I am a huge fan of him. His quotes and poetry are something that could enlight new flame within you. You uncover your own soul while reading his verses.
I’m talking about the great Sufi Poet -Rumi.
“Love stole my prayer beads and gave me poetry and song “
Initially, apart from his quotes and his famous poems, I had zero knowledge about Rumi. But when I read some of his books including biography, it showed me a better view to know him and understand his writing.
Rumi was born on Sept 30, 1207, in Vaksh (today’s Tajikistan). Rumi’s actual name was Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī.
Family Background and Early Life
His father Baha Valad was one of the famous preachers of that era. He was a strong, ambitious man. Baha Valad was the first influencer of Rumi’s life. He influenced Rumi by his intellectual and spiritual thoughts. There was a humongous difference between the style of conveying a message of Rumi and him. Rumi’s style was soft, mystic and subtle whereas Baha Valad was quite aggressive and loud. Rumi always used to worship & praise him in his poems. Baha Valad also had great affection and trust in Rumi. During his last days, he said, “Wait until I pass away and you see how my son Jalaluddin Mohammad turns out! He will take my place and become more elevated than I.”
Rumi’s life was a journey around different regions, he traveled 2500 miles throughout his life. Because of some political reasons, Baha Valad left Vaksh in 1210– 12. His journey Begun from Vaksh and his first destination was Samarkand. That time Samarkand was biggest, busiest city. Samarkand was one of the cities where innovative poems were first composed. It had shown a considerable impact on Rumi’s writing. Sharaf Samarqndi was one of the friends of Baha Valad, whose daughter Gowhar got married to Rumi when he was seventeen years old. They had two sons Bahaoddin Mohammad(Sultan Valad) and Alaoddin Mohammad. Sultan Valad was Rumi’s favorite son as well as a disciple. Sultan Valad was always a humble admirer of Rumi. He took care of Rumi, he acted as a messenger of Rumi, a good listener of Rumi. When Rumi was in the pain because of the separation from Shams, Sultan Valad tried to help in every possible way to support his father.
Attar from Nishapur was Rumi’s favorite poet, he accepted Attar’s poetic lineage. Once he said to his students:
Whoever deeply reads the words of Attar will understand the secret of Sanai(his father), and whoever reads the words of Sanai, with belief, will better comprehend my own word and will benefit from enjoy them.
In 1231, Baha Valad died at his age of eighty. Rumi was a very emotional boy, trying hard to overcome his sorrows. He was not ready to take over his father’s position. He always used to carry his fathers writing, hiding into the inner pocket of robe.
Boharan was the person who used to teach Rumi when he was a child. He came to Rumi’s life again in 1232, after a huge span of fifteen years. Boharan helped Rumi to come out from his depression. Rumi allowed Boharan the position of his father, Boharan became Rumi’s spiritual director. Some people refused to accept Boharan but Rumi strongly supported him. Boharan sent Rumi out of Konya to learn more. Rumi stayed in Aleppo and Damascus to complete his advanced education.
After completing his studies in both the cities he came back to his Shiekh-Boharan. He took advanced lessons on spiritual practice from Boharan. He admired fasting like Boharan. During Boharan’s last days, Boharan was willing to see leadership taken by Rumi by all his own. Boharan died in 1240–41 in Kayseri. Rumi lost his one more strong support.
Second marriage and new members of the family
At the same time, his wife Gowhar died. There are no records of death cause. Soon afterward, he married to a widow Kerra. She brought 2 children Shamsuddin Yahya and Kimiya. They had their own son Mozaffaroddin Amir Alem Chalebi and daughter Maleke. Rumi never kept multiple wives.
Shamsoboddin came to Rumi’s life suddenly and left him abruptly. But his presence changed the whole lifestyle of Rumi. Shams was 20 years older than Rumi. The relation between them was very strong and unconventional, but they couldn’t decide whether it was a friendship or sheik-disciple relationship or anything else.
