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Iraj Bashiri, "The Ishraqi Philosophy of Jalal al-Din Rumi" - Part 1

Part 1. To Part 2: http://hojja-nusreddin.livejournal.com/2314029.html

A Few Opening Words v
Acknowledgements xi
Author's Biography xiii
1. Maulana Rumi's Life 1
2. Rumi and the World 16
3. Rumi and Philosophy 25
4. Iranian Roots of Ishraqi Philosophy 27
5. Revival of Ancient Iranian Thought 28
6. Ishraqi Philosophy in Rumi's Verses 34
Concluding Remarks 42
A Few Closing Words 45
Bibliography 47

A Few Opening Word

Since the early days of my acquaintance with some of the works of Dr. Iraj Bashiri, I have always been impressed by the depth and expanse of his research in various fields. He is a source of information for the history of the vast area of Iran and Central Asia, as well as for the culture and literatures of the region. In addition, he is well versed in the intellectual aspects of Islam and irfan.

In the present study, Dr. Bashiri deals with the "Ishraqi legacy of Maulana." Following the main lines of Shaykhi Ishraq Suhrawardi's philosophy, he discusses Maulana's views and thoughts in five areas and on 5 topics. These are:
- the life of Maulana,
- the sources of Maulana's inspiration,
- the subject of sama and its relation to Maulaviyyeh,
- Maulana's influence in the world, and
- Maulana's understanding of the Ishraqi philosophy of Suhrawardi.

Let us begin with a description of the 6 parts of his writing.
Part 1 is about Maulana's life from childhood to the death of his father, Baha' al-Din Walad, as well as about taking control of the affairs of his father's murids and the supervision of the Order. In this section, there is also a discussion of Maulana's visit to Farid al-Din 'Attar, the selfless supervision and guidance of Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq and Shams of Tabriz, as well as Maulana's travels in search of knowledge.

Part 2
deals with the sources of Maulana's inspiration. These sources include:
- on the one hand, the Holy Qur'an, the Islamic Shari'a, the ahadith, and the words and deeds of religious leaders and,
- on the other hand, Ishraqi philosophy, the thoughts of ancient Greeks and Persians, and the teachings of Najm al-Din Kubra.
In this section, there is an in-depth study of the ethics of the perfect man from the point of view of Maulana followed by thoughts and deeds of Maulana himself as a highly respected individual with global recognition.

Part 3
deals with the diffusion of Maulana's thought and the appearance of music and dance (sama) in the Maulaviyyeh Order. In this part, the Dervishes' manner of dance, the symbolic significance of the movements of the participants, and the type of verses chosen for the occasion are examined.

Part 4
is about the ever-increasing fame of Maulana at a global level. In this part, studies undertaken in various countries of the world, specifically in Turkey, Iran, France, Germany, England, and Italy are discussed and the history of Maulana studies is examined. This part also includes a section about the encounter of Americans with the thought and poetry of Maulana and their attempt at rewriting the translations of the ghazals of Shams on the basis of their meaning. This part is of special interest to us Iranians who do not have access to the primary sources on the subject. In this regard, the present study is entirely innovative, especially when we consider that Dr. Bashiri has nearly half a century of instruction at the University of Minnesota and chairmanship of that University's Middle East Studies Department to his credit. Needless to say he is cognizant of the primary sources on this subject.

But, as Dr. Bashiri aptly notes, whatever the general public or intellectuals write in American society about Maulana must be scrutinized by Iranian intellectuals. Of course, the first step in that direction is access to American thought on the subject. The present study provides that priceless access.

The last Part 5 of the study includes an explanation of Ishraqi philosophy from the point of view of its founder Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi. In this regard, the author casts a look first at ancient Iranian thought and the value of the farr in the cosmic dimensions of light in ancient Iranian thought. Then, he investigates the relationship between Iranian thought and Ishraqi philosophy. In the process, he shows how the Iranians, after the expulsion of philosophy by al-Ghazzali and Ibn Taimiyyah from among the Islamic sciences, replaced Masha'i philosophy with a combined Perso-Islamic philosophy, and how Najm al- Din Kubra has harmonized that philosophy with the thoughts of the mystics of his time. At the end, two of Maulana's poems, "I died as a mineral" and "Listen to the reed flute" are analyzed and evaluated in the context of Ishraqi philosophy.

