The Poetry of Wisdom  - Brief note about Great poet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi


By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed, Scholar Urdu Chair Ankara University Ankara


In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

In the widespread darkness of the night of materialism, for a peaceful and a beautiful spiritual dawn, we only can seek help from our cultural heritage which is related to religion, science, philosophy and literature. The discriminatory powers of the world are forcing weak nations to have their own identities even under the bright shadows of the concept of a global village. Human beings need once again the same contemplation which had played a great role in the past as far as demolishing of earthly gods and their shades and symbols were concerned.

Aljeli, Ibn ul Arabi, Imam Ghazali, Ibni Sina, Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi and Muhammad Iqbal (who have taken their models and principals of thought from the holy book which has created a great civilisation, known as anti idolism,) have evolved the concept of a superman who can seek help from the almighty Allah. God according to Muslim philosophy is the fountain of all the creations alone.

Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi is the greatest poet of the world. His dimensional poetry is matchless. He wrote his poetry in such an expressive style that a Philosopher and a common reader can appreciate it equally. The national poet of Pakistan Allama Muhammad Iqbal writes in one of his Persian long poems:

Rumi, the spiritual guide, with an enlightened heart, is the leader of the caravan of love and spiritual intoxication.

His heart is full of the light of the Quran: Jamshed's cup is meaningless in presence of his mirror.

The guide from Rum converted my clay into elixir and built up new lights from my dust.

The reed (song) from the reed of that reed player of noble birth filled my being with commotion.

By the blessings of the guide from Rum, I read out, once again the hidden mysteries of the branches of knowledge.

(Pas chah Bayad Kard ve Asrar e Khudi)

Poetry for Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi and his spiritual pupil the national poet of Pakistan Muhammad Iqbal was neither to carve out idols, nor to worship them.

The lyrics of their nature had given out new melodies;

In his wisdom-oriented poetry Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi has drawn the line at building human character and refused to get on with the concept of lustful and selfish love prevalent in the sensuous perceptions of poetry of his age. His poetry and treatises brought to light the ethical love charged with spiritual ecstasy. Though at places he has used stories and metaphors dwelling upon pleasure-seeking incidents but through this magnetic method always established the supremacy of religious faith and mystical way of life. Mevlana in one of his verse says:  


the ill-mannered person does not keep his immorality only within himself but by and large brings disaster to the world around him. So facing approximately the same situation he has tried to conclude that:


Last night the pious man with lamp roamed about the city saying that being sick of brutes I have yet to find a human being. These lazy fellow travellers have upset me and I am longing for Godís Lion and Rustum the Persian Hercules. I said that the thing we cannot find we have found. He said I am yearning for that which cannot be found. In this particular perspective Mevlana conversed with his audience through his voluminous literary and mystical works. He told them to follow the path of Prophet Muhammad PBUH the principles of which are derived from Quran.




And if you speak of perfidy, it reeks of piety

And if you speak of doubt, this doubt turns into faith

If you speak of crookedness, it reveals straightness

Oh crookedness, how you embellish straightness

Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi himself was a pious lover and he had great care for the deeds of other truthful lovers. He was of the opinion that if a person is showing undue frankness in the process of loving even with God but his love and faith have sincerity than nobody even having the position of Moses will treat him harshly God would not like that and will show his anger saying that O Moses the lovers who know etiquette are quite different from the lovers wounded and burnt in spirit. God doesnít see someoneís outer self and language but he accepts his inner self and condition.

O you who've gone on pilgrimage -

where are you, where, oh where?

Here, here is the Beloved!

Oh come now, come, oh come!

Your friend, he is your neighbour,

he is next to your wall -

You, erring in the desert -

what air of love is this?

If you'd see the Beloved's

form without any form -

You are the house, the master,

You are the Kaaba, you! . . .

Where is a bunch of roses,

if you would be this garden?

Where, one soul's pearly essence

when you're the Sea of God?

That's true - and yet your troubles

may turn to treasures rich -

How sad that you yourself veil

the treasure that is yours!

Rumi 'I Am Wind, You are Fire'

                                        Translation by Annemarie Schimmel


As far as Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumiís poetry is concerned, we cannot take it into account fully, in a small sitting or in a brief article. However it is safe to say that the pivotal point of his poetry is Man in and outside this world.

Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi himself says :

Every shop stocks some special merchandise, at Masnavi's shop is offered the "Faqr", (i.e. life of resignation and contentment.)

Our Masnavi is the shop of "Oneness".

Whatever you see beside the "One" is an idol.



