Rumi’s Masnavi by Perry Rubin

Rumi’s Masnavi is an epic poem concerned with how to be in love and total consecration with God. The text is made up of couples, anecdotes and stories that combined the Quaran, specific hadiths and tales from daily life. The Masnavi is widely considered to be Rumi’s masterpiece and he composed verses until the end of his life. The books are lauded for there profound wisdom and spiritual insights. Primary themes including  the negative tendencies of our lower selves, the notions of reason and knowledge and finally severing the ties to a physical earthly existence in order to best accept god. There are many voices at play in the Masnavi  which makes use of these different narrators to clarify, complicate and elaborate at various points in the story. The form of the Masnavi is difficult to pin down because of the way it moves from one scene to another and then back again. In sections of the book like The Poor Bedouin and his Wife there are anecdotes that encourage patience and to see the interconnectedness of life and our relationship to god. For example,

“For parts aren’t separate from the whole: your nose Breathes in the scent which is part of the rose; Leaves to the rose’s beauty too belong, the dove’s coo to the nightingale’s sweet song. If I put problems and their answers first, I can’t give water to those who have theirs; If problems make you feel much stress and grief, Be patient- patience is what brings relief!” (176, line 2920)

This brief explanation of the reliance on all facets of the situation to see and appreciate the beauty of each other really underscores the idea of the non self and oneness amongst gods creations. There is a cyclicality to Rumi’s world view that is similar to the worldview promoted in the Quran.

Rumi proposes love as an absolute and primal component of creation. Saying,

“It’s waves of love that makes the heavens turn Without that love the universe would freeze.”

The theology of love model proposed here is incredibly mystical and celebrates the love of God, which manifests in all kinds of love, to be the strongest force we know. Dictating everything from nature to the interpersonal it is unknowable and indescribably powerful. As he says later, “Love canny be carried or contained in words Love’s an ocean of unfathomed depth.”