Rumi: Compassion beyond all faiths


Wajeeha Bilal

We all possess a centered place of wisdom, affection and stability within us but the truth is that we all swing away from that place, from time to time. In life it is essential that we acquire a path adjusting device for our balance that can guide us back to our purpose.

There are many models of faith, beliefs and convictions who offer different experiences in life and then there is the way of a man who has love for his Creator, and everything created by Him. He finds everything around him to be an expression of that love and compassion. One such model is the great mystic poet, Maulana Rumi, whose six-volume “Masnavi” is a collection of inspirational verses and one of the most influential works of mysticism.

The world is familiar with Rumi and his works. I would like to share my own experience of being one of those who keenly wished to visit his city. I remember visiting his tomb as a child while living in Turkey, but at that time I had no idea of what the religion of love and compassion was really about. It wasn’t till I grew up and started exploring life’s real purpose, that I realized the power of living with compassion. Life will definitely have an impact on you if you are in search of truth and its experience flows through you like the light of knowledge. Every time I read about great thinkers and their works, I would think of the time I had gone to Maulana’s mausoleum as a child, and wanted to experience that once again, but this time fully aware of my presence at this respectable place. Reading through his poetry has always been like walking with a navigation of verses to guide us.

This time while visiting Turkey, I planned to visit Konya, too, and I was glad that life had given me this opportunity to pay homage to this great poet that I admire so much. I heard that once you visit the Maulana’s tomb in Konya, you are bound to go there seven times or as people say that Rumi calls you seven times if you go to visit him once. Well, that’s definitely a fun saying made by his followers or something my brother makes sure everyone abides by, but I really enjoyed it because I would love to go there again and experience the presence of love and affection.

Standing there I felt like it is not only the city that is dedicated to him, but you can see his influence throughout the country where the people are the politest and respectful. I had lived in Turkey as a child and still love going there due to the love and respect that people have, which is only a strong conviction of the fact that “the religion of love and unity is beyond all faiths.”Rumi died on December 17, 1273. He had been a devout Muslim for all his life, praying five times and keeping all the required fasts while writing about belief in a “religion of love” that crosses over traditional boundaries of the faith system.

I reflected on how Rumi’s message of love and peace offers a life of love and purity while the faiths that enforce violence in the name of religion only to spread terror, have nothing to offer other than hate and fear. Through my reflection I have come to realize the power of words in uniting or dividing the humankind and commit to doing the former. One of the most beautiful expressions of love that I found in Turkey was the plantation of trees by the Turkish government at the Kecioren Park memorial site in Kartaltepe. Trees are planted to honour the martyrs of Peshawar School (16th December 2014 terrorist act). I feel compelled to share this because it is merely unfortunate that there is no mention of this worthy forest on Google or any other social network. At least not one that I could find easily while every other tiny jiff can be googled easily.

Rumi gave his followers instructions to treat the night of his death like a joyous night of union. For Rumi, the presence of the performers specified that the deceased was both a Muslim and a lover of his Creator. But there were also Jewish rabbis reciting psalms, and Christian priests reading from the Gospels at Rumi’s funeral. It was clear that Rumi had become a well-respected figure within other holy communities. Rumi’s poetry that is largely tolerant of all people and other faiths still continues to touch hearts across the world. “When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.”

Allama Iqbal is not only our national poet but one of my favourites, too, and the inspiration that Iqbal derived from Rumi is mirrored in his work ‘Pir-o-Mureed‘ (1935). It is a dialogue between Iqbal and Rumi written in both Urdu and Persian, and in one of the verses, Iqbal (mureed) says to Rumi (pir), “You, the leader of the lovers of God; I do remember your exalted words.” The earnest form of love for Rumi, as a mystic, involves escape from the self-centered whims of the ego. His inspiring words remind us how poetry can be a nourishing part of everyday life.

For me Rumi’s divine literature is a strong testimony of the powerful impact that words and poetry can have in our lives and on our souls. So, we need to share a purposeful life with your friends and family to create unity and awareness.
(Wajeeha is author of “The Conscious Ego” and “The Beautiful Present”