Persia’s Mystic: Review with Rumi


Gustav Richter (1906-39)1



In this lecture, Richter refers to Goethe’s Westoestlicher Diwan in trying to decipher the personality of Rumi. In classical Orientalist language, Richter traces the social and historical forces which would have influenced Rumi’s life and work, his relationship with his father and with Shams-i-Tabriz. Finally, Richter attempts to find a method by which means the full significance of Rumi’s contribution to Persian literature can be assessed.

Who is brave enough in his lifetime to search for rare and less well-known subjects, might be following the hint of a strong personality (whom he unconsciously wishes to meet in a far off region of his mind) or the attitude of his more beautiful self (that wishes to create the pure and free expression of itself with the unsaid and unseen). We intend to look at the Persian poet and mystic Djalal al-Din Rumi – his works and his character. How many questions and expectations could be linked to this name, which is not known to everyone in Occident? I guess they will be of a more general as well as of a more special nature and thus urge us into a lively discussion. They also fill us with pleasure, since they attracted us whenever we were dealing with the Master of our Nation. So we can read the following about our subject in Goethe’s West-oestlicher Diwan.2

The treatment of a character so full of life asks for real effort, but Goethe gave us more than a superficial reason to attempt it. With Goethe, those almost invisible and unheard of characters can come up to us and we will joyfully welcome them. The gardens of the Orient will take us in, while not to estrange us from our own country.

In Goethe’s Divan all groups of the oriental history are colorfully mixed up – as if in preparation for a game about to start. It is indeed the whole Orient, which is opening up in front of our eyes. And then again in the multitude of all its forms and relations, which invite for a special evaluation. In the multitude the will for the whole! History and art as one. Could this history have been written without poetry? We will answer this question with an analogy, which we will find in the life and work of this Persian singer whose name precedes this lecture.

If we try to put all the historical dates of the life of Djalal al-Din Rumi into an appropriate context, we will find that his life was in many ways quite typical for the development of an oriental genius. At the hand of his father Muhammad Ibn Husain al-Hatibi with the honorific title Baha al-Din Walad, he crossed the Middle East at an early age already. In the year 1212 AD he had to leave his hometown Balkh (in Afghanistan) being no more than five years old. Reliable sources tell us that Baha Al-Din’s popularity caused the ruling Lord Charizmshah to be jealous of him. The close relationship with the Sultan or maybe courtly intrigues besides the interest of the people might have made his situation difficult enough. They went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, never to return. Via Nishapur, they firstly came to Bagdad, which at that time had not ceased to be the biggest town of the Islamic world.

Some decades before, the building activities of the Abbasids had enriched the town with many monuments and treasures, that can still be seen today. The political influence of the ruling dynasty was not as strong anymore. That it had survived at all was due to the fact that the different ethnic, social and religious contradictions had not surpassed the natural limits of a common cultural will. This will had grown since the 8th century, the beginning of the Abbasid rule (when the Arabic world-Reich- became Islamic) to an extent that it was in need of an authoritarian representation on the outside. The natural mid-position in Mesopotamia had called for this piece of earth and with it this town to become the intersection of far-reaching oriental forces of life, which could lead to valuable mixtures and considerable spiritual wealth. Although they might also just disperse like rays from a center, so that clever statesman-like authority would be needed to keep them from disintegrating. The more this protection became weakened, the more the spiritual productivity of this metropolis declined and the number of radical voices grew.

The Shi’a, originally a religious-political opposition from the times of the first caliphs, were increasingly pushed out of political life into the religious sphere. Instead, secret societies, fed especially by Persian blood, grew stronger, enriched by some extra in-put as it was known since the time of the pre-Islamic Gnosis. At the famous Nizamija in Bagdad (university founded at the mid 11th century) orthodox Islam was being taught, although, as in other places no longer as Mohammed’s true teachings. The young Djalal al-Din could probably only gain some superficial impression once he arrived in the town. His religious impulse, formed by his intelligent and pious father, was strengthened most once he came to Mecca. Baha al-Din now took the road to Malatia, where he stayed for four years and moved then further to Larindah. Here he spent seven years, devoted to the education of his son. Then both of them were invited by the Seljuq Prince of Rum, Allah al-Din Kaikubad, to his residence at Konia, the old Iconium in Asia Minor. Here Baha al-Din died in 1231 AD, a recognized and famous man. With the exception of a short stay in Aleppo and Damascus, Djalal al-Din remained in Konia until his death in 1273 AD. Never did this town reach the same level of spiritual importance again.

