Rumi statue in Turkey. Creative Commons Wikimedia
Can you believe that for decades a poet who sold millions of copies in America is a Muslim poet who was born over 800 years ago in what is now
according to the New Yorker, while according to the
in Tajikistan and wrote most of his works in Persian?
It is believable when you know it is Rumi!
The mystic poet and Sufi master Jalal ad-Din Rumi was born in 1207. Due to serious threats of the Mongols on the Central Asian region, Rumi's parents had to move westwards from present-day Afghanistan to the city of Konya, in what's now Turkey, under the rule of the Seljuks. His father was an Islamic scholar who introduced him to theological education. Rumi grew to be a great teacher and a jurist, till he met his mentor Shams of Tabriz, a wandering dervish from Persia.
Rumi's most famous work is the Masnavi (also written as Mathnawi); an anthology of poems written in Persian which mainly consists of parables and anecdotes from the Quran and the prophetic hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad). It is a series of
volumes of poetry containing around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. Many critics consider it the greatest literary work in Persian ever.
The Masnavi had a huge impact on its readers, which reflects how people need a constant reminder of the beauty and love they have deep inside at a time living in a high-speed, hectic and materialistic world, surrounded by political tumults, terrorist attacks and wars. Thus, readers find solace and spiritual longing at a time everything drains the people from their spirituality. For Rumi, in order for one to see the world's beauty, one got to be beautiful from within. According to him, the way we see the world mirrors how our souls look like.
Inside the Muslim world, Rumi's Sufi teachings overlap with both Sunni and Shiite identities. His influence transcends ethnic and political boarders: Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Pashtuns, as well as Asian and African Muslims have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy.
His works have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and reached people from all religious beliefs and age-groups.
Rumi inspiring celebrities
A few years ago,
, according to the Rolling Stone magazine, he was going through his divorce from the Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow. He was even feeling insecure about his career. So a friend of his gave him some books to help him through the tough time, among them was a collection of poems by Rumi. “It kind of changed my life,” Martin acknowledged in an interview later.
, according to the Guardian including Madonna, Tilda Swinton, Goldie Hawn, Donna Karan, the composer Philip Glass and Deepak Chopra. Some of them even adapted some of his poems and incorporated them into their works.
It is apparent that the work of Rumi will endure throughout times again and again, given his works reflect sincerity coupled with an astounding talent that will have any reader mesmerized.