Sunday, January 10, 2010

1. A Parable Never Told

This is a revised online version of The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality (2007). Feedback from audience is welcome, and may be incorporated as it comes, since it's about making informed contributions towards a better world, together.

1: A Parable Never Told


It so happened one day that the Sultan of Turkey came to Jalaluddin Rumi and said, “I banish myself in penance for sins committed against humanity by the kings. I leave the country to you.” Another Sufi may have declined, but Rumi was one in his own league. Spirit and matter had been separate for centuries but now the two became one.


One of the first things he did was a whirlwind tour of the country for imparting to the masses an understanding of religion. With the help of parables, poetry, flute and some whirling dance he soon raised the plebeians to such levels of spiritual elevation where they could all give opinion on everything.

The clergy became very upset and demanded that since it had always represented religion it was now its right to rule. Rumi announced a date on which the entire adult population of the country was to choose between him and the clergy. He won with overwhelming majority, and his detractors had no option but to leave. Their parting words were, “Democracy is against Islam.”


By now you may have noticed that this is a fictitious account, though not without purpose (a parable is seldom without purpose). A parable was thought to be the best way of introducing this book, since it is never asked about a parable whether it is "true" or not – the truth is rather perceived to be more than appearance.

Hence this first chapter, this 'Parable', is meant to take you straight to the heart of such matters as what the message of Rumi can do for us today, how it is relevant and what we need in order to get started. This first chapter, although divided into several sections by numbers, is just one story: it is quite usual for a parable to be broken down, often with subheadings, and to be interspersed with tales within tales, commentaries, and so on.

For instance, the present parable may digress at this point to inform you that Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi was born in 1207 in Balkh and died in 1273 in Konya (two cities of the ancient Persian Empire, now in Afghanistan and Turkey respectively), and that he wrote in Persian. Yet, not only his message sounds relevant today but there even appears to be uncanny similarity between his times and our own, which you may notice as you read on.


Those were, of course, the best of the times and also the worst. Crusades had long ended but the mind of Europe was unwilling to bury the dispute. In the Muslim world itself, barbarians were playing havoc—they had started with Afghanistan and did not seem to be stopping even after capturing the last caliph of Baghdad and beating him to death. Farther East, Hindus and Muslims were engaged in an armed rivalry since more than sixty years before.

Bringing peace to such a world was difficult but Rumi was able to send barbarians back to their homes, appease the agitated mind of Europe, settle the longstanding dispute over the Holy Land and create trust between Hindus and Muslims. Details are lost but it has been reported that his peace conferences used to open with a pantomime show of his famous ‘grape story’: four men who cannot understand each other’s languages are fighting over the choice of fruit they should buy with the coin that they found together; an interpreter arrives on the scene, takes the coin and puts grapes in front of the fighting men who then realize that they were, in fact, all pursuing the same choice but naming it differently.


Slavery was intolerable to Rumi. He issued a universal invitation to scientists and urged them to find alternate source of energy for doing away with the need for slaves. He suggested that replacing the Greek model of research with inductive methods could be helpful, since the boundary of the universe was in its centre.

In good time, a scientist came from the north of an island beyond mainland Europe and demonstrated a device that could harness the power of steam for performing several tasks. Rumi appealed to everyone to use this device and free the slaves. The age-old institution of slavery vanished in no time.


For a while, everyone was happy. People from around the world thronged to the court of Rumi and listened to words of wisdom. Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Christians and agnostics came for spiritual guidance and returned with a better understanding of the Path according to their own diverse beliefs.

There was no further trouble until reports started coming that the steam-device was creating problems. Trees were being chopped mercilessly for fuel, skies in some cities had blackened with smoke, and some people were building large monopolies for throwing smalltime competitors out of job. Age-old evils had reappeared in new forms, more powerful than before.


