INTRODUCTION to QASIDAH BURDAH (Poem of the Scarf)


QASIDAH BURDAH (Poem of the Scarf)

by Allaamah Sharafuddeen Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Busairi (RA)

—————————————— INTRODUCTION —————————–

The reason for writing this poem THE WRITER HAZRAT IMAAM SAALIH SHARA-FUD-DEEN ABU ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD BIN HASAN AL-BUSAIRI R.A. had become paralysed. His doctors and physicians gave up all hope of his recovery. Eventually in this state of complete helplessness and despair he composed this poem expressing the grandeur and excellence of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Using this as his sole means of asking Allah Ta’aala to cure him from his illness. He isolated himself in a quiet place one Thursday night and with complete devotion, concentration and sincerity began reciting this poem. While reciting it sleep overcame him. He had a vision of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. He told Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam of his illness whereupon Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alyahi Wasallam passed his blessed hand over Imaam Busairi’s body. Through the barakat and blessing of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, Allah Ta’aala granted him complete cure from his paralysis. When he awoke he found a scarf or shawl on his body which he had seen Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhl Wasallam place on his paralyzed limbs. This resulted in the poem being named “Qasidah Burdah” (The Poem of the Scarf). In the morning when due to some necessity, he went to the bazaar, a pious dervish greeted him with salaam and requested him to recite the Qasidah which he had composed in praise of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. The poet said that I have composed many poems in praise of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, which one do you wish to hear? The dervish replied: ‘The one which begins with, ?A-mm Tazak-kurin.? (i.e. Qasidah Burdah).? Upon this request the poet became wonder struck and said, “I take an oath that no one knows about this poem. Tell me the truth, from whom did you hear about it?? The dervish replied, “I take an oath by Allah that I heard it from you last night when in a dream you had recited it to Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, whereupon Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam became attentive towards you and because of its blessings Allah Ta’aala granted you complete cure from your ailment”. When the poet gave this poem to the dervish his secret became known to all the people and its barakat and blessings too became general for all. When this poem reached Baha-ud-deen the governor of the country named Taahir, he so highly regarded and respected it that he would stand while listening to it. It is also narrated that Saaadud-deen Farouqi, who was a viceroy of Baha-ud-deen, had became blind. In a dream he saw a pious person who told him to take the Qasidah Burdah from Baha-ud-deen and place it on his eyes. In the morning he told Baha-ud-deen about this dream. The Qasidah Burdah was brought and with full sincerity and conviction Sa’aadud-deen placed it on his eyes. Through its barakat Allah Ta’aala granted him complete cure and restored his eyesight.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Mysterion: An excerpt from Signs of the Unseen (Discourses of Jalâluddîn Rumi)


Signs of the Unseen
Discourses of Jalâluddîn Rumi


The Mysterion

Someone said that we have come to know each and every condition of mankind. Not an iota of man’s condition and nature or his hot and cold humors has escaped us; yet it has not been ascertained what part of him will abide forever.

If that could be known merely by words, then such effort and exertion would not be necessary and no one would have to go to such pain or toil. For example, someone comes to the seashore. Seeing nothing but turbulent water, crocodiles, and fish, he says: “Where are the pearls? Perhaps there are no pearls.” How is one to obtain a pearl merely by looking at the sea? Even if one measures out the sea cup by cup a hundred times over, the pearls will not be found. One must be a diver in order to discover the pearls; and not every diver will find them, only a fortunate, skillful one.

The sciences and crafts are like measuring the sea in cupfuls; the way to finding pearls is something else. Many a person is adorned with every accomplishment and possessed of wealth and beauty but has nothing of this intrinsic meaning in him; and many a person is a wreck on the outside, with no fairness of feature, elegance or eloquence, but within is found the intrinsic meaning that abides forever. It is that which ennobles and distinguishes humanity. It is because of the intrinsic meaning that human beings have precedence over all creatures. Leopards, crocodiles, lions, and all other animals have skills and particular qualities, but the intrinsic meaning that abides forever is not in them. If man will but find his way to the intrinsic meaning, he will attain his pre-eminence; otherwise, he will remain deprived of pre-eminence. All these arts and accomplishments are like jewels set on the back of a mirror. The face of the mirror is void of them, so it must be clear. Anyone who has an ugly face will desire the back of the mirror because the face tells all. Anyone who has a fair countenance will go to any length for the sake of the face of the mirror because it reflects that person’s own beauty.

