Masnawi Sacred Texts of Islam: Book Five by Mevlana Rumi - Read Online
Masnawi Sacred Texts of Islam
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The Book Five of the Masnavi must be read in order to understand the other first Four volumes. It also includes popular stories from the local bazaar to fables, tales from Rumi’s time:

Story I: The Prophet and his Infidel Guest
Story II: The Arab and his Dog
Story III: The Sage and the Peacock
Story IV: Muhammad Khwarazm Shah and the Rafizis of Sabzawar
Story V: The Man who claimed to be a Prophet
Story VI: The Disciple who blindly imitated his Shaikh
Story VII: How Adam was created out of a handful of earth brought by an Angel
Story VIII: Mahmud and Ayaz Story IX: The sincere repentance of Nasuh Story X: Lion, the Fox, and the Ass Story XI: The Mosalman who tried to convert a Magian Story XII: The Devotee who broke the noble's wine-jar..

The Masnavi is divided into six books, and Rumi wrote prefaces for each book. The earliest complete manuscript (the "Konya manuscript") was completed in December, 1278 (five years after Rumi's death).
• Books 1 and 2: They “are principally concerned with the nafs, the lower carnal self, and its self-deception and evil tendencies.”
• Books 3 and 4: These books share the principal themes of Reason and Knowledge. These two themes are personified by Rumi in the Biblical and Quranic figure of the Prophet Moses.
• Books 5 and 6: These last two books are joined by the universal ideal that man must deny his physical earthly existence to understand God’s existence.

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Masnawi Sacred Texts of Islam - Mevlana Rumi

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Preface (About the Masnawi Book of Mevlana)

The "Masnawi" is Rumi's greatest poetic work, composed during the last years of his life. He began it when he was between the ages of 54-57 [about 1258-1261]¹ and continued composing its verses until he died in 1273 (with the last story remaining incomplete). It is a compendium of sufi stories, ethical teachings, and mystical teachings. It is deeply permeated with Qur'anic meanings and references. Rumi himself called the Masnavi "the roots of the roots of the roots of the (Islamic) Religion... and the explainer of the Qur'an [wa huwa uSûlu uSûlu uSûlu 'd-dîn... was kashshâf al- Qur'ân] (Masnavi, Book I, Preface).

Its full name is name is Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî, which means Rhyming Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning. The name Mathnawî (pronounced Masnavî in Persian) means couplets in Arabic [because the second half of the verse (in Arabic, thanî) rhymes with the first]. It is the name of a type of poetry (called mathnawî). The second word, Ma`nawî, means significant, real, meaningful, spiritual in Arabic. The following is an example of the particular mathnawi meter used by Rumi (there are other mathnawi meters used by other Persian sufi poets): XoXX XoXX XoX. The rhymes in the first three couplets of Rumi's Masnavi are â-yat mê-ko-nad, -îda-and, -âq":

"BESH-na-WEEN NAY CHOON shi-KAA-YAT MEE-ko-NAD

AZ jo-DAA-EEY-HAA hi-KAA-YAT MEE-ko-NAD

KAZ na-YES-TAAN TAA ma-RAA BOB-REE-da-AND

DAR na-FEE-RAM MAR-do ZAN NAA-LEE-da-AND

SEE-na KHWAA-HAM SHAR-ha SHAR-HA AZ fi-RAAQ

TAA be-GOO-YAM SHAR-he DAR-DE ISH-ti-YAAQ"

Translation:

"LISTEN TO THE REED (FLUTE), HOW IT IS COMPLAINING! IT IS TELLING ABOUT SEPARATIONS,

(SAYING), 'EVER SINCE I WAS SEVERED FROM THE REED FIELD, MEN AND WOMEN HAVE LAMENTED IN (THE PRESENCE OF) MY SHRILL CRIES.

(BUT) I WANT A HEART (WHICH IS) TORN, TORN FROM SEPARATION, SO THAT I MAY EXPLAIN THE PAİN OF YEARNING..'"

