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"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet."

This quote comes from one of Rumi's major works, the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz-i (The Works of Shams of Tabriz). The work contains over 40,000 verses.

He has had a significant influence on both Turkish and Persian literature throughout the centuries. He wrote his poetry in Persian and is widely read in Iran and Afghanistan today. However, as he lived and produced his works under the Seljuk Empire, now modern day Turkey, he is also considered a national icon there.

Rumi was a Sufi poet, theologian and teacher who was born in Persia (now part of Afghanistan) and died in Konya (present-day Turkey). Rumi's importance crosses cultural and national boundaries. He is known as Molana, Molavi, Mawlvi, Mawlana, meaning 'our guide' or 'our master' in Arabic and Persian, or Mevlana meaning 'our guide' in Turkish.

His major work is Masnavi-ye Manavi (Spiritual Couplets). This is a six-volume poem regarded by many Sufis as second in importance only to the Qur'an.

Rumi conceived of music, poetry and dancing as a way to get closer to God. It was from these ideas he founded the order of the Mevlevi, the "whirling" dervishes, and created the Sema, their sacred dance. Sema represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to a state of perfection. The aim is to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination against beliefs, races, classes and nations.


Factoids on Rumi

His epitaph: "When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men."

Translations of Rumi have sold more than a 250,000 copies in the United States.

The Mevlevi Sufi order was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death.

The Mathnawi is often called the "Qur'an-e Parsi" (The Persian Qur'an).

The Works of Shams of Tabriz is named in honour of Rumi's great friend and inspiration, the darvish Shams, who was said to have been murdered by Rumi's jealous son.


Molana Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi or Celâladin Mehmet Rumi was born in 1207. His birth place and native tongue point towards a Persian heritage.

When the Mongols invaded Central Asia sometime between 1215 and 1220, Rumi's father moved his family West. It was on this journey that Rumi encountered the famous mystic Persian poet, Attar. When Attar saw Rumi walking behind his father he is believed to have said "Here comes a sea followed by an ocean." He gave Rumi his Asrarnama, a book about the soul mixed up in the material world. This encounter at 18 was a definitive event in Rumi's life and spirituality, and became the inspiration behind much of his work.

Rumi's thinking and teaching centres on the concept of Tawheed, which means unity, and union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been severed. Much of his poetry bears witness to this longing to be reunited with perfection.

Rumi spent twelve years writing the six volumes of his master-work, the Mathnawi. This is a composite and intricate work of fables, scenes from everyday life and the Qur'an, and metaphysics. Through his work and teachings, Rumi is considered to in fact have achieved the state he searched for in his poetry, and is considered amongst Sufis as an example of insani kamil - the perfected or completed human being.

Rumi on Moving Words

"When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them."

"It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I've gone and come back, I'll find it at home."

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

A collection of Deepak Chopra's translations of Rumi's love poems has been sung by Hollywood personalities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Demi Moore.