A friend of Joseph of Egypt came to him from a journey. “What gift have you brought?” asked Joseph.

“What do you not have already? Is there anything you need?” asked the friend. “Nonetheless, because there is nothing more beautiful than you, I have brought you a mirror so that you can see your face reflected every moment.”

What does God not have? What does He need? One must take a polished heart to God so that He can see Himself in it. “God does not look at your forms or at your deeds, but He looks at your hearts.”

“The city of your dreams you found lacking nothing save noble men.” In a city where you find all the beauties, pleasures, delights and various adornments of nature, you won’t find an intelligent man. Would that it were the other way around! That city is the human being. If it has a hundred thousand accomplishments but not the intrinsic meaning, no matter that it have no external embellishments. The mysterion must be there for it to flourish. In whatever state man may be, his mysterion is concerned with God, and his external preoccupations in no way hinder that inner concern.

The mysterion is necessary in order for man to flourish. It is like the root of a tree although it is hidden from view, its effects are apparent on the branches. Even if one or two branches break off, when the root is strong the tree will continue to grow. If, however, the root suffers damage neither branch nor leaf will survive.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)


Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)

Selected and Translated by Shaykh Kabir Helminski


ISLAM began as something strange, and it will become thus again, as it was at the beginning.
Blessed, therefore, are the strangers.
(He was asked who the strangers are:)
The strangers are those who restore what the people have corrupted of my law,
as well as those who revive what has been destroyed of it.

You will not enter paradise until you believe,
and you will not believe until you love one another.
Let me guide you to something in the doing of which you will love one another.
Give a greeting to everyone among you.

I was delegated as a prophet to perfect moral virtues.

Good character is half of faith.

God is merciful to those who show mercy to others.

Power consists not in being able to strike another,
but in being able to control oneself when anger arises.

Honor your children and thus improve their manners.

The three best things:
to be humble amidst the vicissitudes of fortune;
to pardon when powerful;
and to be generous with no strings attached.

Whoever does not express his gratitude to people will never be grateful to God.

The best people are those who are most useful to others.

Living among others is a cause for blessing,
while seclusion is the cause of torment.

Happy is the person who finds fault with himself
instead of finding fault with others.

From morning until night and from night until morning
keep your heart free from malice towards anyone.

A perfect Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands mankind is safe.

Islam is purity of speech and hospitality.

Every religion has a distinctive virtue
and the distinctive virtue of Islam is modesty.

Greet those whom you know and those whom you don’t know.

When asked what was most excellent in a human being, he answered,
“A friendly disposition.”

The best of God’s servants are those who when seen remind you of God;
and the worst of God’s servants are those who spread tales
to do mischief and separate friends, and look for the faults of the good.

Whoever believes in one God and the Hereafter,
let him speak what is good or remain silent.

He is the best Muslim whose disposition is most liked by his own family.

Respect the guest and do not inconvenience your neighbors.
The faithful are as one person.
If a man complains of a pain in his head, his whole body complains;
and if his eye complains, his whole body complains.

He is not of us who is not affectionate to the little ones
and does not respect the reputation of the old.

Truly, the farthest seat from me on the day of resurrection will be
the garrulous, those who talk glibly, and those who talk tall.
And who is it that talk tall? The vain-glorious.

God is gentle and loves gentleness.

Inscribed on the prophet’s sword:
Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off;
do good to him who does evil to you;
and speak the truth even if it be against yourself.

Whoever restrains his anger when he has the power to show it,
God will give him a great reward.

Backbiting is more grievous than adultery,
and God will not forgive the backbiter until the one wronged has forgiven him.

Keep yourselves far from envy, because it eats up and takes away good actions
as fire consumes and burns the wood.

What actions are most excellent?
To gladden the heart of a human being,
to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted,
to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Al Hejaz

       Al Hejaz                   

Hejaz or Hedjaz (both: hējăz’, hĕjäz’) , region, c.150,000 sq mi (388,500 sq km), NW Saudi Arabia, on the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Mecca is the chief city. Extending S to Asir, Hejaz is mainly a dissected highland region lying between the narrow, long coastal strip and the interior desert. There are several oases and some wadis (watercourses) where livestock and crops, such as dates and wheat, are raised. Economically important cities include Taif and Yanbu. The junction of the main north-south and east-west highways of Saudi Arabia, Taif is an important mountain city and market. Yanbu on the Red Sea is a major petrochemical city, the terminus for two oil pipelines. Hejaz is, however, more important as a place of pilgrimage. Each year many thousands of Muslim pilgrims come into Hejaz, mainly through Jidda, the chief port, to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Following the fall (1258) of the caliphate of Baghdad, Hejaz came under Egyptian control. In 1517 it came under Turkish suzerainty, although nominal rule remained in the hands of the Hashemite sherifs of Mecca. In the early 19th cent. Hejaz was raided by the Wahhabis; peace was restored in 1817 by the governor of Egypt. After 1845, Hejaz came again under direct Turkish control. To improve communications, the Turks built the Hejaz railway (completed 1908) from Damascus to Medina; it was severely damaged during World War I and later abandoned. The Hejaz was in 1916 proclaimed independent by Husayn ibn Ali, the sherif of Mecca, who with the aid of T. E. Lawrence destroyed Turkish authority. Husayn was himself defeated in 1924 by Ibn Saud, ruler of Nejd and founder of Saudi Arabia, who annexed his domain. The formal union of Hejaz and Nejd into Saudi Arabia was proclaimed in 1932.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Chishti Order

                                                      The Chisti Order

 

Khwaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti: “Love Towards All, Malice Towards None”

It is a well known historical fact that in spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam, major and effective contributions have been made by the awlia (saints) of Allah. It was their humanism, disposition and piety that won over the hearts of millions of people. They contacted the masses directly, served and loved them, lived with them and inspired them in the realization of Eternal Truth.

The proof of this is more than evident from the history of the growth of Islam in India. The noble task of inspiring the people to Islam’s tenets and values was accomplished by Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (ra), popularly known as Khwaja Sahib and Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.

He did it all through his own great moral power, glorious and appealing character, with love and dedication to mankind, without any worldly resources of wealth, power, force or support. He was the greatest mystic of his time. He laid the foundation of the liberal Chishtia Order of Sufis in India, and inspired millions of souls as his followers.

Perfection in faith is evident by three things: fear, hope, and love.

Early Years and Education

Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (ra) was born in Seistan (Eastern Persia) also known as Sajistan, around 533 Hijri (1138-39 A.D.) into a well-respected family. His father, Khwaja Ghayasuddin, (ra) and mother, Syeda Bibi Ummalwara (alias Bibi Mahe-Noor), were the descendants of Hazrat Ali, (ra) through his sons Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain. Khwaja Sahib was orphaned at age sixteen. He inherited an orchard and millstone which were his means of livelihood.
One day when Khwaja Sahib was working in his orchard, and a pious dervish, Ebrahim Qandoozi, came and sat under the shade of a tree. When Khwaja Sahib saw him, he brought a bunch of grapes and presented it to his guest, who ate the grapes and was delighted. He then took something out of his bag, chewed it, and offered it to his young host. Khwaja Sahib ate it without any hesitation, and at once the light of wisdom and knowledge dawned upon the young man. Immediately he disposed of all of his worldly belongings and distributed the money amongst the poor. Having thus broken all the ties with worldly affairs, he set off for Samarkand and Bukhara—then the great centers of Islamic learning—seeking religious knowledge.

Spiritual Guidance

When Khwaja Sahib had acquired the best wisdom of the time, he traveled widely in search of a Murshid (spiritual guide) who could impart the best spiritual guidance. He came to know of Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni (ra), the greatest scholar and unrivalled spiritual guide of that period. In the very first meeting, Khwaja Sahib completely submitted himself to his Murshid and remained in the company of this great divine spiritual leader for twenty years, serving him devotedly, passing through the various stages of spiritual evolution.

Hajj and the Prophet’s Command

As the great Khwaja Sahib became accomplished and perfect in every respect, the divine tutor honored him with the robe and took him to Hajj. Both then proceeded to Madina and stayed there for some time, to received blessings from the Prophet of Islam (s). One night while meditating, Khwaja Sahib was ordered by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) appeared in a vision and said, “O Muinuddin! You are a prop of our faith. Proceed to India and show the Path of Truth to the people there.” In compliance with the above spiritual command, Khwaja Sahib left Madina for India. He continued his journey, passing through Isfahan, Bukhara, Herat, Lahore and Delhi, meeting several prominent Sufis of the period and enrolling large numbers of people into his fold, blessing thousands of others with spiritual power. He arrived at the barren and desolate land of Rajasthan.

Achievements at Ajmer, India

Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, (ra) arrived in Ajmer at the age 52 around 587 A.H. (1190 CE). Ajmer was then ruled by Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the famous Rajput king who employed a large number of powerful magicians, with Ajai Pal as their leader. Khwaja Sahib stayed on a hill close to Ana Sagar Lake, now known as the Chillah Khwaja Sahib. When the news spread that a very pious dervish had come to Ajmer, people began to flock to him in increasing numbers. Whoever came to him received the kindest treatment and blessings. People were so much inspired by his divine teachings and simplicity that they began to embrace Islam and many became his disciples. Even Ajai Pal submitted himself to the divine powers of Khwaja Sahib, gave up all his magic and became his disciple. Meanwhile, Shahabuddin Ghori again attacked India, in 1192 CE, and in the famous battle of Tarain, defeated Prithvi Raj. When Shahabuddin Ghori came to know of the presence of Khwaja Sahib at Ajmer, he personally came to see him at his place, and enjoyed the grace of his meeting.
Khwaja Sahib continued his noble magnificent mission, showing the Path of Truth to the people. He also sent his disciples and successors throughout the country, serving the people and preaching the tenets of Islam. A few of his prominent successors are: Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Khaki, Shaykh Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar, Shaikh Nizamuddin Awlia, and Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh Delhi.

Passing From This World

After achieving the objectives of his mission and complying with the command given to him by the Holy Prophet r his noble soul left the mortal body on the 6th of Rajab 633 AH (March 16, 1236) at the age of 97. He was buried in the same cell which was the center for his spiritual activities, throughout his stay at Ajmer. Today his tomb is popularly known as the Dargah Sharif (holy tomb). People of all walks of life and faith from all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and belief, visit this great shrine to offer – their esteem and devotion by praying for his soul and staying there to derive from his baraka. The rich and the poor stand side-by-side to pay homage and respect to this divine soul.

Spread of His Mission

The life and mission of Khwaja Sahib have been of an exceptional character as compared with any other saints in India. His simple teaching penetrated even the stoniest of hearts, his affectionate look silenced his fiercest of enemies. His matchless piety and blessings knew no distinction and his “Spiritual Power”, amazed and defied his bitterest adversaries who came in order to harm him, but were inspired instead to embrace Islam and become his devotees for the rest of their lives. He brought the message of Universal Love and Peace. He chose the way of non-compulsion in the true spirit of the Holy Qur’an, which says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” [2:256] Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, (ra) followed this dictum strictly throughout his mission. He became popularly known as “Gharib Nawaz”, which means ‘the one who shows kindness to the poor’. This was later reinforced by succeeding Chishti Sufis, who became religious pioneers in national integration in the country. They fulfilled the objectives of bringing together the various castes, communities and races, elevating humanity from the swamp of materialistic concerns, which is leading mankind to destruction even today
.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mausolem at Chisht-i-Sharif




                                          Chisht-i-Sharif

Chisht-i-Sharif is a scant three kilometers away and as you approach it across a plateau you see the two famous gumbad or domes of Chisht on the opposite plateau. The town with its meandering bazaar street sits in the ravine between these plateaux. Winding down and up, you will find an avenue of pine trees leading directly to two ruined buildings now standing in the middle of an extensive graveyard.

As is so often the case, experts argue as to the purpose of these buildings. Some speak of them as mausoleums. Others see them as parts of a grand complex of buildings, a madrassa (religious school), perhaps, with its mosque. The mutilated molded terracotta brick decoration can only speak softly of their former magnificence. The dome to the east bears a Kufic inscription in which the shafts of the script are purposefully bent in order to create a regular series of squares along the top which are filled with floral arabesques.

The inscription is bordered by a plain, yet nevertheless complicated, meandering braid. Inside, the south arch is decorated with a band of interlacing polygons; the north arch with a stylized floral band.

The western building has a more ornate and monumental façade consisting of a triple band of geometries beside the doorway; next to it there is a columned and arched recess composed of two square panels filled with interlaced polygons banded by a simple braid, and a rectangular panel containing a cursive inscription with flowers scattered on the background.

This decorative style has led some scholars to conjecture that this building may be earlier than the one to the east. Inside, there is a stucco Kufic inscription running across the tops of the pointed arches in the iwans. Here the “brambly” style found in one panel in the mosque at Herat has been used.

Myriads of learned and pious teachers, philosophers and saints have lived and died at Chisht-i-Sharif. Many scores of others have travelled far, spreading the fame of Chisht by bearing the name Chishti. A Sufi brotherhood called Chishtiya founded by Muinuddin Mohammad Chishti (RA)who was born in Seistan in 1142 spread widely throughout India. One of its more famous members was Salim Chishti, a contemporary of the Moghul Emperor Akbar (1556–1605 A.D.). His ornate marble mausoleum in the mosque at Fatipur Sikri, not far from Agra in India, is a popular place of pilgrimage today.
On the eastern side of the pine grove there is a large mosque shrine built during the reign of Zahir Shah (1933–1973) to replace an older mud-brick building. It marks the resting place of Maulana Sultan Maudud Chishti who died in 1132 A.D. Each year pilgrims come to pay homage here, many of them from as far away as Pakistan and India

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Importance of Ziyaraah (visiting Sufi Sanits / Shrines)

Shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty (R.A.)  – Ajmer Sharif ,India .                                                                                     

     

Shrine of Hazrat Mevelana Rumi (R.A) – Konya Sharif ,Turkey .                        

       

                      “The Importance of Ziyaraah (visiting Sufi Sanits / Shrines)”“ The importance of visiting / spending time / staying with the Saints while they are
alive and once they are accepted into God ( freed from the body limitations and into
the Absolute ) is simply because they are Teachers.

• Spiritual Teachers extend Inward transformation to those seek help from Them to be able to advance in the spiritual path.

• Their Teachings are primarily in Silence. It is a heart-to-heart ( core of existence – to – core of existence ) communication that physical senses and the intellect fail to register. Hence difficult to comprehend.

• Silent communications are real to those who have experienced IT. It is manifold stronger, purer, intense and is sure, whenever one visits the physical remains of a Saint resting in His tomb / Their tombs all over this planet at their Designated spots / places.

• Some experience / see light in Saint’s tomb / tombs. In Saint’s company, those sitting with Saint / Saints are enveloped in Light.

• A Saint’s tomb ( resting place of Saints’ body after Their soul has left the body behind ) is a Threshold to / between corporeal and God. In day-to-day life, we are able to notice light coming out through the openings of a well-lit building at night. Those visiting a Saint’s tomb ( Threshold ) the light will fall upon provided they are right at the opening ( Threshold. )

• Saint’s Teachings and Blessings continue to Benefit those seek during Saint’s life in this world and Saint’s life hereafter as the Teachings are extended to a seeker in silence / Absolute silence ( imperceptible to the corporeal. )

• Sitting with a Saint helps the internal faculties to harmonize, integrate, become silent and inwardly peaceful to begin with. Once the rush, gush, wandering nature is calmed, doubts settle and confusions clear the Image ( Qualities both corporeal and spiritual ) of the Saint / Truth / God is Imprinted / Reflected into the inward reality of the seeker, in silence. Hence Become.

• A seeker to begin with is like a mirror reflecting the Image ( Qualities of the Saint / Saints ) followed by reflecting Light like a diamond and finally becomes the Meaning / Truth i.e. the state of being Self-Luminous.

• Sitting in the company of a Saint during their physical presence and sitting in a Saint’s tomb is same. In a Saint’s tomb it is far more real – real in manifolds.”

with love, regards and dua’s

Syed Salman Chishty
S/o Late S.M.Usman Chishty

Chishty Manzil ,Jhalra Street ,Dargah Ajmer Sharif ,

Rajasthan ,India. Cell # + 91-9829174973 Email – salmanchishty@hotmail.com

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do not despair – Mevelana Rumi

Do not despair, my soul, for hope has manifested itself;
the hope of every soul has arrived from the unseen.

Do not despair, though Mary has gone from your hands,
for that light which drew Jesus to heaven has come.

Do not despair, my soul, in the darkness of this prison,
for that king who redeemed Joseph from prison has come.

Jacob has come forth from the veil of occlusion,
Joseph who rent Zulaikha’s veil has come.

You who all through night to dawn have been crying ‘O Lord’,
mercy has heard that ‘O Lord’ and has come.

O pain which has grown old, rejoice, for the cure has come;
O fastened lock, open, for the key has come.

You who have abstained fasting from the Table on high,
break your fast with joy, for the first day of the feast has come.

Keep silence, keep silence, for by virtue of the command ‘Be!’
that silence of bewilderment has augmented beyond all speech.