Art and science were flourishing under the protection of the Seljuq Sultans. These Sultans themselves – in a strange game of past and present – lived by a large and consciously preserved Iranian legacy, which was neither based on their blood nor the soil of their realm. Their princely names they borrowed from the old Persian legends of the heroes. Their court-life and building program followed Eastern patterns. The means offered by nature were rich and beautiful. Medieval travelers mention the healthy climate of the town, its wealth in water, the rich vegetation. On these healthy grounds arose the clear forms of the towers and walls enriched by decorations of narrow-winding Qur’anic verses, pillars with cupolas, minarets and arches of mosques and madrasas. The colors were shining through the unique fayence and tile mosaics. Whatever was spared by the storms of the following centuries modern ignorance has pulled down little by little. Only great ruins point us to the past.

We called Rumi’s life to a certain degree typical. This is appropriate if we look at courtly approval and disapproval as decisive influences on the form of spiritual education. The echo of social dependence resounds deeply in the soul of the Oriental. This overwhelming power could cause spiritual powers to penetrate into the whole of the Orient. At the same time it almost found its opposite in the thirst of knowledge of untamable glowing souls who lived absorbed in themselves, mysteriously carefree about the sorrows of the coming day. They were able to keep a secret second account of the household of their individual soul’s life. Like the distinction between today and tomorrow, the handling of here and there was understood. The restless never-ending wandering, an insistent counter-reaction to the despotic gestures which caused the public to kneel down and rise again. Freedom that creates culture? In this case a split term.

Far in the East lies the homeland of Rumi, his youth brings him to the South of Arabia and in the North-West of the Asian continent, he – who had seen Persia only as a child -composes the most beautiful songs of the Persian tongue. But let us also remember the lively encouragements that destiny granted him since his early days. Besides the attentive leadership of the father, history tells us also about the philosopher Burhan al-Din Tirmidi as the first teacher of Rumi. The personal relationship with the wise master always reaches for the hidden treasures of a pure oriental soul. Quickly the flames are flaming in the hands of the discoverer, one does not quite know how, the wonderful glow of revelation that dazzles the eyes and consumes flesh and blood. With joy and eagerness his pupil began the study of sciences which in its extent conformed with the various needs of the time. After the death of the teacher, the caring hand of the father was more needed than ever. And once again destiny granted him the chance to look up to a master and friend who was to determine the last and most important change in Rumi’s spiritual life. It was the mystic Shams-i-Tabrizi, under whose name Rumi was later to write his works.3 This periodical rise up to the highest experience of Islamic-oriental spirituality under the employment of greatest tension of unrest and pleasure, self-being and ethereal surrender to the great role-model in such a fundamental way cannot be called anything other than typical.

Once again we look at Rumi’s life. Face to face with the tensions of the small circle destiny provided greatest disturbances in a far-reaching historical context. His hometown, Balkh, lay in the midst of great political contradictions. The lasting change of dynasties, the persistent and uncompromising pressure of the Eastern peoples, the mainly unequal interplay of the most different streams of life, never allowed the Iranian lands to calm down again after the break-down of the Sassanian empire. After the victorious approach of the Islamic Arabs, the promising cultural and political bodies of East Asia were to be tied to a center that was lying out-side their own territory. The shimmering cloth of the Islamic empire was first woven from Syria and later from Mesopotamia. But before the last knot had been affixed, the whole structure was torn apart already by the weight of all the single movements which were nourished from the outside as well as the inside. Whether good or bad, love of life has torn this shroud hastily enough. The East had its share in it – and how it had been working against it! But the whole event remains tragic for us. The East was neither unified inside itself nor happy in its opposition. A half-national renaissance, building on the lost Persia, became linked up with semi-important political courts.

