A laudable addition to Rumiana

Book: Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi
Author: B. Sheik Ali
Publisher: Knowledge Society Publications, Mysore, India
Year of Publication: 2009
Price: Rs 200
Pages: 158
Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi is a well known name in the Sufi World, where he is regarded one of the pioneers and founders of gnosis and spiritual relationship. He also in the same vein like Ghazali traveled from Scientist-Sufi way with a difference that a person, namely Shams Tabriz, was responsible for the turning point in his life, and he never looked back but continued his journey on his newly discovered path. The contact with a Spiritual Master made Rumi what we today knew him as and his output was only due to this acquaintance and contact.

The present book under review deals with these aspects of Rumi’s life and his voluminous mystic poetical output on which discussion has been initiated by the respected author. The times in which Rumi was born, as rightly observed by B. Sheik Ali in the preface, were chaotic, confused and corrupt as “Chaos prevailed in politics, but Glory reigned supreme in Spiritual life. Thrones were tottering, but souls were shining, shooting high to the celestial world. The sword of Sultan had gone blunt, but the vision of the Sufi was scanning the sky”. It was an “age of three dimensions; Political Upheaval, Spiritual Fervour and Intellectual Excellence” (P-25)

Sufism though is a Complex phenomenon riddled with deep mysteries, depth, debates about Wahdat Ul Wajood and Wahdat Ul Shahood but Rumi through his stories, anecdotes and daily life examples makes us understand and peep into this World of inherent complexities, though he uses various methods to prove Divinity (Ilahiyat) of God by Reasoning, Aesthetic, Philosophical, Evolutionary, Cause and Effect methods, but like a true Sufi, “intends to say that the sensory organs give us only relative knowledge but for absolute knowledge we have to depend on heart” (P-82).

The author traces the chronology and moving spirit behind Rumi’s works among which the Masnavi has gained wide fame for its alma-mater, knowledge, teachings, explanation and mystic leanings. “Thus Maulana’s Masnavi is something like a Super market of Spiritual goods where limitless variety exists. We have the knowledge and Wisdom, body and soul, head and heart, spiritual and temporal affairs, nature and creativity, humanism and spiritualism, reason and logic and every other conceivable object we can think of. The purpose is to lift man to a higher pedestal. This physical domain is just nothing before spiritual sphere” (P. 146). The author then traces the subject matter, novelty and uniqueness of each of the six volumes of Masnavi which culminates in Love as the real religion and the moving energy of the whole Universe, as Rumi belongs to the optimistic school of thought hence Masnavi enlightens the soul, illuminates conscience, sharpens wisdom, inspires creativity and makes the spirit rise from deep slumber.

The Maulana was also an iconoclast and harbinger of revolutionary changes in mysticism as well as Sufism. One of these aspects was Music abhorred by the Traditional Ulema and even by some Sufis but “Maulana has composed verses after verses on bansri or flute…It stands for the soul of man. Maulana feels bansri is the key to understand the entire process of Sufism. It has the same relevance with Sufism as the initial Sura-e-Fateha has with Holy Qur’an. Just as the entire essence of Qur’an is contained in that Sura, the bansri too sums up the entire philosophy of Sufism. Maulana says music is the food for soul. He would say that, like Shakespeare, “the man that has no music in himself, nor is not moved by concord of sweet sounds is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils”. Let no such man be trusted. The indispensable requirement for ecstasy is music (P. 95).

The necessity, need and novelty to understand Rumi’s message is indispensable because both Westerners and Orientalists have shown much interest in his message and works and even written about him which, at times, contradicts his genuine message, thus maligning his true teachings. Hence need of the hour is to undertake such an objective study to bring his true teachings and message to the fore. The book is a laudable and humble welcome addition to the already existing voluminous work on Rumi but if a chapter regarding the essence of Pir-Murid relationship in the present context and the need to make it as vibrant as it was in Rumi’s days as to again prove a source of inspiration for undertaking intellectual endeavors would add to the essence of already indispensable book for a lucid, short introduction on the life, works, inspiration and impact of Rumi.

Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is a Srinagar-based writer