Shemsu-'d-Dīn Tebrīzī, Muhammed son of 'Alī son of Melik-dād.

SHEMSU-'D-DĪN of Tebrīz was surnamed the Sultan of Mendicants, the Mystery of God upon earth, the Perfect in word and deed. Some had styled him the Flier, because he travelled about so much; and others spoke of him as the Perfect One of Tebrīz.

He went about seeking for instruction, human and spiritual. He had visited many of the chief spiritual teachers of the world; but he had found none equal to himself. The teachers of all lands became, therefore, pupils and disciples to him.

He was always in quest of the beloved object of the soul (God). His corporeal frame he habited in coarsest felt, shrouding his eminent greatness from all eyes in what are really the jewelled robes of spirituality.

At Damascus it was, where he was then studying, that he first saw Jelālu-'d-Dīn by chance in a crowded market-place; but Jelāl, who was at that time a student also, avoided him.

Ultimately, he was led to Qonya in Jelāl's traces, and first arrived there at dawn, on Saturday, the twenty-sixth of Jumāda-'l-ākhir, A.H. 642 (28th November, A.D. 1244), Jelāl being then professor at four colleges there. They met as is related in a former chapter (chap. iii. Nos. 8, 9).

At the end of three months' seclusion together, passed in religious, scientific, and spiritual disquisitions and investigations, Shemsu-'d-Dīn became satisfied that he had never met Jelāl's equal.


When Shemsu-'d-Dīn was quite worn out by a series of divine manifestations and the consequent ecstasies, he used to break away, hide himself, and work as a day-labourer at the water-wheels of the Damascus gardens, until his equanimity would be restored. Then he would return to his studies and meditations.

In his supplications to God, he was constantly inquiring whether there was not in either world, corporeal and spiritual, one other saint who could bear him company. In answer thereto, there came at length from the unseen world the answer, that the one holy man of the whole universe who could bear him company was the Lord Jelālu-'d-Dīn of Rome.

On receiving this answer, he set out at once from Damascus, and went in quest of his object to the land of Rome (Asia Minor).


Chelebī Emīr 'Ārif related that his father, Sultan Veled, told him that one day, as a trial and test, Shemsu-'d-Dīn requested Jelāl to make him a present of a slave. Jelāl instantly went and fetched his own wife, Kirā Khātūn, who was as extremely beautiful as virtuous and saintlike, offering her to him.

To this act of renunciation Shemsu-'d-Dīn replied: “She is my most esteemed sister. What I want is a youth to wait on me.” Jelāl thereupon produced his own son, Sultan Veled, who, he said, would be proud to carry the shoes of Shems, placing them before him for use when required for a walk abroad. Again Shems objected: “He is as my son. But, perhaps, you will supply me with some wine. I am accustomed to drink it, and am not comfortable without it.”

Jelāl now took a pitcher, went himself to the Jews' ward of the city, and returned with it full of wine, which he set before Shems.

“I now saw,” continued Sultan Veled in his recital, “that Shemsu-'d-Dīn, uttering an intense cry, rent his garment, bowed down to Jelāl's feet, lost in wondering admiration at this implicit compliance with the behests of a teacher, and then said: ‘By the truth of the First, who had no beginning, the Last, who will have no end, there never has been, from the commencement of creation, and there never, until the end of time, will be, in the universe of substance, a lord and master, heart-captivating and Muhammed-like, as thou art.’”

He now bowed down again, declared himself a disciple to Jelāl, and added: “I have tested and tried to the utmost the patient long-suffering of our Lord; and I have found his greatness of heart to be totally unlimited by any bounds.”


Jelāl is reported to have said: “When Shemsu-'d-Dīn first came, and I felt a mighty spark of love for him lighted up in my heart, he took upon himself to command me in the most despotic and peremptory manner.

“‘Study,’ said he, ‘the writings of thy father.’ For a while I studied nothing else. ‘Keep silent, and speak to no one.’ I ceased from all intercourse with my fellows.