            Ghazal/Ode from Diwane Shamse Tabrizi
            Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, may Allah sanctify his soul & bless his secret

Published in: on December 9, 2006 at 7:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Come with us – Mevelana Rumi

If you never searched for truth
come with us
and you will become a seeker.
If you were never a musician
come with us
and you will find your voice.
You may posses immense wealth
come with us
and you will become love’s beggar.
You may think yourself a master
come with us
and love will turn you into a slave.
If you’ve lost your spirit,
come with us
take off your silk coverings,
put on our rough cloak
and we will bring you back to life.

           Ghazal/Ode 74, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, may Allah sanctify his soul & bless his secret

Published in: on December 9, 2006 at 7:00 pm  Comments (1)  

The Life and Spiritual Milieu of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

The Life and Spiritual Milieu of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi

 rumi-146.jpg

In the last decades of the Twentieth Century the spiritual influence of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi is being strongly felt by people of diverse beliefs throughout the Western world. He is being recognized here in the West, as he has been for seven centuries in the Middle East and Western Asia, as one of the greatest literary and spiritual figures of all time. Different qualities of Rumi have been brought forth by a variety of new translations that have appeared during the nineteen-eighties. He has been presented as both refined and sensual, sober and ecstatic, deeply serious and extremely funny, rarefied and accessible. It is a sign of his profound universality that he has been so many things to so many people.

Rumi’s Life

Jalâluddîn Rumi was born in 1207 in Balkh in what is today Afghanistan. At an early age his family left Balkh because of the danger of the invading Mongols and settled in Konya, Turkey, which was then the capital of the Seljuk Empire.His father Bahauddin was a great religious teacher who received a position at the university in Konya.                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                   Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi

    Mevlâna’s early spiritual education was under the tutelage of his father Bahauddin and later under his father’s close friend Sayyid Burhaneddin of Balkh. The circumstances surrounding Sayyid’s undertaking of the education of his friend’s son are interesting: Sayyid had been in Balkh, Afghanistan when he felt the death of his friend Bahauddin and realized that he must go to Konya to take over Jalâluddîn’s spiritual education. He came to Konya when Mevlâna was about twenty-four years old, and for nine years instructed him in “the science of the prophets and states,” beginning with a strict forty day retreat and continuing with various disciplines of meditation and fasting. During this time Jalâluddîn also spent more than four years in Aleppo and Damascus studying with some of the greatest religious minds of the time.

    As the years passed, Mevlâna grew both in knowledge and consciousness of God. Eventually Sayyid Burhaneddin felt that he had fulfilled his responsibility toward Jalâluddîn, and he wanted to live out the rest of his years in seclusion.  He told Mevlâna, “You are now ready, my son. You have no equal in any of the
branches of learning. You have become a lion of knowledge. I am such a lion myself and we are not both needed here and that is why I want to go. Furthermore, a great friend will come to you, and you will be each other’s mirror. He will lead you to the innermost parts of the spiritual world, just as you will lead him. Each of you will complete the other, and you will be the greatest friends in the entire world.” And so Sayyid intimated the coming of Shams of Tabriz, the central event of Rumi’s life.

    At the age of thirty-seven Mevlâna met the spiritual vagabond Shams. Much has already been written about their relationship. Prior to this encounter Rumi had been an eminent professor of religion and a highly attained mystic; after this he became an inspired poet and a great lover of humanity. Rumi’s meeting with Shams can be compared to Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek. I owe to Murat Yagan this explanation: “A Melchizedek and a Shams are messengers from the Source. They do nothing themselves but carry enlightenment to someone who can receive, someone who is either too full or too empty. Mevlâna was one who was too full. After receiving it, he could apply this message for the benefit of humanity.” Shams was burning and Rumi caught fire. Shams’ companionship with Rumi was brief. Despite the fact that each was a perfect mirror for the other Shams disappeared, not once but twice. The first time, Rumi’s son Sultan Veled searched for and discovered him in Damascus. The second disappearance, however, proved to be final, and it is believed that he may have been murdered by people who resented his influence over Mevlâna.

    Rumi was a man of knowledge and sanctity before meeting Shams, but only after the alchemy of this relationship was he able to fulfill Sayyid Burhaneddin’s prediction that he would “drown men’s souls in a fresh life and in the immeasurable abundance of God… and bring to life the dead of this false world with… meaning and love.”

