Persian Language & Literature

Molana Jalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi
By: Shahrzad Rouzrokh

Jalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi
Jalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi was born in 1207 CE at Balkh in the north-eastern provinces of Persia (present day Afghanistan), to a Persian-speaking family. His father Baha al-Din was a renowned religious scholar. Under his patronage, Rumi received his early education from Syed Burhan-al-Din. When his age was about 18 years, to avoid the Mongol invasions, the family moved westward through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, meeting famous writers and mystics, such as the revered poet Attar, who authored the finest spiritual parable in the Persian language, "The Concourse of the Birds." The family's flight ended in 1226 in the Anatolian city of QonyaŚcapital of the Seljuk Turkish sultanate of Rum, from which the poet's name derives. Rumi settled, taught, and composed here until his death in 1273. Although Konya's sultans were forced to pay tribute to the Mongols in 1243, the city remained a safe haven for Islamic culture, gathering outstanding minds from far horizons in a tormented age.

Rumi was sent to Aleppo (present day Syria) for advanced education and later to Damascus. He continued with his education till he was 40 years old, although on his father's death Rumi succeeded him as a professor in the famous Madrasah at Konya at the age of about 24 years. He received his mystical training first at the hands of Syed Burhan al-Din and later he was trained by Shams-e Tabrizi. He became famous for his mystical insight, his religious knowledge and as a Persian poet. Rumi taught a large number of pupils at his Madrasah and also himself founded the Molavi Order of Dervishes in Tasawwof (Sufism) and instituted the ecstatic dance ritual for which the "whirling dervishes" are known to this day. He died in 1273 CE at Konya (present day Turkey), which subsequently became a sacred place for dancing dervishes of the Molavi Order.

His major contribution lies in Islamic philosophy and Tasawwof (Sufism). This was embodied largely in poetry, especially through his famous Masnavi. This book, the largest mystical exposition in verse, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, etc. Fundamentally, the Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship with the worldly life. For this, Rumi draws on a variety of subjects and derives numerous examples from everyday life. His main subject is the relationship between man and God on the one hand, and between man and man, on the other. He apparently believed in Pantheism and portrayed the various stages of man's evolution in his journey towards the Ultimate.

Apart from the Masnavi, he also wrote his Divan (collection of poems) and Fihe-Ma-Fih (a collection of mystical sayings). However, it is the Masnavi itself that has largely transmitted Rumi's message. Soon after its completion, other scholars started writing detailed commentaries on it, in order to interpret its rich propositions on Tasawwof (Sufism), Metaphysics and Ethics. Several commentaries in different languages have been written since then.

His impact on philosophy, literature, mysticism and culture, has been so deep throughout Central Asia and most Islamic countries that almost all religious scholars, mystics, philosophers, sociologists and others have referred to his verses during all these centuries, since his death. Most difficult problems in these areas seem to get simplified in the light of his references. His message seems to have inspired most of the intellectuals in Central Asia and adjoining areas since his time, and scholars like Alama Iqbal Lahori have further developed Rumi's concepts. The Masnavi became known as the interpretation of the Quran in the Pahlavi language. He is one of the few intellectuals and mystics whose views have so profoundly affected the world-view in its higher perspective in large parts of the Islamic World.

Works of Molavi Rumi:
  • Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi
    Divan-e Shams is a masterpiece of wisdom and eloquence. It is often said that Rumi had attained the level of a "Perfect Master" and as such, he often dwelled in the spiritual realms that were rarely visited by others of this world. He attained heights that were attained by only a few before him or since.

    Few examples of Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi:
    1- Rumi 021            4- Rumi 065            7- Rumi 155
    2- Rumi 026            5- Rumi 082            8- Rumi 177
    3- Rumi 044            6- Rumi 134

  • Masnavi
    Masnavi or Masnavi-e Maanavi is the best known work of Rumi, and he himself defined his work as a work of destruction, destruction of the worldly for the sake of embracing the Divine. He warns the reader in advance to be prepared to let go of everything.

    Few examples of Masnavi:
    1- The Reed Flute
    2- Moses and The Shepherd
    3- Moses describing the 4 virtues resulting from faith

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    Masnavi-e Manavi (in English)
    By: Molana Jalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi