By Dr A Q Khan
December 17, 2018
Our Islamic history is full of outstanding personalities who will always be remembered. There are the Apostles, companions of the Apostles, Waliallahs, etc who are more or less known to all of us.
In our rich religious literature, two personalities stand out – Shaikh Saadi and Maulana Rumi. Translations of the works of these two saints have been published, both domestically and in foreign countries, in many languages. Today I would like to share some of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi’s work, which is both educative and guiding.
Rumi was born in Balgh (then Faras in Iran) in 604 Hijra. His father was Shaikh Muhammad Bahauddin, a distinguished and well-known scholar. Dervishes, those revolving figures in white robes and red caps, are followers of Rumi.
The Masnavi, which consists of more than 26,600 verses, is regarded as a book inspired by the Almighty. Rumi says about himself: “When I am praying, by Allah, I don’t know which portion of prayer I am performing and even don’t remember who the Imam is.” Maulana Rumi died in 672 Hijri in Konia (Turkey) and is buried there. Given below is a free rendering of the rather difficult translation by Reynold A. Nicholson.
“Description of some saints who are content with the (Divine) ordainments and do not pray and beseech (God) to change this decree. This story is about those travellers on the Way who have no objection in the world. Those saints who make invocations are different from these travellers. I know another class of saints whose mouths are closed to invocation. Because of the content possessed by those noble ones, it has become unlawful for them to seek to avert Destiny. In submitting to Destiny, they experience a peculiar delight: it would be an act of infidelity for them to crave release. God has revealed to their hearts such a good opinion of Him that they do not put on the garb of mourning on account of any sorrow.
“How Buhlul questioned a certain dervish. Buhlul said to a certain dervish, ‘How are you?’ The dervish replied: ‘How can one be when, according to His desire, the world goes on? The torrents and rivers flow and the stars move in the way He wills; and life and death are His officers going to and fro. He sends condolence wherever He wills; he bestows felicitation wherever He wills. The travellers on the Way go according to His pleasure; they who have lost the Way are fallen. No tooth flashes with laughter in the world without the approval of that imperial personage (ie that one whose edict is carried into execution).’
“Buhlul said: ‘O King, you have spoken truly; this is manifest in your spiritual radiance, but explains this mystery in such a way that both the wise and the man given to folly may assent when it comes to their ears. Expound it in such a way that the understanding of the vulgar may profit from it. The perfect speaker is like one who distributes trays of viands and whose table is filled with all sorts of foods. Such a speaker is like the Quran, which is sevenfold in meaning and in which there is food for the elect and for the vulgar. The dervish said: ‘this is evidence to the vulgar that the world is subject to the command of God. No leaf drops from a tree without the predestination and ordainment of that Ruler of Fortune.
“In all the earths and heavens, not an atom moves a wing, not a straw turns save by His eternal and effectual command. Since all action in the universe only comes to pass by the command of the Maker, when the predestination of God becomes the pleasure of His servant, the servant becomes a willing slave to His decree, not on account of future reward and recompense, but because his nature has become so goodly. He does not desire his life for himself nor that he may enjoy that life which is so sweet to others.
“Wherever the Eternal Command takes its course, living and dying are one to him. He lives for God’s sake, not for riches; he dies for God’s sake, not from fear and pain. His faith is for the sake of doing His will, not for the sake of paradise and its trees and streams. His abandonment of infidelity is also for God’s sake, not for fear lest he go into the fire.
“This is his original disposition; it is not acquired by discipline or by his effort and endeavour. He laughs when he sees the Divine pleasure; to him destiny is like a sugared sweetmeat.’ God’s servant whose disposition and character is as described above sees only the world moving in accordance to His command and behest. Then why should he make entreaties and cry in prayer: ‘O God, avert his destiny.’ For God’s sake his own death and that of his children is like sweetmeat in his throat.
“To that loyal one, the death-agony of his children is like honey cakes to a destitute old man. Why, then, should he invoke God unless perhaps to see the pleasure of the Divine Judge in such invocation? That righteous servant does not make that intercession and invocation from his own mercifulness. He has burned up his own mercifulness at the moment he lit the lamp of love of God.
“Love is the fire of his attributes and it has burnt up the attributes of self, hair by hair. When did any night traveller understand this distinction (i.e. the distinction between selfish and selfless prayer) except Daquqi? He understood it well, so that he sped into this spiritual empire.”