Rumi: Poems and Prose

Legacy

Rumi's poetry forms the basis of much classical Iranian and Afghan music (Eastern-Persian, Tajik-Hazara music). Contemporary classical interpretations of his poetry are made by Muhammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, Davood Azad (the three from Iran) and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti (Afghanistan). To many modern Westerners, his teachings are one of the best introductions to the philosophy and practice of Sufism. In the West Shahram Shiva has been teaching, performing and sharing the translations of the poetry of Rumi for nearly twenty years and has been instrumental in spreading Rumi's legacy in the English-speaking parts of the world. Pakistan's National Poet, Muhammad Iqbal, was also inspired by Rumi's works and considered him to be his spiritual leader, addressing him as "Pir Rumi" in his poems (the honorific Pir literally means "old man", but in the Sufi/mystic context it means founder, master, or guide).[73]

Shahram Shiva asserts that "Rumi is able to verbalise the highly personal and often confusing world of personal growth and development in a very clear and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, and he includes everyone.... Today Rumi's poems can be heard in churches, synagogues, Zen monasteries, as well as in the downtown New York art/performance/music scene."

According to Professor Majid M. Naini,[74] "Rumi's life and transformation provide true testimony and proof that people of all religions and backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true global peace and harmony.”

Rumi's work has been translated into many of the world's languages, including Russian, German, Urdu, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, French, Italian, and Spanish, and is being presented in a growing number of formats, including concerts, workshops, readings, dance performances, and other artistic creations.[75] The English interpretations of Rumi's poetry by Coleman Barks have sold more than half a million copies worldwide,[76] and Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the United States.[77] Shahram Shiva book "Rending the Veil: Literal and Poetic Translations of Rumi" (1995, HOHM Press) is the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award.

Recordings of Rumi poems have made it to the USA's Billboard's Top 20 list. A selection of American author Deepak Chopra's editing of the translations by Fereydoun Kia of Rumi's love poems has been performed by Hollywood personalities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Philip Glass and Demi Moore.

There is a famous landmark in Northern India, known as Rumi Gate, situated in Lucknow (the capital of Uttar Pradesh) named for Rumi.

Rumi and his mausoleum were depicted on the reverse of the 5000 Turkish lira banknotes of 1981–1994.[78]

Iranian world

پارسی گو گرچه تازی خوشتر است — عشق را خود صد زبان دیگر است

Say all in Persian even if Arabic is better — Love will find its way through all languages on its own.

These cultural, historical and linguistic ties between Rumi and Iran have made Rumi an iconic Iranian poet, and some of the most important Rumi scholars including Foruzanfar, Naini, Sabzewari, etc., have come from modern Iran.[79] Rumi's poetry is displayed on the walls of many cities across Iran, sung in Persian music,[79] and read in school books.[80]

Mewlewī Sufi Order

The Mewlewī Sufi order was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death.[81] His first successor in the rectorship of the order was "Husam Chalabi" himself, after whose death in 1284 Rumi's younger and only surviving son, Sultan Walad (died 1312), popularly known as author of the mystical Maṭnawī Rabābnāma, or the Book of the Rabab was installed as grand master of the order.[82] The leadership of the order has been kept within Rumi's family in Konya uninterruptedly since then.[83] The Mewlewī Sufis, also known as Whirling Dervishes, believe in performing their dhikr in the form of Sama. During the time of Rumi (as attested in the Manāqib ul-Ārefīn of Aflākī), his followers gathered for musical and "turning" practices.

According to tradition, Rumi was himself a notable musician who played the robāb, although his favourite instrument was the ney or reed flute.[84] The music accompanying the samāʿ consists of settings of poems from the Maṭnawī and Dīwān-e Kabīr, or of Sultan Walad's poems.[84] The Mawlawīyah was a well-established Sufi order in the Ottoman Empire, and many of the members of the order served in various official positions of the Caliphate. The centre for the Mevlevi was in Konya. There is also a Mewlewī monastery (درگاه, dargāh) in Istanbul near the Galata Tower in which the samāʿ is performed and accessible to the public. The Mewlewī order issues an invitation to people of all backgrounds:

Come, come, whoever you are, Wanderer, idolater, worshiper of fire, Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times, Come, and come yet again. Ours is not a caravan of despair.[85]

During Ottoman times, the Mevlevi produced a number of notable poets and musicians, including Sheikh Ghalib, Ismail Rusuhi Dede of Ankara, Esrar Dede, Halet Efendi, and Gavsi Dede, who are all buried at the Galata Mewlewī Khāna (Turkish: Mevlevi-Hane) in Istanbul.[86] Music, especially that of the ney, plays an important part in the Mevlevi.

