THE LIFE OF
MAWLANA JALAL AL-DIN AL-RUMI
(30 September 1207, Balkh - 17 December 1273. Konya)
Konya Selcuk Unv.
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi was born in 6 Rabi'al-Awwal 604 (30 September 1207) in Balkh, which is an important city in the history of Islamic culture and civilization, and lies today in the north of Afghanistan.
His real name was Muhammad Jalal al-Din. He was named as Hudawandigar, Mawlana, Rumi etc. later on.
His father named him "Hudawandigar" because of his being an authority in religious and other sciences.2
As for "Mawlana", it was given to him while he was very young and engaged in teaching. It means "Our Master" or "His Excellency", and was used as a title for scholars, and in the course of time, became his famous and special name.
As to "Rumi", it was used for his being settled in Anatolia, which was used to be called Diyar-i Rum (the Abode of the Greeks), and his living much of his life in Konya, a distinguished city of Anatolia.
Mawlana belonged to a noble family, whose origin went back to the sultans of both this world and the hereafter. His father and mother were well known for their comprehension (irfan) and scientific knowledge. His mother was Mu'mine Khatun, the daughter of Rukn al-Din, the Amir of Balkh. It is reported that his lineage by his mother descended from Ali, the third Caliph of Islam.3 His grandmother is Malika-i Cihan Amatullah Sultan, the daughter of Jalal al-Din Kharazmshah, the Sultan of Khurasan. His grandfather was Jalal al-Din Husayn Khatibi, whose father was Ahmad Khatibi, a scholar who descended from Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam. Mawlana's father was Muhammad Baha al-Din Walad.4
His Father Baha al-Din Walad, the Sultan of Scholars (Sultan al-'Ulama')
Baha al-Din Walad, a famous scholar and mystic, lost his father when he was two years old. He was brought up by his mother, who was well-educated and very effective in the Palace of Khurasan. Despite the fact that he was a prince, he never desired of worldly sovereignty, but devoted himself to religious education.5
This very intelligent and talented youngster was enlightened firstly by the scholars of Turkistan, particularly his grandfather and Najm al-Din Kubra, and becoming well equipped with divine sciences, he was thereupon called the Sultan of Senses (Ma'na). It was such that some three hundred famous scholars and religious men of the time had dreams about Baha al-Din Walad in which he was given the title of "the Sultan of Scholars" by the Prophet; and after that Mawlana's father was called by this title.6
The Sultan of scholars, who was well-known for his deep knowledge and religious piety (taqwa), used to live on a modest pension paid by the Bayt al-Mal (the House of Property), and never accepted money paid by the charities. People who were even from the farthest parts of Khurasan used to have recourse to him for the solution of difficult legal cases. He used to pass his time by lecturing and preaching sermons to his friends, disciples (murids) and the public, and transmitted to them valuable knowledge from the treasures of divine wisdom. His sermons and lectures had deep influence upon people. To sum up, he had innumerable disciples and many people who felt great respect for his personality and believed in him sincerely.7
Migration From Balkh
The friendship between Baha al-Din Walad, the Sultan of scholars and Fakhr al-Razi, who was one of the famous philosophers of Balkh, was destroyed due to Walad's influential sermons and lectures on people, and his rigid criticism of the scholars who stood for rational thought and were fed by Greek philosophy. Finally, Baha al-Din Walad decided to leave Balkh when the Sultan Ala al-Din Muhammad Kharazmshah, too, joined in this conflict.8 One of the reasons that drove him into migration was, probably, his perception of the coming Mongol threat. Thus, immediately after their leaving, Balkh was destroyed by the troops of Jenghiz Khan.9
This journey, which started in 1212 or 1213, extends via Baghdad and Mecca to Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan-Akshehir, and finally, Larende (Karaman).10 During this long journey, they were respected everywhere they took up temporary quarters, and they gave lectures and sermons, and met with scholars and mystics such as Shehab al-Din Suhrawardi, Farid al-Din Attar and Muhy al-Din Ibn al-Arabi.
