/ Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī /
Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His father was Bahā ud-Dīn Walad, a theologian, jurist and a mystic from Balkh, who was also known by the followers of Rumi as Sultan al-Ulama or “Sultan of the Scholars.” The general theme of Rumi’s thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poets of Persian literature, is that of tawhid — union with the Beloved, from whom he sees himself as being cut off and aloof. His longing and desire to attain it is evident in the following poem from his book the Masnavi.
The Masnavi weaves fables, scenes from everyday life, Qur’anic revelations and exegesis, and metaphysics into a vast and intricate tapestry. In the East, it is said of him that he was “not a prophet — but surely, he has brought a scripture.” 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 organised. 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.
Who Says Words With My Mouth?
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed
to be doing? I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent,
sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes?
What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord,
and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here
will have to take me home.
This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it. When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.