Rumi addressed the whole world and explained that in gratitude to God who gave them the power to harness the forces of Nature, they should voluntarily master their greed. Not all the wealth in the world could be sufficient for a heart unless it learns to be content by itself. Yes, you have the freedom to produce as much as your creative faculties desire but will you also find the time to create something in the depths of your soul?


“Whoever devours grass ends up under the butcher’s knife,” said Rumi. “Whoever feeds on the light of God becomes the Word of God.”


Unfortunately, it never happened in history. Can it happen now, and how? Watch out for the next installments, and see if you can make it happen.


  1. "Whoever feeds on the light of God becomes the Word of God.”

    Republic of Rumi is one place to find that light...

  2. I guess bringing a change isn't that difficult a task. All one has to do is to communicate with one's own soul. If one is able to discover the world of one's own soul and its purity one can easily reach the soul of universe. And if we understand its purity, the desire to get more and more "material" vanishes. One concerns just the feeding of soul which finds peace only by promoting harmony and love across the universe.

    Every revolution throughout history enriches the soul of universe and every other individual soul in turn gets nourished by the soul of the universe. Hence if we want to contribute in the process of change we need to change our own vision, which will ultimately lead to a major change.

    And yes, everything in the world evolves, transforms and move towards purity. There is no end and no destination, so achieving the goals isn't everything. Bringing a little change can do marvels.

  3. Shafique Sahib....very nice of you to share...

    hmm...the four men represents humanity in its search for an inner spiritual need it can not define and how to express in different ways. (the four men ways means each humanity ways)

    Rumi...who enlightens humanity to the fact that what it seeks (is basically its religion) though called by different names by different humanity and thus are in reality one identical thing...true religion.

    However...hmmm....I am most surprised and went to deep emotions to understand that the most important aspect of the parable - the linguist (Rumi) can offer the four men (humanity)only the GRAPES and nothing more.

    He can not offer them WINE, which is "the essence of the fruit."

    In other words, human beings can not be given the secret of ultimate reality, for such knowledge cannot be shared, but must be expirienced through inner journey towards itself.

    Once we know what our true religion is we become one as we all are in search of the same thing with different ways to express it.

    Thank you so much.

  4. i like ur interpretation Thinking!

    and just to continue the discussion, i would like to share a couplet by Rumi which can answer the question Khurram asked at the end of the article about how can we bring the change Rumi asked us to.

    Its from the urdu translation of Rumi's poem 'Nawayey Ney'

    " Ruh ko apna bna kr rahbar
    Gamzan ho zindagi ki rah per"

    I guess the couplet explains all about how Rumi perceived an individual can help the society move towards Purity.

  5. Our being is a shell that must be cast off to expirience the direct sunlight/knowledge.

    Soul's journey is to adopt every higher quality and leaving every lower.

    hmmm....thank you so much Namrah to share such nice poetry with us. I am honored.

  6. We should not assume that we are "alone" in the universe nor that God would only speak to people on Planet Earth.

    Because science/engineering is introduced in "A Parable Never Told" via the steam engine, perhaps science could help Rumi. As I write the new Kepler telescope is discovering planets (5 to date) around distant suns. The probability is quite high that some of the many-many distant planets out there could have some forms of life -- perhaps advanced beyond life on Earth.

    Perhaps Rumi through what ever means (time travel perhaps) could visit some planets and learn from those that are more advanced.

    Certainly God would send prophets to such advanced "peoples"; and the prophets would receive guidance from God equal to the capability of the "people."

    The parable would have Rumi then return to offer advanced spiritual guidance [which is what is needed I believe] to Earth people.

    Rumi met Shams who changed Rumi forever. Perhaps there are others out there who could also change/advance Rumi.

    Robert Nowak

  7. yes.....its appealing to all those who have the vision of life and God in real sense of meaning. Rumi wrote it Khurram presented it in a very good way...a wonderful work

    Rao from qatar

  8. Nothing is last word for Muslims, except Qur’an-the word of God. The greatest Muslim thinker of modern era Allama Muhammad Iqbal has this to say about his most revered seven lectures of THE RECONSTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS THOUGTS IN ISLAM:

    “It must, however, be remembered that there is no such thing as finality in philosophical thinking. As knowledge advances and fresh avenues of thought are opened, other views, and probably sounder views than those set forth in these Lectures, are possible. Our duty is carefully to watch the progress of human thought, and to maintain an independent critical attitude towards it.”