Arrival at Karaman
The journey, which started from Balkh while Mawlana was only five or six years of ageII, lasted years, and finally, ended up in Karaman, whose name then was Larende. Baha al-Din Walad continued his lectures in the madrasah which was built by the magistrate Amir Musa in Karaman.12
Mawlana married Gawhar Khatun, the daughter of Khawaja ?araf al-Din Lala al-Samarqandi who left Balkh together with Mawlana's family, in Karaman in 1226.13 Mawlana was at that time about eighteen years of age. They had two sons, Sultan Walad and Ala al-Din. Years later, having lost Gawhar Khatun, Mawlana made his second marriage to Kerra Khatun, and from this marriage their two sons, Muzaffar al-Din and Amir 'Alim Chalabi, and their daughter, Malika Khatun, were born.14
His Settlement in Konya
When the Sultan Ala al-Din Keyqubat I. learned that Baha al-Din Walad was in Karaman, he invited him to Konya. Baha al-Din Walad. along with his family and friends, came to Konya, the capital of the Saljuqids.15 The Sultan and people met them on the way. In spite of the Sultan's invitation to the Palace, Baha al-Din Walad refused his invitation kindly, saying that the madrasah was better for men who were seekers of knowledge, and went to the Altunapa Madrasah to stay.16
Sultan al-'Ulama' continued his lectures and sermons in Konya. He accumulated a lot of disciples there, including the Sultan Ala al-Din himself.17
Finally, departure time for this man of glory of science and comprehension from this world came. Baha al-Din Walad, the Sultan of hearts, who passed his entire life illuminating his people, died on February 24, 1231.18 He left behind his precious work of comprehension (irfan) called Ma'arif. and his son, the Sultan of spiritual perception (Ma'na) for us.
Mawlana's first illuminator (murshid) was his father, Baha al-Din Walad. Mawlana, who was trained by this great man, became mature and an owner of good sense even while still a child. He did not play with other children, and objected the exalted man's doing stupid things which only animals could do, such as jumping from roof to roof.19 He passed his time only by studying religious sciences, and ascetic self-discipline (riyadah). It was in such a manner that it was reported that he, even when still a child, had not broken his fasts once in three or four days, or sometimes, seven days.20
One of the teachers (lala or atabak) of Mawlana in Balkh was his father's disciple Sayyid Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq-i Tirmizi. When Baha al-Din Walad emigrated, Sayyid Burhan al-Din, too, left for Tirmidh. When he heard Walad's death, in order not to leave his elder(Sheikh)'s trust - that is Mawlana- alone, Burhan al-Din came back to Konya, and took over the responsibility for his spiritual training.21
Two years after his father's death (1233), Mawlana and Sayyid Burhan al-Din left for Halab. There Mawlana took lessons from Kamal b. Adim. Afterwards, he went to Damascus, and stayed there for four, or seven years, and joined in the conversation circles of Muhy al-Din Arab, Sad al-Din al-Hamawi, Sheikh Uthman al-Rumi ,Avhad al-Din Qirmani and Sadr al-Din Qonawi.22
When he returned from Damascus back to Konya, he, along with Sayyid Burhan al-Din, passed through three severe religious sufferings for forty days long each, without ever leaving his room (al-hujrah). Having passed this period with prayers and meditations only, Mawlana, with his purified self (nafs), and a heart opened to divine secrets, turned his attention to the world outside. At the end of these religions sufferings, Sayyid Burhan al-Din indicated with the following words that Mawlana's training had finished and he had been charged with spiritual guidance (al-irshad): "Go, and embellish men's spirits with fresh life and infinite mercy; and revive those dead bodies of this world with your love and meaning".23
Later, Sayyid Burhan al-Din went to Kayseri and died there in 1242. His tomb is still in Kayseri.
This temporary world is a guest house for all human beings. Many people, saints and prophets stay in this guesthouse for a while and then submit to God's call: "Come back you to your Lord, well-pleased yourself, and well-pleasing unto Him!" (The Qur'an. 89/28). And this time, the call was made for Mawlana in the winter of 1273.