This study, in addition to providing a forum in which to discuss the life and works of Jalal al-Din Rumi and the impact of Ishraqi philosophy on the makeup of the two above-mentioned poems, emphasizes the education that Maulana received at the hand of his father Baha' Walad and his mystic mentors Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq and Shams of Tabriz. It also shows that each of these scholars personally contributed immensely to Maulana's erudition and worldview and that Maulana studied love, patience, and humility at their threshold.

In the section on philosophy, the emphasis is on the influence of ancient Iranian thought on Islamic philosophy, in general, and on Ishraqi philosophy in particular. In this regard, the works of al-Farabi and al-Suhrawardi are scrutinized. Maulana's knowledge about Ishraqi philosophy is based on the studies of Najm al-Din Kubra on the subject of light and Ala' al- Din Simnani's reshaping of that philosophy in terms of colors, each one of which signifies a stage on the Path. The methodology used consists of a basic structure on which semantic matrices are imposed. The artistic beauty of the poetry is the result of a dialog that obtains between the basic structure and the semantic matrices within the text. Maulana's incredible mastery of the Persian language enables him to convey, with the least number of words and images, the most profound philosophical thoughts possible. A brief summary of the basics concludes the study.

Dr. Ali Musavi Garmarudi
Tehran, Daymah 1386
Rumi's Father - Baha' al-Din Walad

Generally referred to as Rumi,[1] but known to Iranians as Mawlavi or Maulana (our master), and to the Turks as Mevlavi, Maulana Jalal al-Din Muhammad of Balkh (henceforth Rumi) was born into a scholarly family of Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan, on September 30, 1207. He grew up in Balkh under the tutelage of his father Baha' al-Din Walad (hence Baha' Walad), and the care of his atabak (guardian) Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq of Tirmidh, a disciple of Baha' Walad.

At the time, Balkh was one of the major centers of mysticism and Baha' al-Din Walad was one of Balkh's leading theologians and mystics. His parents were related to the court of the Khwarazmshah, on the one hand, and to the first of the Rashidun Caliphs, Abu Bakr, on the other hand. Additionally, he was a student of Najm al-Din Kubra.

In 1212 or 1213, living in Balkh became increasingly difficult for Baha' Walad; therefore, he decided to leave Balkh for the western lands of Islam. The decision disrupted Jalal al-Din Muhammad's life in Balkh.
Several reasons are given for this move:
- one is that Baha' Walad was a supporter of the teachings of al-Junaid through Ahmad al-Ghazzali, Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali's brother. This attribution connected Baha' Walad with the views of Najm al-Din Kubra, his teacher, who was well known in the Sufi circles of Transoxiana. Imam Fakhr al-Razi, a friend of Khwarazmshah, opposed both Kubra and Walad. He warned the Sultan of the imminent danger to his rule from the religious throngs controlled by Kubra and Walad.[2]
- a less likely reason is that Baha' Walad was aware of Genghis Khan's invasion of China and was convinced that the Mongol invasion of Khwarazm was imminent. He, therefore, decided to move his family out of harm's way.
- another reason could be that since Najm al-Din Kubra was established in Transoxiana, Baha' Walad thought that he should create his own order somewhere in the western lands of the Caliphate.
……………… …… Junaid (d. 910)
………………… …… |
……… …… …… Baghdad School
………………… …… |
……… …… …… Ahmad al-Ghazzali (d. 1126)
……… | …………………………… …………………………… |
Najm al-Din Kubra (d. 1221)…… …… ……… Baha al-Din Walad (d. 1231)
……… | …………………………… …………………………… |
……… |………………………… …………………………… Burhan al-Din Muhaqqik (d. 1244)
……… | …………………………… …………………………… |
……… |………………………… …………………………… Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273)
……… | …………………………… …………………………… |
Kubrawiyyah …………………… …………………… Mevlaviyyah

