How Quran inspired Persian poet Molana Rumi
A family was fleeing the marauding Mongols as they were invading Persia, en route to the city of Nishapur in Khorasan, the youngest member of the family received a surprise gift from the most celebrated poet of the time, Sheikh Faridud din Attar.
Persian poet presented the six-year-old Jalal-ud-Din Rumi with a copy of his “Asrar Nameh”, a treatise on secrets that
were to transform Rumi’s life.
Born into a
religious family, the most impressionable years of Molana Jalal-ud-Din Rumi's
boyhood and adolescence were spent under the tutelage of his father Baha ud Din
Walad, a famous religious scholar of his time.
Grounded in a
wider Muslim tradition, the influence of Islam and the Holy Quran is manifest
in Molana’s works. His magnum opus, the Mathnavi,
has been regarded by many as the exegesis of the Holy Quran in the Persian
“I am the servant of the Qur’an as long as I have life. I
am the dust on the path of Muhammad, the chosen one,” writes the great poet,
mystic and theologian.
Quran -- Molana Rumi’s inspiration
The words and
the figurative language of the Holy Quran have been extensively used by Molana
Rumi in his mystical poetry to communicate the experience of divine love and
Drawing from the
Quran, Rumi uses stories and complex metaphors to present secretive mysteries
that according to mystics cannot be revealed in a simple language.
The Holy Quran
calling for the believers to see and ponder upon the signs of the creator
provides an impetus for Molana’s flight of imagination. The canvas of his
imagination is limitless. From reeds to food to animals, he uses ordinary
things to convey deeply profound meanings.
Love and total
surrender to the beloved are regarded as the summum bonum of human life by
Molana. Love that forms the refrain of his work is an idea reinforced by the
Muslim holy book many times.
mentions God’s love for His creation. This divine love that surpasses human
love has been the leitmotif of earlier mystics who would find God’s grandeur in
His creation and therefore would show kindness to all that exists.
drawing considerably from the Quran and translating the Quranic verses into
Persian, Rumi’s poetry also contains the original Arabic verses from the holy
manifests his sharp observation wherein the Persian poet draws inspiration even
from seemingly insignificant creatures. Rumi uses these creatures to
simultaneously explain human behavior and the power of God’s creation.
Quranic concept of the creation of man where God breathed into Adam from His
breath, Molana employs the idea at the beginning of his Mathnawi in the song of the reed.
“Man is the flute which
speaks when touched by the breath of the Divine Beloved”
predecessors and followers on the mystical path, Rumi lived deeply out of the
eternal truth revealed by the Koran,” Annemarie Schimmel writes in her seminal
book, The Triumphal Sun.
Nature as an attribute of God
usage of seemingly regular things found in nature in his works, the celebrated
Persian poet follows the path of the Quran.
relation with nature is the characteristic of his poetry. Linking spirituality
with nature, Rumi employs the natural environment to convey his deep
appreciation for the Creator and His creation.
variety of expressions and interesting stories weaved around them, the subtle
concept of unity in the universe becomes apparent in Rumi’s poetry.
Experts say that
possessed by the love of God, mystics see the beauty and divine art of creation
in the seemingly ordinary aspects of life. These commonplace things have also
been employed by the Quran to convey deeper meanings.
For example, the
sun that has been extensively used by Rumi in both his Mathnavi and Divan finds a mention in the Quran
also in the form of the morning light.
Water, a very
commonly used metaphor to put forward certain ideas of gnosis by a number of
mystics including Rumi, has been drawn from the Quran.
The holy Muslim
book mentions water multiple times, proclaiming that everything was created
“Although this water and this clay contain the hearth of
the philosophical stone.”
“Bees and bats,
lions and cats, roses and violets, ravens and hawks - they all appear in his
poetry to represent this or that aspect of the soul, or of human life,” writes
Annemarie Shimmel in “Mystical poetry in
Islam: The Case of Maulana Jalaladdin Rumi”.
Love of the Prophet in Molana’s works
Sufi model of a strong relationship with the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon
him), Molana Rumi’s heavy reliance on Prophetic traditions is visible in his
Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life can be found in all his verses.
deeper aspects of spiritual existence, Rumi has used the events of the Holy
Prophet’s (PBUH) life to convey mystical secrets, such as the episode of Hijra has been used to convey the
importance of the spiritual journey that is essential for the growth of the
“Did not Mostafa go to travel towards Yathrib,
found a kingdom and became the ruler of a hundred
One of the most
important events in the life of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) is the ascension to
the heavens or Miraj. This event
holds significant importance for the mystics.
the ascension, making use of Quranic allusions employed for the description of
the journey. According to the mystic poet, love is manifested best in the
experience of the Holy Prophet’s Night Journey.
“Just as, during the night of the Ascension, God made
of peace) with the Light of the Absolute upon Muhammad: "Peace
be upon you."
to the Sufi concept of the light of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which has been
described as divine light permeating everything in the universe finds mention
in Rumi’s poetry.
“Infidelity put on a black dress: The Light of Mohammad
arrived, the drum of Eternal remaining (baqa)) was beaten, the
eternal kingdom arrived.”
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as the eternal helper whose help is required for the
deliverance of man. His poetry shows his strong trust in the messenger and
apostle of God (PBUH) who also appears as the celebrated poet’s master.
“A voice from the lofty ones (among the angels came) from
to every beggar: "O pure spirit of the one who is followed! O
"Mercy to (all) peoples”
poet’s love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is clearly demonstrated by his works.
He uses beautiful expressions to praise him, regarding him as the soul of the
“This is my beloved, this my physician, this my tutor,
this my remedy.”
Molana has also
shown special reverence to Imam Ali (AS) in dozens of his verses. For Rumi, Ali
(AS) is the fountainhead of mysticism and needs to be followed to attain
nearness to God.
“In rapture, my very being cries out: Ali Ali
A lover, I am of Murtaza Ali.”
“Declared Muhammed, the Most Generous of generous My cousin, the son of my uncle
My flesh is your flesh, my blood your blood
You are the Guardian, the Master of believers That the Holy Quran makes clear Garbed, Crowned, Invincible,
Samaa, the dance of unity
Samaa, or the dance of the whirling dervishes of the Molana order
that has become popular in the recent past, starts with the verses praising
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), indicating the deep religious feeling that accompanied
the mystic poet throughout his life.
Molana uses samaa to communicate the experience of
being annihilated and reborn in divine love.
through the whirling dance, Rumi shows veneration to God and his creation that
is occupied in circling around the beloved Lord.