Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was born on 30 September 1207 in Balkh in the Province of Khurasan. He was descended from Abu Bakr As-Siddiq on his father’s side, and on his mother’s side he was descended from Khurasan’s ruler, Khwarizm Shah. Although he was born and brought up in Central Asia, and although he had Turkish blood in his veins and spent almost fifty years in Konya, a Turkish city, he never wrote anything in Turkish.

His grandfather, Maulana Husayn Balkhi and his father Maulana Bahauddin were both great scholars of Islam and were highly regarded by people as great Ulama. While he was child, his father Maulana Bahauddin had a disagreement with the ruler of Khurasan and in consequence was forced to leave Khurasan and to roam for fifteen or sixteen years from Nishapur to Baghdad, Makkah, Malata, Larinda, etc. Ultimately, he settled down in Konya the capital of a small principality of Asia minor which had been part of the Roman empire. From this connection he took his nickname, Rumi.

While staying in Nishapur he came into contact with the famous Sufi, Fariduddin Attar (dies 26 April 1230) who presented him with his great book Asrarname and who prophesied that Jalaluddin would one day be a great man. While he was in Larinda he married a Turkish woman by whom he had two sons and then she dies. He later married another wife.

Although his childhood was somewhat turbulent he had no break in his studies. His father taught him tafsir, fiqh, hadith, ilm al-kalam, history, philosophy, etc. Besides this, his father also gave him his first instruction in tasawwuf. He had a retentive memory and great intelligence. He never lost his love for learning. He was also an ardent follower and student of religion, and he attained substantial knowledge of the Shari’a and Sufism in his youth.

After the death of his father he devoted himself to attaining the high stages of Sufism from his father’s disciple, Burhanuddin Muhaqqiq. Then he went to the Universities of Aleppo and Damascus to acquire further knowledge on different subjects. After the death of his master, Burhanuddin, he became a Shaikh and people from all walks of life in Konya came to visit him. He spent his time writing, lecturing and giving instruction in tasawwuf. In several difficult and acute problems of the Shari’a, it was he who gave the correct solutions and interpretations. All his contemporaries among the Ulama bore no comparison with him.

In the early part of his life he was a very conservative and orthodox Muslim. He was very much opposed to art, songs, dancing, etc. in the name of religion. But after he came in contact with his spiritual mentor, Shams-i Tabriz, he was a changed man. He became a great lover of religious songs and dances, and he introduced sama, a kind of religious song performed with refrains.

He was a great lover of books and literature, and used to remain deeply occupied with them. Seeing his deep absorption, his Shaikh-to-be, Shamsi-i Tabriz, one day asked him what he was engaged in. He replied that these were high philosophical books which he would not understand. At this, the Shaikh seized the pile of books and through them into a well where they sank. The Maulana became very angry at this, and he asked Shams-i if he understood how great a loss he had caused him. Without any further exchange of words his Shaikh pulled out the books from the depths of the water and he found that none of the pages was wet. Upon witnessing this miracle, he became very much moved and at once submitted to Shams-i with all his heart and became his disciple.

From then on the teacher-student relationship became so deep that the Maulana’s family, his other relations, and his followers became alarmed, and it is said that they conspired to have the Shaikh killed in secret. At the untimely death of his Master, Maulana Rumi broke down. He cut off all relations with the world and engaged himself in meditation on Allah, and in writing books on Sufism. At this time, one of his disciples named Salahuddin used to take down copies of his poems, and after his death, Hushamuddin, became the Maulana’s special disciple and was the copyist of Mathnawi. Maulana died at the age of 69 on 17 December 1273 and was buried ion Konya. At his death the entire Muslim world was stunned, and all people, Muslims, Jews, Christians, all felt the loss. One Christian was heard chanting the words, “He was our Moses and David and he was our Jesus and we were his followers.”

He was very amiable in nature and very mild in disposition. All people irrespective of age, race or colour used to love and respect him. Children were particularly attracted to him. He did not take favours from anybody. He was called the Sultan of Sufi, the King of Sufis, and he performed several miracles to the wonderment of his innumerable followers and the public.

The three greatest Sufis in the Muslim world are Imam al-Ghazali, Shaikh al-Akbar Ibn al’Arabi and Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. The three greatest poets known for their mysticism are Hakim Sana’i, Fariduddin Attar and Maulana Rumi. Maulana Rumi accepted both Sana’i and Attar as his preceptors in Sufism.

But Maulana Rumi, was above all, a great thinker, a great scholar and a great Muslim scholar. His contribution to the world of literature is unique, and he is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the world.

by M. Atiqul Haque