Jalaluddin al-Rumi

There are some significant personalities who with the help of their voice and breath, their love and excitement, and their promise for humanity always remain fresh and alive over the course of centuries. Time evidently fails to make these characters obsolete. Their thoughts, analyses, explanations, and spiritual messages, which will never be lost, represent, ever anew, alternative solutions and prescriptions for today’s social problems, in great variety and diversity.

Rumi is one such personality. Despite the vast amount of time that separates his life from ours, Rumi continues to hear and to listen to us, to share our feelings, to present solutions to our problems in a voice that is without equal. Despite the fact that he lived some centuries ago, he remains absolutely alive among and with us today. He is a man of light-one who receives his light from the spirit of the Master of Humanity (Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him), distributing this light in a variety of manners to just about everywhere. He was chosen to be one of the world’s saints and to be pure of heart; a blessed one whose words are outstanding among those of the heroes of love and passion. He was and continues to function as Israfil; blowing life into dead spirits. He did and continues to provide the water of life to the barren hearts of many; a spiritual irrigation. He was and continues to provide light for the travelers on their paths. He was and continues to be the perfect heir of the Prophet.

Jalaladdin al-Rumi, a man of God, hastened toward God on his own spiritual journey; but in addition to this he evoked similar journeys in countless others-journeys marked by an eager striving toward God. He was a balanced man of ecstasy who sprang alive with love and excitement; he did this to such an extent that he inspired in others these significant feelings; he continues to do so. In addition to his passion for God, along with his knowledge and love of Him, Rumi is further renowned as a hero in terms of both his respect and fear of God. He was and continues to be one who beckons; whose powerful voice invites everyone to the truth and the ultimate blessed reality. Rumi was an inclusive master whose joy was a direct consequence of His joy, whose love and passion were the result of His special favors to Rumi. His life provides real evidence of the Truth. At the same time as he spoke to those of his own times in an effective manner, Rumi was even more influential in that he made his voice and breath, which reflected the voice and breath of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, continue to be heard for centuries after. He spoke with such an enchanting voice that he was able to guide not only his blessed contemporaries, but also people of our time, centuries removed from his physical existence. God bestowed upon him this important duty. For this purpose, God blessed him with impeccable inner and outer qualities so that he would prove successful in this undertaking. His heart was full of the Divine light. As such, his essence is marked by his wisdom, which shines like a light reflected through a precious gem. His inner-most self was enveloped with Divine mysteries. His inner eyes were enlightened by this special light.

On this horizon, Jalaladdin al-Rumi represents the North Star, the heart of the circle of guidance for his time. He embodies the characteristics of the lamp of sainthood, taking its light from that of the truth of the Prophet. Many of God’s blessed creatures are instinctively attracted to light; Rumi’s light has attracted hundreds of thousands spiritual butterflies; they are drawn to the light. He represents a guide for humanity’s quest for the perfection of human qualities. Rumi was a careful exegete of the truths presented in the Qur’an. A fluent interpreter of love and zeal for Prophet Muhammad, Rumi was able to use a mysterious language to guide others to a love of God. Those who enter his sphere are able to reach an ultimate sense or feeling in the presence of God. Those who examine the Qur’an by his guideposts underwent changes (and continue to undergo changes) similar to those witnessed by the people who lived in the era of the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him. When the verses of the Qur’an were interpreted by Rumi’s closest associates, all hearts benefited from the illumination provided by his wisdom; it was as if all of heaven’s mysteries were opened by his wholehearted recitation of that one word-God.

Rumi’s love for God was a fiery one, with a constant moaning and longing for the mysteries of God. He experienced a love and passion both in his solitary asceticism and his activities in the community. It was in his solitariness that he became most open to the truest union with God, and it was in such cases of separation from all things except God that he became like a ball of fire. And while such a sense of burning would prove difficult for many to bear, Rumi never showed any signs of discontent. Rather, such a burning was considered a requirement for passion, and refraining from complaint was seen to be in the tradition of loyalty. For Rumi, those who profess a love of God must necessarily accompany their statement of “I love” with a sense of furious burning-this is the price one must willingly pay for being close or in union with God. Additionally, one must engage in behavior that is to a large extent ascetic, such as moderated eating, drinking, sleeping, and a constant awareness and orientation toward God in one’s speech, and one must inevitably experience bewilderment when endowed with God’s bounties.

