Mevlana & His Works

Mevlana And His Work
Hz. Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, is known as Hz. Mevlana in the East and known as Rumi in the West. At birth, his family named him Muhammed, though he came to be nicknamed Celaleddin. As for “Mevlana”, it connotes to “our master”, while “Rumi” relates to “the land of Rum” or “Anatolia”, where he lived. In his lifetime, he was also referred to as “Hudavendigar”, meaning “distinguished leader”, whereas his present internationally renowned title “Mevlana” was very seldom used. The name “Rumi” was added to the end, rather later on.

Hz. Mevlana was born on September 30, 1207 in the city of Belh, Horasan, which at the time was inhabited by Turkish tribes; (Belh, today, remains within the boundaries of Afghanistan). His mother Mümine was the daughter of Rükneddin, the “emir” (sovereign ruler) of Belh and his father, Bahaeddin Veled, was “Sultanu-l ulema”(chief scholar). Their clash of opinion with Fahreddin-i Razi, one of his contemporary philosophers, along with the probability of a Mongol invasion urged him to desert his hometown accompanied by his entire family. Their migration, via Baghdad, Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan, and Karaman, ended up, on May 3, 1228, in Konya upon the invitation of Alaeddin Keykubad, the Seljuk Emperor.

Following his marriage to Gevher Banu in Karaman, Konya, Hz. Mevlana had two sons whom he named Bahaeddin (Sultan Veled) and Alaeddin. Years later, during his time in Konya, and after Gevher Banu passed away, Mevlana married Kerra Hatun by whom he had two more children; another son, Muzafferreddin Emir Alim and a daughter Melike.

As Mevlana begins attending his father’s lessons at a very early age, he pursues the divine truth and secrets. He acquires Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and common Greek as well as Classical Greek. He studies the other religions along with Islam. From history to medicine, he receives his initial education from his father and then from Seyyid Burhaneddin Tirmizi and other top scholars of the time. Later on he himself, in turn, teaches hundreds of students in Madrassahs (theological universities).

Meanwhile, Sems-i Tebrizi, not fulfilled by the ultimate spiritual rank he has attained, is in search of another fellow acquaintance to match his own scholarly wisdom and to enjoy his company. Sems and Hz. Mevlana, who had their first encounter in Damascus, meet again in 1244, in Konya. These two God loving velis (guardians), focus intensely on divine discussions and together they attain heavenly wisdom. With most of his time spent in endless talks, poetry recitals, and whirling rituals with his spiritual soul mate, jealousy becomes aroused among Mevlana’s students. Unjust rumours are spread against Sems-i Tebrizi, who is offended and flees Konya for Damascus. Hz. Mevlana, in his deep grief, secludes himself from all friends and writes many of his verses which we read in Divan-i Kebir. The instigators of this unfavorable situation express remorse and a group led by Mevlana’s son Sultan Veled goes to Damascus and brings back Sems-i Tebrizi. Nevertheless, jealousy arises once again and Sems, this time, suddenly disappears altogether. Even though his tomb is assumed to be in Konya, whether he deserted the city or was murdered still remains a mystery.

Hz. Mevlana enters a new stage in his life upon the disappearance of his close friend. He first appoints Sheikh Selahaddin-i Zerkub, who passes away, then he appoints Chalabi Hüsameddin, one of his own students, to teach on his behalf.

“As long as I live, I am the slave of the Quran I am the ground of chosen Mohammed’s way…
Whoever carries a word of me apart from this I am complainant of him and I am complainant of those words too.”

As can clearly be inferred from his words above, he always pursued Hz. Mohammad’s teachings in his divine journey, always conforming to God’s commandments, preaching and practising in the Islamic discipline. He always complains about the fundamentalist ideas appended into Islam later on, and even more so about the destructive ignorance of the madrassah:

