Today, more than seven hundred years after he composed his
works, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi - known affectionately
simply as Rumi — is the world’s most recognized and revered poet.
Athirteenth-century Sufi mystic, Rumi has become a twenty-first-
century bestselling author. Although misquoted nearly as often
as he is quoted, Rumi is universally considered a poet of love, his
words giving shape to the ache of longing, the pain of separation,
and the ecstasy of union with the beloved. For Rumi, the path
to the divine transcended creed and was accessible to any lover,
regardless of culture or social order. "My religion," he wrote, "is
love."* This message has resounded like a heartbeat through the
centuries, appealing to today’s seekers of love from all walks of life,
much as it did in Rumi's own time.
Rumi, a highly educated and respected religious scholar,
Islamic jurist, and Muslim preacher, was in his late thirties before
he ever composed a line of poetry. It was then that he met Shams-e
Tabrizi and verse began to pour from him. The selections in this
book are taken from that fount, the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, where
more than 44,000 lines of poetry, dictated or sung by Rumi, capture
the love between Rumi, the student, and his teacher Shams-e
Tabrizi, the anguish of estrangement, and the journey to union
with the beloved.
Nearly three thousand of those lines were chosen for their elegance,
their imagery, and their focus on the spiritual path, as well as
the inner practice of meditation, the importance of a living teacher,
and the responsibilities of the disciple in a spiritual relationship.
Many of these verses have been translated into English for the first
time. Some better-known verses are included because they were
simply too beautiful or too profound to ignore. The brilliance of
his work and the universality of its message of love explain Rumi's
enduring legacy and the ubiquity of quotations from his poetry.
For ease of reading, we have organized this book into two parts.
The Introduction, Part One, contains this chapter on the source
material, the method of translation, and some of the intricacies and
highlights of Rumi’s language and a second chapter with a short
biography of Rumi. Part Two: Poetry presents 161 selections from
the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi.
The poems in this book were chosen from the Persian edition of
the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi compiled over a period of nine years
(from 1957 to 1966) by Badi‘ al-Zaman Furazanfar. A renowned
scholar of Persian literature and Iranian linguistics and an expert
on Rumi, Furazanfar based his work on a comparison of nine older
manuscripts and three newer, published editions of the Divan. He
gathered and edited Rumis poetry into ten volumes, two of which
provide an index to facilitate searches for specific lines or poems
and supply meanings for obscure or unusual words found in the
poetry. This has been an invaluable resource for the translations
Although Rumi’s language is simple, translation can be dif-
ficult due to his occasional use of archaic words that are either
uncommon or entirely out of use in Farsi today and, additionally,
to the disorganized order of stanzas or misspelled words which
Furazanfar painstakingly remedied. These errors occurred largely
because the original Divan was destroyed in a fire in Konya, Turkey
and had to be recreated from various manuscripts of Rumi’ poetry.
This loss and restoration may have impacted the integrity of the
original line order in some poems.
To support our introduction to this collection of Rumi's poetry,
we have translated and quoted details of Rumi's life and writings
from another of Furazanfar’s books, Treatise on Research on the
Conditions of Rumi's Character and Life.° In that volume, he authen-
ticates dates and other historical and biographical information
by comparing works from prominent early historians with three
valuable primary sources on Rumi — two of which were written
by those who actually knew Rumi and the third by a disciple of
Rumi's near and dear grandson.
We are pleased to: present Jalal al-Din Rumi: Divan-e Shams-e -
Tabrizi (Selections) in our Mystic Tradition series which portrays
the lives and teachings of various mystics. The basis of our book,
the Divan is one of Rumi’s great works, born of the pain of sepa-
ration from Shams — his beloved teacher and spiritual guide. The
poems have been translated into modern English by Ms Farida
Maleki, an Iranian American, from the compilation of the original
thirteenth-century Farsi manuscripts by Badi‘ al-Zaman Furdzanfar.
Given the enthusiasm with which the publishing industry
has produced books on Rumi's poetry in the last two decades, it
is important to ask whether we need another. We feel the need
for the present version because much of what has already been
embraced as Rumi's poetry is incomplete, uses somewhat archaic
language, or lacks many of the nuances that lie at the heart of
Rumi's mystical teaching.
into my spiritual horizons, sharpened my perception, and settled
permanently into my heart.
Rumi has affected the tame and the wild, the sage and the
child — and everyone who falls anywhere within these two
extremes. Now, five centuries after Akbar cried while listening to
Rumi’s poetry, interest in the poet, his poetry, and his message
only grows. And Rumi has enormous relevance today as a bridge
between cultures. My friend Karan Singh, Chairman of the Rumi
Foundation, says it well: "Rumi is the perfect antidote to our times,
cutting across religious divide. He is the soft face of Islam: about
love, humanism, and compassion.’
In the eyes of Allah, all are the same — no matter how you
address Him or spell his name - or for that matter, His messengers:
Moses and Musa, Joseph or Yusuf, Muhammad or Mehmet.
Or even Rumi who is spelt as Celaleddin in Turkish and Jalaluddin
in English and addressed as Molana by Persians, Mevlana by
Turks and Maulana by others, including Indians. The people of
Afghanistan also add Balkhi before Rumi, as he hailed from Balkh.
Rumi’s name may change but his appeal to the heart does not.
And it’s no wonder. Rumi himself keeps lifting you higher and
higher through his philosophy and poetry, themes and symbolism,
and through his piety and poverty. He continues to position you
between what the world is thirsty for and what organized religion
offers. His writings can touch you and transform you at any level:
cerebral, emotional, ecstatic, or spiritual. And, if you pay attention,
you will see that he is inviting us all on a journey, full of mysteries
Human lives are quite mundane and simple, filled with anguish
and frustration, and a deep sense of loss as time flies. A concern
for the human predicament and the human race, for aesthetics and
the finer values of life, and faith in the communication arts have all
been central drivers of both my personal outlook and my professional
life. I have always been passionate about sharing ideas with
This new book on Rumi will be a valuable gift to readers
After Shams left him for the second and final time, Rumi composed
more than 44,000 lines of poetry — an outpouring of love
and longing of a disciple for his Master. Anyone who is fortunate
enough to experience the love of a spiritual Master, or even the
yearning for one, will certainly understand what is being presented
who are already Rumi enthusiasts. And for those new seekers who
are looking for a challenge or for a kindred soul, or seeking a path
out of orthodoxy into a different Truth, Rumi can provide all that.
Rumi, the greatest poet of all times, did not want to be a
poet, but a lover — he wanted to annihilate himself in the Beloved.
Everything he wrote, everything he was, had one purpose — to
pay passionate tribute to the Beloved. As he says in the Masnavi.
So, I extend a sincere welcome to this new book of selections
from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi and anticipate that it will provide
spiritual companionship for a caravan of new readers who will join
with us in knocking at Rumi's door.
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