Maulana Rumi

Djalal Ud Din Rumi b.Baha` al Din Sultan Ul Ulama Walad b Husayn b Ahmad Khatibi. Known by the sobriquet Mawlana ( Mevlana ), Persian poet and founder of the Mawlawiyya order od dervishes, which was named after him, was born on 30 September 1207 ( AD ) in Konya.

His father whose sermons have been preserved and printed ( Ma`arif . Madjmua i Mawaiz wa sukhanan i sultan al ulama Baha al din Muhammad b husayni khatibi i Balkhi masshur ba bahai i walad ) was a preacher in Balkh.
According to the biographical sources he left Balkh because of a dispute with the Khwarizmshah Ala al Din Muhammad and his son Fakhr al Jalal al din al Razi ( d.1209 AD), and when his son Djalal ud Din was 5 years old , ie, in 1213, emigrated to the west.

In the year 1228 AD, at the request of the Saldjuk Prince Ala al Din Kaykubad , the family moved to Konya , where Baha al-din Walad died in 1231. A year after his death Sayyid Burhan al din Muhakkik, an old pupil of his, came to Konya to visit his former master, but found that he was no longer alive. Djalal ud Din became a student of Sayyid Burhan al din until the latters death nine years later.
Buhar al Din, however, withdrew to Kayseri after some time and died there most probably in 1239 AD.

According to Aflaki, Maulana Rumi went to Aleppo and Damascus after the arrival of the Sayyid to complete his studies. Burhan al Din is supposed to have made him aware that his father possessed learning that could be won not through study but through inner experience. After the death of Burhan al din, Rumi was alone for 5 years. On Friday 26th November 1244AD, the wandering dervish Shams al din Muhammad Tabrizi came to Konya and put up in the ` khan `of the sugar merchants.

Rumi met and talked to him; Shams asked him about the meaning of the saying of Bayazid Bistami, Rumi gave him the answer. The appearance of Tabrizi made a decisive chandge in the life of Maulana. In the Sufi manner, he fell in love with the dervish and took him into his home.
Tabrizi constantly wore a black ( kulah ), and because of his restless wandering he was called “paranda ” ( the flier ).
Although as his “makalat ” show , he had the usual theological conceptions of his time , he tried to keep Maulana away from the study of books.

Shams Tabrizi is called in the sources ” sultan al mashukin “, ” price of the loved ones “, and Maulanas son, Sultan Walad, who knew Shams well, develops in the “Ibtidanama ” a theory that there is another class of ” lovers who have reached the goal ” ( ashikan i wasil ), besides the ” perfect saints ” ( awliya i kamil ). Beyond these there is another stage ( makam )- that of the beloved ( the masukh ). Until Shams appeared nobody had heard about this stage, and Shams had reached it. Shams showed Mawlana this way of Sufi love, and Maulana had to re learn everything from him.

Maulanas love for Shams i Tabrizi turned him into a poet , but at the same time caused him to neglect his students ( murids ) and dis regard everyone but Shams. The murids were enraged by this and maintained that they were more important then the foreign unknown dervish and are even said to have threatened Sham`s life. Thereupon Shams fled on 11th March 1246 ( AD ) to Damascus. But the murids did not achieve their end. Maulana was much disconcerted and sent his son Sultan Walad to Damascus. Shams could not resisit the spoken entreaties of Sultan Walad and the written poetical entries of Maulana, and returned on foot with Sultan Walad to Konya. But once again the murids began to murmur again and took pains to keep Shams away from Maulana. Shams is said to have declared and no one would be able to find him again. On 5th December 1247 Shams was murdered with the participation of Sultan Walads brother Ala al Din, and the corpse was thrown into a well and later found and buried by Sultan Walad, who mentions nothing of this murder in the “ibadatnama “, not wanting to make the family scandal public.

Shams` death was kept from Maulana, as he went to Damascus twice to look for him. His spiritual condition is depicted in touching verses by Sultan Walad ( Waladnama ): he became all the more a poet, devoted himself to listening to music and to dancing ( sama )to an extent that even his son obviously felt was immoderate , and found the lost Shams in himself. In most of his ghazals the takhalus is not his own name, but that of his mystic lover.

