Rumi – His Journey to becoming a Spiritual Guru
Over the past three decades, Rumi has become very famous in the west. His poetry has been translated into English, German and Chinese, and people are reading his works now more than ever. However, while the discovery of Rumi might be new to us, he has existed in the East for quite some time. Before we get to an introduction to his journey to spirituality it is important that you know about his roots, if only for the sake of dismantling a few myths. Rumi was born in modern-day Afghanistan and settled in modern-day turkey. However, back then it was all part of the Persian Empire.
Rumi was an individual thirsty for knowledge and guidance after completing his education and learning, he was told of a wanderer that would surely lead him to greatness. It was then that he started his journey to become the Rumi that we know today. After meeting his mentor Shams Tabrezi or Shams of Tabrez he was stripped of the shackles of conventionalism and become the universal figure of spiritualism heard in Sufi circles, monasteries and churches.
Rumi – Achievements as a Poet
His poetry is what led to the origin of the sama' which now holds a central position in the philosophy of Sufism. His largest book of poetry was Masnavi Manawi, in which he produced 25,000 verses of poetry about various themes of spiritual love and evolution of the soul. Another magnificent piece of work is Diwan-iShams -iTabrizi. This piece was written after the sudden loss of his dear friend and his mentor. The book deals with the universal concepts of love and acceptance. The reason why he named the book after Shams was because he knew that his disciples would have otherwise covered up his part in evolution he writes about.
1. He belonged to a well-known Muslim family
While many of us know Rumi as a poet and a well-known Sufi dervish of his time, we don’t know much about his lineage and the family that he belonged to. He father and grandfather belonged to the Sunni sect of Islam. They were well-versed in religious theology and were respected throughout their lives. Not only did his family come from a long line of preachers, but his father was also a juror in the Sunni court at that time. Although they went about life with the traditional practices of Islam, his father was well versed in the Sufi knowledge of his age.
2. He was a migrant
While the reason why his family became migrants is often contested and one may come across different accounts of the event, the agreed-upon fact is that he and his family moved around before they finally settled in Konya, modern-day Turkey. Some accounts state that his family migrated to mecca for the sake of pilgrimage to the holy Kabba. While some accounts say that Rumi’s father made the family due to the impending attack of the Mongols. While both could be true, a simple explanation could be that fearful of the impending attack the family thought to perform pilgrimage and then settle down somewhere with God’s blessings.
3. He met his mentor late in his life
While Rumi learnt many things from all around the continent his main education was carried out in Damascus and Aleppo. He was trained to take the place of his father as a religious preacher and stay true to the lineage. He was mainly taught the teaching of the Quran and Arabic literature and philosophy. He always had a knack for poetry but didn’t pursue it until later on in life. While he had many of the best teachers of his age, it was later on in his life that he met the man that was to be his mentor, Shams Tabraiz. Many accounts suggest that he once met the man early on in life but Shams realized that his future disciple wasn’t ready and decided to wait before their next encounter.
4. He was known by many names
While today we all know him as Rumi, this name wasn’t used much during his lifetime. the name Rumi was given to him because of the place that he lived in. the name means “from Rome,” which during his lifetime included what we today know as Turkey. He was named Muhammad at the time of his birth and later on acquired further names along the way. His father used to names to refer to his son “Khodavandgar” and “Jalaloddin”. These were nicknames that stuck throughout time. However, once he gained his formal education and started giving his insight on religious matters he became known as “Mowlana” which is an honorary term for a teacher or a mentor.
5. He married his youngest daughter to his mentor
His mentor was a wanderer, Rumi fearful of the fact that he might wander off or that the people around him may take action on their already existing prejudices and hurt him, to eradicate the status quo he married off his younger daughter to Shams. While it did eradicate the status quo, the age difference between the couple led to misunderstandings that later led to a toxic marriage.
6. He became a poet late in his life
After he married off his daughter to Shams and the marriage got toxic, you find different accounts of what happened. While some say that Shams was murdered by Rumi’s younger son, and the village and authorities hid it from Rumi, others say Shams was a wanderer and he wandered off. It was after the loss of his mentor and dear friend that he started writing poetry.
7. He is known for the whirling dervish
It is said that once Shams had gone, Rumi was wandering the city when he heard a goldsmith working with a hammer on gold. It was then that he started whirling and that the concept and practice of Sama originated. It was then that it became a part of the Sufi culture that we know today.
8. His poetry’s central ideas
The central ideas of Rumi’s poetry are the reason that he became so popular. A common idea that you can find almost all the poems is that love is universal and that it knows no bounds and no restraints. Another common theme is the theme of acceptance and universal harmony with nature and with the people around us.
9. He was respected by many faiths
While many thought of him as a Muslim respected in the Muslim community, his passing away brought to peoples consciousness a scene that was alien at the time. At his funeral people from different faiths were present. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims from both sects all gathered together to pay respect. Rumi has advised that his passing away was to be considered a moment rejoice rather than a time of sorrow. He had made all the arrangements of his funereal before he passed away.
10. Many famous people today are influenced by his poetry
With the lens of orientalism and occidentalism dividing the world, the message of Rumi’s poetry has become a bridge between the East and the West. While he has always been appreciated in the East the West has also taken a liking toward Rumi. He was considered to be one of the most read poets in the United States in the last decade. You can see the influence of Rumi’s ideas on Whitman’s poetry. Apart from than a leading star of the today’s world, Madonna paid her tribute to Rumi, many writers and philosophers of today’s day and age recognize his universal effect on their work.
Quotes From Rumi
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.
If you’ve gone through the above-mentioned information I hope you know a little more about Rumi than you previously did. While many people associate his poetry with love for another person, his work is more spiritual in nature and alludes to an all-seeing and all-hearing god. However, how one interprets his poetry is up to an individual. His poetry has layers that open as one's understanding of Rumi deepens. However, one thing that all readers should keep in mind and try to abstain from is whitewashing his history and his origins. Rumi although a universal figure, is an epitome of the East and its projections of a friendly hand towards the world for acceptance and love.