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

Death of Rumi:
Sipah Salar relates that Konya was continuously rocked by earthquakes for forty days before the death of Rumi. Aflaki, however, says that while Rumi still lay in sickness, there were severe earthquakes for seven days and nights, until everyone in Konya was greatly alarmed. When the people went to Rumi to beseech his help, he calmly remarked: "Poor earth, it is starving and wants a fat morsel. It shall soon have one and then it won't bother you." During his last illness, he dictated an ode which has the following opening lines:
"Despite thy kindness and affection, (my) heart craves for anger from thee.
Like a glass fragile, break my heart by saying : 'Thou canst not see me."
Chelebi Hisamud-din says that Sheikh Sadr ud-din along with a few other mendicants paid a visit to Rumi during his last illness. During the course of their conversation he said, "May God grant you speedy recovery." "No", replied Rumi, "There is only a hair's-breadth distance between the lover and the beloved. Won't you like that this distance should also vanish and the finite spirit may unite with the Infinite One?"
Rumi dictated the following ode during his illness to Chelebi Hisam ud-din:
"Go ! head on pillow lay; alone, in peace, me leave,
Loved tyrant, plague by night, while all around thee grieve.
That peerless beauty (God) has no need kind care to show;
But, sallow lovers, ye must patient faith still know.
Perplexity is ours to bear; 'tis his to own hard heart;
Shed he our blood; what sin ? He'll not pay murderer's smart.
To die's hard, after all; but remedy there's none;
How, then, to crave a remedy ? The evil's done.
Last night, in dream, a warder, from my love's abode,
Made sign to me, and said : 'This way ! Hold thou my lode."
Rumi died, at the age of sixty-eight years and three months, at the close of the day, on the fifth of Jamadi-ul-Akhir 672 A.H.
When his corpse was brought forth, a great multitude swarmed the place, all of whom smote their breasts and raised loud lamentations. Jews and Christians came reading their own scriptures. The Muslims strove to drive them away but they would not be repelled. It was feared, at length, that a tumult would break out. The intelligence was conveyed to Parwana (the then governor of Konya) who asked the Rabbis and Bishops why they mixed themselves up with the funeral of a Muslim saint. They replied that they had found in him all the signs and virtues of the prophets described in their scriptures and have learnt the ways of the sages and saints of yore, than they had ever known before. They were all ultimately allowed to accompany the funeral. The number of people who flocked to join the funeral procession was so great that the bier taken out early in the morning could reach the burial place by sunset, and thus with all honours, the luminous sage was laid to rest in his grave.

The Character of Rumi:
Shibli writes in the Sawaneh (Biography) of Maulana-i-Rum : "So long as the Maulana had not taken to the path of mysticism, he led the life of an eminent scholar and a doctor of faith. Whenever he went out, riding on his mule, a large number of students, theologians and even the grandees accompanied him on foot. The kings and chiefs of State received him with highest honour. But no sooner did he adopt the mystic way of life, his life was completely transformed. He continued to teach and give juristic-opinions, but these vocations appeared to be only reminiscent of his past life; he always seemed to be enchanted with a rapturous love, in transports and trances of a sublimated soul."

Prayers and Penance:
Rumi was extremely fond of prayers and penance. Sipah Salar, who dwelt with him for many years, relates that he never saw Rumi in a night-gown. He never had a pillow or a bedding, nor did he ever lie down for taking rest. Whenever he felt drowsy, he took a nap wherever lie might be silting. He says in a verse:
"Shrouded in a quilt studded with thorn,
How can he sleep, for pricked is always lovelorn."
Whenever he found that his disciples were heavy with sleep, during services, he would rest his head between his knees pretending to have fallen asleep, but after everyone had dropped into slumber, he would get up and occupy himself with the performance of Zikr (recollection) and recitation. He has alluded to it in one of his odes in which he says:
"Everyone slept but not I, for the heart smite my control, outright.
My eyes grew accustomed to count the stars, night after night.
Sleep has gone out of my eyes never to return;
It has taken the poison of thy separation and taken to flight."

Prayers of Rumi:
No sooner had the time for an obligatory prayer arrived then Rumi was a completely changed man. He would immediately turn towards Ka'ba, his face turning pale, and he would soon be lost in the prayers. Sipah Salar relates that it was not unoften that Rumi spent the whole night in two rak'ats of prayer. Rumi has described in an ode his own condition during the prayers. He says:
"After sun-set prayer, one lights the lamp, or the meal he takes;
But I am left with sighs and moans for my departed mates.
With tears I perform ablution, my prayer is filled with fire
A call to prayer thus given, sets the door of mosque ablaze.
How very wonderful is the prayer of intoxicated ones; Say: 'It is flawless', for it transcends the time and space.
Perhaps I finished the second Rak'at, or perhaps the fourth;
I know not in fact, what I read or didn't get the time at all.
How should I knock the door of Truth; my hands and heart are not mine.
A friend like thee has robbed me of the heart: now
God alone can provide shelter.
I know not, by God, when the service ended or who led the prayer.*'
Once Rumi was performing his prayers in a wintry cold night. His tears trickled down his face on the beard, turning the tears into heads of ice owing to the intense cold, but he remained engaged in his prayers without being even aware of it.

