Fact Sheet:

  • Birth Name: Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi
  • Also Known as: Maulana Rome, Rumi
  • Date of Birth: c. September 30, 1207
  • Place of Birth: Balkh, Afghanistan
  • Died: December 17, 1273
  • Place of Death: Konya, Turkey
  • Sun Sign: Libra
  • Language(s): Persian
  • Nationality: Afghan, Turkish

Family Details

  • Father: Baha-ud-din Walad
  • Spouse: Gowha Khatun
  • Children: Ala-eddin Chalabi, Amir Alim Chalabi, Malakeh Khatun, Sultan Walad

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was the greatest Sufi poet in the Persian language. He is famous for his ghazals and his epic Masnavi-yi-Ma’navi which widely influenced Sufi thought and literature throughout the Muslim world and beyond.

Maulana Rumi’s use of Persian and Arabic in his poetry, in addition to some Turkish and Greek, has resulted in his being claimed by the aficionados of the Turkish literature, as well as the Persian literature, as their own. His writings also had a great influence in Indian subcontinent. By the end of the 20th century, his popularity had become a global phenomenon, with his poetry achieving a wide circulation in western Europe and the United States.

Early Life

Rumi descended from a long line of Islamic jurists, theologians, and Sufis, including his father, Bahaʾ-ud-Din Walad, who was known by followers of Rumi as “Sultan of the Scholars.” When Rumi was still a young man, his father led their family more than 2,000 miles west to avoid the invasion of Genghis Khan’s armies.

Another story says that he had a dispute with the ruler of Balakh and was forced to migrate to ensure the safety of his family. According to a legend, in Nishapur, Iran, the family met Farid-ud-Din Aṭṭar, a Persian Sufi poet, who blessed young Jalal-ud-Din. After a pilgrimage to Makkah and journeys through the Middle East, Bahaʾ-ud-Din and his family reached Anatolia (Rūm, hence the surname Rumi), a region that enjoyed peace and prosperity under the rule of the Turkish Seljuq dynasty.

After a short stay at Laranda (Karaman), they were called to the capital, Konya, in 1228. Here, Bahaʾ-ud-Din Walad taught at one of the numerous madrassahs; after his death in 1231, he was succeeded in this capacity by his son.

A year later, Burhan-ud-Din Muḥaqqiq, one of Bahaʾ al-Din’s former disciples, arrived in Konya and acquainted Rumi more deeply with some traditions of Sufism that had developed in Iran. Burhan-ud-Din left Konya about 1240, after contributing considerably to Rumi’s spiritual growth. It is said that Rumi undertook one or two journeys to Syria where he may have met Ibn al-ʿArabi, a leading figure in Islamic Sufism whose interpreter and stepson, Ṣadr-ud-Din al-Qunawi, was Rumi’s colleague and friend in Konya.

Meeting with Shams Tabrizi

The turning point in Rumi’s life came on November 30, 1244, when in the streets of Konya he met the wandering dervish Shams-ud-Din of Tabriz, also known as Sham Tabrizi. Shams Tabrizi cannot be connected with any of the traditional Sufi fraternities. However, his overwhelming personality revealed to Rumi the mysteries of divine majesty and beauty. For months, the two Sufis lived closely together, and Rumi neglected his disciples and family. His scandalized entourage forced Shams Tabrizi to leave the town in February 1246.

Rumi was heartbroken, and his eldest son, Sulṭan Walad, eventually brought Shams Tabrizi back from Syria. The others, however, could not tolerate the close relation of Rumi and Shams, and one night in 1247 Shams Tabrizi disappeared forever. Nobody knows where he went. Some say that he left Konya and set off for some unknown destination. Others say that he was murdered by the jealous followers of Rumi and was buried close to a well that still exists in Konya.

This experience of love, longing, and loss turned Rumi into a poet. His ghazals – (about 30,000 verses) and a large number of robaʿiyaat (“quatrains”)—reflect the different stages of his love, until, as his son writes, “he found Shams in himself, radiant like the moon.” The complete identification of lover and beloved is expressed by his inserting the name of Shams instead of his own pen name at the end of most of his ghazals. The Divan-e Shams is a true translation of his experiences into poetry; its language is fresh, simple and propelled by strong rhythms.

Some chroniclers believe that much of this poetry was composed in a state of ecstasy, induced by the music of the flute or the drum, the hammering of the goldsmiths, or the sound of the water mill in Meram, where Rumi used to go with his disciples to enjoy nature. He found in nature the reflection of the radiant beauty of Shams-ud-Din (the Sun of Religion) and felt flowers and birds partaking in his love. He often accompanied his verses by a whirling dance, and many of his ghazals were composed to be sung in Sufi musical gatherings.

ome chroniclers believe that much of this poetry was composed in a state of ecstasy, induced by the music of the flute or the drum, the hammering of the goldsmiths, or the sound of the water mill in Meram, where Rumi used to go with his disciples to enjoy nature. He found in nature the reflection of the radiant beauty of Shams-ud-Din (the Sun of Religion) and felt flowers and birds partaking in his love. He often accompanied his verses by a whirling dance, and many of his ghazals were composed to be sung in Sufi musical gatherings.

In his introduction to his translation of Divan-e Shams, American poet Coleman Barks has written: “Rumi is one of the great souls, and one of the great spiritual teachers. He shows us our glory. He wants us to be more alive, to wake up… He wants us to see our beauty, in the mirror and in each other.”

