13 Century Asia Minor

Crazy As We Are

Mevlana Celaleddin (Cela) Rumi is one of the greatest mystics of all time-bigger then life, yet close to humanity, and able to dissolve all religious and racial boundaries.

Mevlana lived in Asia Minor in the 13th century. All of his earthly beginnings are surrounded by controversy, including date of birth. The historian Eflaki puts as September 29,1207. However, by Mevlana’s own account in Fihi Mafih, the siege of Semerkand took place in 1203, and he was there. Moveover, according to Golpinarli (1985), Mevlana met Shems of Tabriz on November 12,1244; indirectly in his Divan he refers to meeting Shems when he was 62 years old. This put his birthday as June 6,1184.

There is also serious doubt as to Mevlana’s father kinship to First Caliph Ebu Bekr or his mother’s to the Kharezm-Shah’s.

On the other hand, there is no controversy about the presence of tumultuous religious and political force throughout Asia Minor at the end of the 12th century.

Immediately after the Christian Crusades the Seljug Turks reached their zenith, controlling all Asia Minor, Persia and, in the 10th and 11th centuries, part of Asia. They were Islamic, Turkic people. Although the Arabs brought Islam to the Persians (the most ancient people of the Middle east), Arabic Islam did not conquer the Turks. On the contrary, the Turks entered the Islamic world as conquerors. Some of them freely converted in their homeland.

The declining stages of the Seljug dynasty in the area of the Persian Gulf brought the Kharezm-Shahs to major power in the whole region, this time from east to west. This is significant for a number of reasons.

First, the Kharezm-Shahs were notoriously involved in slaying venerable saints and scholars who did not agree with their way of thinking. During this period, however. some of the most unforgettable spiritual members of the human race lived and flourished, including Mevlana’s father.

Second, one of the Kharezm-Shahs challenged the Caliph’s position as Abbasid of Baghdad (the religious leader of Islam), fought with religious leaders who were of Persian origin, and declared a Shiite Arab as Caliph. This had political implications as well. While all this bickering was going on among the Islamic Turks,Genghis Khan, although still busy with the war of the Kin Empire, had already solidified his power, having taken part of China. He was looking for adventure in more fertile lands westward.

Genghis Khan lived in the Mongolian city of Karakorum (Black Sand) in a haphazardly built, ugly city, while the neighboring Kharezmian empire included beautiful cities such as Semerkand, Balkh, Herat, and Boukhara, center of Islam’s academies and mosques. Accordingly, Genghis Khan sent trade envoys to the politically-waekened Kharezm.

And third, the Kharezm-Shah virtually invited the destruction of the region by Genghis Khan. Most historians agree that all the Mongol trouble started because of the Kharezm-Shah’s stupidity during this initial trading between the two emperors. The Kharezm-Sha virtually invited the destruction of the region by Genghiz Khan. Most historians agree that all the Mongol troubles started because of the Kharezm-Shah’s stupidity during this initial trading between the two emperors. The Kharezmians were officially insisting that Genghis Khan not be recognized, and they killed Mongol envoys for no reason (1218). These obvious acts of aggression were enough to make Genghis Khan jump on his horse and gallop toward Turkistan, saying, “There cannot be two suns in heaven, nor two Khans on earth.

This westward march of the Mongol army was devastating to the Islamic, Persian, and Turkic peoples, including the Kharezms, the Seljug Turks, and others in Transoxania who were Muslim Turkic people of Asian origin. But as previously mentioned, during this time spiritual acivity reached astonishing heights.

Mevlana’s father was himself a spiritual man. His name was Bahauddin Veled, Sultan of Scholars, or Mevlana Buzerg (the great master), extremely knowledgeable and authoritarian. Even before the threat of the Mongol invasion, Bahauddin was no stranger to controversy and danger. He was a scholar with the highest position at one of the colleges. He, probably the school he belonged to, and his teacher Necmeddin Kubra (who was killed by Mongols in 1221), espoused Being over philosophy, in particular the Neo-Platonic philosophy which was partially accepted by the Kharezm-Shah (Sultan Muhammed Tekesh Kharezm-Shah). this put him in direct conflict with the Kharezm-Shah. And, in fact, none of the Kharezm rulers were friendly with the Bahuddin group.

