Jalal ad Din Muhammad Rumi known as ‘Rumi’ in English was a great mystical poet, jurist, theologian and master of the spiritual world. He was born in Wakhsh or Tajikistan on 30th September 1207. His name literally means ‘Roman’ as he lived most of his life in the area called ‘Rumi’ which was ruled by the Roman Empire. He belonged to the Persian heritage. Because of the quarrels taking place in Khorasan, his family moves to Konya, the Anatolian city (Present day Turkey). His father, Bahad ud Din Walad was also a mystic from Wakhsh and his mother was Mo’mina Khatun. The family was a religious one starting from the previous generations and Rumi carried on with the family tradition by preaching the Hanafi rites. At 24 years of age, Rumi was an able religious scholar and positive science expert.
His personality was shaped due his family background and also by his encounters with various religious and poetic figures. After the death of his father, Rumi become heir to his position as a Molvi. He was trained and taught the ways of the ‘Sharia’ or ‘Islamic way’ by his father’s student Sayyed Burhan ud-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi. Rumi observed Sufism for almost a decade till 1240 after which his life as a public figure began. He started giving ‘Fatwas’ or ‘Sermons’ in the mosques of Konya. He travelled to Damascus where he lived for four years.
The transformation in Rumi’s life took place after he met a wandering ‘Dervaish’ Shams-e Tabrizi on 15th of November 1244. The jurist and proficient teacher became an abstinent. It is said that the death of Tabrizi was a sacrifice and that he was murdered by collusion of Rumi’s son. Rumi was devastated at his death and this is shown in many of his poems and ‘ghazals’ such as his ‘Dewan-e –Shams- e-Tabrizi’. He even travelled to Damascus to find Tabrizi but efforts were in vain as is shown in these words said by him:
Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!
Rumi found a new companion who was a goldsmith named Salaḥ ud-Din-e Zarkub after whom Hussam-e Chalabi, who was his scribe and favorite student took his place. Hussam entreated Rumi to write more often. Rumi spent the next decade of life writing his magnum opus ‘Masnavi’, which is a six volume poem highly regarded by Sufis having 27000 lines of Persian poetry. It contains everyday incidences and Quranic revelations to form an idea that is the ‘Masnavi’. The main idea behind Rumi’s vision was ‘Tauhid’ or ‘union with his beloved’. In Rumi’s belief poetry, songs and dance was all a way to reach God. In Masnavi Rumi describes love as:
The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries
His Prose works include ‘Fihi Ma Fihi’ or ‘In it What’s In it’, ‘Majāles-e Sab’a’ meaning ‘Seven Sessions’ and ‘Makatib’ which means ‘The Letters’.
Rumi died on 17th December 1273 in Konya. There was a splendid shrine built for him and his epitaph says the following lines by him:
When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth,
but find it in the hearts of men.