They started writing to each other. They lived in the bilingual world. They fell at each other’s feet. No one knew who was the lover and who the beloved. Rumi wrote several poems to celebrate Shams arrival when he came back to Rumi. Shams wished to marry Kimaya. There were some rumors that Rumi’s second son Alaoddin Mohammad was secretly willing to marry her. That’s why Alaoddin Mohammad more hated shams. Shams and Kimiya got married but their married life was stressed. Soon afterward, Kimiya died. There were so many incidents happened which insisted Shams leave Rumi again.
Rumi could not bear this separation. He tried hard to find out Shams. He wrote plenty of poems praising Shams.
Whenever I write the name of Shams of Tabriz , I sprinkle my favorite sugar into a paper wrapper
But Shams never came back. There were many rumors about Sham’s death, but Rumi did not find the actual reason and reluctantly accepted the truth of Shams death. Rumi had conflicts with his second son, Alaoddin Mohammad because he was one of the reasons for separation from Shams.
Salah was the person who opened his home to Rumi and Shams for their first meeting. As like Rumi, Salah was also the student of Boharan.
Salah was the second companion of Rumi after Shams. Rumi renewed his companionship with Salah with special affinity. Rumi was never shy about substituting Shams by Salah. He used to call Salah as moon or mirror in his poems. Salah was always being extremely polite to Rumi.
Rumi ordered Sultan Valad to be a disciple of Salah. Also, he arranged the marriage between Salah and Sultan’s daughter Fateme. Fateme was the most favorite girl of Rumi. He taught her reading & writing. He took care of Salah and tried to please him.
In 1258 Salah died, and as per Salah’s wish, Rumi carried his funeral explicitly. He carried sama on Salah’s funeral. A funeral without sorrows and the funeral with the celebration was quite controversial at that time.
Hosam –With your light Masnavi glows brighter than the moon.
Hosam is the one who approached Rumi to write a book. Rumi accepted his proposal and started dictating him. Hosam successfully managed to jot down whatever Rumi wished to write.
Hosam was the third companion of Rumi. With the help of Hosam, Rumi wrote 6 books of Masnavi till the decade of 1270. Rumi was very moody in terms of writing. One day he entered Hosam’s place and started dictating verses. Hosam wrote down more than 100 pages and then Rumi burned all of them in the oven. Hosam tried to hide some pages but Rumi said, “It came from the invisible place it shall go to the invisible place.”
In the Masnavi, Rumi mentioned Shams sometimes. He praised God, love, nature, Quran through the verses.
Rumi died on 17th December 1273. He instructed, “Place me at the top of the sepulchral niche, so I may arise before everyone else .“ He planned his own funeral, he arranged musicians dancers singers and Quran reciters.
When I’m thinking about Rumi, I find many aspects which are really admirable. The era of his life was not advanced, people were confined in their rituals and religious beliefs. But Rumi had a clear conscience and progressive thoughts. He learned about science, astronomy, geography, history but his heart was always humming a subject of poetry. Even though he was with his disciples and companions, he never ignored his family life. He always showed respect to his father and his teachers. Once he wrote a letter to his sons explaining, how they should respect their Sheikh and teachers and the importance of it.
Rumi was a person with a kind heart. Once a thief stole Rumi’s cloak, Rumi asked his disciple to buy that cloak from him, so that he could not feel embarrassment. One Christian man, in his drunken state, pushed Rumi during the sama. Rumi’s disciple started beating him. Rumi hit his disciple saying, this person is not in the state of mind but you are! He took care of Salah’s widow and his family. He took care of Hosam’s family like his own family.
He was a believer of truth. He never compared people and their statuses. He was popular among men as well as women disciples. He used to seat in women’s group to discuss their problems. He had a woman friend who was the dancer. Some people told Rumi to avoid his contact with the girl. But Rumi said, ‘at least she is not hiding her identity, she has accepted the truth of her life’.
These are the simple but beautiful qualities of him, his empathy, his paragons of virtue which makes him popular and idiosyncratic.