There can be no doubt that Bahuddin foresaw the upcoming Mongol invasion. By 1221, he was in his seventies (he was 55 years old during the war between Kharezm and Gor in 1203) and Mevlana was 28 or 29 years old.

Although we will probably never know the exact causes, Mevlana’s father did decide to migrate from balkh in possibly 1221. (There is also historic controversy regarding this journey). Like a prudent, experienced captain of his ship, he pulled his boat out of those turbulent waters just in time to miss the coming Mongols.The possible date of his arrival in Konya is 1228.

The family’s first major stop was Baghdad, and before they left there they heard that a Mongol army of 500,000, commanded by Genghis, had destroyed Balkh.

They went on pilgrimage to Mecca, then to Asia Minor (Rumi) which is now known as Turkey, and stayed in eastern city of Malatya before moving on toward Konya.

In Larenda, a short distance from Konya, Mevlana married Gevher Khatun. Their first son, Sultan Veled, was born in 1226. Mevlana had a second son, Muhammed Alaeddin, but the date of his birth is unknown.

With the invitation of Seljug Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad (D.1237), Bahauddin settled in Konya “where he was installed in college and soon professed himself (Keykubad) as a disciple.’ The atmosphere was excellent; Konya was the capital of the Seljug Turks, who tolerated diversity well.

Bahauddin lived only about two years after the family’s arrival in Konya. He died on January 12,1231. His son, Mevlana Celaleddin, took over the post as dean of the college, since he was the natural heir and qualified as well.

Mevlana was subsequently tutored by Seyid Burhananeddin, disciple of his father who arrived in Konya in 1232. From him Mevlana learned the “Mystery of Mute Reality and Ecstasy” and the “Science of Divine Intuition.” Burhaneddin told him that he surpassed his father in all knowledge of humanities; however, like his father, he should be versed in other areas as well. This association lasted about nine years. During these years Mevlana traveled to Damascus and Aleppo for more studies.

Mevlana’s eldest son, Sultan Veled, tells us that after his tutor “Seyid’s (Burhaneddin) sudden departure from this world of illusion to the world of reality (his death), Celal became very lonely. He turned his face to God day and night. He lost sleep and forgot to eat. For five years he did mortification of the flesh. His contrition raised him above the angels. His word and deed appeared to be divinely inspired. The people who did not care for him before became his disciples. Jurists and religious leaders considered him holy.”

According to Eflaki, the Platonic monastery just outside of Konya was a place where Mevlana spent some time. It should be noted that Konya was not only the capital of the Seljug Turks, it was a city of education and religious tolerance. Beside the Moslem community, there were sizeable Greek and Jewish communities; along with the mosques, there were churches and monasteries.

A few years after the death of Mevlana’s father, the king of Seljug died (1237).

The new king, while trying to solidify his power against internal dissent, learned that the Mongol army under the command of Bacu had taken the important Eastern city of Erzurum (1242). He still had to deal with the internal uprisings. some of these were a pure power struggle, but they always had mystical and religious tones.


The social turmoil and lack of security in life set a fertile ground for Sufi organizations, especially with the influx of new comers resulting from the Mongol dislocatoin from Asia to Asia Minor. These organizations become centers of spiritual escape from the harsh realities of time; they were the only places where anyone could breathe. The authorities upholding strict religious laws tried to oppose these movements, but without much success. There were Sufi Dervishes of all kinds.

At the time, Mevlana was aware of the different Sufi group, but the only one he belonged to was Melameti’s (Melami’s). (Since Melameti originated in Horasan, it was sometime called Horasani.) Several Sufi leaders had moved to Asia Minor from the East, centered around the elite and powerful groups, excluding ordinary people, and Melameti was a reaction to this trend. The Melameti denied titles, dress codes, and ceremonies, and developed tolerance. They did everything to be humiliated in order to destroy “Self.” Mevlana was, in fact, a representative of this Melameti or Horansani group (first with his father, then later with Shems).

Then Shems came into Mevlana’s life.

We would never have known Mevlana as we do now if he had not met Shems of Tebriz. When they first met on November 26,1224, Mevlana and Shems were well over sixty years of age.

Who was Shems? Why did he go to Konya? Why and how did he meet Mevlana? There are details and colorful facts and fictions in the accounts of Eflaki, Sipahsalar and even Mevlana and shems.

