Maulana Rumi, Myth, and Al Walaa wal Baraa

22nd February 2014
I’m personally very grateful that the Western have dug and translated Rumi’s works and extract the wisdom of this waliullah. So much that in 2007, UNESCO established it as “International Rumi year”. UNESCO honored him as “one of the great humanists, philosophers and poets who belong to humanity in its entirety”. Rumi’s works are known to have inspired Dante (he is inspired by Ibn 'Arabi as well), Chaucer and many others, including Mozart.

But at the same time, Rumi’s image is distorted severely into a lovey-dovey universalist mystic who drunk in passion, let go of his Islamic background, who loves everyone, never hate anyone, and never judge. I even have personally come across some non-muslims who wrote to the effect “Rumi should never be a muslim” or “it’s unfortunate that Rumi is a muslim”. I forgot which scholar commented in this expression : “they have done a seemingly impossible task by turning this Hanafi mufti into a Hippie mystic”.

The more I dig into Rumi’s writings, the more I realized that Rumi is not a man without al walaa wal baraa (love something for the sake of Allah and hate something only for the sake of Allah). Besides that his works are replete with Qur’an verses and Hadiths. He seems to be Maturidi in aqeedah, and often expressed in his writings how Allah exists in the Placeless, how Allah is Exalted beyond letters, vowels, and sounds, how Allah is free from direction like above and below, free from being confined in time, free from any resemblance, etc.

First of all, these lines are often mistaken as Rumi’s :

“I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Moslem.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea. . . .”

The following lines are not in the earliest manuscripts of his poetry and therefore were not composed by Rumi. Rather this is an insertion by a later radical Sufis. An authentic quatrain from Rumi actually wrote :

"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.
If anyone quotes anything except this from my sayings,
I am quit of him and outraged by these words."

[--Rumi's Quatrain No. 1173, translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi in "The Quatrains of Rumi," an unpublished manuscript. Courtesy www.dar-al-masnavi.org ]

Moreover, many muslims misunderstood Rumi. Take it for example, the expression of “wine” and “drunkeness” that is actually means losing oneself before Allah. The Western thought Rumi literally loves wine, and muslims thought he had committed sin with khamr.

I have actually seen a black campaign by muslims that stated Rumi is a misguided deviant who "worship his own teacher Shams" and "a gay". They make Rumi the central of hatred out of reason like "kuffar love him, so there must be something wrong with him". I've come across a muslim person who said "may he rot in Hell" due to being influenced by these lies -- astahgfirullah. May Allah protect us from waging war toward His awliya.

While this article is totally incomplete to dispel all the myths and muslims' misunderstanding about Rumi, I just try to shed a little light on the side of Rumi that not many would recognize. As well as dispelling some myths that surround him, insha Allah.


First of All, A Glimpse of Rumi's Belief

"Praise be to Allah, who is sacrosanct above compare and contrast, sanctified from all peer and likeness, exalted above death and decomposition; the Ancient of Days, who exists eternally, the transformer of hearts, the motive force behind fate and events, He who brings about revolutions in our circumstances, of whom it cannot be asked when or how long, for the imputation of such concepts to the Ancient of Days ('Azal) is impossible!

"He began the world without exemplar or precedent, created Adam and his progeny from clods of clay (Qur’an 55:14, etc.), some of them destined for bliss, some for hellfire, some for remoteness, some for reunion. Among them some are given to drink of defeat while others are clothed with the raiment of acceptance. Should any tongue object, it is dumbfounded by this saying of the Almighty: “He shall not be asked of his doing, but they will be questioned.” (Qur’an 21:23).

"Exalted is out Allah above contention and disputation! Where does creation derive the right to question and contend? It was non-existent, then came into being and will decompose once again, going as the mountains go: “You see the mountains and suppose them firm, but they will pass away as clouds do. Such is God’s handiwork, who brings all things to perfection” (Qur’an 27:88).”There is no God but Him” (Qur’an 2:163), “the Great, the Exalted” (Qur’an 13:9).

