Saviours of Islamic Spirit - Maulana Jalal-ud-din Rumi

Rumi did not believe, like some other mystics, in self-negation, indifference, lethargy and renunciation of physical activity. On the contrary, he affirmed the importance of social progress, active life, self-assertion and self-preservation. He considered that the theories of monasticism and renunciation of the world were opposed to the teachings of Islam and the example set by the Prophet. "Had social life not been the object of God," asserted Rumi, "He would not have prescribed congregational prayers five times a day and on Fridays, and the duty of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong."
" The bird said to him, 'O Khwaja, don't stay in (monastic) seclusion: monasticism is not good in regard to the religion of Ahmad (Mohammed).
The Prophet has forbidden monasticism: how have you embraced a heresy, O trifler ?
The conditions (imposed by Islam) are: (to take part in) the Friday worship and the public prayers, to enjoin good and shun evil,
Live amongst the community that is the object of (Divine) mercy: do not forsake the religion of Ahmad (Mohammed), be ruled by his practice."
In the days of Rumi, tawakkul i.e., confidence or sincere trust in God was held to mean a complete resignation to the preordained will of God. Any effort, direct or indirect, to obtain the means of subsistence, or admit the thought of providing for the morrow was looked down upon and deemed as incompatible with tawakkul. Rumi explained the correct meaning of tawakkul as taught by the Shari ah and urged the people to make effort for earning their livelihood with trust in the beneficence of God. Expounding the meaning of the Tradition: Tether thy camel and have trust in God., Rumi says:
"The Prophet said with a loud voice, 'While trusting in
God bind the knee of thy camel'.
Harken to the signification of 'The earner (worker) is
beloved of God' : through trusting in God do not become
neglectful as to the {ways and) means."I
Harken, O Sire, to combine thy effort with trust in
God; to earn thy living, strive and work hard.
Strive hard to fulfil the duty charged unto thee; if thy
effort slackens, what a fool thou would be!
In an allegory told by him Rumi has repeated in the form of a debate between the lion and the beasts all those arguments which are normally set forth by the easy-going and half-hearted persons in support of their view of quietism. Thereafter, Rumi advances his own views in the form of the reply given by the lion. Rumi explains that the limbs, capacities and capabilities given to the living beings are enough to indicate that the Divine Providence requires their active exertion and application in the form of effort. If anybody hands over a spade to his servant, it implies that the master wants him to dig the earth. In the same way God has endowed us with the limbs and a capacity to work which is a clear indication of His intention that we should strive and set to work all our capabilities and free-will to earn our subsistence. Quietism and suspension of effort are against the intention of Divine Providence and, in reality, they amount to the spurning of the Divine gifts bestowed to the human beings. Therefore, tawakkul really means that one should make all possible efforts and have trust in God only in so far as the result is concerned; for, notwithstanding the efforts made, the success or failure still remains entirely in the hands of God.
'Yes,' said the lion; 'but the Lord of His servants set a ladder before our feet.
Step by step must we climb towards the roof: to be a necessitarian here is (to indulge in) foolish hopes.
You have feet: why do you make yourself out to be lame ? You have hands: why do you conceal the fingers (whereby you grasp) ?
When the master put a spade in the slave's hand, his object was made known to him (the slave) without (a word falling from his) tongue.
When you take His signs to heart, you will devote your life to fulfilling that indication (of His will).
He will give you many hints (for the understanding) of mysteries, He will remove the burden from you and give you (spiritual) authority.
Freewill is the endeavour to thank (God) for His beneficence : your necessitarianism is the denial of that beneficence.
Thanksgiving for the power (of acting freely) increases your power; necessitarianism takes the (Divine) gift (of freewill) out of your hand.
Beware ! do not sleep, O inconsiderate necessitarian, save underneath that fruit-laden tree,
So that every moment the wind may shake the boughs and shower upon the sleeper (spiritual) dessert and provision for the journey.
If you are putting trust in God, put trust (in Him) as regards (your) work: sow (the seed), then rely upon the Almighty.'
