Monday, October 29, 2007

MSU to hold conference on America's top selling poet

Want to take a guess at who Publishers Weekly named America's top selling poet? Ralph Waldo Emerson? Edgar Allan Poe? Robert Frost perhaps?

Many are surprised that America's top selling poet was not an American or of Anglo-Saxon background. In fact, he was a Muslim of Persian ethnicity.

His name is Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the world famous mystical poet, whose works have influenced mystics and philosophers of various faiths to current Hollywood actors and pop artists such as Madonna.

UNESCO named 2007 the Year of Rumi in commemoration of his birthday 800 years ago.

Yesterday in Iran, a two day international conference began on the works of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, another Persian who influenced Rumi.

Like many writers of his time as in other times, some works have been attributed to Rumi that were not his. Some of these false attributions have made some wonder if Rumi was even a Muslim or if Rumi was lost in the sea of nothingness, not practicing any formal religion.

However, some things to note regarding Rumi are:
1) He followed the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, one of the four Sunni schools of thought.
2) He performed the 5 daily ritual prayers.
3) He made Hajj, pilgrimage to Makkah.
4) His "Diwan" and "Mathnawi" contain some 6,000 verses that are direct translations of the Qur'an from Arabic to Persian. Likewise, his poems also contain sayings (hadith) of Prophet Muhammad (SAAS).
5) His book "Majlis-e-Saba'" is a book containing seven Islamic sermons that he delivered.

To learn more about Rumi, Michigan State University will be holding a conference on Rumi on November 3, 2007.


Poem below is translated from Farsi (Persian) into English entitled "How Jesus Fled From Fools."

The escaping of Jesus, (may the) peace (of G-d) be upon him,
to the top of a mountain (to flee) from fools.

Jesus, (the son) of Mary, was running away to a mountain.
You might say (that) a lion was wanting to spill his blood.

Someone ran behind (him) and said, "(May you be) well! There
isn't anyone following you, (so) why are you fleeing like a bird?"

(But) he kept running in the same manner, bound to urgency, (so)
that he didn't answer him, because of his own haste.

(The man) pressed forward following Jesus (for) one or two
(more) fields. Then he called (out) to Jesus with great seriousness,

Saying, "For the sake of G-d's approval, stop for a moment! --
since I have a problem in (understanding this) fleeing of yours.

"O noble and generous one! Who are you running from (in)
this direction? (There's) no lion or enemy following you, and no
fear or dread."

He answered, "I am escaping from a fool. Go (away)! I'm
rescuing myself, (so) don't restrain me!"

(The man) said, "But aren't you the Messiah, by whom blind
and deaf (people) become normal?"

"Yes," he replied. (The man) asked, "Aren't you the (spiritual)
king who (is) the dwelling place for mysterious spells and
incantations? --

"(So that) if you recite a spell upon a (man's) corpse, he leaps up
(joyfully) like a lion (who has) brought back prey."

"Yes," he answered, "I am that one." (The other) said, "O
beautiful faced one! Don't you make (living) birds out of clay?"

"Yes," he replied. (The other) said, "O pure spirit! Then you can
make (happen) whatever you wish-- (so) who are you afraid of?

"With evidence such as this, who is there in the world who
wouldn't be among your (devoted) slaves?"

Jesus said, "By the Holy Essence of G-d, the Originator of the
body, the Creator of the soul in (its) superiority!

"(And in) reverence for His Holy Essence and Attributes, (for)
whom the collar of the heavens is torn (in ecstasy):

"(I affirm) that those incantations, as well as the greatest
Name (of G-d), which I spoke over the deaf and over the blind,
were beneficial.

"I recited (the words) over the rocky mountain (and) it became
split, tearing the robe (which was) upon itself (down) to the navel.

"I spoke (the words) over a dead body (and) it became alive. I said
(them) over a point of nothingness (and) it became something.

"(But) I said those (words) a hundred thousand times with
loving-kindness over the heart of a fool and it was not a cure.

"(Instead), it became a hard rock and didn't change from that
habit; it became sand, from which no seed grows."

The man) said, "(Then) what is the wisdom that the Name of
G-d was beneficial in those places, (but) here it had no

"That is also (a case) of disease, and this is an affliction. (So) why
was it a cure for that (but) not for this?"

(Jesus) replied, "The affliction of foolish stupidity is (caused by)
the overwhelming anger of God. (Normal) afflictions and
blindness are not (from God's) anger-- those are tests and trials."

Trials and hardships are an affliction which [eventually] brings
(Divine) Mercy. (But) ignorant foolishness brings blows and

That which is his scarring has been produced by His seal,
(and) no supporting hand can bring a remedy to it.

Therefore), escape from foolish people just as Jesus escaped.
(For) companionship with fools has spilled so much blood!

The air steals water very gradually, (and) the fool steals
religion from you also in the same way.

He steals your warmth and gives you cold (in its place), just like
one who puts a rock under (your) bottom.

The escaping of Jesus is not because of (real) fear, (for) he is
secure (from such). (But) is for the sake of teaching (a lesson).

Even if intense cold filled (all) the horizons of the world,
what grief would there be for the radiant sun?

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