Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī or Balḫī (604/1207 to 672/1273), son of Bahā al-Dīn Sulṭān al-ʿulamā Walad b. Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad Ḫaṭibī, a great scholar who left Khurasan for Anatolia when Jalāl al-Dīn was only a child. Jalāl al-Dīn emerged as one of the greatest mystical poets of the human cultural heritage. His largest work, the Manavī-i Maʿnavī
, a long spiritual epic in the form of a poem in rhyming couplets, is called by many Persian readers of the Eastern Islamic world “the Qurʾān in Persian,” and Rūmī himself is known as Mawlānā (Our Master) or Mawlāvī (My Master).
Besides the Manavī-i Maʿnavī
his reputation rests on his Dīvān
or collected poems, mostly in Persian although some are in the other colloquials of Konya, his hometown: Arabic, Greek and Turkish. He has two prose works, Fīhi mā fīhi
, collection of his thoughts, and his “letters.”
Rūmī, although deeply learned, does not attempt in any genre a systematic exposition of his own thought, and the learning often seems to serve to explain the ecstatic nature of his mystical vision. Many of his shorter pieces in the Dīvān
or ghazals are traditionally held to be addressed to his “beloved,” Šams-i Tabrīz , and are said to have been composed on the spot while whirling around a pillar. (The “Mevlevi” or Whirling Dervishes are followers of Rūmī.) Some poems and even some lines in his Manavī-i Maʿnavī
do not follow all the rules for syllabic length of classic Persian quantitative poetry and yet their rhythmic character is unmistakable. One of the best critics of classical Persian poetry, the late Alessandro Bausani, has well distinguished between his “narrative” and “didactic” styles. Translation into modern European languages has given him a vast new audience.