Rumi sets out to explain, on behalf of the lion, that the way of the prophets and the saints consists of striving and making effort. He also explains that "this worldliness" from which the Shariah wants a faithful to seek deliverance does not comprise the riches or off-springs ; it lies in being attached to worldly possessions and temptations, since the Divine blessings shall be denied to those who lead a life of negligence and ingratitude.
'Yes', said the lion; 'but at the same time consider the exertions of the prophets and the true believers.
God, exalted is He, prospered their exertion and what they suffered of oppression and heat and cold.
O master, exert thyself so long as thou canst in (following) the way of the prophets arid saints !
What is this world ? To be forgetful of God ; it is not merchandise and silver and weighing-scales and women.
As regards the wealth that you carry for religion's sake, 'How good is righteous wealth (for the righteous man) !' as the Prophet recited.
Exertion is a reality, and medicine and disease are realities : the sceptic in his denial of exertion practised (and thereby affirmed) exertion.' "'

Critique of the Rulers
Rumi reproached not only the populace or the learned who made mistakes in following or expounding the religious precepts; in his preaching and poems he often bitterly criticised those who held the reigns of government. He openly taxed them with the charge that they were an inefficient lot who had turned the government into a child's play. In the days of despotic rule, Rumi's criticism could have had dangerous consequences, but he never held his tongue from expressing what he considered to be just and truthful.
"When authority is in the hands of profligates, (a) Dhu'l-Nun is inevitably in prison.
When the pen (of authority) is in the hand of a traitor, unquestionably Mansur is on a gibbet.
When this affair (dominion) belongs to the foolish, the necessary consequence is (that) they- kill the prophets.* Further, he criticises the rulers of his own times in these words:
"When authority falls into the hands of one who has lost the (right) way, he deems it to be a high position (j'ah), (but in reality) he has fallen into a pit (chah).
The foolish have become leaders, and from fear (of them) the wise have drawn their heads into the cloak."

Rumi is critical of the rationalists for their undue dependence on senses. At the same time he criticises the dialecticians too for their formalism and addiction to disputation. But, unlike other mystics, he is not content with summoning the people towards love and faith, intuition and spiritual enlightenment alone; he also tries to find out a convincing answer, in his own inimitable manner, to the difficult questions of dialectics and philosophy. In other words, Rumi's approach to scholasticism is not simply critical but affirmative and constructive as well. In cases where the dialectical method leads nowhere, or the logical syllogism employed for it makes the matter even more intricate and insoluble, Rumi approaches the problem directly as if it were a simple question and brings forth such parallels, from everyday happenings, or apologues, anecdotes, fables or legends, that a solution to the problem almost suggests itself and helps to convince the reader of the truth underlying it. The method employed by Rumi is simple yet so subtle, if it can be so-called, that the reader never feels that Rumi is leading him to a certain conclusion which he did not already know; on the contrary, he feels as if Rumi has simply given expression to his own views on that particular question. The Mathnawi is thus a striking example of solving the most intricate theological and metaphysical issues, and also of instilling a deep conviction through the solutions offered by it, which cannot be had by going through a library of philosophical dissertations. No reader of the Mathnawi can doubt the sincerity of Rumi and his attachment to the Creator or the inspiration drawn by him from higher sources in dealing with these intricate issue .
Rumi belonged to the Asharite school of dialectics and had earlier been a profound scholar and successful teacher of the Islamic scholasticism. He did not, however, remain a mere interpreter of that school but laid the foundation of a new method of dialectical reasoning which is quite distinct and more efficacious than the method of earlier propounders of his school. He is nearer to the Qur'anic arguments in approach and treatment of the theological problems, for he follows in the footsteps of the Qur'an in its simplicity, directness and appeal to the common-sense.