Mawlana fell ill suddenly. He understood that he was living his last moments. News of his illness spread quickly. Every one rushed to Mawlana to convey him their wishes of health, and receive his blessings. However he never asked for health, but wished to be reunited with his Creator. When his wife Kera Khatun said: "l( was necessary for him to have a period of life that will last three or four hundreds years in order to fill the world with realities and meanings." Mawlana replied: "Why is that? Why is that? We are neither Pharaoh nor Nimrod. What are we to do with this world of soil? How can we have peace and eternity here? We were imprisoned in this dungeon in order that a few prisoners arc set free. We hope that we will return to God's beloved one (the Prophet Muhammad) very soon."41
Eventually, on Sunday, 17 December 1273. while the sun was setting, Mawlana left this world and was reunited with his God and His beloved Prophet.42 The sun of Truth and reality left this temporary world, and rose again in the world of eternity in order not to set again for ever.
Flesh is mortal, not the soul: the dead can not return.
Only the body dies, souls can never be slain. (Yunus Emre)
Therefore, Mawlana's death night cannot be called as 'the night of separation', but was called as 'shab-i arus', a feast night, in order to indicate that he had been reunited with his beloved and tasted eternity.
His Funeral Prayer
Mawlana's funeral was just like the Day of Judgement. All people of Konya, young and old, Muslim and non-Muslim, joined in his funeral ceremony. Everybody was crying. People from every religion were lamenting by reading verses from their sacred books in their hands. In order to disperse the crowd, a group of Muslims said to the non-Muslims: "What business do you have with this funeral? This Sultan was the imam (leader) of our religion. " They replied: "We realized the truth of Moses, Jesus and other prophets from Mawlana's plain words and saw in him the actions and personalities of the prophets as we have read in our own Holy Books. Just as how you Muslims recognized him as the
Muhammad of his time, we knew him as the Moses and Jesus of his time. Just as you loved him, we loved him too, and became slaves for him far more than you did." Thus, Mawlana" said:
"Seventy-two nations listen to their secret from us.
We are the reed-flute making hundreds of sounds through a single fret at one time."
Mawlana's personality was a sun of truth which shone upon humanity and helped them. It is a fact that every body likes the sun. and that the whole world is illuminated by its rays." A Greek monk added: "Mawlana was like bread. No body can keep himself away from needing bread. Have you ever seen a hungry man who refused to eat bread?"46
This funeral procession, which set off in a huge crowd, was able to reach the cemetery after sunset. Sadr al-Din Qonawi, who was appointed to lead the funeral prayer by Mawlana himself, came forward to lead the prayer, but he could not endure and fainted. Upon this incident, the Qadi Seraj al-Din led the prayer instead.47
Mawlana also made a will about the tomb that would be erected over his grave:
"Let our disciples build a high tomb which can be seen from far and wide. If any one sees our tomb from a far distance, and believes and has confidence in our sainthood, God will put him or her among those who receive divine mercy. Especially, if he or her who visits, and prays at our tomb with full of love and sincere faith free of hypocrisy, sincere truth free of metaphor, and true knowledge free of suspicion, God will fulfill his every need and make him attain his wishes. His all religious and worldly wishes will turn out to be true."48
His tomb was built as high in accordance with his will. The tomb, which is also known as the Green Dome (Qubba-i Hadra), was built by the efforts of Sultan Walad and Ala al-Din Qaysar, and by the material support of Mu'in al-Din Parwana, the Saljuqid Amir, and his wife Gurju (Georgian) Khatun.49 Its architect was Badr al-Din from Tabriz.50 It was completed in 1274.51
Molla Jami's lyric couplet was written over the door of the tomb:
“This post became the Holy Kaba for lovers.
He, who came here as immature, became mature.”
So, Mawlana's tomb, which was a Ka'ba for lovers, also became a kind of holy place visited by people and a qiblah [direction to which Muslims turn in praying toward the Ka'ba for the prayers offered by troubled people for seven centuries. When a tomb is mentioned, it is Mawlana's tomb that is remembered first. Najm al-Din's following words support our view: "There are three general things in the world. These three things gained a special meaning with Mawlana. One of them is the Mathnawi. In the past, every rhymed couplet used to be called as Mathnawi. But now, when the name of Mathnawi is mentioned, it only means Mawlana's Mathnawi. Secondly, every scholar used to be called in the past as Mawlana. But today, when the name of MawlSnS is mentioned, it recalls us Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi only. Thirdly and finally, people used to call every grave as tomb. However, if any tomb is mentioned today, it is Mawlana's tomb that comes mind."52