In all the confusion of this confrontation Ghazna wins special recognition sometime in the 11th century under the leadership of its wise and happy Amir Mahmood. Those days were also happy for Balkh. Quickly the power of the Ghaznavids declined after Mahmood’s death and Balkh became the bone of contention of new dynasties. At the beginning of the 13th century it seemed the town was yet again flourishing under the Protectorate of the victorious Charizmshahe. At the same time Rumi was born, a symbol of hope. But doesn’t it seem that when the father and the son left the town its lucky star came down as well? Just ten years later the East was hit by the greatest catastrophe: the Mongols broke into the Persian residences and brought these lands a history whose sad effects are well-known to us. Most important is the impetus for all this. The deep-seated opposition of West and East within the Islamic Empire had reached its peak. Charizmshahe had the idea of confronting the Caliph in Bagdad with a Shi’a counter-Caliph. In this struggle for life of the Islamic idea, Bagdad thought of a device, that not even the devil could have surpassed: one had to stir up the Mongols against the enemy. With this the magic spell was spoken, the magic spell that gave the pressing and threatening powers of the Far East goal and force. The Mongols fulfilled their act of destruction thoroughly. After a few decades Hulagu was ruling in Bagdad.

Thus we can see at once the main forces of the Orient confronting each other. How dark this valley lies before us and we still hear of its worldly sorrows until today. Destiny has united them (the main forces) in a heroic rhythm. The concentrated human will and its utopia were faced by superhuman – driven movements of the life of the peoples. And into the middle of this, an astonishing symbol of this confrontation was planted. Our poet takes his way from the East. The unrest of the coming events leave him unharmed on the outside but effect his inner contemplation. From the down-fall of his exterior world he saves the noble treasures of the oriental spirit into the dome of his inner visions. The deadly peace of the Islamic Mongols is being drowned by the relieving song of the living peace. And also the worldly expression is not forgotten. In the West-Islamic territory Rumi finds a peaceful and unharmed homeland. Its history likewise includes an East-Western wave in the 11th century when the Turkish tribes, the Seljuqs came. But this process was successfully exploited by the Islamic East-Asian powers. The wave can thus only be compared to the Mongol invasion in its contradiction to it. The Seljuq-dynasty in Konia was, at the time when Rumi came, an oasis of the Orient. In despite of dynastic quarrels, Konia remained all his lifetime in the same position. The confrontations with the Mongols had probably also here effects. But they only gave proof to the high degree (in comparison to the neighbors) of political and social reason, which was to give this country power and dignity.

Great and thoughtful seem these historical contradictions. They express themselves in a monument that only takes part in the history as a symbol. Yet, it was much more than a symbol. The true faces of history are probably quite different from those which appear as a result of logical reconstructions. The true history is past processes. They are even more historical the quieter they came and employed their own laws. They have to pass quickly so as to give the pressing forces of nature another martyr. Historical is that Alexander whom Hamlet was addressing. Hence history does not get into conflict with time. History is life passed, the apotheosis of eternal oblivion. That what cannot be seen anymore because it did not have a contract with the future. Everything contemporary and natural, the things of the day! Thus such a history cannot leave traces of time-surpassing peculiarities. Willingly and self-content, history obeys the manager of the higher order. But against its inner wills it always releases creators and witnesses, who are not content with silent admiration. They call for the supra-history. With vigor they escape the stream of life and force their moment into a form. Certainly life will step over them and beyond them but coming time will see the heroic ruins of this effort. Thus one should not speak of history but supra-history or meta-history. Since everything we know well, are the unhistorical efforts of the past, not to go on but to stay. The temple of Paestum and the Acropolis or the ruins of Ekbatana –aren’t they much more than history? The same holds true for this other Alexander, whose appearance has delighted so many hours of scientific work. Never-ending is the row of such unforgotten figures and things, which float, like the spirit over the waters, over the plains of history. Because of them history seems vivid, tangible to us.

This simple fact has far-reaching consequences, because we do not intend to express old terms in new expressions. We would not be interested in challenging the common notion of history as it has come down to us if it wasn’t for its insistence on materialistic interpretation. The deepest understanding for this issue came from the German Romantics. It has relived the trembling tensions of creation. The German Romantics answered the icy coldness of rationalism with a decisive turn to the natural side of the being of man. The laws of human life can only be derived from projections of processes i.e.: history- the vital, tangible, lasting, contradictory, fighting creation of humanity. When during the last century the effort to understand arts historically was being exerted, they were probably in need of a hint that would point them to such a supra-historical constellation of the scientific material. Instead its interpretation was exposed to mechanical derivations and extended to endless causalities of smaller and smallest facts. As if history could ever become contemporary. Whatever reaches from the past into our time, our reason can only be used to reflect upon itself and the immediate entirety of our life. The researcher connects his intellectual visions to a unity, which he has to justify with his consciousness and his social mission. He is only allowed to consider the small things as long as he can be certain of the higher and highest relations. Thus a carefully interpreted term for history could help the self-attitude of scientific work. And here we find again Goethe’s Divan in front of us, ready for everyone who wants to consider its method.

It does indeed sound a little ironic, that we need to go all the way to the Orient to make such impulses among us Germans effective again. But we can counter such arguments, because the new forms of unity the researcher is now able to produce with his hands, to see with his visionary eyes give new evidence of his productive pleasure in creation. Also the results are needed for the common requirements of education of our time. In this framework the knowledge and understanding gained by the studies of the Orient are more suitable to the interests of his surroundings than a mere materialistic approach. The understanding of processes and their categorization in the best-researched and highest relationships of reason are the basic laws of movement for a scientist of the arts. In addition to this hint of the sovereignty of the recognizing will, let us also answer with the word of national science. The laws of room and blood of a well-established cultural unit will thus (when this kind of scientific work has been reunited with the divine drive of the creator) be able to distinguish the spirit in the world of knowledge.

In regard to the destruction that is occurring, everything that will help to regain a national vision will be useful for human society. That is why it should be hoped that many German scientists might be given the West-Oestlicher Divan. Because it is not only an account of factual events but an independent historical-poetical vision, which like the sun in spring will melt the crust of ice on the historian’s winterish mistake. He will see the historical expressions of life brought into an historical unity, a unity that lives in his immediate present. He will see that the scientific judgment is true because it is also beautiful. In its present the Divan thus becomes the proof for the form of creation and knowledge, which characterizes all historical legacy. This legacy cannot come about without the categories of a personal and self-determined life. Most of this legacy, that we know, is in literary form – a composition created by the refined will of its creator. That is why all efforts to find the true and real facts lead only to relative results. The individual movements of the literary creation cannot be thought further. Every collector will admit to this. Whoever is aiming higher, will find in the science of literature an elastic tool for history. Since he is now looking into the faces of other figures. He is reading from their lips. And if he is wise he will not pull down the last veil that hampers him from seeing the final truth. He probably could not bear it. How carefully the one who wants to see has to take care of himself. With distance and respect he has to approach literature like a painting. If you look at a painting too closely you will only see meaningless strokes and dots. But we are only looking for our own purposes. With a poetic and reasonable mind Goethe has looked at the Orient. Thus the Divan can be interpreted in two ways for we Germans: firstly as an example of an epistemology, which will lead to exemplary freedom. Secondly as an immortal piece of art which answers the questions of life with poetry. The one who will take this book into the canon of his Oriental studies will certainly find the right attitude towards the literatures of the Orient. He will slowly realize the importance of the studies of literature for in the treasures of the Persian literature he will find a reflection of his own spirit.

Rumi has lead us on the way of his own life into the present of our own generation; this art he will quickly explain to us on the grounds of the literary traditions of Central Asia. Rumi’s heritage stands in an obvious connection with a certain literary heritage. It is firstly related to the two names of Sana’i and Ferid-al-Din Attar 4. The biographers like to quote Rumi saying, “Attar is spirit and Sana’i its two eyes. I followed Attar and Sana’i.” If you know Rumi’s poetry it is easy to believe this. Sana’i died in the middle of the 12th century 5 and is considered the first important mystic-didactic poet among the Persians. Attar continued along the same way. But the literary-historical relations are much deeper than that. Let us confine ourselves to some remarks about the Persian literary history.

