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Masnawi

In the prologue to the Masnavi Rumi hailed Love and its sweet madness that heals all infirmities, and he exhorted the reader to burst the bonds to silver and gold to be free. The Beloved is all in all and is only veiled by the lover. Rumi identified the first cause of all things as God and considered all second causes subordinate to that. Human minds recognize the second causes, but only prophets perceive the action of the first cause. One story tells of a clever rabbit who warned the lion about another lion and showed the lion his own image in a well, causing him to attack it and drown. After delivering his companions from the tyrannical lion, the rabbit urges them to engage in the more difficult warfare against their own inward lusts. In a debate between trusting God and human exertion, Rumi quoted the prophet Muhammad as saying, "Trust in God, yet tie the camel's leg."8 He also mentioned the adage that the worker is the friend of God; so in trusting in providence one need not neglect to use means. Exerting oneself can be giving thanks for God's blessings; but he asked if fatalism shows gratitude.

God is hidden and has no opposite, not seen by us yet seeing us. Form is born of the formless but ultimately returns to the formless. An arrow shot by God cannot remain in the air but must return to God. Rumi reconciled God's agency with human free will and found the divine voice in the inward voice. Those in close communion with God are free, but the one who does not love is fettered by compulsion. God is the agency and first cause of our actions, but human will as the second cause finds recompense in hell or with the Friend. God is like the soul, and the world is like the body. The good and evil of bodies comes from souls. When the sanctuary of true prayer is revealed to one, it is shameful to turn back to mere formal religion. Rumi confirmed Muhammad's view that women hold dominion over the wise and men of heart; but violent fools, lacking tenderness, gentleness, and friendship, try to hold the upper hand over women, because they are swayed by their animal nature. The human qualities of love and tenderness can control the animal passions. Rumi concluded that woman is a ray of God and the Creator's self.

When the Light of God illumines the inner person, one is freed from effects and has no need of signs for the assurance of love. Beauty busies itself with a mirror. Since not being is the mirror of being, the wise choose the self-abnegation of not being so that being may be displayed in that not being. The wealthy show their liberality on the poor, and the hungry are the mirror of bread. Those recognizing and confessing their defects are hastening toward perfection; but whoever considers oneself perfect already is not advancing. The poet suggested driving out this sickness of arrogance with tears from the heart. The fault of the devil (Iblis) was in thinking himself better than others, and the same weakness lurks in the soul of all creatures. Heart knowledge bears people up in friendship, but body knowledge weighs them down with burdens.

Rumi wrote how through love all things become better. Doing kindness is the game of the good, who seek to alleviate suffering in the world. Wherever there is a pain, a remedy is sent. Call on God so that the love of God may manifest. Rumi recommended the proverb that the moral way is not to find fault with others but to be admonished by their bad example. The mosque built in the hearts of the saints is the place for all worship, for God dwells there. Rumi began the third book of his Masnavi as follows:

In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The sciences of (Divine) Wisdom are God's armies,
wherewith He strengthens the spirits of the initiates,
and purifies their knowledge from the defilement of ignorance,
their justice from the defilement of iniquity,
their generosity from the defilement of ostentation,
and their forbearance from the defilement of foolishness;
and brings near to them whatever was far from them
in respect of the understanding of the state hereafter;
and makes easy to them whatever was hard to them
in respect of obedience (to Him) and zealous endeavor (to serve Him).9

A sage warns travelers that if they kill a baby elephant to eat, its parents will probably track them down and kill them; yet they do so, although one refrains from the killing and eating. As they sleep, a huge elephant smells their breath and kills all those who had eaten the young elephant but spares the one who had abstained. From foul breath the stench of pride, lust, and greed rises to heaven. Pain may be better than dominion in the world so that one may call on God in secret; the cries of the sorrowful come from burning hearts. Rumi also told the story of the Hindus feeling the different parts of an elephant in a dark room. He emphasized that in substan
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, and more popularly simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, faqih, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran. more…

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