Genesis of the development of Kubrawiyyah and Mevlaviyyah Sufi Orders
In any event, on his way to Baghdad, Baha' Walad visited Nishapur. There, allegedly, he met Farid al-Din 'Attar, renowned at the time as a major follower of the Kubrawiyyah Order. Attar liked Baha' Walad's six-year-old son, Jalal al-Din Muhammad, and assured the father of his son's becoming a true inspiration for the devout.[3] It is reported that Attar gave the child a copy of his Asrar Nama or Book of Mysteries. Rumi's contemporaries report that Rumi treasured 'Attar's book and,
alongside his father's al-Ma'arif, kept it very close to himself.[4]

From Nishapur, Baha' Walad traveled to Baghdad. There he was invited by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi to stay a while at his khaniqah, but he did not accept. Instead, he stayed at the Mustansariah School.[5] After Baghdad, he visited Mecca, Medina, and Damascus, all the time looking for a town in which he could settle in a madrasah and teach his disciples who had accompanied him. None of these places satisfied Baha' Walad's requirements for a new home. Neither did his colleagues in those towns look forward to competing with him. A highly respected theologian and mystic, Baha' Walad attracted sizeable crowds to his lectures. His visits, therefore, were worrisome for the religious leaders of those towns. From Damascus, he moved to Aleppo and, then, to Malatya where he stayed for four years before he moved to Laranda (present-day Karaman), south east of Konya (Quniyyah), in present-day Turkey. He lived in Laranda for seven years.

At Laranda, Jalal al-Din Muhammad married Gawhar Khatun of Samarqand who, in 1226, gave birth to a son, the future Sultan Walad. The family also lost two of its members, Baha' Walad's wife and Jalal al-Din Muhammad's older brother, Ala al-Din Muhammad. As for Baha' Walad, in 1228, invited by the Seljuq ruler Ala al-Din Kayqubad, he moved to Konya, the then capital of the Seljuqs of Rum, leaving Jalal al-Din Muhammad's family in Laranda. In Konya, Baha' Walad lived in a madrasah until 1230 when he died.

It is ironic that Baha' Walad found his ideal place to settle, raise a family, and organize his Sufi order almost at the end of his search and, indeed, life. As the capital of the Seljuq Turks, 13-th century Konya was on the way to prosperity. A center of commerce and culture, it attracted scientists, artists, poets, and architects from all over the Islamic world. In contrast, Transoxiana was passing through one of its most unhappy times. When it eventually happened in 1220-27, the Mongol invasion impacted the lives of everyone there, especially the learned men of the realm. Both Farid al-Din Attar and Najm al-Din Kubra were put to death by the Mongols, while Muslih al-Din Sa'di was dislocated from his homeland of Fars.
During his youth and middle age, Sa'di roamed in the devastated Mongol territories, seeking a reason for the Mongol scourge and the calamity that had befallen mankind.[6] He did not settle down to document his thoughts until he was quite advanced in age.
Similarly, the family of Saif al-Din Mahmud, the father of Amir Khusrau Dihlavi, was forced to move from Kish (present-day Qarshi in Uzbekistan) to Delhi to stay out of harm's way.

As mentioned, Baha' Walad was a student of Najm al-Din Kubra. He not only educated his son, Jalal al-Din Muhammad, in the Kubrawiyyah Order, but that he also acquainted Jalal al-Din with other Kubrawi Sufis, especially with his own disciple, Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq. Indeed, after his father, we must count Burhan al-Din as the other individual with great influence on the development of Jalal-al-Din Rumi's Sufi thought.[7] This is not to diminish the role of Shams of Tabriz, who entered Maulana's life towards the end, but who impacted Maulana's worldview the most. We will talk about those who impacted Maulana's life in some detail further below.

Rumi's education

At the time of the death of his father, when he was 23 years old, Rumi's Sufi thought and his interest in mysticism had not developed enough to qualify him to occupy his father's exalted position. Therefore, he busied himself with giving sermons, issuing fatwas, and teaching at the madrasah. His Sufi training at the time was the responsibility of Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq, who had recently arrived from Balkh for the purpose and who had taken over Baha' Walad's position. Muhaqqiq persuaded Jalal al-Din Muhammad to embark on a quest and to immerse himself in the type of studies, experiences, and teachings that had distinguished his father. To prepare him for the task, Burhan al-Din persuaded Jalal al-Din Muhammad to travel to Aleppo and Damascus and meet with other Sufi mystics. He instructed the young Rumi to give free reign to his experiences and thoughts.

