Maulana Jalal-ud-Din Rumi needs no introduction. I remember two stimuli that instilled my interest in Rumi.
One was a small sample of a translation of his work that I read in the Dawn newspaper many many years ago. I noted some instances down in my diary. The date on my diary is of 23rd August, 1999.
Come to my side
I will open
the gate to your love.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you
but sometimes I do, and that
sight becomes this art.
I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I’ve been knocking from the inside!
The second stimulus was a Persian line by dear Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal, that I came across in a commemorative edition for the later by the monthly periodical on Urdu Literature Mah-e-Nau. It msut have been a few more years after the above encounter with Rumi:
پیر رومی خاک را اکسیر کرد
Nobody needed to tell me the translation. The line meant: Master Rumi truned soil into ointment. The beauty of the original just cannot be translated and so I developed a longing to read more on and by Rumi. I mentioned this desire in a discussion with a good friend. He was kind enough to gift me this precious book: Life & Work of Muhammad Jalal-ud-Din Rumi by Afzal Iqbal (I have a different edition of the book from a different publisher, than as in the link). In addition to detailing Rumi’s biography, the book also charts the development of his thought and art, citing beautiful examples from Rumi’s ghazals and mashnavi with original Persian and authentic translations by experienced scholars such as Nicholson and Arberry.
And so I was initiated into the school of Rumi, though I never could become a real student, merely an occasionally indulgent delittante. Maulana Rumi was not an ordinary Islamic scholar nor an ordinary Sufi. Rather his emotional spirituality was solidly grounded on his training in Islamic sciences, hence his high status in the realms of both Islamic history and Muslim literature.
His mystical perceptions reflect their brilliance on the same mysteries I often grapple with in my blog posts. What is true reality, how can we reach it within the confines of this world, etc etc… From the birth of this blog, I have longed to share his gems with my readers. However, I’m not the copy-paste type of blogger merely posting what I like from other writings. On the other hand, interpreting Rumi’s poetry like a literary scholar is simply beyond me. Now, however, I have written enough on my blog that I don’t need to create a whole article out of one verse on Rumi. Rather, I have decided to occasionally share those excerpts from his translations ( I will add the orginial Persian where I could), which speak far more eloquently and revelatorily on the same themes I have been developing in many of my posts and with which my readers are now familiar.