Divani Shamsi Tabriz
- "Plant, like brave men, thy banner in the midst of the desert."
- "Till bread is broken, how can it serve as food?
Till the grapes are crushed, how can they yield wine?"
Often mis-quoted and mis-translated, the medieval Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is one of the world’s best-loved writers. Born into the Khwarazemian Empire in modern-day Afghanistan (or Tajikistan), Rumi later settled in the Sultanate of Rum, what was to become Turkey. He was also deeply religious, an Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic, something which often goes unsaid or under-played in English translations of his work. Indeed, Sufism – a branch of Islam focusing on song and poetry as a means towards oneness with God – runs throughout Rumi’s work.
Rumi’s most famous text is the Masnavi, a collection of poetry considered to be the finest composed in Persian. It focuses on love, which Rumi sees as a path towards the divine, reflected in everyday moments. Rumi’s notion of love is inclusive, bringing in the reader and calling them towards greater and more pure ways of being. Love here extinguishes the self and opens a path towards a wider world – towards God, and thus it is little surprise that Rumi’s descendants began the order of the Mevlevi, a group of mystics likewise interested in a loving fusion with the world via dance.
Rumi’s work forms the backbone of classical music, poetry, and arts in Iran and Afghanistan, as well as to the Sufi tradition. He died in 1273, and his tomb is in Konya, in present-day Turkey.