Who Rumi Was

In the following quatrain, or rubai, he describes himself:

“My turban, my robe, my head,

They aren’t worth a dime.

Haven’t you heard of my fame in the universe?

I have been annihilated,

I am nothing

I am Absent.”

-R. 198 P. 162

“Annihilation, Nothingness, Absence”, when one searches for him, he is pointing where to look. Certainly it’s not in his robe or turban.

There is an inherent danger in Rumi’s poems. They dazzle the eyes with their poetic beauty, so then one cannot see their prophetic meaning.

The price that he is asking to understand him is definitely not cheap. But who expects immortality to be cheap?

“O ones who want to smell my fragrance,

You must die first

Don’t look for me

When you are alive.”

- V. 20, G. 46

V. 7, G. 46

The death he refers to here is obviously not the chronological death; it is the salvation from the dungeon of existence. It is also not an intellectual concept. Mevlana is the Prince of Absence, he is God’s lover. Calling him a poet (it doesn’t matter how great a poet) is a big discredit to him.

“O Sultan of eternity,

I am free from gazelles, from verses.

Tell the rhyme, the meter,

That the torrent should wash them out.

The only thing a poet could do,

Is scratch the surface.”

-V. 7, 183

“I am not a poet.

My sustenance doesn’t come from poetry.

Also, I don’t talk much about virtue.

My virtue, my talent is a glass of love.

I drink that, only from the hand of the Beloved,

Not from anyone else.”

-R. 1518

Mevlana did not come from any particular (Sufi) school. His first teacher was his father, Muhammed Bahaeddin Veled (1151-1231). After his father’s death, a student of his, Burhaneddin Muhakkik (d. 1241) became Mevlana’s teacher.

Mevlana was a Muslim theologian. He took over his father’s religious school. We would most likely never know him if he hadn’t met Shams in on Fall Saturday October or November 24, 1244.

His spiritual life started immediately after that.

But he did not originate from any Sufi sect himself. The Mevlevi movement started many years after his death.

It is very difficult to call him a “Mystic”, in that traditional sense at least. But universally he was one of the best.

“I am the pure hearted Sufi

At the convent of the Universe,

Not one who wears a woolen cloak.”

-V. 7, 600

How about his birthday? Some of the events registered in the last part of the twelfth, early thirteenth, centuries chronicles cast some doubt about the validity of his 1207 birthday.

In one of his works, Fih-i Mafih, Mevlana talks about the siege of Semerkant, which took place in 1207. There is also a poem in the Divan’s 6th Meter, Vol. 5, 6, 7a pg. 65, poem 13, gazelle 14:

“First I was fed by blood, then milk.

Then milk became food for me instead of blood.

When my wisdom teeth came, I was weaned from milk.

Forty-year-old mind submerged me in thought.

I became prey in my sixty-second year.

I was hunted, then I was freed

From thought and measures.”
Unless Mevlana was hunted by someone else at the age of 62 other than Shams; unless Mevlana made up being at Semerkant when the city was seized by Khwarzms, then we may still accept his birthday as 1207. But who is the one that gave us this date? Neither Mevlana, nor his son, gave any birthdate.

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1 Comment so far
  1. diosdado ekong February 1, 2010 9:31 am

    dear one, first of all i am very glad to discover site, my coment is since mevlana was talking about the siege of semerkant which was taking place in 1207, mevlana was the one who gave us birthdate.but is above my understanding,and i’m very very intresting. please i want to know weather somebody can become a member. i’m waiting to hier from thanks yours faithfully aplicant. diosdado ekong.