(See also the Wikipedia Article about Rumi.)
Rumi (1207–1273) was a 13th-century Persian (Tajik) Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. He is also known as “Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī,” or as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan. Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning “Roman” since he lived most of his life in an area called “Rumi” (then under the control of Seljuq dynasty) because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire. He was one of the figures who flourished in the Sultanate of Rum.
He was born in Balkh Province in Afghanistan. a small town located at the river Wakhsh in Persia (in what is now Tajikistan). Wakhsh belonged to the larger province of Balkh, and in the year Rumi was born, his father was an appointed scholar there. Both these cities were at the time included in the greater Persian cultural sphere of Khorasan, the easternmost province of Persia and was part of the Khwarezmian Empire.
His birthplace and native language both indicate a Persian heritage His father decided to migrate westwards due to quarrels between different dynasties in Khorasan, opposition to the Khwarizmid Shahs, who were considered deviant by Bahā ud-Dīn Walad (Rumi’s father), or fear of the impending Mongol cataclysm. Rumi’s family traveled west, first performing the Hajj and eventually settling in the Anatolian city Konya (capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, in present-day Turkey). This was where he lived most of his life, and here he composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature which profoundly affected the culture of the area. He died in 1273 AD. He was buried in Konya and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony.
Rumi’s works are written in the New Persian language, which derives from a Persian literary renaissance in the 8th/9th centuries. By the 10th and 11th centuries, the new Persian language was the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages written in Perso/Arabic script e.g. Pashto and Sindhi. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.”
Inside the Great Mystery:
that is we don’t own anything.
What is this competition we feel then,
before we go one at a time
through the same gate?
Come out here where the roses have opened.
Let soul and world meet.
The sun has drawn a fine-tempered blade of light.
We may as well surrender.
Laugh at the ugly arrogance you see.
Weep for those separated from the friend.
The city seethes with rumor.
Some madman has escaped the prison.
Or is a revolution beginning?
What day is it?
Is this when all we have done and been
will be publicly known?
With no thinking and no emotion,
with no ideas about the soul,
and no language,
these drums are saying how empty we are.
No Room for Form
On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house
to the cemetery,
you’ll hear me hailing you from inside
the open grave, and you’ll realize
how we’ve always been together.
I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in
ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.
That night, when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants, you’ll hear
my familiar voice, see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprise meal fixed
by the lover inside all your other lovers.
This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don’t fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.
Those get ripped open and washed away
in the music of our finally meeting.
And don’t look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.
Beat the drum and let the poets speak.
This is a day of purification for those who
are already mature and initiated into what love is.
No need to wait until we die!
There’s more to want here than money
and being famous and bites of roasted meat.
Now, what shall we call this new sort of gazing-house
that has opened in our town where people sit
quietly and pour out their glancing
like light, like answering?
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you,
how blind that I was
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere
They’re in each other all along.
I Am and I Am Not
in the flood
which has yet to come
I’m tied up
in the prison
which has yet to exist
Not having played
the game of chess
I’m already in checkmate
Not having tasted
a single cup of your wine
I’m already drunk
Not having entered
I’m already wounded and slain
I no longer
know the difference
between image and reality
Like the shadow
I am not
Until I meet you…..
will drink wine night and day.
They will drink until they can
tear away the veils of intellect and
melt away the layers of shame and modesty.
When in Love,
body, mind, heart and soul don’t even exist.
fall in Love, and you will not be separated again