In the year 1249 AD Maulana announced that Shams had appeared to him again in the form of one of his murids, Salah al din Zarkub of Konya. He appointed the goldsmith, who was illiterate but distinguished by his handsomeness and pleasant character, as khalifa , and thus as the superior of the other murids. He himself wanted to retire from the offices of Shaykh and preacher. The murids found that Shams al din , the Tabrizi, had been more bearable than the uncultured goldsmiths apprentice from Konya, whom they had known from childhood. Plans were even made to murder him, and then revealed.

The murids noticed that the Maulana threatened to desert them completely, and they asked remorsefully for forgiveness. It may be assumed that the loyal attitude of Sultan Walad and the pleaseant personality of Salal al Din helped to surmount this crises. For ten years Salal al din filled the office of a deputy ( naib and khalifa ), then he became ill and died, according to the inscription on his sacrcophagus, in muharram 29th December 1258 (AD ).
His successor , Celebi Husam al din Hassan, was to be the inspirer of the Mathnawi. Husam al Din lived with the Maulana for ten years until until the latter`s death on 18th December 1273 and it was when Sultan Walad that the real history of the Order began. He founded the first branches of the order and helped it to gain greater respect. Already in the lifetime of Mawlana the members of the order had the title Mawlawi. At first they were recruited artisans . The central part of the religious practices was held by listening to music, and dancing, which were indeed usual amongst other Orders, but never had the greatest importance , as with the Mawlawis. The dance ceremony in the regular , solemn form which is usual later , was first introduced by Pir Adil Celebi.(d.1460 AD ).

The Mawlana himself appears to have been of a philanthropic and strongly emotional type, to judge from the coutless love poems in the Diwan, easily inflamed, inclined to work off his excitement in the dance. Whether his religious ideas possess anything original besides the general mystical piety of his time, will have to be shown by the analysis of his works, which are:

1) The `Diwan `, containing Ghazals and Quatrains. There are also Greek and Turkish verses in this, the presence of which shows a certain connexion with sections of the common folk and also with the non Muslim elements of the Konya population.
His “takhalus ” is ” Khamush ” which is often replaced with the name of Shams i Tabriz. In some Ghazals, Salal al Din also appears as the “takhalus .”

2) ” Mathnawi i Manawi- a Didactic poetical work in double verses , in six

` daftars `. The long poem was inspired by Husam al Din Celebi , who suggested to Maulana that he should produce something like the religious ” Mathnawi ” of Sanai and Attar. The Mawlana is supposed to have at once pulled out the famous eighteen verses of the introduction out of his turban already written. The rest he dictated to Husam al Din. The date when the work was begun is not known. We know only that between the first and the second “daftar ” was a pause of two years, caused by the death of Husam al Din`s wife. The second “daftar ” was started in 1263 AD , as the poet says himself. Mawlana dictated his verse whenever it occurred to him, dancing, standing, sitting, walking, sometimes in the night until the morning. Then Husam al din read out what was written and the necessary corrections were made. The whole is composed very informally and without any thought of a well planned structure.

3) ” Fihi ma fih “. Collection of Maulanas sayings.

4) ” Mawaiz macalis i saba ”

5) ” Makhtubat ”

It is not easy to summarise systematically the main lines of Maulana`s thought. He was not a philosopher ( in his works are often attacks against the vacuity of purely intellectual philosophy) and claimed not to be a classical poet ( in the Diwan and Mathnawi he proclaims his dislike for rhymes and poetical artificies )but above all he was a passionate lover of God who expressed his feelings in a poetically unorthodox , volcanic way, thus creating a style which is unique in the enrire Persian litarature.
Historically, influences on him by the religious and philosophical thought of Ghazzali, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, Attar have been traced.

The following account outilnes shortly some of the main trends in Maulana`s thoughts –

God: The absolute transcendence of God seems conceived not only spatially and intellectually but even morally. God is himself the Absolute Value , Good and Evil being relative to Him and both at His orders. Reality is ordered in 4 ” spaces “: the Realm of Nothingness of Phantasy, of Existence, of Senses and Colours. God is beyond Nothingness and Being. He works in the Nothingness, which is His Workshop.
In this sense is difficult to speak of a real “pantheism ” in Maulana:in any case immanentism is totally to his turn of mind.

