Rumi said to Ibn Chavish: The root of the matter is that you should guard against this backbiting when talking about Sheikh Salah al-Din. Perhaps this will remove these dark shadows and clouds that surround you.
How can you defend yourself? People have left their own country, their fathers and mothers, their households, kinsfolk and families, and have journeyed from Hind to Sind until their boots were cut to shreds, in search of someone having the fragrance of the other world. How many men and women have died of sorrow, never succeeding nor encountering such a person! As for you, you know such a man here in your own house, and you turn your back on him. This is a tragedy of recklessness.
You used to tell me that Sheikh Salah al-Din was the sheikh of sheikhs, a great and mighty man. “From the day I entered his service,” you said to me, “I never heard him once mention your name except as Rumi, Our Master, Our Lord, Our Creator. I never heard him change this humble expression for a single day.” It must be your ambitions that have blinded you now. Today you say that Salah al-Din is nothing.
What wrong has Sheikh Salah al-Din ever done you? Only, when seeing you fall into a pit of self-destruction, he said to you, “Beware of the pit.” He said this out of compassion for you, above all others, but you reject that compassion. Now, you find yourself in the midst of his wrath, and having plunged into this wrath, how will you escape? That is why he says, “Do not dwell in my house of wrath and anger. Move into my house of grace and compassion. Do something in praise of me, and enter my house of love.” He says this because then your heart will shed this darkness and fill with light.
He says this to you for your own sake, for your own good, but you charge his compassion to some ulterior motive. What ulterior motive should a man like that have towards you? Isn’t it true that whenever you are filled to satisfaction with drink or music, at the same time you are pleased with every enemy, forgiving them all? In that hour, unbeliever and believer become the same in your eyes. Now Sheikh Salah al-Din is the very ocean of this spiritual joy. All the seas of satisfaction are within him. How could he hate anyone, or have plans against them? And especially, what designs would he have against such as locusts and frogs? How can he, who possesses such empire and grandeur, be compared with such miserable creatures?
Is it not said that the Water of Life must be found in darkness? This darkness surrounds the saints, in whose being we find that Eternal Spring. The Water of Life is hidden in their darkness. If you turn from darkness and run away from it, how can the Water of Life ever reach you?
Don’t you think if you wanted to learn sodomy from sodomites, or harlotry from harlots, you could never learn anything without putting up with a thousand disagreeable things, beatings and the thwarting of your desires? This is the only way you could attain your goal. Then how do you expect to attain the eternal and everlasting source of life, which is the station of the prophets and saints, without anything disagreeable or without any sacrifice? How could this ever happen?
What the Sheikh prescribes for you is the same as what Sheikhs of old prescribed; that you give up your wealth and position. Indeed, they used to tell a disciple, “Leave your wife, that we may take her,” and the disciples put up with that. As for you, when he counsels you a simple thing, how is it that you run away?
Do you not see how people are overcome by blindness and ignorance when they fall in love, how they will fawn and grovel and sacrifice all their wealth, seeking somehow to win the one they want with every effort. Night and day they think of nothing else, never wearying of their pursuit, yet wearying of everything else. Then, is the love for the Sheikh and the love for God less than this?
Yet, at the smallest word of advice and discipline you object and desert the Sheikh. Hence it is known that you are no lover or seeker. Were you a true lover and seeker, you would put up with many times what we have described. To your heart, dung would become honey and sugar.