"He raised up our Prophet, Muhammad (God’s peace and blessings upon him) when ignorance appeared and blasphemy and waywardness reigned, and he counseled his community through words and deeds, making clear to them which paths were forbidden and which were permissible. He exerted himself in the path of Allah under all conditions until the sea of negation evaporated like a mirage and the Truth was established straight and tall by his effort.

"Allah’s peace and blessings upon him and his family – the best of families – and upon his companions: upon Abu Bakr, the righteous, who liberally supported him with his wealth; upon Omar, distinguisher of truth from error, whose obedience to him intensified even in terrifying floods of tribulation; upon Osman, possessor of the twin lights, who held fast to recitation of the Remembrance (i.e. the Qur’an) every morn and every eve; and upon Ali ibn Abu Talib, the smasher of idols and slayer of champions. So long as the gazelle cubs graze in the meadows and the darkness is lit up and wicks blaze, our fervent and humble supplications (for them) will not cease."

"Sweep all away with the broom of “No!” Every king or prince has a herald for every ceremony. The herald which sweeps aside both worlds from before the face of the Courtiers and Kings of Holiness is the phrase: THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH."

(Source : One of Rumi's Seven Sermons. darvish.wordpress.com)

Rumi's Al Walaa wal Baraa

Myriads of conformists and legalists are cast into the abyss of destruction by a single taint (of doubt).
For their conformity and their drawing evidence from logical proofs and all their wings and wing-feathers (i.e. every means they employ to seek the truth) depend on personal opinion.
The vile Shaytan raises doubt (in their minds) : all these blind ones fall in a headlong.
The leg of the syllogisers is of wood : a wooden leg is very infirm
Unlike the Qutb of the age, the possessor of vision (‘ilm), by whose steadfastness the mountain is made amazed.

(Mathnawi, Book 2, no. 2125)

Rumi condemns Christianity belief (Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 29) :

A Christian by the name of al-Jarrah said: “A number of Sheikh Sadaruddin’s companions drank with me, and they said, “Jesus is God, as you claim. We confess that to be truth, but we conceal and deny it to preserve the honor of our community.”

Rumi said: "God forbid! These are the words of those drunken with the wine of Shaytan, the misguider. How could it be that Jesus, with such a frail body, who was forced to flee from the plotting Jews, place after place, who stood less than two cubits tall, should be the preserver of the seven heavens (…) ?

"How could your reason accept that the ruler of all these (grand Universe) is the feeblest of forms? Moreover, that before being born, Jesus was the creator of the heavens and the earth? Glory be to Allah, above what the wrongdoers attribute Him!"

The Christian said: “His body was mere dust. Dust went to dust, and pure spirit to pure spirit.”

Rumi said: "If the spirit of Jesus was God, where did his spirit go? Spirit returns to its Origin and Creator. If he was himself the Origin and Creator, where should he go?"

The Christian said: “So we found it stated, and we took it as our religion.”

Rumi answered: "If you find and inherit your parents’ false gold, black and corrupt, do you mean you will not change it for gold of sound quality, free of alloy and adulteration? No, you keep that gold, saying, “We found it so.”

"Or you inherit from your parents a paralyzed hand, and you find a treatment and a physician to heal that hand. Do you accept it? No, instead you say, “I found my hand paralyzed, and I will not change it.” (….)

"God forbid! This is not the action or the words of an intelligent person possessed of sound senses. God gave you an intelligence of your own separate from your parents’ intelligence, a sight of your own other than your father’s sight, a discrimination of your own. Why do you nullify your sight and your intelligence, following a false intelligence that will mislead and destroy you?"

Rumi rejects the notion that “all religions are equal” (Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 7)

The son of the Amir entered (into Rumi’s room to consult him). Rumi said: Your father is always occupied with Allah. His imaan is overwhelming, and reveals itself in his words. But one day he said, “The people of Rum have urged me to give my daughter in marriage to the Tartars, so that our religion may become one, and this new religion of Muslimdom can disappear.”

I (Rumi) said “When has religion ever been one? There have always been two or three, and they have always had war and fighting between them. How do you expect to make religion one? It will be one only in the next world, at the Day of Resurrection.

