Posted by: Submitter | February 17, 2008

Mevelana Rumi


Mevelana Rumi tomb by night Konya Sharif—Turkey

Born in 1207 in the town of Balkh in Khurasan

(near Mazar-I-Sharif in contemporary Afghanistan), Jalal al-Din Rumi was the son of a brilliant Islamic scholar. At the age of 12, fleeing the Mongol invasion, he and his family went first to Makkah and then settled in the town of Rum in 1228. Rumi was initiated into Sufism by Burhan al-Din, a former pupil of his father’s, under whose tutelage he progressed through the various teachings of the Sufi tradition. After his father’s death in 1231, Rumi studied in Aleppo and Damascus and, returning to Konya in 1240, became a Sufi teacher himself. Within a few years a group of disciples gathered around him, due to his great eloquence, theological knowledge and engaging personality.

In 1244 a strange event occurred that was to profoundly change Rumi’s life and give rise to the extraordinary outpouring of poetry for which he is famous today. A wandering mystic known as Shams al-Din of Tabriz came to Konya and began to exert a powerful influence on Rumi. For Rumi, the holy man represented the perfect and complete man, the true image of the ‘Divine Beloved’, which he had long been seeking. Despite his own position as a teacher (a Sufi sheikh), Rumi became utterly devoted to Shams al-Din, ignored his own disciples and departed from scholarly studies. Jealous of his influence on their master, a group of Rumi’s own students twice drove the dervish away and finally murdered him in 1247. Overwhelmed by the loss of Shams al-Din, Rumi withdrew from the world to mourn and meditate. During this time he began to manifest an ecstatic love of god that was expressed through sublimely beautiful poetry, listening to devotional music and trance dancing.

Over the next twenty-five years, Rumi’s literary output was truly phenomenal. In addition to the Mathnawi, which consists of six books or nearly 25,000 rhyming couplets, he composed some 2500 mystical odes and 1600 quatrains. Virtually all of the Mathnawi was dictated to his disciple Husam al-Din in the fifteen years before Rumi’s death. Mevlana (meaning ‘Our Guide’) would recite the verses whenever and wherever they came to him – meditating, dancing, singing, walking, eating, by day or night – and Husam al-Din would record them. Writing of Rumi and his poetry, Malise Ruthven (Islam in the World) says, “No doubt the Mathnawi’s emotional intensity derives in part from the poet’s own vulnerable personality: his longing for love is sublimated into a kind of cosmic yearning. The Love Object, though divine and therefore unknowable, yields a very human kind of love. In the Quran a remote and inaccessible deity addresses man through the mouth of his Prophet. In the Mathnawi it is the voice of the human soul, bewailing its earthly exile, which cries out, seeking reunification with its creator.”

Rumi teachings expressed that love is the path to spiritual growth and insight. Broadly tolerant of all people and other faiths, he says,

Whoever you may be, come
Even though you may be
An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-worshipper, come
Our brotherhood is not one of despair
Even though you have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.

Rumi is also well known for the Sufi brotherhood he established with its distinctive whirling and circling dance, known as Sema and practiced by the Dervishes. The Sema ceremony, in seven parts, represents the mystical journey of an individual on their ascent through mind and love to union with the divine. Mirroring the revolving nature of existence and all living things, the Sufi dervish turns toward the truth, grows through love, abandons ego, and embraces perfection. Then he returns from this spiritual journey as one who has reached perfection in order to be of love and service to the entire creation. Dressed in long white gowns (the ego’s burial shroud) and wearing high, cone-shaped hats (the ego’s tombstone), the dervish dances for hours at a time. With arms held high, the right hand lifted upward to receive blessings and energy from heaven, the left hand turned downward to bestow these blessing on the earth, and the body spinning from right to left, the dervish revolves around the heart and embraces all of creation with love. The dervishes form a circle, each turning in harmony with the rhythm of the accompanying music as the circle itself moves around, slowly picking up speed and intensity until all collapse in a sort of spiritual exaltation.

