By Dr A
In a column
last year I had written about Jalaluddin Rumi. Now I would like to write about
his approach towards death. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi’s work is well known to
those who speak Urdu and Persian. His ‘Masnavi’ is world famous and has been
dubbed as “the Quran in the Persian Language”.
Rumi and Omar Khayyam are the two Persian poets/writers who are extremely
popular in the West and whose works have been translated into a number of
European languages. Omar Khayyam’s work (‘Rubaiyat’) consists of romantic
poetry while Jalaluddin Rumi’s work is spiritual and highly instructive.
Some Information on the Life of Rumi
He was born Muhammad Jalaluddin, but was
commonly known as Maulana Rumi. He was born in 1207 in Balkh and belonged to
the family of the first caliph, Abu Bakr. He was the grandson of King Khwarism
Shah and his father was Shaikh Bahauddin. In 1213 the family migrated to
Neshapur and there Rumi met the most famous, illustrious religious scholar of
his time, Shaikh Fariduddin Attar, who presented his famous book, ‘Asrar Nama’,
to him. Rumi married at the age of 18 and when he was 25 they migrated to
Damascus for higher learning and from there to Konia. It was here that he met
the famous saint, Shams Tibriz, and became his disciple. His famous Masnavi was
written in 1263 and he died in 1273 in Konia at the age of 68 and was buried
style of writing in the Masnavi is very interesting and captivating. His
descriptive essays are highly instructive and laced with invaluable comments,
suggestions and advice. According to Maulana Shah Hakim Muhammad Akhtar, no
other book in Persian contains such complicated and difficult matters, yet
these are dealt with in simplicity and lucidity. It is not only a book of
philosophy, but also one of learning, faith and spirituality. Those who are
familiar with the works of Shaikh Saadi will notice a certain resemblance
between the writings of these two great saints.
Rumi’s love and devotion to Almighty Allah was profound and manifests itself in
the following verse: “When I am offering prayers, by God, I don’t know which
part I am in and who is the Imam.”
from Iran are well known all over the world – ‘Shahnama’ by Firdausi, ‘Gulistan-e-Sadi’
by Shaikh Sadi, ‘Dewan-e-Hafiz’ by Hafiz Shirazi and ‘Masnavi Rumi’. The number
of verses in the Masnavi is 12,666. Because of the way Maulana Rumi became
entranced and fluently narrated these verses, it was believed that they were
inspired by divine guidance.
Those of us
who regularly read the Holy Quran with translation so we are able to understand
the meaning, are familiar with the edicts set by Almighty Allah, one of them
being that all living things will one day die, at a time and place ordained by
Allah. They also know that we will be raised again on the Day of Judgement and
will be asked to answer for all our deeds. These deeds will decide our
destination – heaven or hell.
process of rebirth has been explained by Allah Almighty in simple terms; He
tells us how clouds are formed, how they are laden with water, how they are
carried by wind currents to predetermined places and how the rain falls to turn
dry lands into lush green ones. This process is referred to more than once. We
are told that after death, we will be raised again in a similar way.
phenomenon of dying and rising again has been beautifully described as follows
in ‘When I Die’ in Rumi’s Masnavi: “When my coffin is being taken out, you must
never think I am missing this world. Don’t shed any tears, don’t lament or feel
sorry: I am not falling into a monster’s abyss. When you see my corpse being
carried, don’t cry for my leaving. I am not leaving: I am arriving at eternal
love. When you leave me in the grave, don’t say goodbye: remember a grave is
only a curtain for the paradise behind. You’ll only see me descending into a
grave: now watch me rise.
there be an end when the sun sets or the moon goes down? It looks like the end,
it looks like a sunset, but in reality it is dawn. When the grave locks you up,
that is when your soul is freed. Have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth, not
rise with a new life? Why should you doubt the rise of a seed named human? Have
you ever seen a bucket lowered into a well coming back empty? Why lament for a
soul when it can come back like Joseph from the well. When, for the last time,
you close your mouth, your words and soul will belong to the world of no place
beautiful way to describe our departure from earth to the Almighty.