Creation : Maulana seems to accept the Asharite idea of the discontinuity of time and creation. God creates and destroys all in discontinuous atoms of time. He creates things murmuring enchanting words in their ears while they are still asleep in the Nothingness.

The World: The non – Human World is something created by God in preparation for the creation of nature Man. Nature is a hint of God: every tree that germinates from the dark earth extending its branches towards the sun is a symbol of the liberation of Spirit from Matter. Creation has been however progressive. In a famous passage Maulana sketches a theory of mystical evolution. The emergence of Man ( who always remained Man , even in his former stages of development ) from the animal kingdom is a first step indicating further journeys to the realms of the Angels and of God.

Man: Man is not simply a compound of body and soul. The human compound is formed by a body, his manifest part, a deeper soul, a still more concealed mind, an even deeper , a spirit partaking of revelation present only in Saints and Prophets.  Maulanas spiritual anthropology does not accept an indiscriminate possibility for every one to reach the highest stages of sanctity. Prophets and Saints are ” different ” from ordinary men. In an intersting passage Maulana shows the pragmatic utility of bowing in veneration to the Holy Men : it is the only way of breaking the ever re appearing humanistic pride and superbity of Man.

God speaks through the mouth of the ” man of god “. The Prophet, the Holy Man is the manifest sign of the Unity of God, he is above the normal human standards.

Ethics; Maulana is far from speaking the language of modern ” liberal ” religious thinkers. The exterior practices of worship are binding for all. The reason given for this is also  of a typically Muslim pragmatic character; the exterior rites are  useful, like the presents of a lover to his Beloved.  If love were a purely spiritual thing why should God have created the material World. On the problem of freedom and destiny he acutely remarks that there is a great difference between the momentaneous act of  God ( sun ) and the result of the act ( masnu ), between kada ( the act of deciding or predestining ), and Mahdi ( the predestined thing ).

One has to love the sun of God , not his masnu.  When his spiritual eyes are open , man recognises that he is , at the same time, totally operated and moved by God and totally free, of a freedom unmeasurably  above the petty freedoms of ordinary men. To reach this deeper freedom inGod, efforts and action ( kushish) are necessary. Perfect examples of this supreme freedom are the Saints and the Prophets.

Life after death; The nearness to God in the worlds beyond is never felt by the Maulana as a real absorption in God without any residue. The metaphors he uses to express fana in an interesting passage of the ” Mathnawi ” are for instance the following: the flame of the candle in the presence of the sun, or a deer in the presence of a lion, or, elsewhere, as red hot iron in the fire, when iron takes the properties of fire without losing its own individual essence. In that state it can claim to be fire as well as iron.  The soul near God becomes then one ” according to whose desire the torrents and rivers flow, and the stars move in such wise as He wills.”  In another passage Maulana tells of a lover who, as he reached the presence of his Beloved , died and ” the bird , his spirit , flew out of his body ” for ” God is such that , when He comes , there is not a single hair of thee remaining.”  The real end of the story is told some lines further, under the heading: ” How the Beloved caressed , the senseless lover that he might return to his senses.” Maulana goes even so far as to admit an element of activity in the otherwordly plane, so that the highest degree in the life of spirit ” is not attainment but infinite aspiration after having attained “; .. there is a very occult mystery here in the fact that Moses set out to run towards a Khidr… This Divine Court is the infinite Plane. Leave the seat of honour behined; the Way is they seat of honour ”

In the work of the Maulana elements of colloquial language penetrate sometimes  even into the more refined language of the ghazals and of the “ecstatic” style of the ” mathnawi ” There are a number of verses of Maulana containing a few words and sentences in colloguial Greek. The style of writing found no imitators, but it is  highly valued by modern Persians ( even those who do not agree with his mystical views )  and perhaps exerted a certain influence in the movement of simplification and modernization of Persian literature begun in the 19th century.