A Persian poet and Sufi master is the most popular poet in the U.S.. Born in 1207, his name was Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, but you may know him simply as… Rumi.
Rumi’s influence transcended national borders and ethnic divisions — Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have all greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries (according to Wilkepedia).
“He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch who has just written a new biography on the revered poet entitled “Rumi’s Secret, The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love.” Here are some snippets from a recent New York Times book review:
“Gooch, a novelist and poet whose books also include “Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor,” aims to produce a continuous biographical narrative out of Rumi’s life and to make his spiritual journey intelligible to the people who buy the watered-down version of Rumi printed on shower curtains….”
“Gooch’s book is nonetheless useful. He braves his own translations, and situates Rumi in the broader context of his time and place: a moment of vast creative productivity in the medieval Islamic world, where Sufis were pushing the boundaries of orthodoxy….”
“It is true that Rumi preached and lived by a stance of tolerance, for which he was greatly loved. He identified that all religions were fundamentally in pursuit of oneness with God. But his openness to other creeds did not mean he believed Islam was subsumable into some monotheistic mystical soup. His “Masnavi” is called “the Quran in the Persian tongue,” and is rife with references to Hadith, Quranic sayings and devotion to the Prophet Muhammad. If Rumi arrived at a place of tolerance, it was from within his Islamic tradition, not beyond it….”
“In these days of cultural intolerance, there is certainly great value to books that add nuance to hateful, caricatured views of Islam.”