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Mewlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī
مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی

Jalal ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi
Title Mawlānā[1] (Classical Persian), Mowlānā (Modern Persian), and Mevlâna (Modern Turkish)
Born 1207 C.E.
Wakhsh (present-day Tajikistan)[2][3]
Died 17 December 1273 C.E.
Konya (present-day Turkey)
Resting place Konya (present-day Turkey)
37°52′14.33″N 32°30′16.74″E / 37.8706472°N 32.5046500°E / 37.8706472; 32.5046500Coordinates: 37°52′14.33″N 32°30′16.74″E / 37.8706472°N 32.5046500°E / 37.8706472; 32.5046500
Ethnicity Persian
Era Medieval
Region Khwarazmian Empire (Balkh: –1212 and 1213–17; Samarkand: 1212–13)[4][5]
Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (Malatya: 1217–19; Akşehir: 1219–22; Larende: 1222–28; Konya: 1228 until his death in 1273 AD.)[4]
Creed Hanafi, Sufism; his followers formed the Mevlevi Order
Main interest(s) Sufi poetry, Sufi whirling, Muraqaba, Dhikr
Notable idea(s) Persian poetry, Ney and Sufi dance
Notable work(s) Masnavi, Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, Fihi Ma Fihi

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى‎), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), and more popularly in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian[1][6] poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.[7] Iranians, Turks, Afghans, Tajiks, and other Central Asian Muslims as well as the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy in the past seven centuries.[8] Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the "most popular poet in America."[9]

Rumi's works are written in Persian and his Mathnawi remains one of the purest literary glories of Persia,[10] and one of the crowning glories of the Persian language.[11] His original works are widely read today in their original language across the Persian-speaking world (Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and parts of Persian speaking Central Asia).[12] Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish and some other Iranian, Turkic and Indic languages written in Perso-Arabic script e.g. Pashto, Ottoman Turkish, Chagatai and Sindhi.


Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد بلخىPersian pronunciation: [dʒælɒːlæddiːn mohæmmæde bælxiː]) is also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی Persian pronunciation: [dʒælɒːlæddiːn mohæmmæde ɾuːmiː]). He is widely known by the sobriquet Mawlānā/Molānā[1][4] (Persian: مولاناPersian pronunciation: [moulɒːnɒː]) in Iran and Afghanistan, and popularly known as Mevlâna in Turkey. According to the authoritative Rumi biographer Franklin Lewis of the University of Chicago, "[t]he Anatolian peninsula which had belonged to the Byzantine, or eastern Roman empire, had only relatively recently been conquered by Muslims and even when it came to be controlled by Turkish Muslim rulers, it was still known to Arabs, Persians and Turks as the geographical area of Rum. As such, there are a number of historical personages born in or associated with Anatolia known as Rumi, a word borrowed from Arabic literally meaning “Roman,” in which context Roman refers to subjects of the Byzantine Empire or simply to people living in or things associated with Anatolia. In Muslim countries, therefore, Jalal al-Din is not generally known as "Rumi"."[13] The terms مولوی Mawlavi (Persian) and Mevlevi (Turkish) which mean "having to do with the master" are more often used for him.[14]


Jalal ad-Din Rumi gathers Sufi mystics.

Rumi was born to native Persian speaking parents,[15][16][17] probably in the village of Wakhsh,[3] a small town located at the river Wakhsh in Persia (in what is now Tajikistan). Wakhsh belonged to the larger province of Balkh (parts of now modern Afghanistan and Tajikistan), and in the year Rumi was born, his father was an appointed scholar there.[3]

Greater Balkh was at that time a major center of a Persian culture[11][17][18] and Khorasani Sufism had developed there for several centuries. Indeed, the most important influences upon Rumi, besides his father, are said to be the Persian poets Attar and Sanai.[19] Rumi in one poem express his appreciation: "Attar was the spirit, Sanai his eyes twain, And in time thereafter, Came we in their train"[20] and mentions in another poem: "Attar has traversed the seven cities of Love, We are still at the turn of one street".[21] His father was also connected to the spiritual lineage of Najm al-Din Kubra.[8]