Rumi cannot understand how a lover can sleep in an immoderate way, as it takes away from the time that can be shared with the Beloved. For him, excessive sleep is offensive to the Beloved. As God instructed David, saying, “O David, those who indulge in sleep without contemplating Me and then claim to be in love are liars” so too did Rumi state; “When the darkness falls, lovers become intense.” Rumi continually recommended this not only in words, but also in his actions.

The following quotation from his Divan al-Kabir best represents several droplets from the ocean of his feelings and excitement, erupting like a volcano:

I am like Majnun(1) in my poor heart, which is without limbs, because I have no strength to contest the love of God. Every day and night I continue in my efforts to free myself from the bounds of the chain of love; a chain which keeps me imprisoned. When the dream of the Beloved begins I find myself in blood. Because I am not fully conscious, I am afraid in that I may paint Him with the blood of my heart. In fact, You, O Beloved, must ask the fairies; they know how I have burned through the night. Everyone has gone to sleep. But I, the one who has given his heart to You, do not know sleep like them. Throughout the night, my eyes look at the sky, counting the stars. His love so profoundly took my sleep that I do not really believe it will ever come back.

If the spirit of the anthology of Rumi’s poems, which are the essence of love, passion, divine presence, and excitement, were to be extracted, what would exude are the cries of love, longing, and hope. Throughout his life Rumi expressed love, and in turn, he believed he was beloved because of this. Accordingly, he spoke of his love and relationship with Him. When he did so, he was not alone-he took along with him many blessed individuals who were his audience. He thought that his offering, cup by cup, the drinks presented to him on the heavenly table to others who were in his circle of light to be a sign of loyalty.

Thus, the following quotation represents the ambiguous chanting that is reflected in his heavenly travels:

The Buraq(2) of love has taken my mind as well as my heart, do not ask me where. I have reached such a realm that there is no moon, nor day. I have reached a world where the world is no longer the world.

This spiritual journey of Rumi was an ascension in the shadow of the Ascension of the Prophet, which is described by Suleyman Celebi (the author of the Turkish Mevlid-recited in the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet) in these words: “There was no space, no Earth, and no heavens.” What his soul heard and watched was a special reflection of His courtesy, which cannot be seen by the eyes, cannot be heard by the ears, and cannot be comprehended by one’s mind or thought. Such reflections are not attainable by all. Rumi spiritually ascended and saw, tasted, and knew all that was possible for a mortal being. Those who do not see cannot know. Those who do not taste cannot feel. Those who are capable of feeling in this manner generally do not divulge the secrets that they have attained. And those who do reveal these secrets often find them to be above the level of the comprehension of most people. As the famous Turkish poet Seyh Galib said, “The Beloved’s candle has such a wonderful light, its light does not fit into the lamp glass of Heaven.”

The love, relationship, and warmth toward all creation as expressed by Rumi is a projection of a deeply-rooted divine love. Rumi, whose nature was intoxicated by the cup of love, embraced all of creation with a projection of that love. He was involved in a dialogue with every creature, and all of these were a result of nothing but his deep love of God and his relationship with the Beloved.

I believe that these disordered and somewhat confused explanations are far from adequate to describe Rumi. This disorder is an inevitable result of my search for a relationship with him. A droplet cannot describe the ocean, nor can an atom describe the Sun. Even so, since his light falls once again on this Earth, I would like to say, within a few sentences, some words about Jalaladdin al-Rumi.

Jalaladdin al – Rumi: The lead article of The Fountain Magazine, (Issue 47 / July – September 2004)