During his travels, in Aleppo, young Rumi met with several major Sufi figures among them Kamal al-Din ibn al-'Adim and Muhiy al-Din ibn al-'Arabi. Then, after undergoing a rigorous program of meditation supervised by Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq, he assumed his father's mantle as the leader of the Sufis of Konya.[8]

As can be seen, Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq played a major role during this phase of Rumi's life. He stepped into the position of the Shaykh after Baha' al-Din Walad's death, allowing Rumi to experience the world, and stood down when he felt Rumi was ready to shoulder the responsibility.
According to Jami, Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq served as Maulana's mentor and guide for nine years.[9]

It should be mentioned that Jalal al-Din's thought is somewhat different from his father's thought. The difference lies in the milieus in which the two grew up and reached maturity. Baha' Walad lived in Transoxiana at a time when 'Ash'ari kalam was in contention with Ishraqi thought. It was also a time of uncertainty under the Khwarazmshah, when the fabric of Shafi'ite Sunni rule of the Seljuqs was being torn asunder and communities with long Islamic traditional bonds were being dispersed.

Rumi's milieu was 13-th century turbulent Anatolia to which immigrants from all over, especially from what is present-day Central Asia (Khwarazm, Transoxiana, and Khurasan), as well as from Iran and Iraq were taking refuge from the Mongol onslaught. Among those who resided in Konya at the time, mention can be made of Sadr al-Din Qunavi, Fakhr al-Din Iraqi, and Najm al-Din Dayeh.[10]
These immigrants, like Rumi's father and his associates, had brought their own philosophical and theological ideas with them. Rumi's father, for instance, had brought his vision of the teachings of Ahmad al-Ghazali and Najm al-Din Kubra, while the immigrants from Iraq, like the Sufi Shihab al-Din Umar al-Suhrawardi (d. 1234),[11] had brought an ethicist order that emphasized piety and asceticism.

To put it differently, in Rumi's Anatolia, there was a coming together of communities and a lot of give and take was taking place among diverse groups. Rumi, for instance, supported work ethics, generosity, and justice. He especially supported futuwwa (chivalry), a major Islamic virtue to which he became dedicated.[12]

In the same vein, Al-Suhrawardi revived the futuwwa organization in both its theoretical and practical senses to aid the caliph to propagate Sunni Islam. Rumi took advantage of the futuwwa vehicle and used it for his own purposes, i.e., for the propagation of a new order resulting from a synthesis of eastern (Kubrawiyyah) and western (Suhrawardiyyah) orders. This new order came to be known as the Mevlavi Order.[13] We will have more to say about the organization of the order later.

The sources of inspiration for Jalal al-Din Rumi are diverse

- on the one hand there are the Quran, and the Prophet as the Perfect Man,
- on the other hand, there are the less perfect human beings who supervised his formal education and Sufi learning. Among these latter:
--- perhaps the most influential was his father, while he lived. In fact, his father's notes, "Maarif", can be traced in almost all the compositions of Maulana.
--- as we have seen, his father's disciple, Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq, was also a major source of inspiration, especially after the death of his father. In fact, Muhaqqiq came to Konya after the death of Baha' Walad to meet with Rumi and his disciples in special sessions. In these sessions, he insisted that Rumi should read his father's notes over and over and use the wisdom contained in them in his instructions. Burhan al-Din died in 1240 in Qaisariyyah. His memory is kept alive in the many mentions of his name in Maulana's "Fih ma Fihi".
--- a third source of inspiration was Shams of Tabriz who, as mentioned, entered late in Maulana's life (1244). Unlike Muhaqqiq, Shams advocated independence from his father's legacy[14] and indifference to worldly matters.
Rumi meets Shams
It is reported that when the 40 year old Maulana met the 60 year old Sufi known as Shams of Tabriz, he was astounded. To Maulana, Shams of Tabriz appeared as the visage of the Almighty. Unable to answer Shams's questions, Maulana fell unconscious, and, thereafter, remained under the spell of Shams. For instance, before meeting Shams, Maulana had devoted his whole energy to the education of his disciples at the madrasah. After meeting Shams, he abandoned teaching altogether and spent his time in khilvat (seclusion) with Shams. Maulana's lack of attention infuriated his disciples, who, unable to change the attitude of their teacher, made life in Konya very difficult for Shams.

