As long as I live, I am the slave of the Qur’an
And the dust of the path of Muhammad
If anyone quotes anything except this from my words
I am far away from that person and that word.
~Mevlâna Jalal ad-Din Rumi
I just left from Konya this evening, traveling through Anatolia towards Cappadocia (Kapadokya) by bus. I only stayed in Konya for a day, with the sole intent of visiting the Mevlâna museum and the sarcophagus of Mevlâna Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the famous Sufi mystic, poet, and sage of Anatolia. There’s not much in the city of Konya itself, save for masjids galore, bustling bazaars, and crowded side streets. However, despite the lack of touristic luster, I did feel a sense of serenity during my stay, perhaps the result of Rumi’s influence, the spiritual wake of the long dead sage and master of the human heart. I can’t say for sure what drew me to this place, but I do know that it was a blessing to be in the area where he composed his poetry and where his sagacity effused into the world.
Among the Muslims, there’s an ongoing debate as to the place of tasawwuf – Sufism, the mystical tradition within both Sunni and Shi’i Islam: some people, for example, those among the puritanical Wahabi/Salafi circles, view it as unsanctioned innovation (bid’ah) while others say it’s just plain nonsense and not indicative of “real Islam,” as if such a thing were an ontological reality outside the minds of the people who think this way. Their views notwithstanding, the influence of Jalal ad-Din and Sufism as a whole in the realm of Sunni Islam (Sufism has a major place Shi’i Islam as well), poetry, and spirituality cannot be glossed over or tossed aside as not being “real Islam.” There’s much more to Islam than scales and balances, points and numbers, laws and penal codes, though these things definitely have their place. A light and an inner wisdom lie beneath the exterior of these things, a light and a wisdom that gives those things meaning; but unfortunately, that light has been extinguished and the inner wisdom has been eschewed for a superficiality that renders heartfelt observance virtually meaningless. As a result, Islam has been reduced to a mere point system.
It’s like this for me: you have choice between graphite and diamond. Both are made from the same substance, that being carbon, but one is tempered in intense heat and pressure and becomes beautiful and priceless while the other is bland and fragile. Sure, graphite has a purpose – writing and whatnot – but that isn’t all there is or could be. Why, therefore, would you choose graphite over diamond? I swear by Allah, Islam now is a diamond in the rough and shallowness has made it graphite in the open.
Anyway, enough ranting. Here are some pictures I took of Konya.
And here is some advice from Mevlâna Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. You these displayed everywhere in Konya, so I figured I’d place it here. They worth meditating upon and even emulating, as there is no doubt in my mind that the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم rest as the head-spring of this wisdom .
In generosity and helping other, be like a river
In compassion and grace, be like a sun
In concealing other’s faults, be like night
In anger and fury, be like dead
In modesty and humility be, like earth
In tolerance, be like a sea
Either exist as you are or be as you look
The epitaph on Rumi’s shrine reads as follows:
“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.”
As a former Catholic, I have a hard time accepting the permissibility of tawassul (intercessory prayer) to those among the living or the dead, even the saintly figures. That being said, when I did see his tomb, I extended the traditional Muslim salutation to Mevlâna, and I prayed to Allah to grant me the light and understanding of things beyond the superficial, beyond what is apparent. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find it not in books and meditation but in the hearts of men.