He lived most of his life under the Persianate[22][23][24] Seljuq Sultanate of Rum, where he produced his works [25] and died in 1273 AD. He was buried in Konya and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage.[26] Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony. He was laid to rest beside his father, and over his remains a splendid shrine was erected. A hagiographical account of him is described in Shams ud-Din Ahmad Aflāki's Manāqib ul-Ārifīn (written between 1318 and 1353). This hagiographical account of his biography needs to be treated with care as it contains both legends and facts about Rumi.[27] For example, Professor Franklin Lewis, Chicago University, in the most complete biography on Rumi has a separate section for the hagiographical biography on Rumi and actual biography about him.[28]

Rumi's father was Bahā ud-Dīn Walad, a theologian, jurist and a mystic from Wakhsh, who was also known by the followers of Rumi as Sultan al-Ulama or "Sultan of the Scholars". The popular hagiographer assertions that have claimed the family's descent from the Caliph Abu Bakr does not hold on closer examination and is rejected by modern scholars.[28][29][30] The claim of maternal descent from the Khwarazmshah for Rumi or his father is also seen as a non-historical hagiographical tradition designed to connect the family with royalty, but this claim is rejected for chronological and historical reasons.[28][29][30] The most complete genealogy offered for the family stretches back to six or seven generations to famous Hanafi Jurists.[28][29][30]

We do not learn the name of Baha al-Din's mother in the sources, but only that he referred to her as "Māmi" (Colloquial Persian for Māma)[31] and that she was a simple woman and that she lives in 13th century. The mother of Rumi was Mu'mina Khātūn. The profession of the family for several generations was that of Islamic preachers of the liberal Hanafi rite and this family tradition was continued by Rumi (see his Fihi Ma Fih and Seven Sermons) and Sultan Walad (see Ma'rif Waladi for examples of his everyday sermons and lectures).

When the Mongols invaded Central Asia sometime between 1215 and 1220, Baha ud-Din Walad, with his whole family and a group of disciples, set out westwards. According to hagiographical account which is not agreed upon by all Rumi scholars, Rumi encountered one of the most famous mystic Persian poets, Attar, in the Iranian city of Nishapur, located in the province of Khorāsān. Attar immediately recognized Rumi's spiritual eminence. He saw the father walking ahead of the son and said, "Here comes a sea followed by an ocean."[this quote needs a citation] He gave the boy his Asrārnāma, a book about the entanglement of the soul in the material world. This meeting had a deep impact on the eighteen-year-old Rumi and later on became the inspiration for his works.

From Nishapur, Walad and his entourage set out for Baghdad, meeting many of the scholars and Sufis of the city.[32] From Baghdad they went to Hejaz and performed the pilgrimage at Mecca. The migrating caravan then passed through Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan, Sivas, Kayseri and Nigde. They finally settled in Karaman for seven years; Rumi's mother and brother both died there. In 1225, Rumi married Gowhar Khatun in Karaman. They had two sons: Sultan Walad and Ala-eddin Chalabi. When his wife died, Rumi married again and had a son, Amir Alim Chalabi, and a daughter, Malakeh Khatun.

On 1 May 1228, most likely as a result of the insistent invitation of 'Alā' ud-Dīn Key-Qobād, ruler of Anatolia, Baha' ud-Din came and finally settled in Konya in Anatolia within the westernmost territories of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm.

Baha' ud-Din became the head of a madrassa (religious school) and when he died, Rumi, aged twenty-five, inherited his position as the Islamic molvi. One of Baha' ud-Din's students, Sayyed Burhan ud-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi, continued to train Rumi in the Shariah as well as the Tariqa, especially that of Rumi's father. For nine years, Rumi practiced Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din until the latter died in 1240 or 1241. Rumi's public life then began: he became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons in the mosques of Konya. He also served as a Molvi (Islamic teacher) and taught his adherents in the madrassa.

During this period, Rumi also traveled to Damascus and is said to have spent four years there.

It was his meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi on 15 November 1244 that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.

