Why You Should Read: The Rumi Daybook, by Jelaluddin Rumi
By Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
From East to West, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi needs no introduction. He was born in Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) in 1207 AD. Rumi’s father, Bahaduddin Walad, was a well-known theologian, jurist and mystic. When the Mongols invaded Central Asia, between 1215 and 1220, Rumi left Balkh with his family and traveled extensively in Muslim lands, including Baghdad, Damascus, and Kayseri and after performing a pilgrimage to Mecca, he eventually settled in Konya, in what is now western Turkey.
Rumi was an orthodox theologian and teacher until in 1244 AD when he met a wandering dervish named Shamsuddin of Tabriz. The meeting proved to be a turning point in his life. He devoted himself to mysticism and became a messenger of love. Shams and Rumi were close friends. Shams went to Damascus, where he was allegedly killed by some people who resented his proximity to Rumi. After the death of Shams, Rumi became a stoic and expressed his love towards him through poetry and whirling dances, along with playing the Ney or Reed. For almost a decade after meeting Shams of Tabrizi, Rumi immersed himself in writing Ghazals whose compilation is known as Diwan-e-Kabir or Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. Rumi spent most of the later years of his life in Anatolia, where he finished six volumes of his masterwork, the Masnavi.
Rumi is arguably the most compelling and comprehensive writer on love. His writings still resonate in the hearts of millions. The words he wrote in Persian seven hundred years ago still find relevance in modern times in the hearts of countless people. In fact, his writings have become more popular lately, especially in the West, as his words provide solace and comfort to those seeking love and belonging. The nature of his writings is so inclusive that anyone can feel a personal connection to his thought. The major theme of his writings is Love and indeed it is love that makes us human and keeps us humane.
Much has already been written about Rumi and his thoughts. Love and inclusiveness is the core of his work. His writings are an example of how love can take one to great heights. Everyone who has been, or is, in love can relate to his words. His poetry is powerful and inspiring. It is meaningful, especially to those who are broken-hearted. His verses are the soothing balm for any broken heart. Separation from the beloved and the process of utilizing that pain to get closer to divine union can’t be explained better by anyone but Rumi. His descriptions of love leave one speechless. For instance:
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
A lover may be drawn to this love or that love,
but finally he is drawn to the Sovereign of Love.
However much we describe and explain love,
when we fall in love we are ashamed of our words.
Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear,
but love unexplained is clearer.
When the pen came to the subject of love, it broke.
When the discourse reached the topic of love,
the pen split and the paper tore.
If intellect tries to explain it,
it falls helpless as a donkey on a muddy trail;
only Love itself can explain love and lovers!
The proof of the sun is the sun itself.
If you wish to see it, don’t turn away from it.
The translators, Kabir & Camille Helminski have worked on Rumi for more than three decades now and they are a core reason for the popularization of his writings in the English language. The translators have contributed numerous other volumes on Rumi and their translations from Persian to English are quite lucid and easy to understand based on the context. Kabir is the author/translator of several books of Sufi poetry, and Kabir and Camille have collaborated on several collections, including Rumi: Daylight, Jewels of Remembrance: 365 Selections from the Wisdom of Rumi, The Rumi Collection, and The Pocket Rumi. Kabir and Camille are closely associated with Sufi teachers from other tariqahs in Turkey, India, Iran, and Syria. All of these teachers are committed to integrating classical methods of mysticism with modern needs to give a sense of meaning and fulfillment in life.
This book is unique, as it has been written so that the reader can spend one whole year with the writings of Rumi on a daily basis. It contains poetry and stories that make one think deeply. The poems and stories have been selected mainly from Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi (Translated by Reynold Nicholson with Persian Text, Cambridge, England, 1982) or Diwan-e-Shams Tabrizi (Edited by Badi’ al-Zaman Foruzanfar, Amir Kabir, Tehran, 1977), and they've been beautifully translated by the compilers. Some parts have also been selected from Fihi Ma Fihi (In it What is in It, Amir Kabir, Tehran 1385 CE). The arrangement of the text is incredibly presented in a way that keeps the reader curious and engaged. Reading this book is a liberating experience, in my opinion. Rumi’s writings touch one’s heartstrings and one feels compelled to read more of him as if he appeals to our heart and speaks to our souls. It is like a spiritual self-help guide to inspire one’s daily living through love for the Divine and the beloved. What could be more inspiring for a lover than these words?
The heart is your student
for love is the only way we learn.
Night has no choice but to grab the feet of daylight.
It’s as if I see Your Face everywhere I turn.
It’s as if Love’s radiant oil
never stops searching
for a lamp in which to burn.
(Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi: Quatrain 353)
For seekers and lovers of love, wisdom, and God, this book is an essential read. Anyone looking to get acquainted with Rumi or even those who have already read Rumi will also benefit from this work, owing to its style and composition. To read this book is to immerse oneself in the depths of love for something greater than the individual self. It is healing and therapeutic - simply a pure spiritual delight.
If you want to read the Rumi Day Book you can find it here.
Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is from Kashmir, India. He graduated from the International Islamic University Malaysia majoring in Psychology with a Theology minor. Currently, a Master’s student of Guidance and Counseling Psychology at Marmara University, he loves writing, traveling, storytelling and philosophy. Working on his third book now about self-help and spirituality, which will be available by next year. He is also an aspiring novelist. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/yaqeenulhaq or firstname.lastname@example.org