The renowned 13th-century Persian poet, Jalāl al-Dīn Rumi, has captivated readers for centuries with his profound and enchanting verses. Often centered around themes of love, spirituality, and the human experience, Rumi’s poetry continues to touch the hearts and souls of countless individuals. A multitude of books have been written about this mystic poet, offering insights into his life, his work, and the impact he has had on the literary world.
One highly praised work is “The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing” which serves as a collection of Rumi’s most memorable poems. This book not only enthralls long-time admirers of his work, but also invites new readers to delve into Rumi’s rich poetic expressions. Another noteworthy title is “The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition” which features a fresh introduction by Coleman Barks and includes more than 80 previously unpublished poems, presenting an extensive array of Rumi’s exceptional artistry.
In addition to these compilations of Rumi’s poetry, some authors have been inspired to craft novels that draw on his life and teachings, such as “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak. This dual timeline novel weaves the stories of Rumi and his contemporary, wandering dervish Shams of Tabriz, with a modern-day character who experiences significant life changes based on their shared philosophies and unwavering bond.
Life of Rumi
Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, simply known as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet born in Balkh, now part of Afghanistan, on September 30, 1207. Coming from a long line of theologians and jurists, Rumi was destined to be an influential spiritual teacher. He and his family eventually had to flee their hometown due to the Mongol invasions, settling in Konya, Anatolia, which is now part of modern-day Turkey.
Rumi was a Sunni Muslim and a devout follower of the Maturidi theological school. He became a respected jurist and theologian, earning the honorific title “Mawlānā.” He was immersed in Islamic mysticism, known as Sufism, eventually becoming a revered Sufi mystic. Rumi’s works have had a lasting impact not only in the Muslim world but also across various cultures, languages, and countries.
His father, Baha Walad, was a noted theologian, who greatly influenced Rumi’s early education in religious studies. After Baha Walad’s death, Rumi succeeded him as a religious teacher. He continued to study extensively under various eminent scholars. His teachings emphasized love, tolerance, and charity, and he made extensive use of metaphors, parables, and allegories.
In Konya, Rumi met the wandering mystic, Shams of Tabrīz. This encounter changed the course of Rumi’s life and inspired him to write some of his most profound poetic works. Shams became Rumi’s spiritual mentor, helping him delve deeper into mysticism, emphasizing the importance of personal experience over intellectual understanding. After the disappearance of Shams, Rumi used his poetry to cope with the loss, giving birth to much of his colossal literary legacy.
Rumi spent his life teaching, writing, and inspiring countless students and admirers. Many of his followers joined him in the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi brotherhood, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, due to their unique, mesmerizing dance rituals. Rumi’s influence as a spiritual teacher grew both in Iran and the surrounding regions, such as Syria and Afghanistan.
Rumi’s life and work were deeply influenced by the literary and mystical heritage of great Persian poets like Al-Ghazali and Attār. He incorporated their ideas, refining them and presenting them in beautiful, heartfelt verse. His collections of poetry, such as “Divan-e Shams Tabrizi” and the epic masterpiece, “The Masnavi,” have been translated into numerous languages and continue to resonate with people worldwide.
Rumi passed away on December 17, 1273, in Konya, and his tomb became a place of pilgrimage. The poet’s legacy lives on through his remarkable works, which have inspired generations of spiritual seekers and lovers of literature. The universal themes of love, longing, and spiritual awakening make Rumi’s poetry timeless and continue to touch the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life.
Philosophy and Beliefs
Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, was a prominent figure in Sufism, an Islamic mystical tradition. His extensive body of work revolves around the themes of divine love, spirituality, and mystical thought. Central to Rumi’s philosophy is the idea of spiritual union with God through love.
Rumi’s poems and teachings emphasize the importance of love, both human and divine. He believed that love serves as a bridge between the individual soul and the divine. This transformative power of love is captured in his famous poem, “Unfold Your Own Myth,” where he encourages the reader to break free from the limitations of the ego and realize their innate potential for spiritual growth.
At the heart of Rumi’s spiritual legacy lies his deep understanding of God’s omnipresence. He believed that the divine could be found everywhere, and it was this belief that led Rumi to create the concept of “The Guest House,” which encourages an attitude of openness and acceptance towards the diverse experiences life offers, as they are all manifestations of the divine.
Rumi was also a devout Muslim, drawing inspiration and wisdom from the sacred texts of the Koran and integrating his religious beliefs with his mystical insights. Despite the cultural and historical distance between Rumi and contemporary readers, his writings continue to resonate with people from various religious backgrounds due to their universal themes of love, acceptance, and spiritual growth.
In conclusion, Rumi’s work is firmly rooted in Sufism and the Islamic tradition, yet it transcends religious boundaries through its focus on divine love and spirituality. His influence extends beyond poetry, as his philosophical and mystical ideas continue to inspire and guide people on their spiritual journeys, making Rumi a timeless figure in the world of literature and spirituality.