Shams had traveled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could "endure my company". A voice said to him, "What will you give in return?" Shams replied, "My head!" The voice then said, "The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya." On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. It is rumored that Shams was murdered with the connivance of Rumi's son, 'Ala' ud-Din; if so, Shams indeed gave his head for the privilege of mystical friendship.[33]

Rumi's love for, and his bereavement at the death of, Shams found their expression in an outpouring lyric poems, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. He himself went out searching for Shams and journeyed again to Damascus. There, he realized:

Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself![34]

Mewlana had been spontaneously composing ghazals (Persian poems), and these had been collected in the Divan-i Kabir or Diwan Shams Tabrizi. Rumi found another companion in Salaḥ ud-Din-e Zarkub, a goldsmith. After Salah ud-Din's death, Rumi's scribe and favorite student, Hussam-e Chalabi, assumed the role of Rumi's companion. One day, the two of them were wandering through the Meram vineyards outside Konya when Hussam described to Rumi an idea he had had: "If you were to write a book like the Ilāhīnāma of Sanai or the Mantiq ut-Tayr of 'Attar, it would become the companion of many troubadours. They would fill their hearts from your work and compose music to accompany it." Rumi smiled and took out a piece of paper on which were written the opening eighteen lines of his Masnavi, beginning with:

Listen to the reed and the tale it tells,
How it sings of separation...[35]

Hussam implored Rumi to write more. Rumi spent the next twelve years of his life in Anatolia dictating the six volumes of this masterwork, the Masnavi, to Hussam.

In December 1273, Rumi fell ill; he predicted his own death and composed the well-known ghazal, which begins with the verse:

How doest thou know what sort of king I have within me as companion?
Do not cast thy glance upon my golden face, for I have iron legs.[36]

Rumi died on 17 December 1273 in Konya; his body was interred beside that of his father, and a splendid shrine, the Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb, قبه الخضراء; today the Mevlâna Museum), was erected over his place of burial. His epitaph reads:

When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.[37]

The 13th century Mevlâna Mausoleum, with its mosque, dance hall, dervish living quarters, school and tombs of some leaders of the Mevlevi Order, continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world. Jalal al-Din who is also known as Rumi, was a philosopher and mystic of Islam. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to people of all sects and creeds.


A page of a copy circa 1503 of the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz-i.

The general theme of Rumi's thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poets of Persian literature, is essentially that of the concept of tawhid — union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been cut off and become aloof — and his longing and desire to restore it.

The Masnavi weaves fables, scenes from everyday life, Qur'anic revelations and exegesis, and metaphysics into a vast and intricate tapestry.[38] In the East, it is said of him that he was "not a prophet — but surely, he has brought a scripture."[this quote needs a citation]

Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. It was from these ideas that the practice of whirling Dervishes developed into a ritual form. His teachings became the base for the order of the Mevlevi which his son Sultan Walad organized. Rumi encouraged Sama, listening to music and turning or doing the sacred dance. In the Mevlevi tradition, samāʿ represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes and nations.

In other verses in the Masnavi, Rumi describes in detail the universal message of love:

The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries.[39]

Major works

An Ottoman era manuscript depicting Rumi and Shams-e Tabrizi.

Rumi's poetry is often divided into various categories: the quatrains (rubayāt) and odes (ghazal) of the Divan, the six books of the Masnavi. The prose works are divided into The Discourses, The Letters, and the Seven Sermons.

Poetic works

Maṭnawīye Ma'nawī
Mevlâna Museum, Konya, Turkey
  • Rumi's major work is the Maṭnawīye Ma'nawī (Spiritual Couplets; مثنوی معنوی), a six-volume poem regarded by some Sufis[40] as the Persian-language Qur'an. It is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry.[41] It contains approximately 27000 lines of Persian poetry.[42]
  • Rumi's other major work is the Dīwān-e Kabīr (Great Work) or Dīwān-e Shams-e Tabrīzī (The Works of Shams of Tabriz; دیوان شمس تبریزی), named in honor of Rumi's master Shams. Besides approximately 35000 Persian couplets and 2000 Persian quatrains,[43] the Divan contains 90 Ghazals and 19 quatrains in Arabic,[44] a couple of dozen or so couplets in Turkish (mainly macaronic poems of mixed Persian and Turkish)[45][46] and 14 couplets in Greek (all of them in three macaronic poems of Greek-Persian).[47][48]

