Rumi in the Times of Taliban

rumi_brain cuddle

Poetry is a form of writing that is very close to the writer, and if you are a dreamer then you will understand the emotion behind each word, but if not, it may seem like just a collection of words to many. Being a poet myself I appreciate good poetry and recently I picked up ‘ Rumi’s Little Book of Life’, a collection of beautiful196 poems by Rumi. Translated by native Persian speakers, Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, this collection has for ages appealed to Rumi lovers everywhere.

Your worth is shown by the thoughts you entertain

Rumi: A Sufi mystic and poet

Rūmī or Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, also known as Mawlana was both in 1207, Balkh in Afghanistan, was the greatest Sufic mystic and poet in the Persian Language. He was very well known for his lyrics and didactic epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī  (Spiritual Couplets) which has influenced the mystical thoughts and literature in the Muslim World.

Rumi'S Little Book Of Life: The Garden Of The Soul, The Heart, And The  Spirit: Rumi: 9789389647037: Amazon.com: Books

In his poetry, Rumi used various languages like Persian and Arabic with some additional Turkish and Greek, which has had an influence all over the world. Besides his poetry, there are various talks of Rumi that had been noted by his friends and are known as the Fīhi mā fīhi (“There Is in It What Is in It”). There are also various sermons and collections of letters that have been written for different people.

His poetry is a most human expression of mystical experiences, in which readers can find their own favorite ideas and feelings—from enthusiastic flights into the heavens to matter-of-fact descriptions of daily life.

Rumi Today

Where once was born a poet who writes about love, friendship, and brotherhood, 800 years later, today stand the grotesque exhibitionism of the Taliban.

In a world where Islam has been labeled as the villain of the world, the numerous terrible acts have only added more fuel to this wildfire. In this modern era where we all have access to the media and are wise enough to understand the difference between religion as an institution and religion as a personal and spiritual concept.

Rumi on Religion

Who better to explain this than a famous writer who was born on the same soil had a different take on both religion and infidelity.

Rumi was a Muslim scholar and took Islam seriously. Nonetheless, the depth of his spiritual vision extended beyond narrow understanding sectarian concerns. One rubaiyat reads:

در راه طلب عاقل و دیوانه یکی است
در شیوه‌ی عشق خویش و بیگانه یکی است
آن را که شراب وصل جانان دادند
در مذهب او کعبه و بتخانه یکی است‎
On the seeker’s path, wise men and fools are one.
In His love, brothers and strangers are one.
Go on! Drink the wine of the Beloved!
In that faith, Muslims and pagans are one.

In one of his poems Rumi writes about how people talk about God and try to guilt people in the name of religion:

You talk about God a lot, and you make me feel guilty
by using that word. You better watch out!
That word will poison you if you use it
to have power over me.

Rumi showcases how since his time people have used religion and God as a means to instill fear and guilt in people. He says that if this is what they are doing then that word instead of making them pious, poisons their soul and they take up the wrong path in the name of religion.

Rumi on God

The Light of Muhammad has become a thousand branches (of knowledge), a thousand so that both this world and the next to have been seized from end to end. If Muhammad rips the veil open from a single such branch, thousands of monks and priests will tear the string of false belief from around their waists.”

Rumi was of the proponent that religion can mean different to people and thus has a thousand branches. He continues to say that if someday Muhammad would come down on the earth, he would be able to differentiate the wrong from the right and tear all the false belief that surrounds the religion.

He believes in individual religion where each person has the freedom to have a personal relationship with God and can in their personal space lookout for his validation during any rough times in life. He says there are different ways of looking at one thing

This physical world has no two things alike.
Every comparison is awkwardly rough.
You can put a lion next to a man,
but the placing is hazardous to both.”

Conclusion

For 800 years Rumi has been alive and read by people all across the world irrespective of their religion. Though he is no more alive we still value his writings and draw inspiration from them. On the other hand is the Taliban who is very much alive and running. Now it is on us which side of the religion do we want to look into, and which interpretation of Islam we want to believe in.

Only ignorance keeps a bird encaged. The Masters have fled from their cage and have become guides, showing that the only way out of ignorance is faith.