Without informing Maulana about his future residence, Shams left Konya. For fifteen months Maulana sought Shams's whereabouts without any luck. Finally, he received information that Shams was living in Damascus. He sent Sultan Walad to persuade Shams to return to Konya. When Shams returned, for some time, all was well between him and Maulana's disciples. They even arranged a marriage for him with the daughter of one of Maulana's relatives. But the reunion of Maulana and Shams did not last long. Again, a lack of attention to his teaching and Maulana's total absorption in sama' (music) and raqs (dance) infuriated the disciples. Shams left Maulana for the last time (1247) and, according to certain accounts, was murdered soon after at the hand of Maulana's students. Rumi's own son, Ala al-Din, is reported to have been among the miscreants.[15]

As for Maulana, he waited for seven years for his soul mate to return. He even made two trips to Damascus to look for him. All in vain. Tired, he returned from Syria a totally changed individual. He no longer taught his regular courses or delivered any sermons. Instead, he spent his time at the khaniqah guiding disciples and pilgrims.[16]

After the departure of Shams, Rumi transferred his affection to Salah al-Din Faridun Qunavi, also known as "Zarkub" (goldsmith). A student and disciple of Muhaqqiq, Zarkub was naïve; he was, it is reported, the butt of jokes among his own disciples. What did Maulana see in him?

After the death of the goldsmith (1258), for the last time, Rumi transferred his affection to Husam al-Din Chelebi, who died in 1284. It was for Husam al-Din that Rumi composed what has come to be known as the Bible of Sufism, Mathnavi-i Ma'navi (The Mathnavi Devoted to the Intrinsic Meaning of all Things). The remainder of Rumi's life was devoted to the composition of the Mathnavi in which effort he was helped by Husam al-Din.

The themes, images, stories, and concept introduced and developed in the works of Rumi

They are too numerous to deal with in this study. In what follows, therefore, a few concepts and themes will be analyzed as samples representing the rest.
These include Rumi's view of the perfect man, fate, poverty, and wisdom, among others.

The concept of the perfect man is very close to Rumi's heart. Before Rumi, Ibn Maskawaih, Ibn 'Arabi, and Jilani, and after Rumi, in more recent times, Muhammad Iqbal have discussed this concept to some degree. Rumi, however, is the thinker who has analyzed the concept in terms of both material and spiritual dimensions. The material dimension of the impact of the perfect man on individuals and society places the perfect man at the apex from where he can command the world as we see and experience it. The spiritual dimension enables the perfect man to internalize the world, on the one hand, and to be internalized by it, on the other hand. Such a unique person, Rumi believes, can lead mankind on the path to righteousness.

Maulana's perfect man is an accomplished self in whom thought and action, as well as instinct and intelligence are united.[17] Such a person retains his individuality even in relation to the godhead. He is not prone to the loss of self. This might seem like a contradiction to the general view of fana' (annihilation) as a result of which the lover is totally annihilated in the Beloved but, in reality, there is no contradiction. In its annihilation in the perfect soul, it is not the individual's individuality that is affected, but the individual's identity. It is, after all, man's individuality that gives him freedom and, eventually, eternal life.[18] Put differently, against the sun, the candle does not turn into naught. Rather, it remains a candle and produces light albeit within its own limited sphere and ability.

