Culture, Life

Commemorating Rumi on his 745th death anniversary

13th century scholar Mevlana focuses on tolerance, divine love; having worldwide influence even centuries after his death

Commemorating Rumi on his 745th death anniversary

By Sena Guler


Turkey has been marking the death anniversary of Mevlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi -- a 13th century Sufi mystic, poet and Islamic scholar -- every year between Dec. 7-17.

Born into a Turkic family in present-day Afghanistan in 1207, Rumi is one of the most widely read philosophers across the world, whose teachings have transcended boundaries of race, color and religion.

Rumi is fondly known by his followers in Turkey as Mevlana, which means scholar.

With his book Masnavi, which was penned after losing his close friend -- a wandering dervish called Shams Tabrizi -- Rumi focused on tolerance and divine love, building a religious legacy which has a worldwide influence especially in Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and central Asia.

The Masnavi poem, with its more than 50,000 verses, is considered the most influential work on Sufism, and has been translated into 26 languages -- including Turkish, English, French, Spanish and Arabic -- from its original Persian.

The poem, which consists of stories inspired by the Quran’s teachings and Prophet Muhammad’s morals, was last translated into Kyrgyz.

Apart from the famous Masnavi, Rumi also wrote Divan-i Kabir, which consists of over 40,000 verses of lyric poems.

Fihi Ma Fihi (what's within is within) is a prose work of the scholar that consists of his discourses.

Another prose work of Rumi, Majalis-i Sab’a (Seven Sessions), contains his seven lectures.

Maktubat (Letters) is also among the scholar’s works, composed of Rumi’s letters to his disciples, family members and rulers of states.

The 13th-century Islamic scholar Rumi is buried in Turkey's central province of Konya, where he lived most of his life, produced his works and died on Dec.17, 1273.

Upon his passing, Rumi’s followers founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for the Sufi dance known as the Sema ceremony.

The followers of the Mevlevi Order are known for their tolerance, graciousness and discretion, something which sets them apart from today’s hectic pace of life.

Every year, an international commemoration ceremony marking the anniversary of Rumi’s union with God is held in Konya between Dec. 7-17 as a reverence to the Muslim scholar.

The Mevlevi life is based on discipline and rules of conduct, according to International Mevlana Foundation, which was founded in 1996 in Istanbul to carry the works and thoughts of the great scholar to future generations.

His followers from around the world flock to his mausoleum in the city, especially on his death anniversary.

This year’s events to commemorate the 745th anniversary of Rumi’s passing, known as Sheb-i Arus (the night of union), also started on Dec. 7 in Konya.

As part of the Sufi movement founded in 1273 following the passing of poet, philosopher and mystic Rumi, Sema was declared one of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2008.

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