Jalal-al-Din Moḥammad Balḵi Rumi’s (672/1273) magnum opus is his didactic poem, the Masnavi, and his main prose work is the “Fihe mā fihe”, which was compiled from the notes of students at his teaching circle. These works, which represent the last two decades of his life, constitute the most substantial sources for his teachings without need for recourse to his many biographies. We do not have sources dating from his young adulthood, before he met his mystic mentor Shams-al-Din Tabrizi, though his later writings arguably provide insight into the world of scholarship he had been raised in. Accordingly the focus of this entry is Rumi’s mystical teachings.
Rumi’s teachings, whether in the “Msnavi” or his other works, focus on “the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion” (oṣul oṣul oṣul al-din). By “the religion” he means the Islamic tradition, not religion generically; he is saying that his works go to the heart and soul of the Quranic message and do not get mired down in the limitations of theological formalism or juridical nitpicking. He sees himself as belonging to the line of prophets and saints, whose God-given function is to provide guidance to the human race.
“Veiled like the soul, making me whole
You enter my heart.
Elegant as a tree, delighting me,
You stand apart.
Slender and tall, high overall
With a garden’s art.
Do not leave me alone, when you have gone
Soul of my soul.
Leave not body behind, springing free but unkind
Flame without coal.
Leave not my sight, take not my light,
Break not the whole.
I plunder the skies, take stars as my prize
When I know your love,
I pass through the seas, fearless, with ease
With hand in your glove.
You make my head spin, dizzy within
From eyes of your love.”