Maulana's views are at odds with the general Sufic view that advocates that one should abandon the world and put all his trust in Providence. In fact, Maulana tries very hard to instill in his followers a strict work ethic. The comfort of the individual and the family, he says, is tied to the individual's adoption of a profession.[19] Even children, he says, can contribute to the labor force. They can be equipped with small drums that they can beat to keep the swarms of birds away from the farms.[20]

One of the major issues during the formative days of Islam was the role of poverty in the life of the Muslim faithful. Are wealth and piety mutually exclusive? Rumi looks at the life of the Prophet Muhammad as an example and provides examples from the lives of the Rashidun caliphs, like Abu Bakr. In all those cases he makes a distinction between the individual, who is facing a lack of worldly possessions because of circumstances, and an individual, who deliberately avoids amassing worldly possessions. Put differently, the mendicant is poor because he does not have access to wealth while a poor by choice, like Abu Bakr, is poor because he chooses to live within what his labor pays. The mendicant, if his means allow, has the potential of becoming powerful, arrogant, and oppressive. The individual who chooses poverty is already powerful. He uses his power to educate the world and to gradually bring the mendicant, both when he is wanting and when he has become powerful, into the path on which he himself traverses. It is in learning, teaching, and guidance that the perfect man finds his wealth and makes his contribution to society.

Rumi is also at odds with the mainstream Sufis with regard to the role of reason in the progression of man towards unity with God. In general, it is believed that before annihilation, reason leaves the salik. Rumi believes that intelligence and love are part and parcel of the makeup of the perfect man. Indeed, it is the combined effect of love and reason that enables an ordinary man to reach the status of a perfect man. Is it not love that comforts the individual against the ravages of death, and is it not intelligence that finds an individual's way to love? With bodily death so imminent for everyone, should not the perfect man distinguish his immortality by exercising control over reason that leads his way to love? Then again, what is the source of the true knowledge of the perfect man? Rumi found his answer in Shams of Tabriz, a fellow twenty years his senior, who grabbed Maulana's books and threw them into the pond. In response to Maulana's protest he said true knowledge comes from the heart, not from books. Within you, he said to Maulana, there is an immense reservoir of knowledge waiting to be unleashed. Allow that knowledge to surface untrammeled.

Similarly, Rumi uses imagery as a mainstay of his works, both prose and poetry. A most prolific writer, comparable to Sana'i and 'Attar, Rumi wrote 3,200 odes in over 34,600 couplets, using imagery alluding to Allah and His reflection in all things. The most frequently encountered images in Rumi's works are those of water, animals, and the sun. The Almighty, the Holy Book, the Prophet, the ahadith, and the poets who had preceded him are all held very high in his poetry, as are ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Rumi's writing style in the Mathnawi is very much like 'Attar's style in Asrar Nama with the difference that, unlike 'Attar, Rumi frequently interjects his own thoughts into the content of the poem.[21]
His major achievements, the "Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi" and the "Mathnawi" attest to his encyclopedic knowledge of the world. He categorizes people by the nature, temperament, knowledge, and region, distinguishes birds and animals by type, and foods by name. His knowledge of mythology, religious annals, and folklore is vast.

Rumi's Mathnawi testifies to the expanse of his phenomenal awareness of the world and the extent of his knowledge about the past and the present, and most importantly, to his dexterity at telling stories.[22]
While scrutinizing ethical, religious, and spiritual issues, and while explaining Quranic verses and ahadith, Rumi also delves into the delicate theme of love and explains its relation to rituals (Sharia), on the one hand, and to the exalted state of the perfect man, on the other hand. He documents his assertions with Qur'anic references, and with references to the assertions of the Shaykhs before him, and with logic, common sense, and experience.[23]
His Mathnawi, redolent with information about the past history of Iran, Islam, Anatolia, and Central Asia, also includes valuable information about the trends of Rumi's time and his perspective on them. For instance, Rumi regards men superior to women in foresight but not in intelligence where men have had to use other means, such as brute force, to stay ahead of the game.[24] He is also very critical of deceitful and equivocal preachers, especially those who use heaven and hell as means of intimidating simple people.[25]

Rumi's death and biography

Rumi lived a relatively full life. He died on December 17, 1273. He left instructions that Shaykh Sadr al-Din Qunavi should perform the prayer for him. Rumi was buried in Konya beside his father. Many frequent his mausoleum. It should be added that due to his long stay in Konya, he is often referred to as the Mawla of Rum. As for Rumi himself, he always regarded Khurasan as his home. Then again, philosophically speaking, place of birth — Egypt, Damascus, or India — was immaterial to Rumi.