As for this present world, it isn’t possible here, for here each religion has a different desire and design. In here unity is impossible. It will be possible only at the resurrection, when humanity becomes one and all people fix their eyes on one place, and all have one ear and one tongue.”

Rumi criticized the Ruler for being softer to Kuffar Harb (Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 1) :

In the beginning you came forward as a champion of Muslimdom. “I ransom myself,” you said. “I sacrifice my own desires, considerations and judgement so that Islam will remain secure and strong.” But because you put your trust (too much) in your own plans, losing sight of God, and forgetting that all things only proceed from God, all your intentions have turned out the opposite.

Having struck a bargain with the Tartars, you are unintentionally giving them assistance to destroy the Syrians and the Egyptians, which in the end may bring ruin to the realm of Islam. So God has turned this plan you made for the survival of Islam, into its own destruction. Turn your face to God, for things are in a dangerous condition.

Rumi condemns homosexuality:

“The true Sufi is he who has become a seeker of purity: (it is) not from (wearing) the garment of wool and patching (it) and (committing) sodomy.
With these vile people Sufism has become patching and sodomy, and that is all.”
(Mathnawi, Book 5, no.360)

And even his (odd) sarcasm as well....

"Those who are living in Hell are happier there than they would be in this world, for in Hell their awareness turns to God, while in this world they forget. Nothing is sweeter than the awareness of God. Therefore, their desire to return to this world is to work and carry out deeds so that they can witness the manifestation of Divine grace, not because this world is a happier place than Hell.

"Hypocrites are consigned to the lowest place in Hell, because they were shown the true imaan but their kufr was stronger. They did nothing with the gift they were given. Their punishment is more severe so they can become aware of God. To the kuffar, imaan never came. Their unbelief is not as strong, and so they become aware through less punishment. Between pants with dust upon them, and a carpet with dust, the trousers only need one person to shake them a little to become clean, while it takes four people shaking the rug violently to rid the carpet of its dust."

(Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 65)

Misc -- Words by Shams Tabrizi, His Most Influential Spiritual Teacher

"Regarding me and Mawlana, if (the time for Salaah) becomes lost for us, unintentionally due to a time of being occupied, we are very discontent because of that and we did qada (for the missing prayer) together. And when I didn't go for the Jumu'ah, there is sadness for me, (feeling) that, "Why didn't I join that with this spiritual reality (within me)?"

("Me and Rumi : Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi", by William Chittick)

Misc -- Rumi's Wara'

Once Maulana's nephew, Maulana Shabbir Ali sent a handsome young beardless student to him on an errand. Maulana [Rumi] was at that time busy writing in an upstairs room in solitude. The young student came into Maulana's room. As soon as Maulana saw him, he left the room and came down to the ground floor. He did not find it suitable to stay with the young boy in the privacy of the room for even one minute. He said to Maulana Shabbir Ali, "Don't ever send a beardless young boy to me in private".

(Note : a man being alone with a stranger woman or ajnabee is already blameworthy. But Rumi had such a wara' he even avoided being alone with a young handsome boy to avoid fitnah of lust.)

("Ma'aarif e Mathnawi", by Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb)

Did Rumi create a whirling dance "dhikr"?

Copying this from http://islamqa.org/hanafi/askmufti/44513

Q: Are the sufi practices of Maulana Rumi such as the whirling Zikr acceptable in Islam and can he be considered to be a Wali (saint)?

A. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (Rahmatullaahi Alayh) was a Wali of a very high ranking, an Aalim and a master of Tasawwuf.

To attribute the ‘whirling Zikr’ to him is wholly incorrect. He never did this. This has been attributed to him by people who are unaware of him and his teachings.

Mufti Siraj adds:

The Sufis of old had a practice called Simaa’. This was a gathering of Sufis who were all 40 years of age or older, in which they would recite poems in Praise of Allah Ta’aala and His Rasool (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam). Due to their strong Love for Allah and His Rasool, these poems would have an extremely invigorating and inspiring effect on their hearts and souls, and would enhance their spiritual effulgence tremendously. In this gathering there were no dancing, nor any musical instruments. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and his contemporary Sufis participated in this kind of Simaa’.

