Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rumi Basics

“Soul receives from soul that knowledge, therefore not by book nor from tongue. If knowledge of mysteries come after emptiness of mind, that is illumination of heart.” --Jalal al-Din Rumi

Some basics about the 13th century Persian (modern day Iran) mystic and poet Rumi, as he is most often called. First, in the book previously mentioned here, The Sufi doctrine of Rumi: Illustrated Edition by William Chittick it states that the text of this volume was first published in Tehran, Iran in 1974, the result of a doctoral dissertation; based on original research by its author, Chittick, who notes that his work on Rumi "is the best, primary English language source for entry into the rich symbolic world of Sufiism."

Chittick also notes that in his view, there have been a number of adept translations of Rumi's work into English, especially compiled as anthologies which have provided the English reader with a great variety of his work. While this has been a service, Chittick concludes that as for Suffism, many if not most, miss the mark. They fail to probe into the meaning of Rumi's words as an entry into the mystical world he illiminates. "They generally fail... to provide sufficient context to grasp what Rumi is actually saying." Chittick hopes his book will close the gap.

Already in the 14th century commentators were providing information as to Rumi and his meanings for those who wished to learn; unlike many Sufi poets Rumi does 'explain the meaning of his imagery and symbolism.'

Jalal al-Din Rumi is widely known in the Islamic world as Mawlana, our Master. He was born in Khurasan (a region of modern day Iran) September 1207; his father was a noted scholar and a Sufi practitioner. In 1219 the family fled, ahead of the advance of the Mongolian invasion; they resettled in Turkey.

In Turkey his father also held great esteem as a highly learned religious scholar. The family prospered there. For the young Rumi, who the West has come to know, at age 37 he met a wandering Sufi mystic, Shams al-Din of Tabriz, who likely became the greatest influence on his life. Learning at the hand of this Master, Rumi for the remainder of his life was transformed from an ascetic to a mystic poet. He was to train the great order of Sufis, the Mevlevi. He died in December 1273.

Recalling his father, Rumi, after his death, son Sultan Walad wrote:

Never for a moment did he cease from listening to music and dancing;
never did he rest, by day or night
he had been a mufti; he became a poet.
He had been an ascetic: he became intoxicated by Love.
'T'was not the wine of the grape; the illumined soul drinks only the wine of Light.

No comments: