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  • Mir

    This is one of the nicest articles in the past several months on Rumi. There is no denying that to understand Rumi, he has to be understood in the context of the Islamic traditions. People such as Shahram Shiva are doing business and have taken Rumi out of context to a large extent.

  • ben

    A distorted article. Rumi was essentially an Islamophobe and anti-religious, who tried again and again to reform a violent Islam that existed around him. He was brought up in non-Islamic regions and countries that eventually were forced to bend to Islam.

    He actually denied the religion of Islam as well as other religions. All his references and poetry points to practices and recommendations that are completely forbidden in Islam, which is probably why Sufi’s are persecuted and banned to this day through the Muslim world.
    Besides, the ‘Sufi’ stamp was added on Rumi after his death by his followers.

    “Without demolishing religious schools (madrassahs) and minarets and without abandoning the beliefs and ideas of the medieval age, restriction in thoughts and pains in conscience will not end. Without understanding that unbelief is a kind of religion, and that conservative religious belief a kind of disbelief, and without showing tolerance to opposite ideas, one cannot succeed. Those who look for the truth will accomplish the mission.” — rumi

  • hi “Ben” (obviously not your real name, using a spam email account).
    Sorry to say this, but your response is so off the mark it is laughable. Rumi, an Islamophobe? That would be funny if it weren’t so misguided. It’s like calling St. Augustine anti-Christian. Calling Maimonides anti-Jewish. Rumi was a scholar of the Qur’an, and taught Islamic law during the days in the madrasa. He came from a long line of scholars and Sufis. And his writings have over 2000 references to the Qur’an. The “non-Islamic regions” you refer to? His family is from Khorasan, which was the cornerstone of Sunni Islam in that age.
    Your quote about “without demolishing religious schools” is likewise complete bullshit, having no basis in any scholarly research or anything Rumi himself actually said. If you want the real Rumi, get your facts straight.

  • jp

    One…. All religions teach the same thing if you deeply study them… The Mirror of the heart… and the flowers of the spirit… about renouncing will and ego… and uniting two forces, and liberating the heart….. If you do not understand this… then it doesn’t matter if you read the Qur’an, The Bible, New Testament, Tao Te Ching, Vedas/Upanishads, Or Buddhist Sutras. If you do understand these things… Then the Memes are more profound for the one who understands than you would think.

  • mmuribi

    Guys, This is nothing more than a commercial for a business enterprise -join the trip to turkey, for a price!

  • Azad

    Thank you Ben. Mawlana knew how to play his politics too. He wrote many many poems to write against religion. His journey was all about the inner one, his idea was not to have an idea.

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  • ay

    Bigotry has no limits! These guys apparently know about Islamic traditions and Muslims so much that they think that they can seriously challenge a humanist and a world-class scholar who reads Rumi in his native language, publishes known articles on him, and perpetuates the message of unconditioned love. Rumi has been one of the most venerated Islamic figures throughout the history. I am happy to see that so many narrow-minded bigots are readings the articles of Omid Safi. I am not sure whether they are able to learn something, or brave enough to challenge their representations, but it gives me hope that they are somehow reading the articles of the contemporary Rumi. It shows that there is light for anyone who is ready to open themselves to others, Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. Dear Omid, never give up your struggle for love!

  • Ben

    What “love” does Omid possess? He has no acceptance or open mindedness at all. I just have to state the truth and he immediately start accusing my name for being false, my email for being spam. It shows how poor his reasoning is. He contradicts the very core of Rumi’s own statements – one which I have even quoted for him.

    Rumi denied religions. He denied Islam, he denied the extreme narrow mindedness and folly of religion that people like Omid and his dimminded followers mindless ape after. For this he was ‘scorned’ and laughed at and had many enemies (his own words). The sufi movement continues to be scorned and persecuted by the very family lineage of your so called prophet.

    Someone like Omid would not recognize a Rumi even if it stood right in front of him.

    And no Omid, my name is neither fake nor do I use a spam email.

  • Ben

    Read what happened historically around Rumi and the areas he lived in and moved to. The strong Islamic influence only came much later, after his death. And the name “Rumi” means “from Rome”. From the Byzantine influenced areas dominated by the Romans where the strongest influences was completely non-Islamic.

  • Farah

    Good article, it’s true that people often appropriate Rumi’s sayings to justify whatever they are doing. The fact that so many people think Rumi and many other Muslim mystic poets are about erotic love and physical pleasures (ex.drinking) show how little they understand about him and about Sufism/Islam in general. However I don’t think that people who love Rumi even if they don’t really get it are wrong to propagate his poetry on FB, as his poetry speaks to their heart and that of many others in a way that maybe even the mind can’t understand. He was a holy man. Rumi’s poetry is universal and that’s the beauty of it. A lot of people (some of my friends, at least) came to Islam through reading Rumi. I do find it annoying when Rumi is misquoted in a cheesy new age way but I’d a million times rather read Rumi quotes on FB than some of the other stuff that’s on there!

  • Thank you friends for the kind words.

    “Ben”, whoever you are, and whatever email account you are using, I just love it when a person’s bluster doesn’t match their mastery of facts. So here are the facts:
    “Rumi” was never called Rumi in his life.
    Your attempts to link him to Rum and all that are work of centuries down the road. In his life time he was called by his name: Mawlana Muhammad Jalal al-Din Balkhi: Our teacher, Muhammad the Glory of Faith, from Balkh. His followers called him Hazrat Khodavandegar: “His Holiness, the lord” [small l].
    How many poems do you want me to quote about his relations with Islam?
    Oh, here is one:
    I am the servant of the Qur’an as long as I have life.
    I am the dust on the path of Muhammad, the Chosen one.
    If anyone quotes anything except this from my sayings,
    I am quit of him and outraged by these words.

    man banda-yé qur’ân-am, agar jân dâr-am
    man khâk-é rah-é muHammad-e mukhtâr-am
    gar naql kon-ad joz în, kas az goftâr-am
    bêzâr-am az-ô, w-az-în sokhan bêzâr-am]

    [–Rumi’s Quatrain No. 1173, translated by Ibrahim Gamard and
    Ravan Farhadi in “The Quatrains of Rumi,” an unpublished

    How to say this nicely? Dude, you’re out of your league.
    Love to all, omid

  • ay

    The Sufi order established in the name of Rumi became one of the most (if not the most!) popular institutions in Anatolia, Iran, Balkans, Near East and Central Asia. It had hundreds of lodges, and sultans officially became disciples of this path. I am sorry that neither Rumi, nor Sufis, nor Islamic history fits into your representations. So please stop embarrassing yourself: read publications by known publishers on Rumi, and more importantly, try to use seekers of love to bridge and connect people, not to attack to their venerated faiths and traditions or for other unethical purposes. I appreciate your imaginative potential by the way. Peace and grace.

  • Ben

    I see the petty Islamic zealot is out. How did you enjoy the latest terrorist attack in Boston by one, entrapped in the prison of manmade religion?

    Rumi quoted Jesus. Does that make him Christian?
    Isn’t it better you stop quoting Rumi. Plastic flowers spread no fragrance. You are too small minded to grasp Rumi. Why not go back to your petty ideology of the dead where you can cut hands, feet, head off anyone for merely playing music? That is where your thinking belong. Stop deceiving people while you can.

    Rumi was INDEED called “Rumi” – “from Rome” – and there is historical evidence of it. Rumi is also said to have spoken the local Anatolian Greek dialect, common amongst the Byzantines. It is Muslims who refuse to accept it and insist to call him Jalāl ad-Dīn because they want to deny his rejection of any and all religions to suit their own agenda. In other words: you want to persecute him in spirit like Muslims of his time did in life.

    The 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 Rumi – from (the people of) Rome. In Muslim countries, therefore, Jalal al-Din is not generally known as “Rumi”. That’s a historical fact.

    Rumi openly perpetrated the allegory of wine, drunkenness, prostitutes, dancing, music, song – completely forbidden in Islam. Arabia is suppose to stand for the most authentic form of Islam. Is there any singing, drinking, whirling and dancing permitted there?

    Rumi complained about being rejected and ridiculed by the Muslims of his time. His parents fled his childhood town of Balkh (Afghanistan is a former Hindu colony) at the invasion of Muslims. Why would they flee? There was no murder or persecution of Muslims. Persecution and murder was only against non-Muslims. Do you deny that?

    If Muslims would listen more to Rumi and less to their “beliefs and ideas of the medieval age” as Rumi called Islam, there would exist no suicide bombers who commit millions of murders on innocent people.

    Rumi quoted any and all religious references strongly active of his time. Why deny that and only carp about one narrow minded ideology, which has persecute hundreds of Rumi’s, killed everyone of them, and forced them to go underground and live in secret. And now, the same persecutors want to pretend to be experts!