  9. When we consider human advancements in science and use such advancements as argument for theo-scientific conversations, it should be remembered the they are production of never ending curiosity and fascination not insanity. Such philosophical minds tend to question all aspects of life and in present age deny any divine intervention on planet earth. Therefore spirtuality can be an individual feeling and a collective social phenomenon but not fact. Majority of Scientific community has no doubt on evolution which proves mankind as cousins of other species e.g chimps. Plz consult Richard Dawkins.
    In this scenario Spirtualim might be compared to romenticism.
    Sorry for spelling mistakes.

  10. Anonymous, thanks. Please ask Richard Dawkins to consult me :).

  11. Very interesting point from Anonymous:

    "Therefore spirtuality can be an individual feeling and a collective social phenomenon but not fact"

    If anything is an individual feeling and that individual feeling builts up to collective social phenomenon then what are the facts?

    Facts are not only proved in Labs, the real test lies in the individual and collective acceptance, emotional and social phenomeon is what creates our reality.

  12. I Like The Every Things Of Allama Mohammad Iqall
    May his Soul Rest In Peace

  13. I wonder why I missed reading this wonderful story of yours,Mr. Shafique.I think if we have the belief that good things will happen,I am sure it will.All we need to do is collectively put our efforts together and one day we will be successful.I will therefore quote the famous lines from the poet whose name I cannot recollect,"little drops of water.little grains of sand,make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land".
    Here I am trying to say,although we are not that large in number
    we can God willing,erase the violence,the wars,poverty,if we strive to achieve it.It may not happen overnight but like the poet talks about the ocean and the land,little grains and little drops makes the pleasant land and the mighty ocean.We also can Inshah Allah change the world by taking small steps.

  14. "Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils " Plato (c. 427 BC – c. 347 BC) Student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle.
    I only wish the kingdom in actual be handed over to Sir Rumi... we will not change because we only took a small part of speech of Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal which he delievered as presidential address to the 25th session of All India Muslim league held at Allahabad on 29 Dec 1930 and have not paid heat to what he elaborated in detail. he delievered that speech assuming that Muslims of India keep islam and its principles near to their heart... unfortunately his assumption was wrong, they kept the mullahs, their rituals, pirs and their rituals keep to their heart instead of principles Islam..... sufiism is good but not good for all.... it cannot provide justice, health, education to massess, however if a real sufi who has roots in spirit as well as in matter , just like sufi rumi or allama Iqbal if get oppoutunity to rule ... yes they can enforce the real rule of Allah on Allah's earth. The Self which Iqbal describes as high point of a momin is not about serving the self of a mortal body... but its about which Hazrat Ali RZT displayed during the fight of Khyber, when during which he while riding the chest of a jew was about to kill him, the jew spitted on his face and Ali RZT held back his sword and got off the jew and asked him to leave... the jew was astonished and asked as to why he was not killed when he compunded the events even by spitting on the face of Hazrat Ali RZT. The reply of the sufi was earlier I was about to kill you in the line of Islam , but as you spitted on my face the issue became personal and I forgive you and cannot kill you..... subhanAllah...We need practical sufis .. sufis who are ready to forgo their hunger and undertake efforts to feed others regardless of religion, race caste creed or color. Khurram Ali shafique sahib thanks very much for your effort... but I hope you are aware that this is only possible if Allah wishes it to happen through you .. in this case Allah subhan o Tallah wanted that way .. I congradulate you for being the chosen one ... as for us we must seek purity through namaz and taqwa .. as alone namaz or alone taqwa will not help and keep asking Allah Subhan o Tallah to send to us our Shams Tabraiz Amen