Austerity and Contentment:
Of simple habits, austere and frugal, Rumi led a life of almost primitive simplicity. Whatever presents were received from the king, nobles or other affluent people were passed on by him to Salah ud-din or Chelebi Hisam ud-din although he often had nothing to make both the ends meet for his own dependents. He kept a portion of such presents only on the insistence of his son, Sultan Veled, but he was very much pleased when there was absolutely no provision for subsistence in his own house. On such occasions he used to remark that his house appeared to be the abode of a mendicant.
Rumi was so generous that he never returned a beggar without giving him something. More than open-handed-he gave away with both hands-he never buttoned his gown or shirt so that it might be easier for him to take it off in case anybody asked for it.

Humility and Tender-heartedness:
Once Rumi was going somewhere with his disciples. He found his way blocked by a dog sleeping in a narrow lane. He stood there waiting but someone made the poor thing get up and clear the lane. Rumi felt much aggrieved that the poor creature was disturbed in its sleep.
On another occasion he found two persons quarrelling and abusing each other. He requested both of them to denounce him and bury the hatchet instead of calling names to each other. Both of them fell on his feet and patched up their differences.

Lawful Earnings:
Rumi received a stipend of 15 Dinars a month out of the proceeds of charitable trusts. Since he did not like to accept a remuneration without doing some work in lieu thereof, he had taken upon himself to give juristic-opinion on religious and legal matters referred to him by the people. He was so particular about it that he had instructed his disciples to let him know of the questions referred to him as soon as these were received.
Once someone remarked that Sheikh Sadr ud-din had a stipend of thousand Dinars fixed for him while he got only fifteen Dinars. Rumi at once corrected him by saying that the Sheikh needed even more money and it would have been better if the fifteen Dinars fixed for him were also given to the Sheikh.

Dislike of Worldliness:
Rumi hated the rounds of visits frequently paid to him by the king, princes and the nobles. He never liked them to call upon him and sometimes even expressed his distaste to the face of visit­ing personage. Once a certain grandee who paid a courtesy call to Rumi, said: "Excuse me, Sir. I couldn't pay my respects more frequently owing to other pre-occupations." "You need not be sorry for it", came the reply from Rumi, "I am more grateful to those who do not call upon me."

The Mathnawi and its Message:
Rumi had been endowed with a tremendous spiritual enthusiasm and a fervour of love which was lying dormant under the cover of his erudition, particularly of those relating to the speculative branches of secular sciences. As soon as Shams Tebrez cast his enchanted spell over Rumi, it would be seen, his spirituality was animated and the outcome was enchanting and beautiful lyrics describing the mysteries of divine love and spiritual raptures, indescribable ecstasies and transports. He ultimately attained the stage where, in the words of Iqbal, he could claim:
"At last flames burst forth from every hair of me,
Fire dropped from the veins of my thought."
It is a state where every sage gives a call with a thousand tongues for a worthy companion:
"Oh, where in the wide world is my comrade?
I am the Bush of Sinai: Where is my Moses ?":
And this was the reason why Rumi found it difficult to spend his days without a confidant and companion: his restlessness did not calm down until he found a companion in Salah ud-din after Shams and in Chelebi Hisam ud-din after Salah ud-din-verily, it is not easy for the candle to throb alone.
It was this fire of love which led Rumi to seek spiritual food and energy through Sama recitations. He has explained it thus in the Mathnawi:
"Therefore Sama is the food of lovers (of God), since therein is the phantasy of composure (tranquillity of mind).
From (hearing) Sama the mental phantasies gather a (great) strength ; nay, they become forms (in the imagination).
The fire of love is made keen (inflamed) by melodies, just as the fire (ardour) of the man who dropped walnuts (into the water)."
And this very ardour of love compelled him to write the Mathnawi.
"Flow of speech from the heart is a sign of (intimate) friendship; obstruction of speech arises from lack of intimacy.
The heart that has seen the sweetheart, how should it remain bitter?(When) a nightingale has seen the rose, how should he-remain silent?"
The Mathnawi is a collection of heart-rending lyrics; it unveils the innermost feelings of its author. The Mathnawi affords a glimpse of Rumi's ardent love and fervour of spiritual yearning, certitude of knowledge and unflinching faith. And therein perhaps lies the secret of its effectiveness and universal popularity, Iqbal has truly said: The life-blood of the singer runs through his melody.

