Rumi: Humanity Again

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A brief look into the thoughts, spiritual vision, works, and demeanor of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi, a 13th-century Persian poet and Islamic scholar.

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Graphic on screen: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there”: Jalal al-Din Rumi

Narration: For centuries, these men dressed in white robes and tall hats have been spinning in circles in a drama of faith and love. Mirroring the revolving nature of existence and all living things, they turn toward the truth, grow through love, abandon ego, and embraces perfection. These Whirling Dervishes, as they are called, are the followers of a 13th-century poet whose teachings and practices were to bring peace and harmony to the world constantly threatened by war and conflict. . His name is Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, known simply as Rūmī, a poet with one universal message: “Our only purpose in life is love.” Every year in the biting cold of mid-December, visitors from all over the world gather together in Konya, an off-the-beaten track city in Turkey - where this Muslim poet rests in peace - to commemorate his death.

Puppet Opera Rumi:

“With love, thorns become flowers; / with love, bitter drinks become wine;

With love, bitter becomes sweet; / with live, copper becomes gold;

With love, the dead are come to life; / with love, kings become servants.”

Narration: Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, one of the greatest poet in the Persian language was born in September 1207 in Balkh, now located in Afghanistan. He is famous for his lyrics and for his didactic epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī which widely influenced mystical thought and literature throughout the Muslim world.

The threat of the approaching Mongols made Jalāl al-Dīn’s family leave their native town in about 1218. According to a legend, in Nīshāpūr, Iran, the family met Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, a Persian mystical poet, who blessed young Jalāl al-Dīn.

After a pilgrimage to Mecca and journeys through the Middle East, Jalāl al-Dīn and his family finally dropped anchor in Konya in 1228. Like his father, Jalāl al-Dīn taught at one of the numerous religious schools in the city. The decisive moment in Jalāl al-Dīn’s life occurred in 1244, when in the streets of Konya he met the wandering dervish, Shams al-Dīn of Tabrīz who revealed to him the mysteries of divine majesty and beauty.

Puppet Opera Rumi:

“Who are you? Who are you? A drop of heavenly wine. This world is a prison and we are the prisoners; Tunnel through the prison and liberate yourself. Who are you?”

Narration: Rūmī’s masterwork, Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī or “Spiritual Couplets” reflects the experience of divine love that yields love for humanity and the whole universe. He believes that love is the path to spiritual growth and insight. Broadly tolerant of all people regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, this Muslim scholar and poets says:

Puppet Opera Rumi:

“The mosque, the tavern, the house, and the idol-house are the same; O you who've lost our alley, the house is the same; The cross-eyed person may see one as two; It's clear the heart, the sweetheart, and the beloved are one.”

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Narration: Rūmī scholars all agree that his masterpiece draws heavily on the holy Quran to such an extent that they call it the Quran in verse. In fact, it is the Islamic tradition that gives Rūmī his wisdom and enthusiasm for poetry as well as love for all humanity through mutual tolerance and respect.

Perhaps, the most popular story in the Mas̄navī is the story of “Moses and the Shepherd.” It goes that Moses comes upon a shepherd in the desert and finds him going on a very intimate and folksy conversation with God, asking God to reveal himself so he can dress Him, comb His hair, wash His teeth, kiss His hands; treating Him like a soul mate.

Puppet Opera Rumi:

“Where are You so that I can be Your servant? Sew Your boots and comb Your hair; Kiss Your little hand and rub Your little foot; At bedtime, sweep Your small bed. I offer all my goats as sacrifices to You; All my songs are in you remembrance.”

Narration: Moses is very quick to chastise the shepherd and give him a very stern warning about the fire that awaits him in hell for such blasphemy. And while the shepherd goes away, utterly undone, God reproaches Moses for breaking up a perfectly happy relationship with His subject and reminds him that his task on earth is to connect not to separate.

Puppet Opera Rumi:

“He doesn't look at language and speech; he looks at the soul and the real intention. He observes the heart to see if it's humble; Even if the words uttered are not meek. Kindle a fire out of love in your soul; And burn thoughts and prayers entirely. Don't look after any rules or rituals; Say whatever your heavy heart longs for.”

Narration: Islam is the religion of love and peace and tolerance and to back up this claim suffice to have a look at the Holy Book of Muslims or the books inspired by it, like Rumi’s Spiritual Couplets. Every year, visitors from all over the globe go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī to show they cherish his peaceful values and ideals and to show that his memory still lives on.

SOUNDBITE [English] Young Woman: “Mevlana say that whoever you are, come. So we can understand from these words we can understand each other as being human, as being people. I think Mevlana wanted to say that there shouldn't be any racism. We are human so we are the same I think. And I know if Mevlana was here, there wouldn’t be war.”

SOUNDBITE [Turkish] Young Woman: “Mevlana says that no matter who you are you must have a heart to love. If people only grasped the significance of this sentence, there would be no enmity in the world.”

SOUNDBITE [Turkish] Young Woman: “According to Mevlana, we must not sacrifice our friendship and brotherhood for nothing.”

Narration: Miles away from Rumi’s mausoleum, a terrorist group namely Daesh is wreaking havoc on the area under the cloak of Islam, offering a harsh unorthodox version of this divine religion which is unacceptable to Muslims of different sects. Being funded by infamous sponsors in the region, the group have reduced many mosques and sacred places to rubble and butchered thousands of innocent people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims.

It seems that at this age of chaos, violence and war, the peaceful ideas of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, with its fountainhead in the pristine Islam can help the world bring this modern barbarism, carried out by a tiny extremist minority, to a halt. 


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