Hz. Mevlâna Celaleddin-i Rumi


"Either seem as you are, or be as you seem", Hz. Mevlâna

Hz. Mevlâna Celaleddin-i Rumi, the founder of the Mevlevi Order, is the great Anatolian theologian, scholar, and poet.

Known as Hz. Mevlâna in the East and as Rumi in the West, his birth name was Mohammed, and he was later nicknamed "Celaleddin". The name “Mevlâna”, meaning “our master”, was given to him in Konya, Turkey. The name “Rumi” relates to “the land of Rum (Roman)”, referring to “Anatolia”, where he lived and died.

Hz. Mevlâna was born on 30 September 1207 in Balkh, Horasan (today's Afghanistan). His mother, Mümine, was the daughter of Rükneddin, the sovereign ruler (emir) of Balkh.

At a very early age, Mevlâna received his first lessons from his father, Bahaeddin Veled, who was the chief scholar (Sultan-ül Ulema). He also took lessons from Seyyid Burhaneddin Tirmizi and other top scholars of the time. He learned Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Greek, and was well educated in many subjects from history to medicine. Along with Islam, he studied the other religions and pursued the divine truth and secrets.

Because of an expected Mongol invasion, the whole family had to leave their hometown of Balkh around 1212 (or 1213). His father's disagreement with Fahreddin-i Razi, one of his contemporary theologians was also a factor in his decision to leave.

When Mevlâna was 6  years of age he began the long journey with his family and exceptional scholars, which would end in 1228 at the age of 21. By today's norms, this period of life between the ages of 6 and 21 covers a full formal education. A comprehensive social, cultural, linguistic, and geographical experience in many different countries on their journey, enhanced byl one-on-one tutors under a chief scholar contributed greatly to forming a brilliant person, who would have the capacity to understand, to appreciate, and to make use of such an incredible education.

They first went to Mecca, (in Saudi Arabia) for hadj, the Islamic pilgrimage, by way of Baghdad (in Iraq). After staying in Damascus and many towns in Anatolia, they arrived in Karaman (in Turkey) in 1222, where they stayed for seven years. At the age of 18 in 1225, he married Gevher Hatun, who gave him two sons. Upon the unfortunate death of Gevher, Mevlâna married Kerra Hatun, who also gave him three children, two sons and a daughter.

The Great Seljuk Empire (1037-1194), the other Turkish Empire and the predecessor to the Ottoman Empire, was then dominating Anatolia. As the capital city of the Seljuks, Konya was very popular and the center of art and science. The city, therefore, was full of artists and scholars.

Upon receiving an invitation from Alâeddîn Keykubad, the Seljuk Sultan, the travel of Bahaeddin Veled, his son and their group ended up in Konya on 3 May 1228. They settled on the land, which was originally a rose garden. This contribution of the Sultan's thereby became the current location of the Mevlevi Order. Almost 16 years after they left their hometown, the group arrived at their final destination. There was one more important mission for Bahaeddin Veled, the chief scholar (Sultan-ül Ulema): the orientation of his family and his followers to their new hometown, Konya. It took almost three years, but he successfully completed his last mission too. When he died in 1231, he left human beings a gift, a child, who has been revered for 800 years. Mevlâna was 24 and was ready to continue his future alone.

"I saw countless people with no clothing on.
I saw countless clothing with no human in.",
Hz. Mevlâna

The followers of his father now gathered around Mevlâna, as he was a wonderful speaker and philosopher with great knowledge, but he believed in learning more. Mevlâna devoted himself for nine years to study under Burhaneddin al-Tirmizi, the great scholar of that time. He learned about divine love, worship, austerity, abstinence, piety, consciousness of God, humility, and tolerance, which were the subjects necessary for the foundation of Sufism. In those years, many scholars settled in Aleppo because of the Mogul assaults. As per Tirmizi's recommendation, Mevlâna went to Aleppo to study the classical Islamic sciences such as jurisprudence (fiqh), commentary on the Qur'an (tafsir), tradition (hadith), and epistemology (usul). (x3)

Mevlâna had been granted valuable knowledge until  age 37, but nothing was enough for him. One of the most important scholars of that time, from whom Mevlâna was inspired, was Shems-i Tebrizi. Rumi spent a long time alone with Tebrizi, who had a similar background. Mevlâna Rumi and Tebrizi met in Konya in 1244. These two genius philosophers inspired each other, synthesized their philosophies and thus found answers together to the questions that would be impossible to find on their own. Upon the sudden and disputed disappearance of Shems-i Tebrizi, Hz. Mevlâna entered a new stage in his life.

Because of his deep sorrow, he isolated himself from his circle and even appointed Hüsameddin Çelebi (Chalabi), one of his own students, to teach on his behalf.

Hz. Mevlâna Celaleddin-i Rumi passed away on 17 December 1273 at the age 67. The night of his death was named Shab-i Arus(The Night of Union with the Divine). Every year the Mevlevi dervishes observe that day as a festival.

There are  only a few such unique and gifted people in history who knew how to listen, understand, and communicate with so many people in their own language and culture. The other way around is also true for Mevlâna: that people from all over the world now understand and adore him.

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" Hz. Mevlâna

Mevlâna Rumi summarized his comprehensive life with these simple words;

"I was raw, cooked, and burned" Hz. Mevlâna

Major Sources:
Erdogan, Erol. Director of the Mevlâna Museum.
Aydin, Emin, (2004), "Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumi", Dialog Society, London. p. 6

Mevlâna's Literary Works

Mevlâna Rumi produced many valuable literary works. After his death, the works of Mevlâna were compiled by his family members and followers; especially Hüsameddin Çelebi.

The Mesnevi, narrated in story forms, consists of 26 thousand couplets (two successive lines of verse) in six volumes. Mesnevi is a special form of old eastern classical literature. Mevlâna's Mesnevi, written in Persian, inspired many Turkish poets in later centuries, even though those poets did not follow the Mevlevi Order.

The Divan-i Kebir (Great Divan) consists of 40 thousand couplets with 21 divans. These divan poems are on various themes, and  are written in Ottoman Language. They were a beautiful and symbolic form of expression of the same ideas, but in different ways. Influenced by Sufi thought, divan was a highly ritualized art form.

The Fih-i Ma-Fih (What is within is within) includes Mevlâna's lectures and spiritual discussions with his students.

Rumi has inspired millions over the centuries, including most recently celebrity Brad Pitt, with Rumi's famous quotation tattooed on his arm : "There exists a field beyond all notions of right and wrong. I will meet you there".

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