The dependence of Rumi on those role-models is certain, especially for his epic-didactic literature about which we will talk in the following. It is different for his divan, which has to be considered separately from other works. Although it is obviously also connected to something else. People tended to organize Persian literature according to historical periods or leading personalities. A well-known work of that kind is the very clear and tasteful canon as we have seen it in Goethe’s Divan. But a profound discourse on Persian literature demands a different principle of order. The beginning of the neo-Persian literature, which has been written under the influence of Islam is not known to us in great detail. From the 9th and 10th centuries we know some pieces of a rather balanced character with highly developed forms of expression. The poets have already taken on the Arabic meter, thus disciplining the rhythmic and linguistic niceties of the Persian tongue. One tended to list these poets in the correct timeframe as followers of specific amirs, who supported the arts. History gives a list of names, which are connected to this courtly art. They allow us only to establish an outer characterization. They do not tell us much about their share in the inner development of Persian literature. But exactly this issue calls for investigation. The specific peculiarities of these monuments remain dubious. Their evaluation is hampered because the poets are floating around their own works in an intangible fog. Specific personalities can only be associated once a specific literary term is being mentioned. If it occurs now that the influence of the personality of the creator goes beyond his literary work and participates in different literary traits, this personality cannot provide the ground for a scientific order of the history of literature.

For the Persian history of literature such doubts are quite appropriate. Not only the early period shows this disproportion, but it is also reflected in mid and later periods if not to say in all Middle Eastern art of the word. New methods have to be sought for, which present the Persian literary monuments in all their intensity and changeability. We are dealing with a history of literary equivalents. A good idea of such ‘self-history’ is given by the Persians in the distinguished forms of their poetry. How these distinctions are to work in specific cases remains unclear, and could probably be established if we were to analyze the monuments. We know the Shahname by Firdausi, which (although it is one of the oldest monuments of neo-Persian poetry) leads us already to the peak of epic poetics. At the same time, lyric art shows also already the different kinds of abilities of the Persians, which in their relationship to each other and to later developments have not been studied sufficiently by the Occident. Also everything that has been termed romantic or didactic needs further investigation. If you look for example at the canon mentioned above, which can be found in Hammer’s Persian Literature 6 , you will find Firdausi 7 as the noblest representative of epos, Enweri of the qasid, Nizami of the romantic, Rumi of the mystic, Sadi of the ethic, Hafis of the lyric. But terms like epos, mystic and ethic are not on the same literary-scientific level. They can only be understood separately in different subjects. Von Hammer had used this method to give a first great overview over Persian literature. His geniality lies in the fact that he thought of different types of human spirits to describe this history. Through his loose usage of terms he actually provided the starting points for an analytical work. And we are not talking yet about all those shimmering treasures that he revealed and Goethe thankfully employed. In this loose usage of terms first hints are hidden, which help a critical orientation. They have been hidden so far and only now through new discoveries they become visible again. Such a hint is, for example, the categorization of Rumi as the greatest mystic. Now the question arises whether the term mystic can actually be used in the literary field.

The history of the Orient confirms that Rumi was a member of the mystic movement (as a religious-historical term). When Rumi, after the death of his father, came to stay in Damascus for a while, he got to know Ibn al-Arabi (d.1249) and his pupils, some of whom were to become famous afterwards, too. He also met with Shams al-Tabrizi there first. If we take the dates, to consider Rumi a mystic, we should likewise be allowed to expect his participation in the laws of the inner movement. The system of Ibn al-Arabi can be called the universalism of Oriental mysticism. Inside this system all extreme attempts of the spirit have been connected, which the speculative and contemplative desire for salvation of the Muslims created and developed in previous times 8 . The prehistory of this system leads into a wide garden with many strange and colorful blossoms.

