Saviours of Islamic Spirit - Maulana Jalal-ud-din Rumi (RA)

Meeting of Shams Tebrez and Rumi :
The spiritual mentor of Shams Tebrez, it is related, asked him to proceed to Rum and illuminate a broken-hearted soul yearning for the divine love. He accordingly reached Konya on the 26th of Jamadi ul-Akhir, 642 A. H. and engaged a lodging in an inn. One day, he saw Rumi coming by, riding on a mule, in the midst of a crowd of students and disciples accompanying him on foot. Shams Tebrez stepped forward and asked Rumi, "What is the object of learning and prayer ?'* "It is to know," replied Rumi, "the Shar iah and its tenets." "No", rejoined Shams Tebrez, "the object is to attain what is knowable". Thereafter he recited this couplet of Hakim Sinai:
"Compared to that knowledge, ignorance is better ;
Which allows your self to remain as it were."
Rumi was lost in amazement. He had taken to heart the remark of Shams Tebrez.
Rumi now took Shams Tebrez home with him. They remained closeted together, reports Aflaki, for forty days where no body could enter. Sipah Salar, another biographer of Rumi, writes that both remained in holy communion for six months in a room where none dared to enter except Sheikh Salah ud-din.
The company of Shams Tebrez opened a new vista of the hidden realm to the view of Rumi who now felt a trenchant urge to grasp the mysteries of earth and of heaven through spiritual illumination. Rumi says in a couplet:
"Shams Tebrez was it, who led me to the path of Reality ;
For the faith I have is simply his bounty."
Rumi had so long been a profound scholar and a successful teacher ; disciples and students, many of them scholars and mystics, always gathered round him in largo numbers to drink at the fountain of learning; but, now, he himself became a pupil of Shams Tebrez. Sultan Veled, the son of Rumi says : ''The Sheikh himself turned a probationer,
He began to learn his lessons afresh, sitting at the feet of his mentor.
Although perfect he was in ascetic lore,
He had to begin taking lessons once more."
Rumi has also acknowledged it in these lines :
"A mendicant I was, thou madest me a liberatine ;
A source of tumult, intoxicated with wine.
Revered I was as a doctor of religion,
Thou hast turned me into a sport for children."
The result was that Rumi abandoned teaching as well as sermonising. He says :
"Like Mercury had I ledgers of mine,
Upon which I devoted much time,
Lo ! no sooner did I glance the forehead of the cupbearer,
So intoxicated I became that I broke my pen."

Tumult by Rumi's Disciples:
After Rumi had entered the enchanted circle of Shams Tebrez's spiritual powers, he gave up teaching and delivering lectures which was intensely resented by his followers, disciples and friends. They, accordingly, raised a fearful and threatening tumult against Shams . The resentment of Rumi's disciples was kindled by the respect paid to Shams by Rumi, and they were also jealous that an unknown person whose lineage and even where­abouts were not known to anybody should cause their revered teacher to severe all relations with those who had so long been serving as well as deriving benefit from him, and spreading his fame far and wide. The disciples and followers of Rumi took Shams Tebrez for a weired figure who had cast a spell over Rumi otherwise he would not have changed so suddenly and decided not to see his old acquaintances. They could not express their resent­ment against Shams in the presence of Rumi but whenever they got an opportunity they jibbed and stingingly reproached Shams Tebrez.

Departure of Shams Tebrez:
Shams Tebrez calmly put up with the irritation caused by Rumi's followers for some time but when he found that they were bent upon taking resort to violent means, he stealthily left Konya one day. Aflaki reports that Shams Tebrez left Konya, at the end of his first visit, on Thursday, the twenty-first day of the month of Shawwal, 643 A.H., after a stay of about sixteen months.
The departure of Shams Tebrez left Rumi in such a state of distress and depression that he completely cut himself off from all the disciples and acquaintances, friends and relatives. This was an unexpected turn of events unforseen by those who had been envious of Shams , for Rumi was now not prepared to see even those who had not opposed Shams , much less the persons who had been his adversaries.