Composition of the Masnavi

A few years after Shams-ud-Din’s departure, Rumi experienced a similar feeling in his acquaintance with an illiterate goldsmith, Ṣalaḥ-ud-Din Zarkub. It is said that one day, hearing the sound of a hammer in front of Ṣalaḥ-ud-Din’s shop in the bazaar of Konya, Rumi began his dance. The shop owner had long been one of Rumi’s closest and most loyal disciples, and his daughter became the wife of Rumi’s eldest son. This love again inspired Rumi to write poetry.

After Ṣalaḥ-ud-Din’s death, Ḥusam-ud-Din Chelebi became his spiritual companion and deputy. Rumi’s main work, the Masnavi-yi Maʿnavi, was composed under his influence. Ḥusam-ud-Din had asked him to follow the model of the poets ʿAṭṭar and Sanaʾi, who had laid down Sufi teachings in long poems, interspersed with anecdotes, fables, stories, proverbs, and allegories. Their works were widely read by the Sufis and by Rumi’s disciples. Rumi followed Ḥusam-ud-Din’s advice and composed nearly 26,000 couplets of the Masnavī during the following years. It is said that he would recite his verses even in the bath or on the roads, accompanied by Ḥusam-ud-Din, who wrote them down.

The Masnavi shows all the different aspects of Sufism that were being practiced in the 13th century. It reflects the experience of divine love. In his introduction to the translation of the first volume of Masnavi, titled Spiritual Verses, translator Alan Williams wrote: “Rumi is both a poet and a mystic, but he is a teacher first, trying to communicate what he knows to his audience. Like all good teachers, he trusts that ultimately, when the means to go any further fail him and his voice falls silent, his students will have learnt to understand on their own.”

Death

Rumi lived for a short while after completing the Masnavi. He always remained a respected member of Konya society, and his company was sought by the leading officials as well as by Christian monks. His burial procession, according to one of Rumi’s contemporaries, was attended by a vast crowd of people of many faiths and nationalities. His mausoleum is today a museum in Konya; it is still a place of pilgrimage, primarily for Turkish Muslims.

Legacy

Ḥusam-ud-Din was Rumi’s successor and was in turn succeeded by Sulṭan Walad, who organized the loose fraternity of Rumi’s disciples, which were collectively called the Mawlawiyyah. In West, they are known as the Whirling Dervishes because of the mystical dance that constitutes their principal ritual. Sulṭan Walad’s poetical accounts of his father’s life are the most important source of knowledge of Rumi’s spiritual development.

Besides his poetry, Rumi left a small collection of occasional talks as they were noted down by his friends; in the collection, known as Fihi ma fihi (“There Is in It What Is in It”), the main ideas of his poetry recur. There also exist sermons and a collection of letters directed to different persons. His poetry is a most human expression of Sufi experiences, in which readers can find their own favourite ideas and feelings—from enthusiastic flights into the heavens to matter-of-fact descriptions of daily life.

Works by Rumi

  • Masnavi
  • Fihi Ma Fihi
  • Diwan-e-Shams Tabrizi
  • Majales-e-Saba’a
  • Makatib

International Translations of Rumi’s Works

  • Hikayat-e-Rumi (Urdu)
  • Teachings of Rumi (edited by Andrew Harvey)
  • The Glance: Songs of Soul-Meeting (translated by Coleman Barks and Nevit O. Ergin)
  • The Rumi Collections (edited by Kabir Edmund Helminski)
  • The Big Red Book (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • The Forbidden Rumi: The Suppressed Poems of Rumi on Love, Heresy, and Intoxication (translated by Nevit O. Ergin)
  • Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved (translated by Jonathan Star)
  • Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi (translated by William C. Chittick)
  • Birdsong: Fifty-Three Short Poems (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings by Coleman Barks
  • Rumi: Poems by Peter Washington
  • The Love Poems of Rumi (edited by Deepak Chopra, translated Fereydoun Kia)
  • The Illuminated Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi (translated by Daniel Lindsky)
  • Open Secret: Versions of Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, John Moyne)
  • Rumi: Swallowing the Sun: Poems Translated from Persian (translated by Franklin D. Lewis)
  • Rumi: A New Translation (translated by Farrukh Dhondy)
  • The Pocket Rumi Reader (translated by Kabir Edmund Helminski)
  • Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit (translated by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin)
  • Rumi: We are There (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • Like This (translated by A.J. Arberry)
  • Selected Poems of Rumi (translated by Reynold Alleyne Nicholson)
  • Love: The Joy That Wounds: The Love Poems of Rumi (illustrated by Lassaad Metoui, preface by Jean-Claude Carrière)
  • Love is a Stranger (translated by Kabir Edmund Helminski)
  • Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion: Poetry and Teaching Stories (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • This Longing: Poetry, Teaching Stories, and Letters (edited by Coleman Barks and John Moyne)
  • One-Handed Basket Weaving: Poems on the Theme of Work (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • The Essential Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
  • The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing (translated by Coleman Barks)

Works about Rumi

  • Rumi: Past and Present, East and West by Franklin D. Lewis
  • The Triumphal Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalāloddin Rumi by Annemarie Schimmel
  • Me and Rumi: The Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi (by Shams-i Tabrizi, translated by William C. Chittick, , Annemarie Schimmel (Foreword)
  • Rumi’s Daughter (Novel) by Muriel Maufroy
  • I Am Wind, You Are Fire: The Life and Work of Rumi by Annemarie Schimmel
  • Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz (translated by Refik Algan)
  • Rumi: Persian Poet, Whirling Dervish by Demi
  • Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love by Brad Gooch
  • Forty Rules of Love (novel) by Elif Shafak
  • چالیس چراغ عشق کے (فورٹی رولز آف لو کا اردو ترجمہ)
  • رومی کے زندگی بدل دینے والے چالیس اصول

Online Resources