Rumi passed away on the evening of December 17, 1273, a time traditionally known as his ‘wedding night,’ for he was now completely united with god. In the centuries following Rumi’s death, many hundreds of dervish lodges were established throughout the Ottoman domains in Turkey, Syria and Egypt, and several Ottoman Sultans were Sufis of the Mevlevi order. During the later Ottoman period, the dervishes acquired considerable power in the sultan’s court. With the secularization of Turkey following World War I, the Mevlevi Brotherhood (and many others) were seen as reactionary and dangerous to the new republic, and were therefore banned in 1925. While their properties were confiscated, members of the Mevlevi Brotherhood continued their religious practices in secret until their ecstatic dance were again allowed in 1953.

The former monastery of the whirling dervishes of Konya was converted into a museum in 1927. While the dervishes have been banned from using this facility, it functions as both museum and shrine. In its main room (Mevlana Turbesi) may be seen the tomb of Mevlana covered with a large velvet cloth embroidered in gold. Adjacent to Rumi’s burial is that of his father, Baha al-Din Valed, whose sarcophagus stands upright, for legends tell that when Rumi was buried, his father’s tomb “rose and bowed in reverence.” The tombs of Rumi’s son and other Sufi sheikhs are clustered about the shrine. The burials of Rumi, his father and several others are capped with huge turbans, these being symbolic of the spiritual authority of Sufi teachers. The Mevlana Turbesi dates from Seljuk times while the adjoining mosque and the rooms surrounding the shrine were added by Ottoman sultans. Formerly used as quarters for the dervishes, these rooms are now furnished as they would have been during the time of Rumi, with mannequins dressed in period costumes. Within one room there is a casket containing a hair from the beard of Muhammad.

Each year on December 17th a religious celebration is held at the site of Rumi’s tomb, to which tens of thousands of pilgrims come. In the shrine there is a silver plated step on which the followers of Mevlana rub their foreheads and place kisses. This area is usually cordoned off but is opened for these devotional actions during the December pilgrimage festivities. In addition to the shrine of Rumi, pilgrims to Konya will visit the shrine of Hazrat Shemsuddin of Tabriz (traditionally visited before the shrine of Rumi), the shrine of Sadreduddin Konevi (a disciple of Hazrat ibn Arabi and a contemporary of Mevlana), the shrine of Yusuf Atesh-Baz Veli, and the shrine of Tavus Baba (who may in fact have been a women and therefore Tavus Ana). Within the museum of Rumi there is a map that shows the location of these various holy sites.

Hazrat Maulana Jalalud-Deen Mohammad Rumi (RA)

Lineage: Sayyidinah Abu Bakr (R.A) on the father side and Sayyidinah Ali (R.A) on the mother’s side.

Date of Birth: 6th Rabiul Awwal 604 A.H.

Father’s name: Muhammad Baha’uddeen Veled. His father was given the title of Sultãnul-Ulamã (King of Scholars) as a result of solving difficult problems pertaining to law and religion. While in his adolescence he delivered discourses everyday of the week.

Early Education: Moulãnã Rumi’s (R) father entrusted him to one of his disciples, Saiyid Burhãnuddeen who taught him for 4-5 years later after his father’s death. Burhãnuddeen guided him in secrets of Sufism (Mysticism). At the age of 22 Moulãnã Rumi (R) migrated with his father from Balkh to Konya, where his father was a teacher at a college founded by the king. After the father’s death Moulãna Rumi (R) occupied the seat of his father. Thereafter he taught at the college and preached to the people.

Further Education: In 630 A.H Moulana Rumi (R) went to Syria for further education. He studied at Madrasah Halawiyah which is the Haleb (Aleppo) and received his education from Kãmaluddin-al-Adim. Thereafter he proceeded to Damascus and studied in Madrasah Maqdaysah. Amongst other teachers, he also studied by Shaykh Mohinuddin ibn Arabi and Shaykh Uthmãn Rumi. Either in 634 or 635 Moulãna Rumi (R) returned to Konya and resumed teaching, because of the oppression and destruction by the Mongols. A number of great scholars moved towards Konya to seek the company of Moulãna Rumi (R). He was head of the scholars and he had 400 students under him.

Moulãna Rumi (R) returns to Mysticism: Moulãna Rumi’s (R) meeting with Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Mãlik Dãd commonly known as Shams Tabrez completely transformed his life and turned him from Jalãluddin Konwi to Moulãna-i-Rum. It was the 642 A.H. It is related about Shams Tabrez that in his youth, he remained so immersed in the love for Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that he did not feel the pangs of hunger for as many as 30 – 40 days. Moulãna Rumi (R) became so attached to Shams Tabrez, that it is reported that both remained in holy communion for 6 months, in a room where none dared to enter except Shaykh Salahuddin. The company of Shams Tabrez opened new in roads into the hidden and now Moulãna Rumi (R) felt a great urge to grasp the mysteries of earth and heaven through spiritual illumination. Moulãna Rumi (R) says in a couplet:

“Shams Tabez was it, who led me to the path of reality, for the earth I have is simply his bounty.”