Rumi's funeral procession was attended by Muslims, Jews, and Christians, as well as by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. Is this not testimony to the appeal that his great humanity and spirit of tolerance had created?[26]

According to both Sultan Walad and Aflaki, Rumi's wake lasted for forty days.[27]
Again, following Maulana's instructions, after his death, Husam al-Din Chelebi succeeded him. Eventually Sultan Walad, Maulana's son, succeeded Chelebi and institutionalized the Order in the family.[28]

Some 16 years after Maulana's death, Sultan Walad wrote the most reliable biography of Rumi. This was a major contribution, not only because it was written very close to the time of Maulana's death, but also because someone very close to him, actually someone who could describe aspects of his life and thought with a special understanding, wrote it. Another biography, ordered by Maulana's grandson, took about forty three years to complete. Written 82 years after the death of Maulana by Shams al-Din Ahmad Aflaki, it is a much less reliable source, redolent with superstition and flattery. Over the centuries, unfortunately, it is the information in this volume that has been repeated by later biographers rather than the facts in Sultan Walad's. If there is a positive side to Aflaki's work, it is in the fact that he examines the lives of Baha' Walad and those close to his circle as well.[29]

Order Mevlaviyyah

The 13-th century Sufi order known as the Mevlaviyyah (popularly referred to as the Whirling Dervishes) has its roots in the era immediately following Maulana's death.[30]
At that time, his disciples built a tomb and monastery complex in which they could gather and keep his memory and teachings alive. The performance of the sama' brought audiences to the place and the complex gradually assumed the shape of a regular meeting place for Maulana enthusiasts. Maulana's son, Sultan Walad, who served as the Shaykh of the order from 1285 until his death in 1312 took on the responsibility of propagating the Order.[31] Sultan Walad's son, Ulu Arif Chelebi (d. 1320) is credited with introducing the liturgy, ritual, special garments, and the overall structure of the increasingly growing order.[32]

The main audio-visual feature of the order is a passionate recital of music (sama') and the performance of a dance (raqs). The music, religious in content, conveys love through playing musical instruments (saz), including ney (flute) and daf (drum). The dance consists of a series of choreographed gyrations that imitate the rotation of the heavenly spheres. The performance is orderly and serene. Each dancer wears a seamless felt crown, symbolic of a tombstone,[33] and a black robe, symbolic of the grave. At the beginning of the dance, all the dancers, in black garments, appear on the stage and stand in a line. When the Shaykh assumes his position, they all discard the black robes in anticipation of the dance. The dancer, who is at the head of the line, moves slowly in the direction of the Shaykh and kisses the hand of the Shaykh. The Shaykh in return kisses the sikkah (costume) of the dancer. The dancer then, with folded arms, moves onto the center of the stage and begins gyrating. The other dancers gradually join him. The garment in which the dance is performed is white and has a floating skirt.

The gestures and movements of the dancers symbolize the particular relationship that the dancers create between the Beloved and the world. For instance, when gyrating, the disciple's open right palm is raised to the heavens while his open left palm is turned downward. The raised hand symbolizes receiving blessings from Heaven, the down-turned palm symbolizes transmission of the blessings onto the earth.

Similarly, the gyrations, combined with music, indicate the flight of the soul of the dancer to the Beloved. It is reported that as they dance, the dervishes feel that they gradually elevate themselves above the floor of the stage and that the distance between them and God is diminished. This happens in several stages. During the initial rotations the dancers acquire a vision of the realms and bear witness to the unity of God. During the gyrations that follow, they accept the unity of God and make it a part of their philosophy of existence. This acceptance gradually elevates them to the presence of God, where the dance comes to a halt. At this point, the Shaykh takes his seat and the music signals the conclusion of the dance.

