Life of Rumi

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The first week dedicated to the Sufi world begins today, starring Jalal al-Din Rumi, considered one of the greatest mystics in history

Birth in Afghanistan and wanderings

Jalal al-Din, later called Rumi, or “the Anatolian”, was born in Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan, on 30 September 1207 by Baha al Din Walad, great Sufi, theologian and established preacher, and by Mu’mina Khatun, who is believed to have been linked to the Turkish lineage of the Khwārezm-Shāh; the family however spoke Persian and is associated with this people. Due to the imminent arrival of the Mongols and some disagreements of his father at court, Jalal al-Din and his relatives begin a series of wanderings that will lead them to touch Nishapur, Baghdad, Mecca, Damascus, Erzincan, Malatya, Sivas and other cities of Anatolia, stopping for 7 years in Karaman, the place where his mother died and where he married.


On 3 May 1228 the family received an official invitation from the great Seljuk ruler ‘Ala al Din Kaykubad and moved to Konya, a place that became the absolute center of Rumi’s activities and from which he would move as little as possible. According to some sources, during these wanderings he had the opportunity to meet two of the greatest and most famous Sufi masters of all time, who prophesied his greatness: Farid al-Din Attar and Ibn Arabi. According to tradition, the first would have met him in Nishapur, receiving from him his “Book of Mysteries” and many compliments, while the second was met in Damascus and it seems that, seeing the young Rumi following his father, he exclaimed: “Here is an ocean following a sea”.

Growth and Shams al-Din Tabrizi

In 1231 his father died and for this he was entrusted to the care and teachings of Burhan al-Din Tirmidhi, who trained him for 9 years until his death; in this period Jalal al-Din alternates between Anatolia and Syria and it seems that in this period he met Shams al-Din Tabrizi, a figure that will prove more central than ever in its own evolution. In 1241 he returned to Konya, thus starting his work as a jurist and teacher of fiqh and sharia; on November 29, 1244 the young Sufi Shams al-Din Tabrizi arrives in his city, changing his life forever. As already mentioned, the two probably met for the first time in Damascus, but according to tradition it was on that date that, thanks to the newcomer, he reached for the first time a sort of “inner enlightenment” and mystical awareness, so much so that he remained for forty days closed in solitary confinement in his own room.


Between the two a visceral and indissoluble relationship will be born, to the point that many of Rumi’s disciples will begin to feel strong envy towards him, pushing him to a return to Damascus in 1246, but being brought back to Konya by a so desperate Jalal al-Din to send even the son. However, his stay was not eternal and already in December 1247 he was forced to flee again, this time to never return. According to tradition, he because he was killed by the followers of Rumi, now too jealous; this will lead the latter to write the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi to honor the one who so revolutionized his existence.

Masnavi and death

In 1249 Jalal al-Din begins to be celebrated with the title of Mawlana (“our Master”) and precisely in that period he appoints as his vicar Salah al-Din Faridun, called “Zarkun” (“golden beater”), at the death of the latter, his place will be taken by Husameddin Çelebi, who will push him to write his mammoth Masnavi, a book composed in verse that will prove to be his greatest masterpiece, so much so that it is sometimes nicknamed “the Persian Quran”.


On December 17, 1273 Rumi died in peace in Konya and his funeral was attended by both Muslims and Jews, Christians and members of every other religion, always welcomed by him. In 1312 Husameddin and Mevlana’s son, Sultan Walad, formed the Mawlawiyya brotherhood inspired by the actions and sayings of Rumi.

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