The 40 Rules of Love, by Shams Tabrizi – Part 4

The Path of Love: Discourse, Dialogue and God

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Shams-i-Tabrīzī (Persian: شمس تبریزی) or ‘Shams al-Din Mohammad’ (1185–1248) was a Persian Muslim who is credited as the spiritual instructor of Mewlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi.  Rumi (1207-1273) is recognizably one the greatest of the Islamic mystics. Besides his main quality of being a spiritual teacher he was an ecstatic poet and a lover of humanity. Born in Afghanistan, Rumi passed through Iran but lived his adult life and died in Konya, a region of Anatolia, in Turkey.

Everything in Rumi’s life changed when he met the mysterious and fascinating figure of a wandering monk: Shams Tabrizi. As stated in the Sufi tradition, this meeting was “a meeting of two oceans.” The emotional and spiritual friendship between these famous characters became unparalleled in the history of Sufism, so much so that it became proverbial in the East. This mysterious teacher initiated Rumi into the mystical experience of love. Rumi later produced a whole book of 3,230 verses: the ‘Divan of Shams Tabrizi’. ‘Divan’ simply means a collection of poems.

Shams received his education in Tabriz and was a disciple ofBaba Kamal al-Din Jumdi’. Before meeting Rumi, he apparently travelled from place to place weaving baskets for a living. Despite his occupation as a weaver, Shams received the epithet of “the embroiderer” (zarduz) in various biographical accounts including that of the Persian historian ‘Dawlatshah’. The encounter between the two took place precisely in the late fall of 1244 when Rumi was at the age of thirty-seven. Shams Tabrizi had come to Konya, after spending a short time in Baghdad. 

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The 40 Rules of Love, by Shams Tabrizi – Part 3

Seeing with the Heart

Shams of Tabriz was a Persian Sufi and roaming dervish who lived at the end of the twelfth/ early thirteenth century. He was the spiritual teacher and advisor of Rumi, and indeed it’s often said that Rumi was a professor who Shams transformed into a mystic, a lover, and a poet. They spent months together, lost in a kind of ecstatic mystical communion known as “sobhet” — conversing and gazing at each other until a deeper conversation occurred without words. There are many legends describing their meeting in Konya: Rumi was taught by Shams in seclusion for 40 days, and the period after this is described as Rumi’s ‘mysticism’, where sufis danced, played music (rabab), and drank wine. It is in this time, that the concept of “whirling dervishes” originated.

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