This article presents an English translation of the Persian account by Farīdūn Sipahsālār from his treatise Risāla-yi Sipahsālār on the life of Mawlānā Rūmī, written about half a century after the poet’s death by an individual who was a member of his circle. This work therefore provides a relatively early, perhaps first-hand, devotional account in prose of the funeral of Rūmī. This passage is excerpted from a forthcoming translation of Sipahsālār’s treatise by Muhammad Isa Waley.
This article explores the idea of Metaphysical Time in the poetry of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī against more general understandings of time and temporality in Sufi thought and Persian poetry. Various attitudes toward serial time and the subjective experience of past, present, and future are reflected in the poetry of not only Rūmī, but also ʽUmar Khayyām and Ḥāfiẓ. The philosophical approaches toward human temporality discussed here include sentient carpe diem, spiritual carpe diem, and pursuit of the Metaphysical Moment, or Time’s Currency (naqd-i waqt). To understand this, we must examine Rūmī’s understanding of the notion of the Sufi as ‘the son of time’ (Ibn al-waqt), along with the concomitant or related ideas in Rūmī’s poetry of ‘the Father of Time’ (abū ‘l-waqt) and ‘the Brethren of Time’ (ikhwān al-waqt), and the Prophet’s Hadith, ‘I have a time with God….’. The article elaborates on some remarkable homologies between the concepts of time and the ‘Industrious Man’ in the poetry of Mawlānā Rūmī and William Blake, and how the attraction of divine love pulls the lover out of Time into the realm of Eternity, and how love subverts rational categories of time and space, which become illusory and vanish in the mystical experience of unity. Aldous Huxley’s distinction between the Philosophers of Time and the Philosophers of Eternity is also explored in relation to Rūmī’s thinking.
Western reception of Rūmī in the last few decades is intriguing, as he is commonly considered a gentle Muslim, different from other sages that Islamic culture produced. Rūmī’s otherness is often based on his powerful and peerless poetry, deploying rich wine imagery, homoerotic love metaphors, and an emphasis on the superiority of the heart and spiritual growth, and dismissing the outward and orthodox tenets. This paper argues that Rūmī belongs to a millennium-old Persian Sufism, and these poetic tropes derive from a firm antinomian tradition, functioning as strong metaphors to express religious piety by transcending all temporal dualities such as unbelief and belief, the profane and the sacred, purity and impurity, and so forth.
This article demonstrates how Rūmī has made use of the Iranian musical system and Persian classical prosody, two separate semiotic systems with overlapping forms and aesthetic principles, in order to create a hybrid semiotic system in his poetry. His poetic feat can be observed through a comparative analysis of the linguistic and musical components of his poems in the Divān-e Shams-e Tabrizi, used extensively in the sacred tradition of samāʿ as well as in Iranian musical performances. This essay shows how the systematic use of rhythm and music in versification reaches new heights in Rumi’s ghazals, where the combination of language and music gives birth to a transcendental mode of expression devised with the aim of expressing the ineffable Ultimate Truth. Rumi employed this unique sign system to communicate a mystical message that cannot be conveyed using ordinary language. His unparalleled means of expression, in direct relation with the mystic experience of wajd, is used to incarnate what Sufis call maʿnā (the archetypal meaning). These archetypal ideas cannot be understood through dialectic means of the intellect but can only be taken in by the heart of the mystic in a state of ecstasy.
This article suggests new readings for two controversial lines of Persian mystical literature, and is divided into two parts. Part one concerns a line of Sanāʾī (d. 525/1131) in his Ḥadīqat al-ḥaqīqat: ‘Sūfīs undergo two festivals in a moment, while spiders make jerky out of flies.’ We present an interpretation for this enigmatic statement by an intertextual reading of lines by Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (d. 672/1273), which arguably constitute subtle commentaries on Sanāʾī’s works. In Part two, we propose that the doctrine of the ‘Changing of Temperaments’ can help explain the notion of ‘spiritual food’. Part three examines the following line in Rūmī’s Mathnawī: ‘Every druggist (‛aṭṭār) whose intellect became acquainted with Him dropped the trays into the water of the river.’ We argue that this line subtly alludes to a controversial ghazal of Farīd al-Dīn ‛Aṭṭār (d. 618/1221), which can provide a new symbolic key to understanding the somewhat obscure meaning of certain words in this line. As the title of this article, taken from a line in the Kulliyyāt-i Shams, suggests, Rūmī clearly and repeatedly acknowledges the influence of ‛Aṭṭār and Sanāʾī on his work. Using an intertextual interpretive method and a close reading of the works of Rūmī, Sanāʾī, and ‛Aṭṭār, we propose new interpretations of the lines in question that are more homogeneous with the text of the Mathnawī.