Departure of Shams Tabrez: Moulãna Rumi (R) had given up teaching and delivering lectures due to his learning from his spiritual mentor Shams Tabrez. This was intensely resented by his followers, disciples and friends. Shams Tabrez, realising that the blame was being put on him, discreetly left Konya, on the 21st Shawwãl 643 A.H, after a stay of about 16 months.

Moulãna Rumi (R) now promoted Shaykh Salãhuddin as his confident and chief assistance. After the death of Salãhuddin, Chelebi Hishãmuddin Turk as his spiritual vicegerent, who was his successor for 11 years.

Character, Simplicity, Prayers, Humility and Generosity:

Whenever he went out, a large number of students, theologians and even nobles accompanied him on foot. The Kings and chiefs of state received him with the highest honour, he continued to teach and give juristic opinions. He was of simple and frugal habits. He never had a pillow nor a bedding nor did he ever lie down for taking a rest. Whenever he felt drowsy, he took a nap wherever he was sitting. Whenever presents where he received he often passed it on to Salãhuddin or Hishãmuddin. He used to be very pleased when there used to be no provisions in his own house.

Whenever time of Salãt came Moulãna Rumi (R) was a completely change man, his face turning pale would soon be lost in Salãt. It is related that it was often that Moulãna Rumi (R) spent the whole night in 2 rakãts of Salãt. Once Moulãna Rumi (R) was performing Salãt in cold, bitter night winter, when his tears trickled down his face onto his beard, turning into ice due to the intense cold, withstanding this he remained occupied in Salãt unaware of this. No beggar was turned away without being given something, he never buttoned his gown or shirt so that it might be easier for him to take it off, in case anybody asked him for it.

Compilation of the Mathnawi:

Moulãna Rumi (R) was endowed with a love so fervent that he could not do without a close companion with whom he could share the mysteries of Tasawwuf, as experienced by him. First he selected Shams Tabrez, whose place was taken by Salãhuddin than Hishãmuddin. There had been a gap of two years in the compilation of the Mathnawi. However after that Moulãna Rumi (R) took up the task continuing it for the next 15 years till his death. The “Mathnawi” is itself a proof of Moulãna Rumi,s (R) yearning for love, as Moulãna Rumi (R) had been endowed with a tremendous spiritual enthusiasm and a fervour of love which was lying dormant. And this very fervour compelled him to compile the Mathnawi as he says:

“Flow of speech from the heart is a sign of intimate friendship, obstruction of speech arises from lack of intimacy.”

The Mathnawi is a collection of heart – rendering lyrics. It unveils the inner most feeling of its author. The Mathnawi affords a glimpse of Moulãna Rumi (R) ardent love and fervour of spiritual yearnings, certitude of knowledge and strong faith. Moulãna Rumi (R) revived when the spirit of “Divine Love” during the 7th century when the people had forgotten Divine Love (i.e. love of Allah). As he says on page 300 of his Mathnawi (Vol. IV);

“By the Love bitter things become sweet; by love pieces of copper turn into Gold;

By Love dregs (residue) become clear; by love pains become healing.

By Love prisons become a garden; Sans (without) love the garden becomes desolate;

By Love stone turns into liquid; devoid of it wax gets hard as metal;

By Love illness contributes health; and the scourge (pain) becomes a blessing;

By Love the dead is made Living; by love the King is made a slave.”

In another couplet he says:

“Love is the only melody welcomed by its sufferer, who never desires to recover from it. All the sick hope to be cured, but this sick one sobs, crying “Increase my Sickness”

His Death:

It is related that Konya was continuously rocked by earthquakes for 40 days before his death. He passed away at the age of 68 years and 3 months, on the 5th of Jamãdiul Ãkhir 672 A.H. It is said that the number of people who flocked to join the funeral procession was so great that bier taken out early morning could reach the burial place by sunset. He was laid to rest next to the Saints of Islãm.

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