Existence of God
The existence of God has always been the fundamental and the most important problem for all the religious doctors and scholastics. Religious philosophers of the old have undoubtedly argued the issue quite logically which puts their adversaries to silence but their arguments fail to impart conviction in the existence of God. The Quran, on the other hand, appeals to the common-sense of man and invokes his inherent though dormant inclination, to accept the Supreme Truth. The Qur'an calls upon the Prophet to declare:
Can there be doubt concerning Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth ?'
The manner in which the Qur'an directly introduces the subject and shows its astonishment on the doubt concerning Allah, catches man unawares and then he is led to think of the Creator of the universe, the Fashioner of all creations. The Quran helps man to proceed from the effect to the cause, from the things made to the maker and from the heaven and earth to their Fashioner. One finds this method employed throughout in the Qur'an. It calls attention to the creations of God Almighty and helps to ponder over His attributes ; and, this is the easiest and shortest as well as the surest route, according to the Qur'an, to attain the gnosis of God
We shall show them our portents on the horizon and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth . Doth not thy Lord suffice since He is witness over all things?
Rumi employs the same method of argumentation in the Mathnawi. He draws inference from the universe to the First Cause and the Creator of the universe. He says that we see a number of incidents taking place in the world but not the doer It is thus sufficiently clear, argues Rumi, that there is some one who is the ultimate cause of these happenings; the act is before our eyes while the doer is hidden:
"See ye the pen writing but not the pen that writes;
The horse is seen running, but not that who rides ;
The arrow is visible, but not the bow:
The life is in sight, but hidden is the Life of lives."
Rumi argues that the movement is itself an evidence of the power which is providing the driving force. If there is a whiff of air, there must also be someone who has put it into motion.
"Thou sawest the wind moving: know that a Mover of the wind is here, who drives the wind along.
Therefore in the mind of every one possessing knowledge this is certain, that with everything that moves there is a mover."
May be that man does not see the cause, but the effect is certainly before him. Therefore, it is evident that there must be the cause of everything, even though it may be hidden from one's eyes. If a human frame has life and movement, it must have a soul too. One cannot see the soul, but is not the self-propelled movement of the body a proof that there is a soul in it ?
"If you do not see him visibly, apprehend him by means of the manifestation of the effect.
The body is moved by the spirit: you do not see the spirit: but from the movement of the body know the spirit (to be its mover)."
Rumi asks: What else can be a greater evidence of the existence of the Ultimate Cause than its effects, and of the Creator than His creation? What else one wants in order to accept the existence of the sun than the light it casts an the world ?
"Does not light of the sun, by its presence,
Serve thee a proof of its existence".
The universe does not simply exist, it is functioning in accordance with certain set physical laws in an orderly fashion. The celestial bodies move in their orbit according to a pre-ordained law; the wind and clouds are not free to go wherever they like. All these laws, drawn out so carefully and minutely, and the order and sequence we see in the cosmos, drive us to one conclusion only, and it is that the universe has a Creator and Ruler who is Wise, Knowing. The world can never deviate for a moment from the path chalked out for it by Him.
"If thou seest not the revolutionary action of the (Divine) decree, look at the surging and whirling (that appears) in the (four) elements ;
The sun and moon are two mill-oxen, going round and round and keeping watch (over the world).
The stars likewise run from house to house (in the sky) and convey every good and evil fortune.
The cloud, too, is lashed with a whip of fire, (as though to say), 'Go that way, do not go this way
Rain upon such and such a valley, do not rain in this quarter' : He reprimands it, saying, 'Give ear !' "
Rumi says that God has not created the universe for His own benefit; it has been created for the benefit and continuous promotion of man from one stage to another. He elucidates the ultimate purpose underlying the creation of the universe which is being sought without any success by the philosophers and dialecticians, in a beautiful aud convincing manner.
"The Prophet has declared that God said, 'My purpose in creating was to do good ;
I created to the intent that they (My creatures) might draw some gain from Me, and that they might smear their hands with My honey ;
Not to the end that I might draw some gain (from them), and that I might tear off a coat from one (who is) naked.'
Not to derive advantage did I create ; it was but simply (to shower) rewards on My bondsmen. "