“A mysterious Sufi, Shams-ī Tabrīzī, came there to preach, and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (1201-1273) was so moved by him that he founded the famous order of Mawlawī, or Dancing Dervishes, which still makes Konya its capitol.”
Rūmī’s shorter poems, collected in his Book or Odes, “are marked by such depth of feeling, sincerity, and richness, yet naturalness, of imagery as place them at the top of all religious poetry composed since the Psalms.”
“Jalal’s main work, the Mathnawī-ī ma’nawī (Spiritual Couplets), is a diffuse exposition of Sufism, a religious epic outweighing in bulk all the legacy of ‘Homer.’ It has passages of great beauty, but a thing of beauty, laden with words, is not a joy forever.” The theme is universal unity.
“One knocked at the Beloved’s door, and a Voice asked from within, ‘Who is there?’—and he answered, ‘It is I.’ Then the Voice said, ‘This house will not hold Me and Thee,’ and the door stayed shut. Then went the Lover into the desert, and in solitude fasted and prayed. After a year he returned, and knocked again at the door. And again the Voice asked, ‘Who is there?’ And Lover said, ‘It is Thyself!’ And the door was opened to him.”
“According to Rūmī, anyone who does not love is like a fish without water or a bird without wings. There are three arduous requirements for attaining the state of perfect love—to be free from greed, to disdain the intellect, and to transcend all social roles and find one’s true Self. Love, says Rūmī, is the creative essence of the universe. Through love, thorns are turned to roses, sickness is transformed into health, and anger softens into gentleness; good fortune is seen in the bad, and the ugliest prison becomes a rose garden.”
References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.