How was Rumi Praying?

(Notes from Sefik Can Efendi, 1998)


As Sipehsalar writes whenever the time for prayer came Rumi would face Kible (Mecca) and the color of his blessed face would change. Rumi’s preparation for daily prayer would remind one of Ali’s prayers. As commonly know the Ruler of the Faithful, Ali’s face would change colors, and he would start shaking of fear when the time for the prayers came. When he was asked: O Ruler of the Faithful, what is happening to you? he would answer: It is time to turn to Allah and perform the duty of the Divine entrustment Allah has offered to the heavens, earth and mountains and they were afraid and declined the resposibility. I am afraid that I don’t know whether I will be able to duly perform the duty that I have assumed.


Rumi’s prayer was a prayer perfromed with an openness of the heart and a prayer of forgetting one’s self. In his prayer he would find himself completely in God and reunited with God. In fact, the purpose of prayers is find Allah spiritually, to reunite with God by forgetting about one’s self and escaping one’s imaginary existence. It is for this reason that our Prophet says: “Prayer is reunification with Allah. But those who only look at the appearance of things cannot see and understand how this reunification will happen.


It is also for this reason that prayer is viewed as the pillar of the religion and ascention of a believer to the heavens. It is frequently observed that our Great Prophet started a prayer after the night prayers and by the next morning he kept on praying the two rekat prayer and forgot himself in the presence of God. This way it was also observed that He remained in prostration and bowing for a day or for a night.


Rumi’s prayers were not like other beliver’s prayer performed only as a duty to attain God’s pleasure. Rumi’s prayers were not only a prayer of God’s pleasure but also a prayer of heart and a prayer of love.


As can be seen in the following poem that Sipehsalar took from Divan-i Kebir and put in his book, Rumi would confuse the Rekats and would not know what chapter of Quran to recite because he was in the presence of God and in the prayer of heart.

When the time comes for the evening prayer, everybody lights up their houses, prepares the table, but I find the ghost of the Beloved in my heart and start to cry out and lament. Since I make ablution with my tears my prayers are so fiery. When the sound of ezan (call for prayers) reached the door of my mosque, it burns it down. Which way is kible (direction for prayers)? I missed my prayers, I need to make up for them, you and I receive a lot of tests (challenges) because of this missing prayers. I wonder if the prayers of those who are enraptured with Allah’s love are right. You tell me because the ecstatic never know the time and place. Is this the second rekat that I am praying? Or is it the fourth? Which chapter did I recite? I can’t speak because of excitement. How can I knock on God’s door? Because neither hands not heart remained in me. I am not in me. You took my hand and heart. O my Allah! Nothing remained in me. At least you give me assurance and trust. By Allah, I do not know how I pray. Did I complete the bowing? How is the imam? I have no idea. From now on let me be like a shadow in front of and behind every imam so that I may sometimes shrink and prostrate with the fear of the One who makes my shadow fall and creates me, and sometimes stand up and lengthen.
(Divan-i Kebir, 2831)


On the other hand since we love this world and focus our attention to much on our daily business, we do not think that we are in God’s presence in prayer and think of the things we have done or we are going to do. No matter how much we try we cannot escape these random thoughts. We concentrate on the matters of the world that randomly pop up in our minds that we confuse the prayers. As seen in the above poem since Rumi performed a prayer of love, since he was enraptured with the love of Allah, he could not know which chapter of Quran he recited, which rekat he is praying. Since we, on the other hand, are intoxicated with the love of this world we cofuse the prayers and cannot throw away the random thoughts in our minds.