Call it the water of life, and not a mere "word".

Behold the new spirit in the body of the "old word".

Whatever I say is at the level of your understanding;

0, I die of the desire for the right understanding.

Let us have a birdís eye view of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumiís concepts of words and thought

This word and voice rose from the thought; you know not where the ocean of thought be.

But if you see that the waves of the word are gentle you know

that ocean itself is noble.

The speaker of the word, the listener thereof and the words, all these three, in the end, become united in one spirit.

Mevlana sees this unity everywhere. He by and large had always reunited himself on the foundation of his existence. His concepts about Unity of Spirit, Unity and Plurality, I and We, The body and the Soul, Body without Body, Subjectivity and objectivity, The Personality and the Attributes, The First or the Last, Mystery of Time and the Spirit of the Word are absolutely clear. He says:

Your existence within the existence of that life giver is like copper being melted in the alchemistís bowl. All things but His face are mortal, If you are not immersed in Him, hop not for eternal life.

Describing unity of God Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi explains:

What it is to comprehend Godís oneness? It is to consume oneís self before the one. (page 3 the sayings of Rumi and Iqbal)

Explaining his concept of accomplished man Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi says:


As far as form is concerned o man you are the microcosm and as far as meanings or essence is concerned you are the macrocosm. Objectively branch of a tree is the source of fruit. Subjectively it has become the branch of existence for getting fruit. Had he desired not the fruit why a gardener would have sown the seed of a tree.

So (essentially) subjectively that tree is the creation of fruit though objectively it is the creation of a tree.

Foundation thought comes into practice in the end. This speciality belongs to the idea which is the attribute of the day of beginning.

Though modern religious existentialists too believe that essence precedes existence but they could not understand the concept of unity given by Muslim mystics. Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi declares:

Wine is intoxicated from us we are not intoxicated by it.

Body took the foundation from us we are not created from it.

We are like honey bees and our bodies are like wax. We have made every hole of our body like wax.

Man is made of the shadow of 'Divine Will. So he is called the distinguished one. In this perspective Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi wrote many verses in his ghazals (Divan Shams Tabriz) and Masnvi (contaning six long volumes)

I in body, an animal, in spirit an angel, so that you may traverse the earth as well as the skies:

This flame of wisdom not only was rare but further kindled in the light wind of meditation and profound and constant pondering by the real mystics of the Muslim world for centuries to come. After embracing these spiritual concepts, a real mystic feels himself free and as Dr. Ali Shariati explains in one of his article about a true companion of Muhammad PBUH:

ĎReturning in salvation towards the Absolute, being all at once released from the chains, bonds and shackles which seemingly had been wound around his soul for centuries, he suddenly senses that he had, alone and unknown, left a deep well and a narrow and dark cave in which he had been imprisoned from the beginning of creation. He looks at the wilderness, a shoreless expanse; to the horizons, distant, extensive and heaven! Full of glory, beautiful, deep and mysterious...í

We cannot deny this truth that for Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi Islam, under the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, fulfils all of the human needs and social desires of Man. He has preached that kind of monotheism which opens the gate of justice and spiritual equality. He who really believes in one God embraces love for humanity, understands the place of man in the world, works for Manís destiny, speaks heartís language, views world through heartís eye, seeks life in mysteries of love, faces all kinds of troubles and sorrows, analysis worldliness, learning and knowledge, demarcates between logical reason, imperfect reason, dry logic and spiritual reason, philosophy, force of thought and revelation. In his Ghazals and stories he emphasised on such an education and training which bring forth generosity, pity, human grace, keeping a secret, self assessment, dependence on providence, repentance, good intentions, search for reality, high aims, prayers, love of home, hard discipline, lawfully earned bread, reconstruction of life, renewal of life, construction of character, soulís purification, reward and retribution, consultation, guidance, idol breaking, good, humility, patience and tolerance, contentment, necessity and progress, spirit of homogeneity, righteousness, surprise, state of surrender, Godís destiny, peace of the heart and condition of excitement and ecstasy.

Throughout the verses of Masnavi- Maanvi Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi has negated fully the power oriented arrogance, despotic tyrannies, discrimination, idol worship, carnal self and selfishness, the false guide, deceptive appearances, disloyalty, greed and avarice, flattery, imitation, self enmity, foolishness, the bad ruler and jealousy etc.

Under the guidance of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumiís wisdom Muslim mystics and poets delivered humanity the message of unity of races, unity of classes and unity of spirit and body.



Send questions or comments to Dr. Saadat Saeed