Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rumi: the Beginning (1)

The famous town of Balkh in the present-day Afghanistan was part of the Iranian Kingdom of Khwarazm in 1207 AD. Rumi was born there that year.

1. Nostalgia

Of course, he wasn’t called Rumi then. His name was Jalaluddin. His father, Bahauddin Walad, was a renowned religious scholar and brought up his son accordingly but the young boy may have had extra-curricular activities, such as reading a story written by Sheikh Fariduddin Attar about birds in search of Simorgh. Guessing from his later work, he must also have enjoyed jokes and funny stories.

The young boy may have walked amid these green fields (the picture is from Balkh.Com) but some suggest that he was born further north. Still, growing up anywhere in this region, known to the ancients as Bactria, was to breathe nostalgia about more than one civilization. It was the birthplace of Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism had also thrived here once. How to integrate the legacy of many cultures with Islam was something on which this boy would leave more than a few notes when he grew up.

These were the times of change. A year before Jalal’s birth, Mongol barbarians from Gobi Desert had unified under their leader Temujin whom they called “the Great Commander,” i.e. Genghis Khan (or Changez Khan, as Persians would later remember him painfully). Soon, Mongols took over the Chinese Empire.

Jalal was still a boy when the governor of another city in Khwarazm executed some merchants on suspicion of spying. They were under the protection of Genghis, who now asked the king of Khwarazm to hand over the governor. The king executed the envoys too. Killing an ambassador was seen as an atrocity even in those days and the news was received at the Chinese court as something like a 9/11 of the thirteenth century. Genghis decided to overrun the Muslim world.

To be continued


  1. Looking forward to looking deeper into Rumi's history as soon as events allow...

    Thank You for these helps in doing so.

  2. Eid Mubarak to all and thanks Khurram Bhai for starting this series. Prologue tells that this is going to be a non-traditional and interesting biography (which is indeed your forte!)

  3. Nice start but kindly provide references also.

  4. Eid Mubarak to all. Ahmad Safi Sahib - so good to see your comment and name along with others here in this little community of light where there is solace along with wisdom.

  5. Nice effort. I hope that we will have biographies of other personalities too.

  6. Eid Mubarak to all.
    I think u should change this "to be continued" to "here it is" :)

  7. Eid Mubarak to all... Great to see this! Looking forward to know about Rumi through this series.

  8. I can imagine NOTHING which would be so ready a BRIDGE with the Western world than a book about Rumi of the sort you are and will doing biographies...especially the way you add authentic history, deep spirituality rooted in your culture and faith and current perspective from RUMI's part of the world!!!!

  9. " the news was received at the Chinese court as something like a 09/11 of the thirteenth century. Genghis decided to overrun the Muslim world"

    This is a meaningful narration and the history stands testimony to this and the other 9/11 that Muslims suffered at the hands of Genghis and Halaku of present.

  10. Connie, Akhtar, Ahmad Bhai, Nida, Numan Chishti, Komal and Anonymous, thanks for your feedback.

    I have also received some feedback on email. I shall try to start this biography as a regular feature soon.

    Akhtar, I changed "09/11" in the text to "9/11" after reading your comment :).

  11. Hey Pakestani guys it's better for u to write EID mobarak n somthing like that to one another, don't speak about literature.infact u have never had indepandant country,culture and literature ur country was a part of iran
    ur language was and is part of persian
    ur culture is combination of indian &arabic countries AS WELL

  12. Oh what an eye opening but lovely comment by our brother Seyed Daniel, till this day we thought Rumi was our poet!

  13. This is certainly taking a different approach in looking at Rumi's life, many things are presented here which I had no idea of before...

    As an Iranian I feel proud and honoured to know that Rumi and other Iranian poets are loved, read and discussed with so much ineterset and feeling as I see here ...

  14. And some folk in the West would in some ways try to make Rumi the poet for their OWN version of what he stood for as well...yet there are some "teaching tools" that come through never the less.

    I would love to know what RR folk here as well as Seyed Daniel feels regarding the following, including the Sufi notes. I also simply loved Akhtar Wasim Dar's deliciously while respectful ironic note and Marzieh's as always universal commentary.

    Take a Look - at the least you can see how RUMI has captured a rather renegade lot of folk in the US with some input from some Muslim friends from various places... "Rumi Returning" Official website of the hit PBS biography

    MOST of all I'm interested in what Khurram Sahib will do with Rumi's life and impact.

  15. It is not about "mera ya tumhara". I believe Rumi was the poet of this World!
    Dear Daniel! I am sure you know the meaning of the word "WORLD" or we can also post its meaning for you.