Return of Shams Tebrez:
Sipah Salar relates that Rumi remained cut off from every body till he unexpectedly received a letter from Shams Tebrez from Damascus. A bit calmed down, Rumi now permitted those who had not pitted themselves against Shams to join in his sittings. It was during this period that Rumi began to take part in musical chantings in remembrance of his lost friend. He also wrote four letters to Shams Tebrez during this period of separation, which express his intense desire to see Shams again. In the first letter he says:
"Come back to me, the light of my heart, the object of my desire.
Thou forges ahead with the fervour of thy true love.
If thou comest, the joy of my heart shall I acquire:
If not, extreme depression will be my hire.
Thou art like the sun, which is far away but still near;
Come back, Oh, thou art at a distance, but I find thee here."
Gradually the antagonism against Shams Tebrez subsided and then Rumi took steps to invite him back to Konya again. He sent his son, Sultan Veled, to bear a letter to Shams Tebrez and assure him on behalf of his disciples and followers that all of them, who had earlier opposed him, were repenting their mistake and wanted to be forgiven. Rumi's letter to Shams expresses his heart-felt grief over the separation with his spiritual guide. He wrote:
"From the time thou hast departed from me, as wax is
separated from honey;
Like a candle I melt in the fire of love, deprived of thy
Separated from thy illustrious self, I have been turned
into a ruin;
Wherein my soul resides alone in wilderness.
Turn the reins of thy mount; I implore, turn the mount of thy joy (this way);
For music is not lawful unto me in thy absence, I hate the joy as a devil.
Not a single ode could I indite, till a letter to me did ye write:
To read thy letter, I was so over-joyed; lyrics I composed six or five.
O' God, let us meet again to turn my eve into morn;
For thou art indeed the pride of Syria, Armenia and Rome."
Sultan Veled conducted Shams Tebrez to Kenya from Damascus like a prince.

Shams Tebrez Departs again :
Rumi was overjoyed to see Shams Tebrez for the second time. All those who had been discourteous to Shams requested him to condone their mistakes. For a time Shams and Rumi passed their time happily in spiritual and religious disquisitions, divine manifestations and ecstasies, and the fervour of Rumi's love for Shams increasing with the passage of time. However, Rumi's disciples began to resent again their neglect by Rumi, as they had done before. Another incident happened in the meantime which added fuel to the fire. Shams was putting up with his wife in an outer room of the house in which Rumi dwelt. Chelebi Ala ud-din, the son of Rumi by his second wife, used to pass through the room of Shams , whenever he visited his father, and this caused inconvenience to the Sheikh. Shams politely asked Ala ud-din on several occasions not to do so which was, however, resented by him. Ala ud-din also viewed with jealousy the affection showed by Shams Tebrez to his step-brother, Sultan Veled, and, therefore, he gave vent to his feelings before such followers of Rumi as were inimical to Shams . They immediately seized the opportunity to malign Shams Tebrez and again raised a storm of protest against him.
Shams Tebrez did not, at first, mention the matter to Rumi but when the hostilities of these people increased, he alluded to his embarrassment in the form of an anecdote. He also hinted that this time he would slip away without leaving any trace of him. It appears from certain verses of Rumi that he was not completely unaware of what was going to happen, for he had entreated Shams Tebrez in some of his verses to give up the idea of desert­ing him again.
However, the followers of Rumi again rose in opposition to Shams with the result that he slipped away from Konya.
Rumi says in a couplet:
"That there be no room for any complaint; Suddenly he set out to quit them all,"

Rumi's Impatience:
When Rumi found Shams missing again, one morning, his distress knew no bounds. He immediately went to Sultan Veled and cried out, "Sleepest thou, Get up and find out. where the Sheikh is? I find my soul devoid of his fragrance again."'
Now Rumi again started his search for Shams ; he was now even more distressed than he had been earlier. He ceased all intercourse with those who had caused ill-will to Shams and even forbade them to appear before him. Rumi says:
"The separation made him mad in love,
Like Jonah he became, without a hearth or home."
A few days later when his quest for Shams had proved fruitless, Rumi became even more restless. Now he spent most of his time either in listening to the musical recitals or lamenting and raising a wail of woe for the departed companion. It was during this period that Rumi composed a number of beautiful and extremely touching lyrics expressing the agonising pangs suffered by him due to Shams *s separation.
This was the year 645 A.H. Rumi was extremely anxious for Shamsh specially because of the disturbed conditions in Egypt and Asia Minor and the tempest of rapine and slaughter let loose by the Tartar invasion. If anybody gave him the whereabouts of Shams , Rumi would be so pleased that he immediately rewarded him with whatever he could lay his hands upon including even the garments he wore at the time.

Travels to Syria:
Not being able to calm down his restlessness, Rumi set out for Damascus along with a few of his other companions in search of Shams Tebrez. He was received with honour by the scholars of Damascus but they were surprised to learn that a person of his intellectual stature and erudition should be so agitated for any individual,
Rumi could not, however, get any trace of Shams Tebrez in Damascus. When he was worn out of his quest for Shams , he remarked, "Myself and Shams are not two If he is like the sun, I am a particle; if he is an ocean, I am a drop; for the particle is illuminated by the sun and the drop owes its existence to the ocean. There is thus no difference between Shams and myself." Rumi returned to Konya from Damascus but his restlessness did not abate. After a couple of years he again undertook a journey to Damascus but he returned this time convinced that in reality he-was himself Shams and that all his search for Shams was no more than a quest to find out his own self.
After coming back from Damascus for the second lime, Rumi gave up all hopes to meet Shams Tebrez again. Nevertheless, Rumi now experienced the same effulgence of spiritual wisdom streaming in his own self which he had sought in Shams Tebrez, "Although the Maulana, on whom be the blessings of God", says Sultan Veled, "failed to find out the person of Shams ud-din Tebrez, whose fame may be spread by God, in Damascus, he found whatever he wanted from Shams , percolating in his own veins".