“My words were, however, the food of my disciples; my thoughts were the nectar of my pupils. They hungered and thirsted. Thence, ill feelings were engendered amongst them, and a blight fell upon my teacher.

“He came to me another day as I was, by his com­mand, studying the writings of my father. Thrice he called out to me: ‘Study them not.’ From his sacred features the effulgence of spiritual wisdom streamed. I laid down the book, and never since have I opened it.”


Jelāl is said to have related that Shemsu-'d-Dīn forbade him to study any more the writings of his father, Bahā Veled, and that he punctually obeyed the injunction.

But one night he dreamt that he was in company with a number of friends, who were all studying and discussing with him those very writings of Bahā Veled.

As he woke from his dream, Shems was entering the room with a severe look. Addressing Jelāl, he asked: “How hast thou dared to study that book again?” Jelāl protested that, since his prohibition, he had never once opened his father's works.

“Yes,” retorted Shems, “there is a study by reading, and there is also a study by contemplating. Dreams are but the shadows of our waking thoughts. Hadst thou not occupied thy thoughts with those writings, thou wouldst not have dreamt about them.”

“From that time forward,” remarked Jelāl, “I never again busied myself with my father's writings, so long as Shemsu-'d-Dīn remained alive.”


Jelāl is related to have informed his disciples that Shemsu-'d-Dīn was a scholar in every science known to man, and also a great alchemist; but that he had renounced them all, to devote himself to the study and contemplation of the mysteries of divine love.


Shemsu-'d-Dīn was one day sitting with his disciples, when the public executioner passed by. Shems remarked to those around him: “There goes one of God's saints.”

The disciples knew the man, and told Shems that he was the common headsman. Shems replied: “True! In the exercise of his calling, he put to death a man of God, whose soul he thus released from the bondage of the body. As a recompense for this kind act of his, the saint bequeathed to him his own saintship.”

On the following day the executioner relinquished his office, vowed repentance, came to Shemsu-'d-Dīn, made his bow, and professed himself a disciple.


Sheykh Husāmu-'d-Dīn was originally a young man who showed great respect and humility towards Shemsu-'d-Dīn, to whom he rendered services of every kind.

One day Shems said to him: “Husām, this is not the way. Religion is a question of money. Give me some coin, and offer your services to the Lord; so, peradventure, thou mayest rise in our order.”

Husām at once went forth to his own house, collected all his own valuables and money, with his wife's jewels, and all the provisions of the house, brought them to Shems, and laid them at his feet. He furthermore sold a vine­yard and country-seat he possessed, bringing their price also to his teacher, and thanking him for having taught him a duty, as also for having deigned to accept so insig­nificant a trifle from his hand.

“Yes, Husām,” said Shems, “it is to be hoped that, with God's grace, and the prayers of the saints, thou wilt hence­forth attain to such a station, as to be the envy of the most perfect men of God, and be bowed down to by the Brethren of Sincerity. It is true that God's saints are not in want of anything, being independent of both worlds. But, at the outset, there is no other way to test the sin­cerity of one we love, and the affection of a friend, than to call upon him to sacrifice his worldly possessions. The next step is, to summon him to give up all that is not his God. No disciple who wishes to rise, has ever made progress by following his own devices. Advancement is earned by rendering service, and by spending in God's cause. Every pupil who sacrifices possessions at the call of his teacher, would also lay down his life, if needs were. No lover of God can retain both mammon and religion.”

Shems then restored to Husām the whole of his goods, keeping back only one piece of silver. Nine times as much more did he bestow upon Husām from first to last; and, as the results of all things are in God's hands, so did Husām at length become the ruler of God's saints, and Jelāl made him the keeper of God's treasury. He it was who wrote down the twenty-four thousand six hundred and sixty couplets contained in the six books of the Mesnevī.


Shemsu-'d-Dīn left Qonya, at the end of his first visit, on Thursday, the twenty-first day of the month of Shaw­wal, A.H. 643 (14th March, A.D. 1246), after a stay of about sixteen months.

He returned to Damascus; and his departure left Jelāl in a state of great uneasiness and excitement. (Compare a conflicting date given in No. 13, further on.)