Rumi on death

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Dr A Q Khan

IN a col­umn last year I had writ­ten about Jalalud­din Rumi. Now I would like to write about his ap­proach to­wards death. Maulana Jalalud­din Rumi's work is well known to those who speak Urdu and Per­sian. His 'Mas­navi' is world fa­mous and has been dubbed as "the Qu­ran in the Per­sian Lan­guage". Maulana Rumi and Omar Khayyam are the two Per­sian po­ets/writ­ers who are ex­tremely pop­u­lar in the West and whose works have been trans­lated into a num­ber of Euro­pean lan­guages. Omar Khayyam's work ('Rubaiyat') con­sists of ro­man­tic po­etry while Jalalud­din Rumi's work is spir­i­tual and highly in­struc­tive.

First some in­for­ma­tion on the life of Rumi. He was born Muham­mad Jalalud­din, but was com­monly known as Maulana Rumi. He was born in 1207 in Balkh and be­longed to the fam­ily of the first caliph, Abu Bakr. He was the grand­son of King Kh­warism Shah and his father was Shaikh Ba­haud­din. In 1213 the fam­ily mi­grated to Ne­sha­pur and there Rumi met the most fa­mous, il­lus­tri­ous religious scholar of his time, Shaikh Faridud­din At­tar, who pre­sented his fa­mous book, 'As­rar Nama', to him. Rumi mar­ried at the age of 18 and when he was 25 they mi­grated to Da­m­as­cus for higher learn­ing and from there to Ko­nia. It was here that he met the fa­mous saint, Shams Tib­riz, and be­came his dis­ci­ple. His fa­mous Mas­navi was writ­ten in 1263 and he died in 1273 in Ko­nia at the age of 68 and was buried there.

Rumi's style of writ­ing in the Mas­navi is very in­ter­est­ing and cap­ti­vat­ing. His de­scrip­tive es­says are highly in­struc­tive and laced with in­valu­able com­ments, sug­ges­tions and ad­vice. Ac­cord­ing to Maulana Shah Hakim Muham­mad Akhtar, no other book in Per­sian con­tains such com­pli­cated and dif­fi­cult mat­ters, yet th­ese are dealt with in sim­plic­ity and lu­cid­ity. It is not only a book of phi­los­o­phy, but also one of learn­ing, faith and spirituality. Those who are fa­mil­iar with the works of Shaikh Sadi will no­tice a cer­tain re­sem­blance be­tween the writ­ings of th­ese two great saints.

Maulana Rumi's love and de­vo­tion to Almighty Al­lah was pro­found and man­i­fests it­self in the fol­low­ing verse: "When I am of­fer­ing prayers, by God, I don't know which part I am in and who is the Imam." Four books from Iran are well known all over the world - 'Shah­nama' by Fir­dausi, 'Gulis­tan-e-Sadi' by Shaikh Sadi, 'De­wane-Hafiz' by Hafiz Shi­razi and 'Mas­navi Rumi'. The num­ber of verses in the Mas­navi is 12,666. Be­cause of the way Maulana Rumi be­came en­tranced and flu­ently nar­rated th­ese verses, it was be­lieved that they were in­spired by di­vine guid­ance.

Those of us who reg­u­larly read the Holy Qu­ran with trans­la­tion so we are able to un­der­stand the mean­ing, are fa­mil­iar with the edicts set by Almighty Al­lah, one of them be­ing that all liv­ing things will one day die, at a time and place or­dained by Al­lah. They also know that we will be raised again on the Day of Judge­ment and will be asked to an­swer for all our deeds. Th­ese deeds will de­cide our desti­na­tion - heaven or hell.

This process of re­birth has been ex­plained by Al­lah Almighty in sim­ple terms; He tells us how clouds are formed, how they are laden with wa­ter, how they are car­ried by wind cur­rents to pre­de­ter­mined places and how the rain falls to turn dry lands into lush green ones. This process is re­ferred to more than once. We are told that af­ter death, we will be raised again in a sim­i­lar way.

This phe­nom­e­non of dy­ing and ris­ing again has been beau­ti­fully de­scribed as fol­lows in 'When I Die' in Rumi's Mas­navi: "When my cof­fin is be­ing taken out, you must never think I am miss­ing this world. Don't shed any tears, don't lament or feel sorry: I am not fall­ing into a mon­ster's abyss. When you see my corpse be­ing car­ried, don't cry for my leav­ing. I am not leav­ing: I am ar­riv­ing at eter­nal love. When you leave me in the grave, don't say good­bye: re­mem­ber a grave is only a cur­tain for the par­adise be­hind. You'll only see me de­scend­ing into a grave: now watch me rise.

"How can there be an end when the sun sets or the moon goes down? It looks like the end, it looks like a sun­set, but in re­al­ity it is dawn. When the grave locks you up, that is when your soul is freed. Have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth, not rise with a new life? Why should you doubt the rise of a seed named hu­man? Have you ever seen a bucket low­ered into a well com­ing back empty? Why lament for a soul when it can come back like Joseph from the well. When, for the last time, you close your mouth, your words and soul will be­long to the world of no place no time." In­ci­den­tally, most of the Mus­lims in Bhopal State were Pathans - Yousufzai/Orakzai - from Ti­rah. Dur­ing the reign of the Moghul king, Au­ranzeb Alam­gir, one Sar­dar Dost Muham­mad Khan went to Delhi from Ti­rah and joined the Moghul army. As he was a brave war­rior and showed his met­tle in many wars, Au­rangzeb ap­pointed him as 'qiledar' (bri­gadier com­man­der) of the Raisen Fort, 25 miles from Bhopal City in Cen­tral In­dia.

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