“Come, come, wanderer, worshiper, lover of learning… It does not matter. Just come.”

In this article, we will talk about Sufism, precisely about Rumi, who reached depths and insights of spirituality. His poems are interpreted according to the level of maturity of one individual. Who was Rumi? Jalaluddin Rumi, also known as Mawlana, was a 13th-century Persian poet, an Islamic dervish, and a Sufi mystic. He was born September 30, 1207, in Balkh, Afghanistan, and died on December 17, 1273, in Konya. Rumi’s father, Baha al-Din, was a teacher, theologian, author, and mystic.

Dervishes Avanos, Schorle, Wikimedia CC

Sufism is the heart of Islam, just as Zen is the heart of Buddhism. The difference between these teachings is that Sufism is softer, and Zen is stricter in its approach. A Sufi person will explain to you with stories, and help you find out the answer, while the Zen master will hit you with a stick and bring you back to yourself. There are different methods of how to attain enlightenment.

Rumi was a disciple of Sayyed Burhan Termazi, one of his father’s students. He practiced Sufism with him and acquired a lot of knowledge about the secrets of the spirit world. At the age of 24, he was already a scholar with tremendous expertise and insight into religion.

Rumi was a well-known teacher and theologian, when in 1244, in the streets of Konya; he met Shams al-Tabrizi, a wandering dervish. This meeting was a turning point in Rumi’s life, which pushed him even deeper into himself, and into becoming a poet and a Sufi-mystic. Rumi had a good reputation as a teacher with students all over the country and as a family person. People loved him, and out of this love, they gave him the name Mawlana (beloved one). After the meeting with Shams, he neglected his students and his family, and the two of them were spending the days talking about religious matters. Shams could have met Rumi many years before, but according to some sources, Rumi was not prepared yet for this meeting, which had Shams waiting a little longer. They continued to teach each other valuable lessons for their spiritual growth, and one day sitting beneath the shadows of the tree, they started whirling, expressing the overwhelming joy they felt in that moment. That was the moment when the famous whirling dervish dance was created. Rumi later said that the inspiration for this dance came from observing the children. When they feel joy and happiness, they start to whirl. Then Rumi decided to try this dance in the city square. He was whirling for 38 hours without stop. People were passing around, going about their everyday obligations, but Rumi was overwhelmed with his dance.  After he finished, he just fell to the ground. People had said that when he lifted his head, he was a different person and his face looked 20 years younger. He attained enlightenment and said, “Whirling is like the whole universe. Everything is constantly changing and spins, but only one thing stays the same and fixed, and that is the innermost core of our beings. The one who comes to his center has done the purpose of life and connection with the source.”

Shams was looking for a friend to give him the complete knowledge that he gathered and experienced in his life. When he met his beloved friend, they wrote history together and gave an immense value in spirituality for the next generations to come.

Both of them were facing a lot of pressure and hate, especially Shams. People were saying that he was the creation of the devil himself, and he didn’t want to make problems for Rumi anymore, and decided to leave Konya for good. When Rumi found out, he was desperate and sent his older son to find him. The days were passing without any news of Shams. Finally, his son found Shams close to Konya and asked him to come back. Shams knew that if he came back, he would die. His nafs (the fake ego) were telling him to stay here and avoid death, but Shams decided to come back and spend the last days of his life with his beloved friend. When he returned to Konya, the envy raised even more among the people who hated Shams and felt abandoned by their master, father, and husband. The youngest son of Rumi decided to hire an assassin, and kill Shams. Rumi was waiting 40 days before finally he accepted the bitter truth about the death of his beloved friend and master.

This sadness, and longing for Shams made Rumi a poet. His most popular works are Diwan-e Shams Tabrizi and Mathawi. Rumi’s works are spread all over the world and translated into many languages. His massive influence and audience across the globe make his spirit live forever. Many of the readers describe their experience with his poems as a love affair.

After his death, he was buried beside his father in Konya. His people made the Mawlana mausoleum in Konya. It consists of a mosque, dervish living quarters, and a dance hall. Many people can come there to visit this place and to give honor to one of the greatest, if not the greatest Sufi poet that has ever lived.

Enes Smailagić

Sources: Rumi Biography Rumi Rumi’s Untold Story

Elif Shafak – „40 Rules of Love”

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