Why is Rumi so important?
The world knows him from his timeless quotes. Millions have read books of his enraptured poems, his books have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Beyonce and Jay Z named their child after him.
Who is Rumi? Why is he that important and famous?
What makes him one of the greatest and most popular poets in the world ?
Rumi, was one of the greatest Muslim saints and mystics scholar and a mystic of Islam. A Sunni Muslim, his doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, goodness, purity, positive action and reasoning, charity and awareness through love. Looking with the same eye on people from all religions; Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to people of all sects and creeds.
Rumi was born September 30, 1207 at Balkh, in the region of Khorasan part of the current territory of Afghanistan.
Rumi’s father was Bahaeddin Veled son of Huseyin Hatibi a notable Islamic scholar of the city of Balkh, having obtained the title “Sultan of the Scholars” in his lifetime. Her mother Mumine Hatun was the daughter of Rukneddin, governor of Balkh.
“Sultanu’l- Ulema” Bahaeddin Veled had to leave Balkh because of the Mongol invasion in 1212 with his family and close friends.
Moving to Turkey
First he moved to Baghdad, and then travelled to Mecca for Hajj. After performing the pilgrimage, he moved to Karaman (known as Larende) in Turkey travelling through Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan, Sivas, Kayseri and Nigde. He settled in the Medrese Campus built by the governor Emir Musa Karaman.
3 years after his family setting down in Karaman, Rumi married in 1225, with Gevher Hatun, daughter of Lala Serefeddin in Karaman. He had two sons named Sultan Veled and Alaeddin Celebi, from that marriage. After the death of his first wife, Rumi married a widower Kerra Hatun. From this marriage, he had his sons Muzaffereddin and Emir Alim Celebi and a daughter named Melike Hatun.
At that time a large part of Anatolia was under the sovereignty of the Seljuk Turks. Konya was the capital city of the Seljuk Turks. The city became the centre of science and arts, frequented by prominent scientists and artists. The Seljuk State lived its golden age during the reign of Alaeddin Keykubad who invited Rumi’s father Sultanu’l- Ulema Bahaeddin to settle in Konya.
Bahaeddin Veled accepted the invitation of the Sultan and arrived in Konya on May 3, 1228, with his family and friends. The Sultan hosted him at the guesthouse of Altunapa Campus.
Bahaeddin Veled died on January 12, 1231 in Konya. He was buried in the garden of roses belonging to the Seljuk State Palace.
After the death of Bahaeddin Veled, his students and followers gathered around Rumi, regarding him as the sole heir of his father. Indeed, by that time Rumi had become a great scholar in science and in religion. He had a large following at the Altunapa Campus.
Rumi taught that the master of the Way was to serve as a medium between God and humanity. His interpretation of Islam helped shape the Turkish interpretation of Islam as well as helping reconciliation of Anatolian Christians to Islam.
Rumi summarizing his life by one sentence, “I believe I have matured,” died on December 17 1273.
For Rumi, death was a celebration as it was the day of resurrection. He would come to God, the day of death. Therefore Rumi used the expression “Seb-i Arus” meaning the wedding day, with reference to the day of his death. He advised his friends not to cry after his death. He said:
Summarizing his life by one sentence “I believe I have matured”, Rumi died on 17 December 1273 in Konya. His epitaph reads:
“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men“
Rumi’s tomb with its mosque, semah(sufi 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.
Rumi is often described as “the best-selling poet in America,” and his works has been translated into many of the world’s languages, including English, Russian, German, Urdu, Arabic, Bengali, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portguese and Spanish, and is being presented in a growing number of formats, including concerts, workshops, readings, dance performances, and other artistic creations. He has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom.
The English interpretations of Rumi’s poetry by Coleman Barks have sold more than half a million copies worldwide, and according to Time Magazine, Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the United States.
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 Rumi’s love poems have been performed by Hollywood personalities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Philip Glass and Demi Moore.
In 1958, Pope John XXIII wrote a special message saying: “In the name of the Catholic World, I bow with respect before the memory of Rumi.”
The United Nations declared 2007 The Year of Rumi and celebrations were held worldwide.
Why is Rumi so important in Turkish culture?
Rumi’s family had escaped to Turkey from the destruction of his homeland of Central Asia by Genghis Khan and the Mongols. At the time, Turkey was a melting pot for Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Romans, Jews and other nationalities. His poetic and spiritual wisdom during that time of political turmoil helped shape the Turkish interpretation of Islam.
There were Christian priests chanting the Gospel and Jewish rabbis reciting Psalm, besides the traditional chanting from the Quran at Rumi’s funeral in Konya, Turkey, in 1273.
Famous Rumi quotes
Let silence take you to the core of life.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.
Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.
Yesterday I was smart, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?
Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.
I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.
It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
This article originally appeared on EverythingTurkish