Prose works

  • Fihi Ma Fihi (In It What's in It, Persian: فیه ما فیه) provides a record of seventy-one talks and lectures given by Rumi on various occasions to his disciples. It was compiled from the notes of his various disciples, so Rumi did not author the work directly.[49] An English translation from the Persian was first published by A.J. Arberry as Discourses of Rumi(New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972), and a translation of the second book by Wheeler Thackston, Sign of the Unseen(Putney, VT: Threshold Books, 1994). The style of the Fihi ma fihi are colloqual and are meant for middle-class men and women, and lack the sophisticated wordplay.[50]
  • Majāles-e Sab'a (Seven Sessions, Persian: مجالس سبعه) contains seven Persian sermons (as the name implies) or lectures given in seven different assemblies. The sermons themselves give a commentary on the deeper meaning of Qur'an and Hadeeth. The sermons also include quotations from poems of Sana'i, 'Attar, and other poets, including Rumi himself. As Aflakī relates, after Shams-e Tabrīzī, Rumi gave sermons at the request of notables, especially Salāh al-Dīn Zarkūb. The style of Persian is rather simple, but quotation of Arabic and knowledge of history and the Hadith show Rumi's knowledge in the Islamic sciences. His style is the typical of the genre of lectures given by Sufis and spiritual teachers.[51]
  • Makatib (The Letters, Persian: مکاتیب) is the book containing Rumi's letters in Persian to his disciples, family members, and men of state and of influence. The letters testify that Rumi kept very busy helping family members and administering a community of disciples that had grown up around them. Unlike the Persian style of the previous two mentioned work (which are lectures and sermons), the letters is consciously sophisticated and epistolar, which is in conformity with the expectations of correspondence directed to nobles, statement and kings.[52]

Philosophical outlook

Rumi was an evolutionary thinker in the sense that he believed that the spirit after devolution from the divine Ego undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer and nearer to the same divine Ego.[53] All matter in the universe obeys this law and this movement is due to an inbuilt urge (which Rumi calls "love") to evolve and seek enjoinment with the divinity from which it has emerged. Evolution into a human being from an animal is only one stage in this process. The doctrine of the Fall of Adam is reinterpreted as the devolution of the Ego from the universal ground of divinity and is a universal, cosmic phenomenon.[54] The French philosopher Henri Bergson's idea of life being creative and evolutionary is similar, though unlike Bergson, Rumi believes that there is a specific goal to the process: the attainment of God. For Rumi, God is the ground as well as the goal of all existence.

However Rumi need not be considered a biological evolutionary creationist. In view of the fact that Rumi lived hundreds of years before Darwin, and was least interested in scientific theories, it is probable to conclude that he does not deal with biological evolution at all. Rather he is concerned with the spiritual evolution of a human being: Man not conscious of God is akin to an animal and true consciousness makes him divine. Nicholson has seen this as a Neo-Platonic doctrine: the universal soul working through the various spheres of being, a doctrine introduced into Islam by Muslim philosophers like Al Farabi and being related at the same time to Ibn Sina's idea of love as the magnetically working power by which life is driven into an upward trend.[55]

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless'd; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones,
To Him we shall return.

از جمادی مُردم و نامی شدم — وز نما مُردم به حیوان سرزدم

مُردم از حیوانی و آدم شدم — پس چه ترسم؟ کی ز مردن کم شدم؟

حملهٔ دیگر بمیرم از بشر — تا برآرم از ملائک بال و پر

وز ملک هم بایدم جستن ز جو — کل شیء هالک الا وجهه

بار دیگر از ملک پران شوم — آنچه اندر وهم ناید آن شوم

پس عدم گردم عدم چو ارغنون — گویدم کانا الیه راجعون


It is often said that the teachings of Rumi are ecumenical in nature.[56] For Rumi, religion was mostly a personal experience and not limited to logical arguments or perceptions of the senses.[57] Creative love, or the urge to rejoin the spirit to divinity, was the goal towards which every thing moves.[57] The dignity of life, in particular human life (which is conscious of its divine origin and goal), was important.[57]