Sheikh Salah ud-din, the gold-beater:
A few days after his return from Damascus for the second time, Rumi again became restless. He now promoted Sheikh Salah ud-din as his confidant and chief assistant. He was, in fact, elevated to take the place of Shams Tebrez,1 as Sultan Veled says in these verses:
"After Shams , Salah ud-din became his helper in this design:
His presence increased the illuminations and visions Divine;
For he learnt the lore mysterious from him."
Sheikh Salah ud-din came of a poor family belonging to a nearby village. His father was a fisherman while Salah ud-diu had himself taken up the profession of gold-beating. Reputed as a trustworthy youngman from his early days, he had been a disciple of Saiyid Burhan ud-din. After Saiyid Burhan ud-din's death he took the oath of allegiance to Rumi whose closest associate he remained during the last ten years of his life. He died on the first of Muharram, 657 A. n.
Elevation of Salah ud-dtn as the most trusted disciple and spiritual successor of Rumi, again made his other disciples and followers run amuck. Now their complaint was that Shams was at least an educated person but this man, who was a mere gold-beater by profession, did not deserve to be the chief assistant of their respected teacher. They were amazed to see that Rumi held Salah ud-din in such a high esteem, and this fired their envy again. However, when Salah ud-din came to know of the- tumult among other disciples he remarked, "They deplore my selection as the chief associate of the Maulana but they don't appear to under­stand that the Maulana is really in love with his own self. I simply act as a veil to conceal this fact."

Chelebi Hisam ud-in;
After the death of Salah ud-din, Chelebi Hisam ud-din Turk was nominated by Rumi to act as his chief assistant, confidant and spiritual vicegerent in place of the deceased friend. Chelebi Hisam ud-din had already occupied a distinguished place among the followers of Rumi, and for eleven years after the demise of his spiritual superior, he acted as his successor. He was a Turk belonging to Armenia and came of a respectable and influential family known as Akhi.
Hisam ud-din had also paid obeisance to Shams Tebrez and Salah ud-dm from whom he had learnt the esoteric teachings.
Hisam ud-din spent at! his belongings on Rumi and ultimately emancipated his slaves as well. He was so cautious that he never used the water of the Maulana's bath-room for ablutions out of respect for him, and went to his own house for the purpose even if it was biting cold. On the other hand, Rumi too paid such a homage to Hisam ud-din that one thought him to be a disciple of the latter.

Composition of the Mathnawi:
The Mathnawi was composed by Rumi during this period at the instance of Hisam ud-din. The fact is that Rumi was endowed with a love so fervent and rapturous that he could not do without a close companion and confidant with whom he could share the mysteries of the esoteric truth experienced by him. First, he selected Shams Tebrez whose place was taken by Salah ud-din and Hisam ud-dm one after another. Saiyid Burhan ud-din was also elevated lo his circle of selected associates, although in a different capacity, for a short while. The period of five years between the death of Saiyid Burhan ud-din and the arrival of Shams Tebrez in Konya was spent by Rumi in such a way as if he felt some deficiency in his life. It is obvious that the latent capabilities with which Rumi had been endowed required a stimulant for their expression. The Mathnawi is itself a proof of Rumi's yearning for love, if one is required, for it would not have come into existence without the spiritual fervour aroused by Rtimi's favourite associates. There had been a gap of two years in the compilation of the Mathnawi when Rumi suspended its composition on account of the Hisam ud-din's grief at the death of his wife.
Perfection in the 'Path of mysticism or spiritual illumination was not the reason for selection of his confidants by Rumi. He often said that love is born out of affinity. Once, in reply to a question he told his son, Sultan Veled, that he cultivated friend­ship with his associates because of affinity, for the affection born out of it never leads one to remorse. True affinity or love, explained Rumi, would never cause repentance either in this world or the Hereafter. Those who cultivate friendship for selfish ends would, in the Hereafter, languish with a longing described thus by the Qur'an : Alas for me! Ah, would that I had never taken such an one for friend. On the other hand, those who are sincere and fear God shall retain their friendship: Friends on that day will be foes one to another, save those who kept their duty (to Allah}
Rumi has expressed the same view in a verse which says :
"Never from miracles, a faith sprouts;
Yet, qualities alike, affinity unites."