It is related in the Tariq al-Haqyeq that the Mevlaviyyah is spread widely throughout Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, and Iraq, and that in those places it is well known to one and all. Each disciple is required to attend to the business of the khaniqah for one thousand and one days. Deviation on any day would require the disciple to begin the process from the beginning. After the process is completed, the disciple undergoes a repentance ritual to cleanse his self. It is then that he will be ushered into the fold, robed in the traditional garb of the Mevlavis, and given a room (hujrah) in which to meditate and further perfect his self.[34]

The order has two types of audiences. There is a serious audience that seeks a thorough understanding of the unity of existence (wahdat al-wujud) as it has been expressed by Ibn al-'Arabi and incorporated into Rumi's verses. This audience seeks the tekkes (dervishes lodge) with the most learned murshids and the best sources of information. The other is a popular audience interested in the spectacle of the dance and the soothing nature of the music. Put differently, there is an urban audience belonging to the higher levels of society and a rural audience that is satisfied with popular beliefs in the manner of the Bektashis. Increasingly, a third audience is being added. This audience consists of the foreign tourists who are attracted to Konya. They, too, divide along the same two lines outlined above.

The Mevlavi Order did very well during most of the era of the Ottomans. After 1925, the order lost its influence in high society and was eventually banned by Ata Turk in 1924.[35] In 1952, the government allowed sama' sessions to be held in Konya. This was followed by permission for radio broadcast of Rumi's religious verses. At the present, the music of the dervishes is retained by several Mevlavi lodges in various parts of Turkey.[36]
Furthermore, 2007 is the 800th birth anniversary of Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi. The UNESCO General Conference in association with Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan is presenting a special program of mystic Mevlavi music and dance (Sama'), along with lecturers and exhibitions, in a number of major cities in the United States and Europe.[37]


[1] Rum is the Persian word for Byzantium. Rumi means from Anatolia, present-day Turkey.
[2] Zarrinkub, p. 279.
[3] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 451.
[4] See Safa, vol. 2, 1988, p. 861 and 221.
[5] See Safa, vol. 2, 1988, p. 249.
[6] Cf., Rypka, pp. 248-253.
[7] Guzel, vol. 2, p. 635.
[8] Cf., Rypka, p. 90.
[9] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 453.
[10] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 452.
[11] Not to be confused with the Ishraqi (illuminationist) philosopher Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, who was executed in 1191.
[12] Osemi, vol. 8, p. 449.
[13] Cf., Guzel, vol. 2, pp. 633-637.
[14] Zarrinkub, pp. 272-75.
[15] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 455.
[16] Safa, 3/1, p. 455.
[17] For a discussion of the perfect man, his relation to Shams of Tabriz and the sun, see Morewedge, 1975, pp. 200-04.
[18] Cf., Qaiser, 2006, p. 142.
[19] Ravandi, vol. 1, p. 379.
[20] Ravandi, vol. 1, p. 263.
[21] Zarrinkub, p. 262.
[22] For Maulana's vast knowledge of Islamic narratives and Persian literary and popular tales, see Yousofi, 1975, pp. 225ff.
[23] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 461.
[24] Ravandi, vol. 1, p. 692.
[25] Ravandi, vol. 1, p. 453; see also Yousofi, 1975, p. 293.
[26] Cf., Rypka, p. 240; Osemi, vol. 8, p. 449.
[27] Safa, vol. 3/1, pp. 458-59.
[28] Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 460.
[29] Zarrinkub, p. 275
[30] Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 84.
[31] Guzel, vol. 2, p. 675.
[32] Guzel, vol. 2, p. 639.
[33] Ordinarily, a turban is placed on top of the crown. Usually, this turban is absent when they dance.
[34] Cf., Safa, vol. 3/1, p. 456.
[35] Guzel, vol. 5, p. 688.
[36] Guzel, 2002, vol. 4, p. 86.
[37] Hasnat Abdul Hye, see “Of Sema and Baul” in Bibliography.

The Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, The Institute of Philosophy
Manuscript Editor: Karomatullo Olimov, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

About Iraj Bashiri
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraj_Bashiri
Part 1. To Part 2: http://hojja-nusreddin.livejournal.com/2314029.html
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