Critique of Reason:
Rumi began his career as a successful teacher and a dialecti­cian since he had a firm grounding in the Asharite school of thought. However, when God raised him to the state of beatific visions and illuminations, thus enabling him to reach beyond the veils of words and phrases, ideas and thoughts which merely cloud the inward aspect of Reality, he became aware of the mistakes and weaknesses of the philosophers, dialecticians and other rationalists. His forceful criticism of the rational or logical syllogism is thus an expression of his personal experiences which can hardly be controverted by others.
During Rumi's time too, the sense-perception was regarded as the only infallible source for acquisition of knowledge and whatever was beyond the ken of perception was increasingly being denied by the then scholars. The Mutazilites had upheld this view so forcefully that the faith in the "unseen realities" had suffered an irreparable loss and the people had begun to cast doubts on the veracity of revealed truths. Rumi raised a severe criticism of this view and frowned upon its standard-bearers in these words:
"The doctrine held by the eye of sense is Mutazilism, whereas the eye of Reason is Sunnite (orthodox) in respect of (its) union (vision of God).
Those in thrall to sense-perception are Mutazilites, (though) from misguidedness they represent themselves as Sunnites.
Any one who remains in (bondage to) sense-perception is a Mutazilite; though he may say he is a Sunnite, 'tis from ignorance.
Any one who has escaped from (the bondage of) sense-perception is a Sunnite: the man endowed with (spiritual) vision is the eye of sweet-paced (harmonious) Reason."
Rumi has asserted at more than one place in the Mathnawi that in addition to the external senses, man has been endowed with certain inner senses too, and that these inner senses are much more wider, potent and sagacious than the outer sense-organs.
"Besides these five (physical) senses there are five (spiritual) senses: those (latter) are like red gold, while these (physical) senses are like copper.
In the bazaar where they (the buyers) are expert, how should they buy the copper sense like (as though it were) the sense of gold ?
The bodily sense is eating the food of darkness; the spiritual sense is feeding from a Sun,"
If anything cannot be seen or, for that matter, is beyond the awareness of a physical experience, then in Rumi's view, it is not necessarily non-existent. He holds the view that the latent underlies the manifest in the same way as healing properties form the intrinsic quality of a medicine.
"The unbeliever's argument is just this, that he says, *I see no place of abode except this external (world).'
He never reflects that, wherever there is anything external, that (object) gives information of hidden wise purposes.
The usefulness of every external object is, indeed, internal : it is latent, like the beneficial quality in medicines."
Rumi says that the materialists lose their sense of inner cognition and are unable to understand its objectives simply because they cultivate the habit of accepting only the external and manifest. In his opinion this signifies lack of foresight on the part of the materialists.
"Since the foolish took (only) the external appearances (into consideration), and (since) the subtleties (inward aspects) were very much hidden from them.
Necessarily they were debarred from (attaining to) the (real) object; for the subtlety escaped (them) on the occasion when it (the object) presented itself."
Rumi proceeds further to censure the intellect as well which, like sense-perception, lacks the capacity to obtain the knowledge of realities revealed by the prophets. It really does not possess the ground on which it can base its speculation in such matters nor has it any experiential awareness of the realm hidden from its view.
"What do you know of the waters of Euphrates and Oxus, sweet and pure,
You have taken abode in a pond, salty, rotted and impure."
An intellect which has a dominant carnal reason is a partial or particular intelligence, according to Rumi, for it breeds doubts and scepticism and its abode is darkness; it brings disgrace to the absolute intelligence and frustration to mankind. Insanity is preferable, indeed, to the sagacity of such an intellect.
"Imagination and opinion are the bane of the particular (discursive) reason, because its dwelling-place is in the darkness.
The particular intelligence has given the (universal) intelligence a bad name: worldly desire has deprived the (worldly) man of his desire (in the world hereafter).
It behoves us to become ignorant of this (worldly) wisdom; (rather) must we clutch at madness."
Rumi says that he has had an experience of this worldly wisdom and had reached the conclusion that:
"I have tried far-thinking (provident) intellect; hence­forth I will make myself mad."
Thereafter Rumi advances an argument, clear cut as well as to the point, in support of his contention. He says that if intellect were sufficient for the comprehension of the revealed truths, then the rationalists, logicians and dialecticians would have also shared the secrets of religion.
"If the intellect could discern the (true) way in this question, Fakhr-i-Razi would be an adept in religious mysteries."
Rumi holds the view that the sciences cultivated by human intellect cloud the knowledge of reality and make the seeker of Truth sceptical. Therefore, he pleads that one should shun philosophy and ratiocination, if he wants to inculcate an unflinching faith and attain the gnosis of the ultimate Reality.
"If thou desire that misery should vanish (from thee),
endeavour that wisdom may vanish from thee
The wisdom which is born of (human) nature and phantasy, the wisdom which lacks the overflowing grace of the Light of the Glorious (God).
The wisdom of this world brings increase of supposition and doubt; the wisdom of the Religion soars above the sky."
In his view the logical syllogisms and the inferences drawn there from smack of an artificial method of reasoning which is only of limited utility. This method is unsuited for establishing the veracity of theological truths. Drawing an analogy between the logical argumentation and the wooden legs, he says :
"The leg of the syllogisers is of wood : a wooden leg is very infirm,"
To be Cont'd ...