Rumi: Poet and Mystic Saint
Jalaluddin Rumi, b. 1205 in Balkh, now Turkestan, d. 1273 was founder of the Mevlevi order of Sufi Dervishes. He was known among followers as “Mevlana” or “Our Master”. The Mathnawi, “Song of the Reed” is often referred to as the Koran in Persian, and ranks among the classics of world spiritual literature.
A series of 3 volumes, the Mathnawi is an ingenious series of allegories, fables, parables and tales, often no more than a page or two in length. The sprawling scope of the subjects covered include everything from accounts of the famous saints of Islam, Christianity and Judaism; The quality of the writing is best described as ecstatic prose verse.
Rumi dictated the 3 volume series to a scribe, after the loss of his closest friend, guide and spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz. Their friendship and closeness created much resentment, eventually leading to the disappearance of Shams. According to the tales, the famous turning of the Whirling Dervishes was invented as a form of meditation and praise to God after the wrenching loss of his spiritual companion.