The exceptional tendency of the East Asian people to overstress personal religiousness, which slowly loses the relationship with anything surrounding it, has produced its own ecstatic language. This language became as public as the language which was used by the Gnostic, and pseudo-Islamic speculation. The writers copied these forms of expression into their texts and popularized the mystic quickly. Thus they met with the literary tendencies of religious literature of edification, which without the extreme forms had already reached a certain degree of literalisation of religious ideas. This deep does the mystic penetrate into the Islamic Eastern Asian spirit, likewise into the history of its literary form of expression. The play of colors of fantastic terminology, reflected by the ancient Gnostic ideas, had found a strange new form of continuation. Certain expressions of terminology became re-interpreted as stylistic expressions in the Neo-Persian lyric. Examples will not be given at this point. But modern research confirms what has been said here. The more general often intricate methods of the history of religion, of linguistic and literary comparisons as well as the cultural history of the Middle East have led to a unified demand for an interpretation of the mystic history in view of its own literature. It is obvious that we cannot understand any historical phenomena without having knowledge of the primary literature. But here it becomes also clear that it is only with the help of literary analyses that we will truly understand the Islamic-mystic form of life. Other approaches will not help us at all actually. They have only brought us so far as to the point where we recognize that a remarkable spiritual ability of the Orient depends innately on its cultural form of expression.

If we thus use the term of mystical-Persian literature, we mean a religious literary genre, which can be distinguished from other genres. Changeability and the ability of creating tension of this literature depend to a high degree on the form. A mystical ghazel is probably different from mystical-epic poetry, but how? If we say that the religious content is dependent upon on literary principles of form, we have to ask to what extend we can actually speak of the mystical as a separate literary style. Maybe the forms are already revealed in the non-mystical genres of literary movements, which are based on an immediate spiritual background which forces the religious will of creation to something related -but out-side the religious sphere. Hafis would be a good example for this. Since the evidence for all of this is only of fragmentary nature we cannot take this assumption for certain. It is thus a task to analyze and judge the Persian works historically in their own style.

The term style is here to be understood in a wider sense: as the form of the monument, which allows for the definition of its being and character. Knowledge about the personality of the poets, which came from non-literary sources, would not hamper such task. No, it would be easier to explain the intricacy of the personality of the Orient, the parallelism of the literary ways of expression in which we find one and the same person- in these over-strong and over-personal literary laws of formation. Also it would be possible to recognize the special share of each poet in each case and thus draw more specific conclusions about his personality. Thus we should have a certain literary term in the end which would allow us to have a specific idea about the personality of Rumi on one hand and about Rumi’s works based on an analyses of style and contents, which would allow for comparisons with other works on the other hand. Thus Rumi’s share in the development of Persian literature would become evident on the basis of a productive and correct judgment.

Research of this kind is promising, because it takes the historical context into account as well. The relationship between literature and history can even be better explained if we look at the mission of mystic literature in its surrounding world. Rumi’s mystical ghazels were meant to be for the personal meditation of the people of the order. They had an indirect liturgical meaning for a close, religious society. From early on, mystical concentration is related in Islam to a life in an order. Rumi founded a special order in Konia, the Mewlewis, which existed until the year 1925 and vanished with the oncoming of the new Turkish era 9. An impressive tradition came thus to an end: it had been the custom that the abbot was a descendent of Rumi. In this visible living on of the master, the younger generation could be inspired again and again. They experienced their mission especially in this dancing form of meditation that we find so incredible and mysterious. Usually they were accompanied by a characteristic and melancholic music of the flute. Naturally, Rumi’s works were considered holy literature. Thus his following served, above all, the purpose of poetry. This phenomenon has to be kept in mind for stylistic analyses, i.e., the relation of need, which the mystical art of the word has with society – the direct or indirect consideration of the audience, that the poet is addressing and to whom he speaks in special tones or voices to further his goals. This sociological task of the research of style has already been employed for the poetry of the Occident. It promises in this case to lead to important and singular results, too. The literary-religious meditation is pressing towards the society and cannot be understood by historical analyses without considering the social background. We remember the almost mysterious importance, which the image of the friend and the master as such, has reached in neo-Persian literature. This thought of style is closely and necessarily related to a well-established social tradition. It also helped Rumi to find his words.