With the foundation of the modern, secular Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk removed religion from the sphere of public policy and restricted it exclusively to that of personal morals, behaviour and faith. On 13 December 1925, a law was passed closing all the tekkes (or tekeyh) (dervish lodges) and zāwiyas (chief dervish lodges), and the centres of veneration to which pilgrimages (ziyārat) were made. Istanbul alone had more than 250 tekkes as well as small centres for gatherings of various fraternities; this law dissolved the Sufi Orders, prohibited the use of mystical names, titles and costumes pertaining to their titles, impounded the Orders' assets, and banned their ceremonies and meetings. The law also provided penalties for those who tried to re-establish the Orders. Two years later, in 1927, the Mausoleum of Mevlâna in Konya was allowed to reopen as a Museum.[87]

In the 1950s, the Turkish government began allowing the Whirling Dervishes to perform once a year in Konya. The Mewlānā festival is held over two weeks in December; its culmination is on 17 December, the Urs of Mewlānā (anniversary of Rumi's death), called Šabe Arūs (شب عروس) (Persian meaning "nuptial night"), the night of Rumi's union with God.[88] In 1974, the Whirling Dervishes were permitted to travel to the West for the first time. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the "The Mevlevi Sama Ceremony" of Turkey as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[89]

Religious denomination

According to Edward G. Browne, the three most prominent mystical Persian poets Rumi, Sanai and Attar were all Sunni Muslims and their poetry abounds with praise for the first two caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattāb.[90] According to Annemarie Schimmel, the tendency among Shia authors to include leading mystical poets such as Rumi and Attar among their own ranks, became stronger after the introduction of Twelver Shia as the state religion in the Safavid Empire in 1501.[91]

Eight hundredth anniversary celebrations

In Afghanistan, Rumi is known as Mawlānā, in Turkey as Mevlâna, and in Iran as Molavī.

At the proposal of the Permanent Delegations of Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey, and as approved by its Executive Board and General Conference in conformity with its mission of “constructing in the minds of men the defences of peace”, UNESCO was associated with the celebration, in 2007, of the eight hundredth anniversary of Rumi's birth.[92] The commemoration at UNESCO itself took place on 6 September 2007;[4] UNESCO issued a medal in Rumi's name in the hope that it would prove an encouragement to those who are engaged in research on and dissemination of Rumi's ideas and ideals, which would, in turn, enhance the diffusion of the ideals of UNESCO.[5]

The Afghan Ministry of Culture and Youth established a national committee, which organised an international seminar to celebrate the birth and life of the great ethical philosopher and world-renowned poet. This grand gathering of the intellectuals, diplomats, and followers of Mewlana was held in Kabul and in Balkh, the Mewlana's place of birth.[93]

On 30 September 2007, Iranian school bells were rung throughout the country in honour of Mewlana.[94] Also in that year, Iran held a Rumi Week from 26 October to 2 November. An international ceremony and conference were held in Tehran; the event was opened by the Iranian president and the chairman of the Iranian parliament. Scholars from twenty-nine countries attended the events, and 450 articles were presented at the conference.[95] Iranian musician Shahram Nazeri was awarded the Légion d'honneur and Iran's House of Music Award in 2007 for his renowned works on Rumi masterpieces.[96] 2007 was declared as the "International Rumi Year" by UNESCO.[97][98]

Also on 30 September 2007, Turkey celebrated Rumi’s eight-hundredth birthday with a giant Whirling Dervish ritual performance of the samāʿ, which was televised using forty-eight cameras and broadcast live in eight countries. Ertugrul Gunay, of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, stated, "Three hundred dervishes are scheduled to take part in this ritual, making it the largest performance of sema in history."[99]

Mawlana Rumi Review

TheMawlana Rumi Review (ISSN 2042-3357) is published annually by The Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter in collaboration with The Rumi Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus, and [http://www.archetypebooks.com Archetype Books, Cambridge.[100] The first volume was published in 2010, and it has come out annually since then. According to the principal editor of the journal, Leonard Lewisohn: "Although a number of major Islamic poets easily rival the likes of Dante, Shakespeare and Milton in importance and output, they still enjoy only a marginal literary fame in the West because the works of Arabic and Persian thinkers, writers and poets are considered as negligible, frivolous, tawdry sideshows beside the grand narrative of the Western Canon. It is the aim of the Mawlana Rumi Review to redress this carelessly inattentive approach to world literature, which is something far more serious than a minor faux pas committed by the Western literary imagination."[101]


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