However, later on this Simaa’ was modernized to include dancing and music, thus giving rise to the concept of “whirling dervishes”. This is a Bid’ah and is not the creation of orthodox Sufism.

Moulana Yusuf Laher
Checked by: Mufti Siraj Desai

Maulana Rumi didn't listen to music nor dance

(Source )

The great wali Jalaluddin Rumi, who was full of love for Allahu ta'ala, never played reeds or any other instrument. He did not listen to music, nor did he ever dance (raqs).

Commentaries have been written in every country in many languages to his Mathnawi (Mesnevi), which has more than forty-seven thousand couplets that have been spreading nur (light) to the world. The most valuable and tasteful of these commentaries is the one by Mawlana Jami which has also been commentated on by many others. And, of these, 56 pages, which covered only four couplets, of the commentary by Suleyman Nesh'et Efendi was published during the time of Sultan 'Abd al-Majid Khan by the Matba'a-i Amira in 1263 A. H.

In this book, Maulana Jami (quddisa sirruh) wrote, The word 'ney' (reed) in the first couplet of the Mathnawi [Listen to the reed. . .] means a perfect and exalted human being brought up in Islam. Such people have forgotten themselves and everything else. Their minds are always busy seeking Allahu ta'ala's rida (approval, love). In the Persian language, 'ney' means 'non-existent. ' Such people have become non-existent from their own existence.

The musical instrument called 'ney' is a plain pipe and the sound from the ney is completely from the player. As those exalted men are emptied of their existence, the manifestation of Allahu ta'ala's Akhlaq, Sifat and Kamalat (moral qualities, attributes of perfection) are observed in them. The third meaning of the word 'ney' is reed-pen, which again means, or points to, an insan-i kamil (perfect human). Movements and writings of a pen are not from itself, nor are the actions and words of a perfect human; they are all inspired to him by Allahu ta'ala."

'Abidin Pasha 'rahmatullahi ta'ala 'alaih', the governor of Ankara during the time of Sultan 'Abd al-Hamid Khan the Second, gave nine proofs in his Masnawi Sharh to show that 'ney' meant insan-i kamil.

Sheikh-ul Islam Ibn Hajar on Rumi and His Scholar Son

Taken from here

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in al-Durar al-Kamina (1:352) cites Rumi as "Mawlana" in the vibrant notice on his son Baha' al-Din Ahmad, known as Sultan ibn Mawlana, "one of the Imams of the Hanafi Masters, the brilliant, ascetic, pious Faqih, Usuli, and grammarian who trod the path of his father in leaving the world behind."

Hajji Khalifa said in Kashf al-Zunun (1:367): "He was a thoroughly knowledgeable Imam in Fiqh according to the School of Abu Hanifa - Allah be well-pleased with him - and he was knowledgeable in the science of juridical differences, then he devoted himself to worship exclusively. Miraculous gifts (karaamaat) are mass-transmitted from him. Allah have mercy on him."


All truth comes from Allah and mistakes are mine. And Allah knows best.

(Note : this is my first post and my first blog in Muftisays, btw. Hence the imperfections. Salaam! :))

posted by Coloratura on 22nd February 2014 - 2 comments


taalibah wrote on 22 Feb 2014
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
Excellent piece of work, well researched and written. JazakAllah.
Blogger's Reply:
Alaikum salaam warahmatullah Wa iyyak :). I just can't stand these myths about Rumi anymore.
Muadh Khan wrote on 25 Feb 2014
Masha'Allah Sister, may Allah (SWT) give you the best of reward in this world and the next (Ameen). Just be careful quoting when quoting GF Haddad because Hafidh ibn Haj'r Asqalani (RA) is praising the son in the book and happens to mention the father as "Maulana" which is a Persian title and the reference has been slightly mis-represented to mean that its about the father. Jzk
Blogger's Reply:
Wa iyyak. Indeed, Ibn Hajar actually praises Sultan Walaad ibn Jalaluddin Rumi, that's whom he referred as "pious faqih...etc". While Kashf al Zunun refers to Mawlana himself.
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