The friendship between him and Shams-i-Tabrizi was of the deepest kind. Tabrizi came to Konia in the year 1244/5, when our poet was already enjoying his name as an important theologian. The mystical preaching of Tabrizi gave Rumi’s life a new meaning and content. Tabrizi became his teacher. History tells us many stories about this friendship. But also without these legends, the mystical esoteric in Rumi’s poetry gives a clear idea about the close relationship of their souls. It doesn’t matter that we do not know much about Tabrizi as a historical figure. The mystical inspiration of the pupil by the master is indeed a consistent vademecum of every teaching relationship in the history of the Islamic mystic. As teacher of Tabrizi we often hear about Rukn al-din Sindshasi. He was the one to send his student to Rumi. Even if this does not hold true, it gives some idea about tradition in mystical context. Mystics continue this chain even back to Muhammad and Ali. The end of Shams-al-Din is as surprising as his coming. In the masses of the street he suddenly disappeared with the oldest son of Rumi. Whether he was killed by an angry crowd, possibly for his offensive arrogance 10, or whether it was just an accident, no-one knows. For what is important in terms of sociological analyses is this: these two figures, Rumi and Tabrizi, demonstrate the common goals of their relationship in an artistic expression, to further an intimate social purpose. This becomes even more effective once one person involves another person in this process, thus they eliminate their personal value of being for a more general appearance that can be typified.

But with these general hints we don’t want to talk about the results already. The aim was to put the different subjects involved while dealing with Rumi into proper perspective.


1- This is a translation of Gustav Richter, Persiens Mystiker Dschelál-eddin Rumi: Eine Stildeutung in drel Vortraegen, Breslau: Frankes Verlag uind Druckerei, Otto Borgmeyer 1933, chapter 1. His German translations have been replaced by English equivalents. All the footnotes are the work of the editor as the original has no references.

2- See Shaykh Abdal-Qadir al-Murabit’s Fatwa on Goethe, which brings to light certain proofs of Goethe’s acceptance of Islam. (Diwan Press, London: 2001)

3- The taking of Shams-i-Tabriz’s name came from Rumi’s intense, spiritual love for this mystic, to the extent that he perceived no division between them. See also Reynold A. Nicholson, Selected Poems from the “Divan-i Shams-i Tabriz” (1898; reprinted., Cambridge, 1961)

4- Rumi’s contemporaries, Ibnu’l-Farīd (d. 1235) and ‘Attār (d.1229) wrotes moving verses about emotion, wonder, love and the ‘sheer incomprehension attendant upon the mystical experience’ (Fakhry, Majid. A History of Islamic Philosophy, 2nd ed., Columbia University Press, New York: 1983, p.255)

5- Abū’l-Majd Majdūd Sanā’i (d. 1131) attacked rationalistic philosophy as a way of coming to know Allah. See Annemarie Schimmel’s Mystical Dimensions of Islam, (The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill: 1975) pps 18-19

6- Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. Geschichte der schönen Redekünste Persiens. (Vienna: 1818)

7- Qusta ibn Lūqā al-Firdaus (d. 900) “excelled in philosophy, geometry, and astronomy… The list of his philosophical writings includes The Sayings of the Philosophers, The Difference between Soul and Spirit and A Treatise on the Atom” (Fakhry, Majid. A History of Islamic Philosophy, 2nd ed., Columbia University Press, New York: 1983, p.15)

8- See Affīfī, ‘Abū’l-‘Alā’. The Mystical Philosophy of Muhyid’Din Ibnu’l-‘Arabi (Cambridge: 1938)

9-“The activities of the Mevlevi dervishes in Turkey, along with those of other orders, were banned by Atatürk in 1925.” (Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam, p.185)

10- “The sources describe Shams as an overpowering person of strange behaviour who shocked people by his remarks and his harsh words.” (Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam, p.313)


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