“Listen to this reed how it complains:
it is telling a tale of separations.
Saying, “Ever since I was parted from the reed-bed,
man and woman have moaned in (unison with) my lament.
I want a bosom torn by severance, that I may unfold (to such a one) the pain of love-desire.
Every one who is left far from his source wishes back the time when he was united with it.
In every company I uttered my wailful notes,
I consorted with the unhappy and with them that rejoice.
Every one became my friend from his own opinion;
none sought out my secrets from within me.
My secret is not far from my plaint,
but ear and eye lack the light (whereby it should be apprehended).
Body is not veiled from soul, nor soul from body,
yet none is permitted to see the soul.”
This noise of the reed is fire, it is not wind:
whoso hath not this fire, may he be naught!
‘Tis the fire of Love that is in the reed, ‘tis the fervour of Love that is in the wine.
The reed is the comrade of every one who has been parted from a friend:
its strains pierced our hearts.
Who ever saw a poison and antidote like the reed?
Who ever saw a sympathiser and a longing lover like the reed?
The reed tells of the Way full of blood and recounts stories of the passion of Majnn.
Only to the senseless is this sense confided:
the tongue hath no customer save the ear.
In our woe the days (of life) have become untimely:
our days travel hand in hand with burning griefs.
If our days are gone, let them go!– ‘tis no matter.
Do Thou remain, for none is holy as Thou art!
Except the fish, everyone becomes sated with water;
whoever is without daily bread finds the day long.
None that is raw understands the state of the ripe:
therefore my words must be brief. Farewell!

(Translator: Feyzi Halici)”

His Works

In addition to his best-known book of verse, Masnawi, the first eighteen lines of which were written down personally and the rest dictated to his student, Chalabi Husameddin, he also wrote Divan-i Kebir; Fih-i Ma-Fi, Mecalis- i Seb’a and Mektubat.

  • Masnawi
    Hz. Mevlana
  • It contains 26 thousand couplets in six volumes, consisting of stories inspired by the Quran’s teachings about all that is created, as well as Hz. Mohammad’s words and their morals.
  • Divan-i Kebir
    Preceding Masnawi, it is a collection of poems recited by Hz. Mevlana over a wide span of time. It contains approximately 40 thousand couplets within twenty-one moderate-size divans, as well as one “Divan-i Rubai
  • Fih-i Ma-Fih
    It connotes “What’s within is within” and contains Hz. Mevlana’s lectures.
  • Mecalis-i Seb’a:
    As the meaning of the title “Seven Sermons” implies, it contains Hz. Mevlana’s seven lectures.
  • Mektubat:
    It consists of the 147 letters Hz. Mevlana wrote to relatives, including his son Sultan Veled, and to friends, rulers, and officials of the State.

The daily language of the time was Turkish, the scientific language was Arabic, while Persian was the language of literature. For this reason Hz Mevlana’s books are all in Persian. They were all translated into Turkish at a later time.

In his books, Hz. Mevlana talks about how to be a wholesome human being: one who has inner peace and harmony, one who is both aware of and appreciates God’s blessings, one who takes a stand in the face of life’s hardships, one who is tolerant and loving.

I would like to give some examples of Hz. Mevlana’s advice to his son, Bahaddin Veled, to indicate his spiritual and worldy viewpoints:

“Bahaeddin! Should you wish to be in Heaven forever, be a friend to everyone.
Cherish not grudge in your heart,
Demand not extra nor be extra
Be like ointment and candle, not a needle.
Should you wish no evil from anyone,
Speak not of evil, Nor preach of evil, Nor think evil!
Should you speak of a man in goodwill, you will always rejoice,
And that joy is Heaven itself.
Should you speak of a man in hostility, you will always despair.
And this is Hell itself .
As soon as you ponder friends, flowers will bloom in your heart’s garden, filling it with roses and basil.
As soon as you ponder foes, your heart’s garden will be filled with thorns and serpents.
Your heart will grow tired and you will lie idle.
All prophets and saints did likewise, reflecting their character outwards.
Fellow human beings, overwhelmed by their beautiful demeanor, voluntarily and happily followed their path.”

(Ahmed Eflaki, Ariflerin Menkibeleri II, 213, 214)

More than seven hundred years have elapsed since the day of this advice and it still holds true for us all…

“Abstract of my life are these words: Raw I was, Cooked well Burnt I got.”

Hz. Mevlana, who summed up life in the above words, passed away on December 17, 1273 following a brief time on his sickbed and reached out to his Allah and his beloved prophet. Mevlevi disciples call this night Seb-i Arus (wedding night), the night of unity.

I would like to conclude my words with the following advice from Mevlana to those who aspire to the pursuit of truth, even today:

“There is a life in you, search that life,
Search the secret jewel in the mountain of your body,
Hey you, the passing away friend, look for with all your strength,
Whatever you are looking for, look in yourself not around.”