R ecognized as perhaps the greatest mystical poet of Islam, Jalal al-DinRumi (1207-1273) communicated something through his writing that hasattracted spiritual seekers from almost every religion in the world, for hundreds of years. Even in his day, Rumi was sought out by merchants andkings, devout worshippers and rebellious seekers, famous scholars andcommon peasants, men and women. At his funeral, Muslims, Christians,Jews, Arabs, Persians, Turks and Romans honored him. Listen to his call for seekers of truth:
Come, come, whoever you are.Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter.Ours is not a caravan of despair.Come, even if you have broken your vowa hundred times.Come, yet again, come, come.
Rumi’s love and honor for all religious traditions was not always popular inhis day, and often provoked criticism from the more dogmatic. A story istold that one such public challenge came from a Muslim dignitary, Qonavi,who confronted Rumi before an audience. “You claim to be at one with 72religious sects,” said Qonavi, “but the Jews cannot agree with the Christians,and the Christians cannot agree with Muslims. If they cannot agree witheach other, how could you agree with them all?” To this Rumi answered,“Yes, you are right, I agree with you too.”Although kings were his followers, Rumi’s critics could never understandwhy Rumi’s greatest love and dedication went to what they called, “thetailors, the cloth-sellers, and the petty shopkeepers - uncouth and unculturedrufﬁans.” Yet even amongst these, his dearest companions, Rumi allowed novanity. The story is told that one day, while Rumi was in deepcontemplation, surrounded by his disciples, a drunkard walked in shoutingand stumbling. The man staggered toward Rumi, and then fell on him. ToRumi’s followers such a disgrace of their teacher was intolerable, and theyrose as one to rush the ignorant fool. Rumi stopped them with his raisedhand, saying, “I thought this intruder was the one who was intoxicated, butnow I see it is not he, but my own students who are drunk!”There are thousands who believe that Rumi’s presence (baraka) still existstoday, and still teaches. If this is true, it is certainly largely due to theremarkable vitality that can be found in his writings and poetry, and arelevancy they contain that reaches to our inner core. Rumi’s poetry hascaptured the hearts of spiritual seekers around the world because of its depthand beauty. His verses sketch out the whole panorama of life, from humansorrow and devotion, to the universal breadth of God’s hidden plan. His poetry seems fathomless and endless.Rumi has also left to us another manuscript that is not so well known - the