From the 8th century CE onwards, the Muslim world witnessed a number of great scholars, philosophers, and mystic poets who contributed a lot for Islamic mysticism (Tassawwuf). Maulana Rumi was born in what we now call Persia and he lived most of life in a place that was surrounded by religious clashes, political disputes, and endless power struggles in Anatolia. He was born into an Islamic tradition in a noble family. He studied jurisprudence and was just like the other clerical mainstream scholars around him until he met one day, in 1244 CE, a wandering dervish, whose name was Shams Tabrez. At first, this wandering dervish looked strange to Rumi as he had no beard, no hair, and no eyebrows. Shams Tabrez had travelled widely throughout the Middle East to seek someone who could endure his company. Maulana Rumi would have continued to live his life like other many clerical mainstream scholars around him had he not encountered this fellow called Shams.
Rumi’s attention was drawn to Shams when he asked many interesting questions to Rumi. Each and every question of the dervish made Rumi pale, despite him being a scholar surrounded by many intellectual students. Rumi found depth in the questions of the wandering dervish. This sudden encounter unlocked a door deep within Rumi’s soul and realised that no book had taught him what this dervish had taught. In this way their friendship grew and was transformed from a clerical scholar to a committed mystic.
The encounter with Shams taught Rumi to go beyond books to the heart of God through the heart of man. Shams had put some unsavoury questions to Rumi, only to make him realise what stage of the path Rumi was at. Rumi found a state of ecstasy after deep intellectual conversations with Shams. Colman Barks writes that both Shams and Rumi spent months together, and stayed for 40 days in a single room to know, to ponder, to understand what Love – the essence of life – basically was. After this, Rumi was seen to have turned into a poet, a mystical artist, who used to sing, whirl and ponder for hours. There have been very few people who have moved and transformed as many hearts as Maulana Rumi has. In the world of Sufis, Maulana Rumi is the emperor. As the human intellect advances towards excellence, it is possible to understand Maulana Rumi in depth. His words have to be understood not as mere words but as sources of deep silences, echoes of inner and innermost songs.
The writer has a PG degree in Islamic Studies from IUST Awantipora. [email protected]