Seven hundred years later, Mr. H.L. Susud described Shems in this way: “What a Sun you were, oh, Shems of Tebriz, that one ray of your light became the Master (Mevlana) of the word.” From the time they met Mevlana’s life is the story of Annihilation, from Being to Non-being, Existence to Non-existence, fom Testimonial Knowlegde to the Unseen.

According to Eflaki, Shems showed him the existed from Being, and taught him Extinction and the true nature of things by the removing of all condescension, by freedom from the body, and by changing perception from objectivity to subjectivity. He understood the source of theology and the origin of religion by realizing the Oneness in Action, Attributes, and Essence. His way was the way of Absolute Truth. To settle for less then that would be a big disservice to Mevlana. In Shems, Mevlana saw himself as Personified Divinity. But life around them, just like the period in which they lived, was extremely restless. Misunderstandings and jealousy had become everyday occurrences. These made life unbearable for Shems. After staying in Konya with Mevlana for 15 months,Shems suddenly disappeared.

He returned to Konya on May 8,1247 only after Mevlana had pleaded repeatedly and sent his son to Aleppo to get him. This time Shems married Mevlana’s stepdaughter. The couple lived at the college in very modest circumstances compared with their contemporary relious dignitaries, like Sadreddin Konevi , Sheik of Islam of Konya., celebrated religious leader, stepson of Muhyeddin ibn ‘i Arabi, who lived in a palace.

Onece again there was controversy, even conspiracy, around Shems. This time, Mevlana’s youngest son Alaeddin, who originally objected to Shems’ marriage and closeness to his father, was against him.

The short-lived second reunion of Mevlana and Shems tragically ended December 5,1247 with the assassination of Shems. Alaeddin has been iplicated by many in assassination.

Shems’ return to Konya coincided with the defeat of Seljug ruler Giyaseddin by the Mongols. Asia minor became another province of the Mongol Empire.

During these bleak times, we see an entirely different Mevlana, not just the Muslim scholar he was before he met Shems. He had become a man with Divine Ecstasy, reciting Odes and Rubais day and night and dancing (sema, or Dervish dancing) to his own rhythm. That introduction of music and Sema was not new to the Moslem society, but it had never reached this level and intensity in any previous time.

The Muineddin Pervana (prime minister of the Seljug government) is reported to have said publicly that Celal was a matchless monarch; that no sovereign in any age was like unto him, but that his disciples were a very disreputable bunch. Celal sent a note to Pervana saying, “Had my disciples been good men, I would have been their disciple. Inasmuch as they were bad, I accepted them as my disciples that they might reform and become good.”

The people around Mevlana were from all walks of life, including farmers, public bath servants, artists, architects, barbers, merchants, singers, carpenters, butchers, and musicians. They were Moslems, Jews, Christians, and even some Mongol pagans.

Mevlana had a completely different view of his surroundings and the turmoil in the country. He saw the world around Him:


The world is nothing. We are nothing.

Our life in this world is nothing but dreams and images.

As such, why do we keep struggling?

If the person who is asleep knew he was dreaming,

Should he suffer from his nighmare?


Crazy As We Are (Continuation 2)




He Knew Gods favor


You gave me so many favor,

I am tempted to ask for more,

Like Moses when he heard the voice of God

Wanted to see His face.



He invited everyone to join him then (and still does):



You became a doorkeeper for every villain

Under the roof of this sky.

Why don’t you come to our Quarters,

So you can see the roof and the door?”



After Shems, music and Sema kept Mevlana alive. Formal and informal religious and mystical ceremonies went on day and night. He did not eat or sleep, just recited poems such as:


The words are piled

And spread all over my heart,

Each one of them begging

Me to come out first,

So they can rest a little while.



Hearing his poems people forgot praying and joined in the dancing. Craziness spread all over Konya under the watchful, critical eyes of strict religious group, but nobody dared to stop Mevlana, thanks to pervana, prime minister of the Seljug government, and Sadreddin Konevi, the religious leader of Konya.


I’ll give all my heart to the one

Who is affected with my disease.

The sick ones should drink me like Elixir.


Mevlana simply continued singing his poems and telling everyone:


If they spread my exuberance to the Universe,

You wouldn’t see anyone sane.

Everybody will lose his mind.


Oh. Moslem, oh, Moslem, watch your heart.

Get out of my way.

Don’t look at me, don’t make up to my heart.

Don’t try to please me.


