Sufi poet and mystic, Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi , known in the west only as Rumi, died on December 17th of 1273. Every December 17th on his death anniversary, many people all around the world celebrate “Şeb-i Arus”, or his wedding night. (Şeb-i Arus means Wedding Night in Persian and Ottoman languages) So you’re probably thinking, why do people celebrate his death as a wedding day? Well, the answer has its roots in the Sufi way of life. To put it as simple as possible, Rumi sees his death not as an end but as a beginning for reunion with his beloved, with God.
Rumi and His Life
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī as popularly known as Rumi was born in 1207 in Vakhsh town which is now located in Tajikistan. His dad Baha ud-Din Walad was an important theologian, jurist and mystic. His father and his family had lived in many cities until they had settled down in Konya (in Turkey) on 1228. His father came to Konya as the head of madrasa (religious school) by the invitation of Ala ud-Din Keyqobad, ruler of Anatolian Seljuk State. After his father’s passing away, he inherited his role as an Islamic teacher at the age of 25. Later he became an Islamic jurist and gave lessons in the madrasa.
His parents were Persian speakers. He wrote his poems mainly in Persian but also used Turkish and Greek in his works. His ethnicity is controversial about being Persian, Turkish and Tajik. To be honest to me it doesn’t matter which ethnicity he has, his works are very inspiring and mind-blowing.
He lived most of his life in Konya until he died. His tomb became a pilgrimage destination for Sufis. After his death, his eldest son Sultan Walad founded Mevlevi Order that is famous for its Sufi dance. Sufi dance is a kind of meditation. Sufi dervishes (semazens) whirl by listening to the music, focusing on God and try to reach the source of perfection.
His Philosophy and Poems
His father and he practiced Sufism that is the inner mystical dimension of Islam. He was a Muslim but of course not a radical one. He always believed his unique philosophy of tolerating people’s mistake and constantly helping people. He influenced many people by his words and poems. In 1958, Pope John XXIII said that “In the name of the Catholic World, I bow with respect before the memory of Rumi”. Also 2007 was declared as the “International Rumi Year” by UNESCO.
In the last hours of his death, his wife was praying to God to let Rumi stay alive a little bit longer. Rumi’s reply was:
“Am I a thief?
Have I stolen someone’s goods?
Is this why you would confine me here and keep me from being rejoined with my Love?”
As a Turkish person, I really feel proud that Rumi had lived in Konya, Anatolia and seeded his tolerance and love in the heart of my people. I want to share some quotes and parts of his poems that I love the most.
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.
You can read more about him and his poetry by clicking the link.
Photos are taken from Flickr CC ( Leticia Barr and Carmen Alonso Suarez )