-'Azizan -


The worship and work of Muhammed (S.A.W.) was immersion in Divine contemplation. He said, "Work is the work of the heart, service is the service of the heart, and servanthood is servanthood from the heart." But one can reach that universe of divine contemplation and witnessing only through annihilating oneself in the Greatness of God.
Muhammad knew that it was not possible for everyone to engage in the real work and worship. To very few of Allah's servants has the happiness of divine contemplation been given. So he ordered his community to do the five times a day salaat and thirty days of fasting a year and the rites of the pilgrimage (Hajj), so that the community might not be deprived of that witnessing of the miraculous manifestations of God in the hidden realm. This was so that they might be liberated and understand their place of benefit in relation to other communities, and so that perhaps the fragrance from that happiness of divine contemplation referred to, might reach them. If this were not the case, what relationship would there be between hunger in fasting and servanthood before God? Of what use would be these open invitations of religion and worship?

- Jalal'uddin al-Rumi -

"The bird of the soul is attached to the body, so keep it safe, for it is your friend. Do not untie its connection, causing it to fly, for, once it flies, you can no longer hold it."

- Abu Muhammad 'Ali ar-Ramitani al-'Azizan -


Moment by Moment

In front of us no one becomes a muslim all at once: he becomes a muslim, and then he becomes a blasphemer, and then again a muslim. Each time something comes out of him until that moment when he becomes perfect.

- Jalal'uddin al-Rumi -

"Being a muslim is to believe in the one God, the prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, the angels and the day of Judgement and to love all of God's creations as God loves us and them too."

- Wiyoso Hadi al-Jawi -

One has to speak precisely and one has to listen precisely. There is love in hearts, there is love in tongues, there is love in ears. If there is a little light, it increases when one gives thanks for it. If gratitude is expressed with words, one says, "My God! Show us things as they really are." And the answer comes, "If you are grateful, I increase my favors/abundance; if you are ungrateful, my wrath is stringent." [3:7].

- Jalal'uddin al-Rumi -

Monday, December 3, 2007


Ghazal 2133

wake up, wake up
this night is gone
wake up

abandon, abandon
even your dear self

there is an idiot
in our market place
selling a precious soul

if you doubt my word
get up this moment
and head for the market now

don’t listen to trickery
don’t listen to the witches
don’t wash blood with blood

first turn yourself upside down
empty yourself like a cup of wine
then fill to the brim with the essence

a voice is descending
from the heavens
a healer is coming

if you desire healing
let yourself fall ill
let yourself fall ill

Translated by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Fountain of Fire


Ghazal 947

don't go to sleep
this night
one night is worth
a hundred thousand souls

the night is generous
it can give you
a gift of the full moon
it can bless your soul
with endless treasure

every night when you feel
the world is unjust
never ending grace
descends from the sky
to soothe your souls

the night is not crowded like the day
the night is filled with eternal love
take this night
tight in your arms
as you hold a sweetheart

remember the water of life
is in the dark caverns
don't be like a big fish
stopping the life's flow
by standing in the mouth of a creek

even Mecca is adorned with black clothes
showing that the heavens
are ready to grace
the human soul

even one prayer
in the Mecca of a night
is like a hundred
no one can claim
sleep can build
a temple like this

during a night
the blessed prophet
broke all the idols and
God remained alone
to give equally to all
an endless love

Translated by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Fountain of Fire


Ghazal 838

if you pass your night
and merge it with dawn
for the sake of heart
what do you think will happen

if the entire world
is covered with the blossoms
you have labored to plant
what do you think will happen

if the elixir of life
that has been hidden in the dark
fills the desert and towns
what do you think will happen

if because of
your generosity and love
a few humans find their lives
what do you think will happen

if you pour an entire jar
filled with joyous wine
on the head of those already drunk
what do you think will happen

go my friend
bestow your love
even on your enemies
if you touch their hearts
what do you think will happen

Translated by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Fountain of Fire

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I swear my dear son
no one in the entire world
is as precious as you are

look at that mirror
take a good look at yourself
who else is there above and beyond you

now give yourself a kiss
and with sweet whispers
fill your ears to the brim

watch for all that beauty
reflecting from you
and sing a love song to your existence

you can never overdo
praising your own soul
you can never over-pamper your heart

you are both
the father and the son
the sugar and the sugar cane

who else but you
please tell me who else
can ever take your place

now give yourself a smile
what is the worth of a diamond
if it doesn't shine

how can i ever put a price
on the diamond that you are
you are the entire treasure of the house

you and your shadow
are forever present in this world
you're that glorious bird of paradise

-- Ghazal 2148, from the Diwan-e Shams
Poetic translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"


I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.
To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am the morning mist,

and the breath of evening.
I am the wind at the top of a grove,
and the surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of stone, a flickering in metal.
Both candle and the moths crazy around it.
Rose, and the nightingale lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,

the evolutionary intelligence, the lift, and the falling away.
What is, and what isn't.

You who know, Jelaluddin,
You the one in all, say who I am.
Say I am you.