Iran is the land of brilliant poetry. Hafiz, Sa’di, Khayam and Ferdowsi are some of the most famous poets of this country and are highly respected by Iranian people. But Rumi is the one who is admired by the scholars of Sufism around the world. If you are interested in Persian mysticism and are interested to read about Persian mystic poetry, you have to know about Jalal ad-Din Muhhammad Rumi who is mostly referred to as Mawlana by Iranians. His life and his journey has always been interesting for those who are fond of poetry and the mysterious world of Persian mysticism. As Rumi was deceased on 17th of December (1273), every year in this date, a commemoration ceremony is held in his honor in Konya, Turkey. Although we don’t have a similar ceremony in Iran, you can visit the cities where Rumi was influenced by other poets and Sufi scholars and hear the story of his life while traveling in this country. Here we’re going to have a look at Rumi’s life, his journey across Iran and the enigmatic beauties of his poetry.
What is Sufism?
Sufism can be described as an ascetic and mystic system of belief and lifestyle which is characterized by special rituals and practices. Sufis believe Islam but have their special outlooks towards life, spirituality and God. Sufi whirling is one of the very famous rituals of Sufis. This ritual, also known as Sama, is a kind of dancing which works like a physically active meditation in order to reach the source of all perfection.
Sufis listen to a special music and start to spin their bodies in circles repetitively, symbolically imitating planets orbiting the sun.
Why is Rumi a very important figure in Persian Literature?
Persian poetry is one of the glories of Persian culture. Iranians have always been poetry admirers and are obviously proud of their famous poets who are internationally known for their thought-provoking poems. But what makes Rumi a very special figure in the world of Persian literature?
Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, was a theologian before becoming famous as a mystic intellectual. He was a highly respected theology teacher when he met a wandering Sufi called Shamsuddin Tabrizi who could change his life forever. Meeting Shamsuddin – often referred to as Shams Tabrizi – was a turning point in Rumi’s life. Shams had such a great influence on Rumi that could make him give up on his classic and traditional outlook towards God and look for real belief and spirituality in a different way.
They became inseparable best friends. But as their closeness made Rumi’s students envious and resentful of Shams, this wandering dervish was allegedly killed by Rumi’s students and thrown in a well.
Death of Shams was such a great loss for Rumi that he spent the rest of his life in grief.
Rumi is an admired poet among other Persian speaking nations such as the people of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In addition, he had an undeniable influence on Turkish literature and poetry. That’s why Rumi can be regarded as a cultural bridge who has connected the people of Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Arab countries. His poetry can always be a conversation starter between the people of these nations due to the value of his poetry among all of these countries. Not only has his poetry been translated to Turkish and Arabic, but it has also been interpreted to Russian, German, Urdu, French, Italian and English.
Rumi visits Attar Neyshaburi
Rumi’s father, Baha al-Din Walad, was a theologian in Balkh and was in dispute with the ruler of that time. As the Mongols where approaching Balkh and Baha al-Din could feel the danger, he decided to leave the country with his family in 1218.
An interesting point about the journey of the family is the time when they visited Attar of Neyshabur, a famous Persian mystic poet. At that time, Rumi was only 7 years old but the wise poet blessed him and predicted that he will be a great poet and Sufi in future.
Interestingly, Rumi always referred to Attar as his master and was obviously influenced by his outlook and writing style.
Visiting the Wandering Dervish, Shams Tabrizi
On November 1244, Rumi saw a wandering dervish on the streets of Konya and this encounter changed his whole view towards God and spirituality. Sham Tabrizi gave him a new insight and revealed so many mysteries of divinity to him. Following that encounter, Rumi and Shams became very close. As explained earlier, Rumi’s students and entourage became so envious that they forced Shams to leave the city. Rumi sent his son to Syria to find Shams Tabrizi and bring him back to Konya. But when Shams was back, the closeness between the two turned unbearable for Rumi’s family.
This time, Shams left Rumi forever. He was murdered by Rumi’s students who could not bear his devotion to Shams and his beliefs.
After the death of Shams, Rumi turned to poetry as a way to express his grief. His poems are so moving and heart touching that have gained widespread attention throughout time.
Shams Tabrizi was buried in Khoy, in West Azarbaijan province in Iran. His plain mausoleum displays his willingness for purity and simplicity.
There’s a 17 meter brick tower in the open space of Shams Tabrizi’s mausoleum which is decorated with rams’ horns that is said to be a show off of Shah Ismail Safavi’s skill in hunting so many rams in one day. This one of a kind tower with its rams’ horns is a unique monument in Iran that you must not miss while in Azarbaijan province.
Every year a commemoration is held in Khoy city of Iran to honor Rumi and Shams Tabrizi. During the ceremony, mystic music is played by several music professionals who attend the event from different cities of the country. Also Rumi’s poems are read and discussed during the event which is a very interesting experience for all poetry enthusiasts.
Hafiz and Mysticism
Hafiz is the most popular poet among Iranians for sure. He was a spiritual seeker and his poetry is so intertwined with Persian culture that his books can be found in every Iranian Family’s household. Iranians have an old tradition of fortune telling by opening a poetry book of Hafiz randomly and interpreting his poem in a way that can be responsive to their wishes.
In addition, the tomb of Hafiz in Shiraz has a very romantic vibe. It’s a spot for lovers who seek for a place to contemplate and read poetry in a spiritual atmosphere. If you are interested in Persian mysticism and poetry, your trip to Iran must not end before visiting the beautiful tomb of Hafiz and hearing about his ecstatic poems.
Hafiz was strongly influenced by Khajavi Kermani, the greatest poet of the city of Kerman. Khajavi was a mystic poet and had traveled a lot in order to broaden his understanding of the world. He traveled to Isfahan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Egypt and other places before settling in Shiraz where he spent the rest of his life.
His tomb is located in the beginning of Shiraz – Isfahan road and can be visited before you head to Isfahan from Shiraz.
Interested in Persian Poetry and Sufism?
If you are interested to learn more about Persian poetry, Sufism and mystic literature during your visit to Iran, don’t hesitate to contact us at Land of Turquoise Domes. We offer a wide range of options for your itineraries due to your special interests in order to make your trip to Iran an unforgettable memory. For more information about our Special Interest tours, click here.