    Rumi was not a Sufi. That was a title added onto him by his followers. Rumi had no religion and denied all religions. He was his own knowledge, his own religion. He tried to provide the proper guidance for the misguided religious, rather than follow any religion.

    Like Rumi said, there exist no truth in a religion. Religion is a house of falsehood.

    I have already given you a quote of his denying mosques and Islam. I can quote another well-known statement of his, “I am not Christian or Jew, Magian or Muslim.”

    But you don’t want to accept that written statement by his own hand because you want to force him to be religious to suit your idea of him.

  • ay

    Ben, it is stupefying to see that you don’t stop embarrassing yourself. Wine allegory is the most popular imagery used by ALMOST ALL Muslim poets and Sufis, and many prominent scholars. More importantly, from where did you derive all this (mis)information? Can you please give me the name or link of the ‘source’ that justified all of this …? You might have understood that the topic of this article is the emergence of people like you. Please give me the name of the book or link; I need them for scholarly purposes, seriously.

    One final question: have you ever read books published by Western scholars, Western publishers on Rumi (let alone Persian, Turkish or Arabic sources that evidently you cannot read)? Chittick, for example? Or Freidlander? Or Schimmel? Ernst? Mojaddadi? It is very important for me to understand how a mindset like yours circulate; so, please let me know how your ideas on Rumi came to exist. Thank you for your explanation. In fact, I would like to have a coffee and interview you if possible, but I am a bit scared:)

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  • well, I guess that’s just the way it is

  • sahar

    Hello dear Omid,

    I read your comments and see that you are too knowledgeable about Rumi and I really liked that. I’m from where you are from and look for a text in Persian where Rumi exactly says : I change myself because I’m wise in Masnavi Manavi. I’m trying to find that for one of my american professor, he needs it.
    I’d be grateful if you help me.

  • Julie

    You wish, Ben. You obviously know nothing about him.

  • Julie

    I can tell you’re a fan of Rumi and it clashes with your Islamophobia, so you’re in denial that Rumi was a Muslim. He was, now build a bridge and get over it.

  • Omar

    Ben is completely right. I am Persian and read Mawlana’s original texts. I have also enough knowledge about himself to say that this time Ben is completely right and Omid just wants Mawlana to be like he is himself (muslim).

  • sun

    My dear “Persian” friend named “Omar”,

    Thanks for your expert view. You have perfectly corroborated your friend 🙂

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  • R420kbb

    Tosser get the the facts right ignorant piece of pigs shite

  • Rumi fan

    Here are some reasons that the Western culture cannot comprehend what Rumi really said
    and is forced to modify and over-materialize his poetry.
    It is because the Western worldview and Sufi (also other eastern schools of thought) worldview has fundamental differences:
    1. Sufi tradition accepts that there exists a Unity Existence (called by common people as God) from which all existence has derived
    But Western world view rejects such point of view. Even in its most spiritual form, it regards such notion of Unity Existence as a pleasing illusion of mind.
    2. Sufi tradition holds that the mentioned Absolute Existence has Absolute control over the universe. But Western Worldview holds that such Existence (if it exists) does not have dominance over universe.
    3. Sufi tradition values both body and spirit but prefers spirit to body. (As a result, spiritual pleasures are more important than worldly ones)
    But Western worldview is based on bodily Hedonism.

  • Timothy

    Interesteding. The author got aggressive when Ben pointed out a simple fact that Rumi may not have been a Muslim. Aggression like that usually indicates there is some truth to Ben’s words that he doesn’t want to hear. It’s more likely that Rumi and his family indeed was Christian and one of the many slaves the Islamic occupiers took into their possession under the jizya and Janissaries system.
    It was recently discovered that Mimar, called the greatest architect in “Islamic history”, was the son of a Greek Christian living under the jizya rule. Mimar’s real name was Joseph before he was force-converted and made to work as an architect for the caliph where Greek Orthodox churches and cathederals got converted into mosques with daggers as their symbols. Only the educated who had money qualified for jizya. But they had to hand over their male children to work as slaves for the caliphs. Rumi (like you pointed out, “the Roman”) was probably no different.

  • Timothy

    Or maybe he just want facts attached to history and not fairytales created by a brutal invader? To some people truth is the new hate speech.

  • Mark

    For me the translations of Rumi are works of great beauty that allow me to feel connected to the source. It is such a shame that scholars and religious people have to squabble over them. In so doing they close themselves up to the wonder of God.