Introduction to Rumi

Rumi is a well-known poet of the world and comes in second behind Lord Kabir. Rumi is very famous in the western countries. Rumi's poems are the best sellers in America. Rumi's works "Masnavi" and Diwan-e-Kabir are kept in Melvana Museum, Konya, Turkey. Rumi's tomb is located in Konya, Turkey. An artificial grave of Rumi's Murshid (guru/spiritual teacher), Shams Tabrez, is also built next to it. Every year, millions of people from all over the world visit Rumi's tomb to pay their respects and surprisingly, majority of the pilgrims are non-Muslims rather than Muslims.

Rumi’s meeting with Shams Tabrez

Rumi was the highest-ranking Maulvi (Muslim religious scholar) in the mosque of Konya city in Turkey, and he used to propagate the Muslim religion. He had many disciples.

On 15th November 1244, a 60-year-old man with a white beard, wearing a black robe from head to toe, reached the traders' inn in the famous Chinese market of Konya. This person’s name was Shams Tabrez. On being asked, he told the people, “I am a travelling merchant.” He was, as if, looking for something there and eventually, he saw Rumi riding a horse.

One day, Rumi was sitting on the bank of a (Hauz) pond with a stack of old (Ilmi) scholarly books and was teaching his disciples. Shams Tabrez passed by and pointing to the pile of books asked Rumi, “What is this?” Rumi sarcastically replied, “Baba, this is what you do not know." On hearing this, Shams Tabrez pushed those books into the pond. Seeing this, Rumi became enraged and said, “O wretched man! What have you done? Do you know how valuable these books were?” Upon hearing this, Shams Tabrez jumped into the pond and took all the books out of the water one by one and not even a single book was wet. On the contrary, they were covered in dust. Rumi was stunned on witnessing this extraordinary spectacle and asked Shams Tabrez, “Baba, what is this?” Shams Tabrez replied, "It is what you do not know", and left from there.   

The next day, Rumi reached the market on his horse. There, people were kissing his hand in respect. Then, suddenly, Shams Tabrez reached there and grabbed the reins of Rumi's horse. Rumi recognised that this is the same Baba; Rumi also wanted to meet him. Baba said, “Rumi, there is an issue. Tell me who is greater, Muhammad or Bayazid Bastami?” (There is a description on the internet that Bayajid Bastami is one of the people who influenced the life of Mansoor al-Hallaj who raised the slogan of 'Anal Haqq'.) Rumi said, “Even a child knows that Muhammad is greater.” Baba said, “If Muhammad is greater, then why did he say, “O Allah! I do not know you; who are you?” And why did Bayajid Bastami say, “O Allah! You are pure. You are the King of kings, and You are magnificent.” A lengthy discussion takes place between the two and after hearing Baba's reasoning, Rumi faints and falls from the horse. Rumi opens his eyes and finds his head in Baba's lap. Baba takes Rumi away from the city. After this, Shams Tabrez disappears from Konya. Rumi becomes unhinged in his memory and starts wandering in search of Baba. A year later, Rumi learns from someone that Shams Tabrez has been seen in Damascus (today a city in Syria). Rumi tells his elder son, “Take all the gold, silver, jewellery, money lying in the house and bring Baba here.” Rumi's elder son reaches Damascus and conducts a communal meal (Bhandara) in the name of Shams Tabrez and sees that at some distance, Baba is playing chess with a boy. Rumi's son pleads with Baba and brings him to Konya on a horse. Rumi says, “Baba, why did you disappear? Why did you do this to me? I was yearning for you for a year.” Baba says, “If I had not disappeared, there would not have been this fire in your heart today.” Baba imparts knowledge to Rumi, after receiving which Rumi gives up his traditional acts of worship. Seeing this, Rumi's disciples become jealous of Shams Tabrez.

One day, Rumi was sitting in his hut with his murshid (spiritual teacher) Shams Tabrez. At that time, Rumi's younger son and some of his disciples reach there with the intention of killing Shams Tabrez. They call Shams Tabrez out. Shams Tabrez tells Rumi, “That is it! Now it is time for me to leave”. As soon as the disciples take up the sword to kill him,  Shams Tabrez disappears.

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