The Beginning Story of Masnawi

The story of how the beginning of the composition of the Masnavi has been told in the hagiography written by Aflaki (written between 1318-53), a disciple of Rumi's grandson:

Sirâjuddîn, the Mathnawi-reciter [masnavi-khwân] at the Tomb (of Rumi) told the story that the reason for the composition of the book of the Masnavî-yé Ma`nawî, which is the Revealer of the secrets of the Qur'an was: One day Hazrat-i... Husâmuddîn [Chelebi-- Rumi's closest disciple], may God sanctify his precious secret, found out that some of the friends, in complete relish and great love, were making serious efforts to study the 'Book of the Divine' [Ilâhî-Nâma] of (the sufi poet) Hakîm (Sanâ'î) and the 'Speech of the Birds' [ManTiqu 'T-Tayr] and the 'Book of Misfortune' [MuSîbat-Nâma] of (the sufi poet) Farîduddîn `ATTâr, and (who) were delighted by (studying) their (mystical) secrets and (accounts of) the unusual spiritual amorousness (of the lovers of God) displayed by them. ..... One night, he found Hazrat-i Mawlana [= Rumi] alone. He bowed and said, 'The collections of odes [ghazalîyât] have become plentiful.... (But) if there could be a book with the quality of the 'Book of the Divine' of Hakîm (Sanâ'î), yet in the (mathnawî) meter of the 'Speech of the Birds,' so that it might be memorized among the knowers and be the intimate companion of the souls of the lovers... so that they would occupy themselves with nothing else...' At that moment, from the top of his blessed turban, he [Rumi] put into Chelebî Husâmuddîn's hand a portion (of verses), which was the Explainer of the secrets of Universals and particulars. And in there were the eighteen verses of the beginning of the Masnavi: 'Listen to this reed, how it tells a tale, complaining of separations' up to. 'None (who is) 'raw' can understand the state of the 'ripe.' Therefore, (this) speech must be shortened. So farewell.'

The Masnavi is divided into six books, and Rumi wrote prefaces for each book. The earliest complete manuscript (the Konya manuscript) was completed in December, 1278 (five years after Rumi's death). In a recent printed edition of this manuscript (by Dr. Tôfîq Sobhânî), the total number of lines is 25,575 (Book I, 4019 lines; II, 3721; III,4811; IV, 3855; V, 4240; VI, 4929) R. A. Nicholson was the first to translate the entire Masnavi into English (1926-34). Unfortunately, he did not have access to this earliest manuscript until he had translated through Book III, line 2835. From line 2836, onwards, however, his printed edition is based on the Konya manuscript. As a result,the first two and a half books of his translation are based on less earlier manuscripts which contain numerous improvements. (In Nicholson's printed edition, the total number of lines is 25,632 (Book I, 4003 lines; II, 3810; III, 4810; IV, 3855; V, 4238; VI, 4916.)

Over the centuries, many such improvements have been added to the Masnavi, with the result that many lovers of the Masnavi in Iran, India, and Pakistan have editions which contain more than two thousand extra verses (including many well-loved verses which were not composed by Rumi). A recent book by Professor Franklin Lewis (which is an impressively thorough review of all aspects of Rumi's life, teachings, and influence throughout history) contains relevant information about the Masnavi: manuscripts, commentaries, sources of stories, translations, versions, historical influences -- and even listings of available compact disc recordings of verses recited in Persian.

Studies of the Masnavi

There are a number of scholarly works written about themes and teachings in the Masnavi, such as written by: Khalifa `Abdul Hakim (The Metaphysics of Rumi, 1933, published in Lahore, Pakistan); William C. Chittick (The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi: An Introduction, 1974, published in Tehran, Iran); K. Khosla (The Sufism of Rumi, 1987), a Theosophist, originally from India; John Renard (All the King's Falcons: Rumi on Prophets and Revelation, 1994), a revision of a doctoral dissertation (1978) done under the direction of Professor Annemarie Schimmel. Other books contain very informative chapters about Rumi's teachings in the Masnavi, such as by Annemarie Schimmel, (The Triumphant Sun, 1978, Rumi's Theology, pp. 225-366); by Afzal Iqbal (The Life and Work of Jalaluddin Rumi, 1956,The Message of the Mathnawi and The Poet As a Thinker, pp. 175-283); by Franklin D. Lewis (Rumi-- Past and Present, East and West: The Life Teachings and Poetry of Jal'l al-Din Rumi, 2000, The Teachings, pp. 394-419).

Themes in the Masnawi

The six books of the Masnavi can be divided into three groups of two because each pair is linked by a common theme:

Masvani manuscript in Persian on paper, Shiraz, 1479.

• Books 1 and 2: They "are principally concerned with the nafs, the lower carnal self,