    For more than ten years after meeting Shams, Mevlâna had been spontaneously composing odes, or ghazals, and these had been collected in  a large volume called the Divan-i Kabir. Meanwhile Mevlâna had developed a deep spiritual friendship with Husameddin Chelebi. The two of them were wandering through the Meram vineyards outside of Konya one day when Husameddin described an idea he had to Mevlâna: “If you were to write a book like the Ilahiname of Sanai or the Mantik’ut-Tayr’i of Fariduddin Attar it would become the companion of many troubadours. They would fill their hearts form you work and compose music to accompany it.”

    Mevlâna smiled and took from inside the folds of his turban a piece of paper on which were written the opening eighteen lines of his Mathnawi, beginning with:

      Listen to the reed and the tale it tells,
      how it sings of separation…

    Husameddin wept for joy and implored Mevlâna to write volumes more. Mevlâna replied, “Chelebi, if you consent to write for me, I will recite.” And so it happened that Mevlâna in his early fifties began the dictation of this monumental work. As Husameddin described the process: “He never took a pen in his hand while composing the Mathnawi. Wherever he happened to be, whether in the school, at the Ilgin hot springs, in the Konya baths, or in the Meram vineyards, I would write down what he recited. Often I could barely keep up with his pace, sometimes, night and day for several days. At other times he would not compose for months, and once for two years there was nothing. At the completion of each book I would read it back to him, so that he could correct what had been written.”

    The Mathnawi can justifiably be considered the greatest spiritual masterpiece ever written by a human being. It’s content includes the full spectrum of life on earth, every kind of human activity: religious, cultural, political, sexual, domestic; every kind of human character form the vulgar to the refined; as well as copious
and specific details of the natural world, history and geography. It is also a book that presents the vertical dimension of life — from this mundane world of desire, work, and things, to the most sublime levels of metaphysics and cosmic awareness. It is its completeness that enchants us.

His Spiritual Milieu

What do we need to know to receive the knowledge that Rumi offers us?

    First of all, it needs to be understood that Rumi’s tradition is not an “Eastern” tradition. It is neither of the East nor of the West, but something in between. Rumi’s mother-tongue was Persian, an Indo-European language strongly influenced by Semitic (Arabic) vocabulary, something like French with a smattering of Hebrew.
    Furthermore, the Islamic tradition, which shaped him, acknowledges that only one religion has been given to mankind through countless prophets, or messengers, who have come to every people on earth bearing this knowledge of Spirit. God is the subtle source of all life, Whose essence cannot be described or compared to anything, but Who can be known through the spiritual qualities that are manifest in the world and in the human heart. It is a deeply mystical tradition, on the one hand, with a strong and clear emphasis on human dignity and social justice, on the other.

    Islam is understood as a continuation of the Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic tradition, honoring the Hebrew prophets, as well as Jesus and Mary. Muslims, however, are very sensitive to the issue of attributing divinity to a human being, which they see as the primary error of Christianity. although Jesus is called the in the Qur’an “the Spirit of God,” it would be thought a blasphemy to identify any human being exclusively as God. Muhammad is viewed as the last of those human prophets who brought the message of God’s love.

      In Rumi’s world, the Islamic way of life had established a high level of spiritual awareness among the general population. The average person would be someone who performed regular ablutions and prayed five times a day, fasted from food and drink during the daylight hours for at least one month a year, and closely followed a code which emphasized the continual remembrance of God, intention, integrity, generosity, and respect for all life. Although the Mathnawi can appeal to us on many levels, it assumes a rather high level of spiritual awareness as a starting point and extends to the very highest levels of spiritual understanding.

        The unenlightened human state is one of “faithlessness” in which an individual lives in slavery to the false self and the desires of the materials world. The spiritual practices which Rumi would have known were aimed at transforming the compulsiveness of the false self and attaining Islam or “Submission” to a higher order of reality. Without this submission the real self is enslaved to the ego and lives in a state of internal conflict due to the contradictory impulses of the ego. The enslaved ego is cut off from the heart, the chief organ for perceiving reality, and cannot receive the spiritual guidance and nourishment which the heart provides. Overcoming this enslavement and false separation leads to the realization and development of our true humanity. spiritual maturity is the realization that the self is a reflection of the Divine. God is the Beloved or Friend, the transpersonal identity. Love of God leads to the lover forgetting himself in the love of the Beloved.

Published in: on November 16, 2006 at 8:51 pm  Comments (1)