Commemoration of National Day of Persian Poet Mowlana

Every year, Iranians hold ceremonies in different cities across the country, including the capital, Tehran, to pay homage to the world-famous literary figure.

 

Similar ceremonies are also held in other countries, including Turkey and Tajikistan.

Jalal ad-Din Mohammad Balkhi, known Mowlana in Persian, was an Iranian poet, mystic, and theologian.

Mowlana who is also known as Rumi in Western countries was born in Balkh (now part of Afghanistan) and passed away in Konya, Turkey, where he was laid to rest.

During his 66-years of life, he has left a legacy of major poetic and prose works; among them, The Quatrains (rubaiyat), Divine-Shams (or the great works of Shams) and Fihe Ma Fi (a collection of mystical sayings).

Mowlana is better known for his six-volume Masnavi Ma’anavi (spiritual couplets) which is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of Islamic mysticism.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mowlana was born in Balkh (then a city of Greater Khorasan in Persia, now part of Afghanistan), on September 30, 1207. His first name literally means Majesty of Religion, Jalal means majesty and din means religion. Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning “the Roman” since he lived most of his life in an area called Rūm because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire. Mowlana’s Works are in Persian, so he is a part of Persian Culture.

His father Baha al-Din was a renowned religious scholar. Under his patronage, Rumi received his early education from Syed Burhan-al-Din. When his age was about 18 years, to avoid the Mongol invasions, the family moved westward through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, meeting famous writers and mystics, such as the revered poet Attar, who authored the finest spiritual parable in the Persian language, “The Concourse of the Birds.” The family’s flight ended in 1226 in the Anatolian city of Konya — the capital of the Seljuk Turkish sultanate of Rum. Rumi settled, taught, and composed here until his death in 1273. Although Konya’s sultans were forced to pay tribute to the Mongols in 1243, the city remained a safe haven for Islamic culture, gathering outstanding minds from far horizons in a tormented age.

Rumi was sent to Aleppo (present-day Syria) for advanced education and later to Damascus. He continued with his education until he was 40 years old, although on his father’s death Rumi succeeded him as a professor in the famous Madrasah at Konya at the age of about 24 years. He received his mystical training first at the hands of Syed Burhan al-Din and later he was trained by Shams-e Tabrizi. He became famous for his mystical insight, his religious knowledge and as a Persian poet. Rumi taught a large number of pupils at his Madrasah and also himself founded the Molavi Order of Dervishes in Tasawwof (Sufism) and instituted the ecstatic dance ritual for which the “whirling dervishes” are known to this day. He died in 1273 CE at Konya (present-day Turkey), which subsequently became a sacred place for dancing dervishes of the Mowlana Order.

As a genius theologian, a brilliant scholar, and a pillar of Islam, he followed in his father place until his spiritual friend and teacher, Shams of Tabriz appeared in his life. With the appearance of Shams, Rumi became reborn and soon started his marvelous work “Masnavi,” (Mathnawi) consisting of 24,000 verses at age 38. His other famous work is “Divan-e Shams-e Tabriz” (the collected poems of Shams of Tabriz). Rumi’s poetry has a mystic connotation, a combination that is the universal language of the human soul. Rumi’s title is Mowlana which means our master.

Active ImageRumi’s works are written in the New Persian language. A Persian literary renaissance (in the 8th/9th century) started in regions of Sistan, Khorāsān and, Transoxiana and by the 10th/11th century, it reinforced the Persian language as the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages written in Perso/Arabic script e.g. Pashto and Sindhi. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.”

The general theme of his thoughts, like that of the other mystic and Sufi poets of the Persian literature, is essentially about the concept of Tawheed (unity) and union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been cut and fallen aloof, and his longing and desire for reunite.

His major contribution lies in Islamic philosophy and Tasawwof (Sufism). This was embodied largely in poetry, especially through his famous Masnavi. This book, the largest mystical exposition in verse, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, etc. Fundamentally, the Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship with the worldly life. For this, Rumi draws on a variety of subjects and derives numerous examples from everyday life. His main subject is the relationship between man and God on the one hand, and between man and man, on the other. He apparently believed in Pantheism and portrayed the various stages of man’s evolution in his journey towards the Ultimate.

Rumi’s poetry is often divided into various categories: the quatrains (rubaiyat) and odes (ghazals) of the Divan, the six books of the Mathnavi, the discourses, the letters, and the almost unknown Six Sermons. Rumi’s major work is Masnavi-ye Manavi (Spiritual Couplets).

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