ملت عشق از همه دین‌ها جداست — عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست

The nation of Love has a different religion of all religions — For lovers, God alone is their religion


However, despite the aforementioned ecumenical attitude, and contrary to his contemporary portrayal in the West as a proponent of non-denominational spirituality, a number of Rumi poems suggest the importance of outward religious observance, the primacy of the Qur'an.[58]

Flee to God's Qur'an, take refuge in it
there with the spirits of the prophets merge.
The Book conveys the prophets' circumstances
those fish of the pure sea of Majesty.[59]

Seyyed Hossein Nasr states:

One of the greatest living authorities on Rûmî in Persia today, Hâdî Hâ'irî, has shown in an unpublished work that some 6,000 verses of the Dîwân and the Mathnawî are practically direct translations of Qur'ânic verses into Persian poetry.[60]

Rumi states in his Dīwān:

The Sufi is hanging on to Muhammad, like Abu Bakr.[61]

His Masnavi contains anecdotes and stories derived largely from the Quran and the hadith, as well as everyday tales.

On the first page of the Masnavi, Rumi states:

"Hadha kitâbu 'l- mathnawîy wa huwa uSûlu uSûli uSûli 'd-dîn wa kashshâfu 'l-qur'ân."

This is the book of the Masnavi, and it is the roots of the roots of the roots of the (Islamic) Religion and it is the Explainer of the Qur'ân.[this quote needs a citation]

The famous (15th century) Sufi poet Jâmî, said of the Masnavi,[62]

"Hast qur'ân dar zabân-é pahlawî"

It is the Qur'ân in the Persian tongue.


Rumi's poetry forms the basis of much classical Iranian and Afghan music (Eastern-Persian, Tajik-Hazara music).[citation needed] Contemporary classical interpretations of his poetry are made by Muhammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, Davood Azad (the three from Iran) and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti (Afghanistan). To many modern Westerners, his teachings are one of the best introductions to the philosophy and practice of Sufism. In the West Shahram Shiva has been teaching, performing and sharing the translations of the poetry of Rumi for nearly twenty years and has been instrumental in spreading Rumi's legacy in the English-speaking parts of the world. Pakistan's National Poet, Muhammad Iqbal, was also inspired by Rumi's works and considered him to be his spiritual leader, addressing him as "Pir Rumi" in his poems (the honorific Pir literally means "old man", but in the Sufi/mystic context it means founder, master, or guide).[63]

Shahram Shiva asserts that "Rumi is able to verbalize the highly personal and often confusing world of personal growth and development in a very clear and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, and he includes everyone.... Today Rumi's poems can be heard in churches, synagogues, Zen monasteries, as well as in the downtown New York art/performance/music scene."

According to Professor Majid M. Naini,[64] "Rumi's life and transformation provide true testimony and proof that people of all religions and backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true global peace and harmony.”

Rumi's work has been translated into many of the world's languages, including Russian, German, Urdu, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, French, Italian, and Spanish, and is being presented in a growing number of formats, including concerts, workshops, readings, dance performances, and other artistic creations.[65] The English interpretations of Rumi's poetry by Coleman Barks have sold more than half a million copies worldwide,[66] and Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the United States.[67] Shahram Shiva book "Rending the Veil: Literal and Poetic Translations of Rumi" (1995, HOHM Press) is the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award.

Recordings of Rumi poems have made it to the USA's Billboard's Top 20 list. A selection of American author Deepak Chopra's editing of the translations by Fereydoun Kia of Rumi's love poems has been performed by Hollywood personalities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Philip Glass and Demi Moore.

There is a famous landmark in Northern India, known as Rumi Gate, situated in Lucknow (the capital of Uttar Pradesh) named for Rumi.

Rumi and his mausoleum were depicted on the reverse of the 5000 Turkish lira banknotes of 1981–1994.