author and scholar of Persian language Hafeezur Rahman
Turkey, the 13th-century Sufi mystic, poet, philosopher, and theologian Maulana
or Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi has a huge fan following in South Asia.
different Sufi orders to poets and philosophers, Rumi’s shadow is quite
evident. As the Turkish city of Konya, the resting place of Rumi is currently
commemorating his 746th death anniversary, Indian author and acclaimed scholar
of Persian language, Hafeezur Rahman, explains the relevance of Rumi and
reason for his influence on Sufi orders in South Asia.
exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Rahman, who also authored, Rumi
– The Guide and Philosopher, and is the founder and president of Sufi Peace
Foundation, explains the multi-dimensional personality of Rumi.
Agency (AA): What
is the relevance of Mevlana Jalaludin Rumi in South Asia? What actually led you
to research on a Sufi saint who has never lived in South Asia?
Rahman (HR): In
2005, I was invited to visit Istanbul in the month of March and I attended a
whirling dervish Sema. That was when I decided to work on Rumi and his impact
on the thoughts of Indian scholars. Yes, it is true, that he was born in
Persia, studied in Damascus, was buried in Turkey. Apparently, there is no
connection with South Asia, but Rumi rules in the hearts and minds of people in
the Indian subcontinent.
first question, it is actually Rumi’s approach of love and compassion in his
works, irrespective of race, religion, and gender that makes him popular. At
this time when the entire world is suffering from hate in the name of race, religion
and gender, Rumi's universal appeal based on humanity and unity is appealing.
AA: How have his teachings affected or
influenced the Sufi order in South Asia?
HR: Rumi is a multidimensional
personality. He is an Islamic scholar, a jurist, theologian, a master
commentator of Holy Quran and Hadith, a linguistic, poet, philosopher and
influenced Sufi orders in different ways. Among Chishtiya order he is popular
for his mystic poetry sung by Qawwals. His concept of love and harmony appeals
to Chishtiya order. For Qadriya, Naqshbandia and Soharwardia orders, his appeal
stems from his way of life as a true follower of the Quran and prophet. Rumi
claims that for him mysticism is nothing, except following the Quranic teaching
in South Asia
AA: What are the different Sufi orders
in the Indian subcontinent? And how do they differ from each other?
HR: In the Indian subcontinent or
South Asia, we have all the four major Sufi orders Qadriya, Chishtiya,
Naqshbandia and Soharwardia.
majority of people follow the Chishtiya order, because it was introduced by
Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (1142–1236), responsible for preaching Islam in North
India. It is believed that some 9 million people converted to Islam in the
subcontinent because of his teachings of unique brotherhood and harmony
irrespective of cast, gender and belief. He also initiated the Qawwali, a form
of devotional music. The idea behind it is adopting and accepting local
traditions and using them as tools to make people aware about Islamic
order was introduced by dependents of Shaikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad
who migrated to India. This order is more confined to focus on Shariah
traditions. They do not permit Qawwali or Sema like Chishtiya. It is the second
largest tradition, since Maulana Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi was also a strict
follower of Qadriya order. He popularized it. Till then, it was the abode of
order is admired by the clergies of Delhi, Lahore, Hyderabad and Kashmir. It
was introduced by Hazrat Khwaja Baqi Billah of Delhi but was made popular by
his disciple Imam Rabbani Shailh Ahmed Farooqui Sarhindi, during Mughal emperor
Jahangir's time in the 17th century.
Naqshbandia order is not an easy task for a common man because of its strict
discipline and commitment to follow shariah in letter and spirit. Sohardwardia
order is prevalent in Afghanistan and Bangladesh. But has limited disciples in
India and Pakistan.
AA: When you said that in the Indian
subcontinent, the order of Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad and
Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti prevails, how has Rumi succeeded to find a space?
HR: The uniqueness of Rumi's order is
that it is hidden among both of them. His idea of Wahdat ul Wujood (unity of
being), Sema, poetry, whirling dervish, love and companionship toward humanity,
are in some way hallmark of the Chishti order as well. In a way, Rumi's order
is a combination of Chishtiya and Qadirya. He is followed by different orders
in different ways because of his philosophy and work. We cannot limit him in
any particular Sufi order. He has emerged an ambassador of peace, therefore,
his appeal is universal.
of Wahdat ul Wujood
AA: Rumi’s philosophy of Wahdat ul
Wujood has generated a fierce debate over the centuries. What is this
philosophy and why has it been so controversial?
HR: Actually, the idea of Wahdat ul
Wujood was propounded by Imam Hussain ibne Ali for the first time in his book
Mirar ul Arifeen. He wrote this book, in response to questions from his son
Imam Zainul Abedin about Surah Fatiha, the first chapter of the holy Quran. He
interpreted the philosophy of Wahdat ul Wujood. It was rediscovered by Shaikh
Mohiuddin Ibne Arabi and then reintroduced by Rumi. The concept got popularity
in South Asia, as it found followers like Shaikh Muhibhulah Allahbadi, Sarmad
Shaheed and Prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shahjahan.
himself has emphasized that mysticism is nothing except following Quranic
teachings and the prophet's life. He was a true follower of Ibne Arabi who was
the greatest exponent of this philosophy. In India, sufis have drawn their
ideological and spiritual strength from the pantheistic doctrines to build an
ideological bridge between Islam and Hinduism. It is a way to entice Hindus to
study and attract them toward Islamic teachings.
couplet of famous poet Saadi Shirazi, Bani Adam Azai ek Digarand ( All sons of
Adam are limbs of each other) or Rumi's universal appeal toward humanity are
the better examples to understand the true meaning of Wahdat ul Wujood.
AA: Famous poet and philosopher
Muhammad Iqbal has mentioned Rumi as his spiritual guide. What is so common
between the two and the influence of Rumi on Iqbal’s poetry?
HR: In South Asia, Bu Ali Shah
Qalandar was the first who introduced Rumi's name and his philosophy in the
13th century. Perhaps Bu Ali had met Rumi. Iqbal reached the highest position
as true follower of Rumi. Besides Rumi, Iqbal has quoted other philosophers
like Attar, Sanai, Khusro and Syed Jamaluddun Afghani as well, but he has
stayed closest to Rumi. Iqbal wrote his magnum opus Javed Nama in response to
western philosophy. Iqbal in his prayers has asked for dynamism of Rumi.
He has said
that Master Rumi has transformed him from dust to alchemy and changed his body
into an effulgent one.
fundamental aspect of the entire philosophy of Iqbal is the realization of
Khudi or self. This highest spiritual state can be attained by observing the
idea of love as divine ecstasy that elevate man to a higher spiritual level.
Rumi attached special importance to love at the very beginning of his Masnavi
which Iqbal followed in his book Asrar-e khudi.
AA: What is actually is the secret
that Rumi’s poetry which despite being in Persian has transcended linguistic
and physical boundaries?
HR: There are several ways which made
Rumi the master beyond boundaries. Among that his most popular one-liner is:
wasl kardan amadi,
fasl kardan amadi.
sufis and saints) have been sent to unite, not to divide.
As I told
you Rumi's appeal is universal. He believes in unity of being and universal
brotherhood. He has joined hearts. His Masnavi joins the soul. He said:
be it real or metaphorical, ultimately takes humans to God.”
And that is
his basic idea which transcended Rumi beyond physical and linguistic
Headline: 'Mevlana Rumi transcends physical, linguistic boundaries'
Source: Anadolu Agency