Works of Rumi
Masnavi, also known as Mathnawi, is considered one of Rumi’s greatest works and a masterpiece of Persian literature. It consists of thousands of couplets in rhyming sequences, exploring various themes such as love, devotion, and divine wisdom. Rumi wrote Masnavi in the Persian language, but occasionally used Arabic and Turkish words as well. It offers profound insights into Sufi mysticism and spiritual guidance.
The Essential Rumi
“The Essential Rumi” is a collection of Rumi’s most famous poetry, which has been translated into numerous languages. This book focuses on themes of love, life, and spiritual growth. It contains a selection of both free verse and structured poems, showcasing Rumi’s diverse poetic skills and his ability to evoke both emotional and intellectual responses from readers.
The Illuminated Rumi
“The Illuminated Rumi” is a beautifully designed book that combines Rumi’s poetic works with stunning visual images. This book contains a curated selection of Rumi’s poems, along with intricate illustrations and calligraphy that complement the text. The result is a unique and captivating reading experience that engages both the mind and the soul.
The Forty Rules of Love
“The Forty Rules of Love” is a novel by Elif Shafak that revolves around Rumi’s life and teachings. Although not directly written by Rumi, the book includes insightful interpretations of his poetic works and explores the deep bond between Rumi and his spiritual guide, Shams Tabrizi, which played a significant role in shaping Rumi’s Sufi philosophy. Shafak’s work offers readers a fresh perspective on Rumi’s life and his understanding of love.
There are several other books that delve into Rumi’s works and the rich world of Persian poetry. Some notable examples include:
- “Rumi: The Book of Love“: A collection of Rumi’s love poems, compiled to provide insights into the various aspects of love, both spiritual and earthly.
- “The Rumi Daybook”: A daily companion featuring selected verses from Rumi’s works, designed to inspire and guide readers on their spiritual journey.
Throughout these books and his extensive body of work, Rumi’s timeless wisdom and poetic prowess continue to captivate a global audience, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers, and demonstrating the enduring relevance of his teachings.
Role of Translators
Translating the works of Rumi, an influential 13th-century Persian poet, has been of great importance to share his wisdom with the world. Several translators have played significant roles in this endeavor, making a lasting impact on how Rumi’s poetry is received and understood.
American poet Coleman Barks has had a profound influence on the English-speaking world’s appreciation of Rumi. His translations focus on the essence and spirit of Rumi’s poetry rather than the literal meaning. Barks’ translations, like “The Essential Rumi,” have become bestsellers and introduced Rumi to a broader audience.
An eminent scholar of Islam and Sufism, Annemarie Schimmel crafted meticulous translations that capture the intricate wordplay and symbolism of Rumi’s verses. Schimmel’s work has provided valuable insight into Rumi’s poetry and his spiritual traditions.
Reynold A. Nicholson
Reynold A. Nicholson was a distinguished British Orientalist who was the first to complete a full translation of Rumi’s magnum opus, the “Mathnawi.” Nicholson’s work is highly regarded for its accuracy and scholarly rigor, which has helped to establish Rumi’s reputation in the West.
Kabir Helminski is a modern Sufi translator, teacher, and author who has contributed to the increased understanding of Rumi’s work. His translations, like those found in “The Rumi Collection,” are clear and accessible, making them popular among contemporary readers. Helminski’s work has been instrumental in promoting the spiritual and mystical aspects of Rumi’s poetry and his core messages of love and self-awareness.
Rumi’s Influence Today
Rumi, a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, has become a widely read and popular figure in modern literature. His works have been translated into numerous languages, making him the best-selling poet in the United States and influencing countless authors worldwide. One notable example is “Bridge to the Soul,” a collection of Rumi’s selected poems, anecdotes, and stories that showcase the poet’s deep understanding of nature and the human soul. These tales provide readers with a sense of solace and joy, demonstrating Rumi’s remarkable ability to uplift and inspire.
Rumi’s poetry has had a lasting impact on contemporary poets, both in the Middle East and globally. His unique style, often focusing on themes of ecstasy, courage, and mysticism, has resonated with readers and fellow poets alike. His works, such as the “Rumi Daybook,” serve as a source of inspiration for many who seek to explore themes of love, spirituality, and the human condition. As a result, his poetic influence can be traced through modern poets who continue to explore similar themes and messages.
Rumi’s role as a Sufi mystic and Islamic scholar has contributed to his significance in various religious contexts. While his poetry often delves into spiritual themes, it also provides valuable insights into the teachings and practices of Sufism and Islam. Some of his most famous poems, like those compiled in the “The Philosophy of Ecstasy” collection, explore the divine connection between humans and the natural world. Consequently, Rumi’s works have become a touchstone for contemporary spiritual seekers and practitioners, transcending cultural and religious barriers and fostering understanding and unity.