He asked everyone Shems. Did they know what had happened to him? Maybe not .Apparently nobody was eager to talk.


I am Shedding blood from my eyes

Since the absence of the Greatest of the Great,

Shems of Tebriz.


Oh. Mind, oh, understanding,

You talk like you’ve seen him.

How can you see him

And still have your mind?

For God’s sake,

You have no sense, no understand.


Later, he set out on a journey to Aleppo to look for Shems. There he realized that Shems was within him, not in Aleppo. He explained:


I look like a sick falcon

Grounded because of sickness.

I neither belong to the people on earth

Nor am I able to fly to the sky.


Every time I remember

The hand of the king,

My heart burns with fire.

I don’t have the wings to fly.

My wings are not helping me.


Oh, poor falcon.

How can you live with these ravens?

You committed hypocrisy,

Closing your eyes to love

When fire glitters in your heart.

How can you hide love when tears

Flow from your eyes like fountains?


He came back to Konya much calmer and rediscovered Selaheddin at the Bazaar of the Goldsmiths. During this period his son, Sultan Veled, married Selaheddin’s daughter.

These were the happiest ten years of Mevlana’s life. He had found peace with Selaheddin, who was illiterate but enlightened by Seyid Burhaneddin (Mevlana’s teacher). Selaheddin was also very fond of Shems.

Mevlana’s eldest son, Sultan Veled, said in Iptidaname, “Selaheddin talked heart to heart, not mouth to mouth.” Apparently he was able to convey his feelings and his thoughts without words.

Selahaddin died December 29,1258, and his funeral was carried out according to his will with music and dancces to burial site. He was buried next to Mevlana’s father. His burial night was called “Wedding Night” (Sheb i Arus).

In the Divan, there are more then seventy poems for Selaheddin.

After Selaheddin, Mevlana chose Husameddin as his confident (Khalifa).

Mevlana’s son, Sultan Veled, and Sipahsalar both indicated that Husameddin served Mevlana approximately ten years. There is a fifteen year difference between Selaheddin’s death and Mevlana’s death. It may be that Mevlana announced Husameddin as his successor five years after the death of Selaheddin.

On one occasion Mevlana explained, “Shems was a Sun, Selaheddin was the Moon, and Husameddin is like a star. Since all of them carry you to God, accept all three as just one.”

According to Eflaki, “Husameddin was very eloquent, pious and God-fearing.

He distributed the revenue of the college among the disciples to the penny”

Eflaki continues, “Not only were all the revenues of the college, arising from its endowments, committed by Celal to the sole administration of Husameddin , but whatever gifts and contributions were offered by princes and friends, in money or in kind. They were all consigned to his care to augment the resources of the general fund. Celal’s family, also his son, though often pinched, fared as the disciples.”

Apparently, Husameddin was Shiite and wanted to change his school, but Celal recommended that he remain what he had always been. Husameddin was also very close to Shems.

Husameddin’s most important contribution to humanity was being the facilitator of Mesnevi, Mevlana’s teaching in the form of lectures. Because of Husameddinn’s suggestions and his continuous help. Mevlana was able to recite six volumes of Mesnevi. Mevlana actually wrote only the first eighteen verses.

According to Golpinarli, Mevlana started the Mesnevi before 1258, since at the end of the first volume. Mevlana stated that the Abbasid Khalife was still in power. The Mongols invaded the Abbasid and took Bagdad in 1258. The writing lasted until the end of Mevlana’s life.



If temporary life is ended,

God gives another life.

There. there is a life with no end.

Love is the water of life,

With a new living in every drop of that sea.


Mevlana felt the Sheb-i Arus (Wedding Night) was not that far off for him. During the last days of his life continuous earthquake shook the city. People were scared and asked Mevlana for help. ” Don’t be afraid,” he said. ” Earth is hungry. Very soon he will have a mouthful. The house of earth trembles with quakes because you are about to move your house.”

He recited poems until his last breath.



God created me from Love

The wine of Love.

Even if Death crushes me,

I am still the same Love.



Death is different living for the Exalted One.

His Soul becomes calm and settled.

Death is Union, not torture and suffering.

It’s different then the ignorant one

Who dies all the time.



December 17,1273 at about sunset, Mevlana closed his eyes to this word and was buried in the heart of his Beloved Ones.


Always stay with me, and remember me

So that I can be of help to you.

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