Who was Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi?

(Taken from the Website of the family Çelebi., and partly simplified for easy reading.)


Hz. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, is known as Hz. (“Hazreti”) Mevlana in the East and known as Rumi in the West. At birth, his family named him Muhammed, though he came to be nicknamed Celaleddin. As for “Hz. Mevlana”, it connotes to “our holy master”, while “Rumi” relates to “the land of Rum” or “Anatolia”, where he lived. In his lifetime, he was also referred to as “Hudavendigar”, meaning “distinguished leader”, whereas his present internationally renowned title “Mevlana” was very seldom used. The name “Rumi” was added to the end rather later on.


Hz. Mevlana was born on September 30, 1207 in the city of Balkh, Khorasan, which at the time was inhabited by Turkish tribes; (Balkh today remains within the boundaries of Afghanistan). His mother Mümine was the daughter of Rükneddin, the “Emir” (sovereign ruler) of Balkh and his father, Bahaeddin Veled, was “Sultanu-l Ulema”(chief scholar). Their clash of opinion with Fahreddin-i Razi, one of his contemporary philosophers, along with the probability of a Mongol invasion urged him to desert his hometown accompanied by his entire family. Their migration, via Baghdad, Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan and Karaman ended up, on May 3, 1228, in Konya upon the invitation of Alaeddin Keykubad, the Seljuk Emperor.


Following his marriage to Gevher Banu in Karaman, Konya, Hz. Mevlana had two sons whom he named Bahaeddin (Sultan Veled) and Alaeddin. Years later, during his time in Konya, and after Gevher Banu passed away, Mevlana married Kerra Hatun by whom he had two more children; another son, Muzafferreddin Emir Alim and a daughter Melike.


As Mevlana begins attending his father’s lessons at a very early age, he pursues the divine truth and secrets. He acquires Turkish, Arabic, Persian and common Greek, as well as Classical Greek. He studies the other religions along with Islam. From history to medicine he receives his initial education from his father and then from Seyyid Burhaneddin Tirmizi and other top scholars of the time. Later on he himself, in turn, teaches hundreds of students in Madrassahs (theological universities).


Meanwhile, Shams-i Tebrizi, not fulfilled by the ultimate spiritual rank he has attained, is in search of another fellow acquaintance to match his own scholarly wisdom and to enjoy his company. Shams and Hz. Mevlana, who had their first encounter in Damascus, meet again in 1244, in Konya. These two God loving Velis (guardians) focus intensely on divine discussions, and together they attain heavenly wisdom. With most of his time spent in endless talks, poetry recitals and whirling rituals with his spiritual soul mate, jealousy aroused among Mevlana’s students. Unjust rumours are spread against Shams-i Tebrizi, who is offended and flees Konya for Damascus. Hz. Mevlana, in his deep grief, secludes himself from all friends and writes many of his verses which we read in the Divan-i Kebir. The instigators of this unfavourable situation express remorse, and a group led by Mevlana’s son Sultan Veled goes to Damascus and brings back Shams-i Tebrizi. Nevertheless, jealousy arises once again, and Shams this time suddenly disappears altogether. Even though his tomb is assumed to be in Konya, whether he deserted the city or was murdered still remains a mystery.


Hz. Mevlana enters a new stage in his life upon the disappearance of his close friend. He first appoints Shaikh Selahaddin-i Zerkub, who passes away, then he appoints Çelebi Hüsameddin, one of his own students, to teach on his behalf.


As long as I live, I am the slave of the Quran I am the ground of chosen Mohammed’s way. …..
Whoever carries a word of me apart from this, I am complainant of him and I am complainant of those words too.


As can clearly be inferred from his words above, he always pursued Hz. Muhammaed’s teachings in his divine journey, always conforming to God’s commandments, preaching and practising in the Islamic discipline. But he always complains about the fundamentalists’ ideas appended into Islam later on, and even more so about the destructive ignorance of the Madrassahs.



His Works

In addition to his best-known book of verses, the Masnawi, the first eighteen lines of which were written down personally and the rest dictated to his student Çelebi Husameddin, he also wrote the Divan-i Kebir; the Fih-i Ma-Fi, the Mecalis- i Shebaa and the Mektubat.


The Masnawi:

It contains 26 thousand couplets in six volumes, consisting of stories inspired by the Quran’s teachings about all that is created, as well as Hz. Mohammad’s words and their morals.


The Divan-i Kebir:

Preceding the Masnawi, it is a collection of poems recited by Hz. Mevlana over a wide span of time. It contains approximately 40 thousand couplets within twenty-one moderate-size Divans, as well as one “Divan-i Rubai”


The Fih-i Ma-Fih:

It connotes “What’s within is within” and contains Hz. Mevlana’s lectures.


The Mecalis-i Shebaa:

As the meaning of the title “Seven Sermons” implies, it contains Hz. Mevlana’s seven lectures.


The Mektubat:

It consists of the 147 letters Hz. Mevlana wrote to relatives, including his son Sultan Veled, and to friends, rulers and officials of the State.



The daily language of the time was Turkish; the scientific language was Arabic; while Persian was the language of literature. For this reason Hz Mevlana’s books are all in Persian. They were all translated into Turkish at a later time.


In his books, Hz. Mevlana talks about how to be a wholesome human being: one who has inner peace and harmony, one who is both aware of and appreciates God’s blessings, one who takes a stand in the face of life’s hardships, one who is tolerant and loving.


As an example may serve Hz. Mevlana’s advice to his son, Bahaddin Veled, to indicate his spiritual and worldly viewpoints:

Bahaeddin! Should you wish to be in Heaven forever, be a friend to everyone.
Cherish not grudge in your heart,
Demand not extra nor be extra,
Be like ointment and candle, not a needle.

Should you wish no evil from anyone,
Speak not of evil, Nor preach of evil, Nor think evil!
Should you speak of a man in goodwill, you will always rejoice,
And that joy is Heaven itself.

Should you speak of a man in hostility, you will always despair.
And this is Hell itself .
As soon as you ponder friends, flowers will bloom in your heart’s garden, filling it with roses and basil.
As soon as you ponder foes, your heart’s garden will be filled with thorns and serpents.

Your heart will grow tired and you will lie idle.

All prophets and saints did likewise, reflecting their character outwards.
Fellow human beings, overwhelmed by their beautiful demeanor, voluntarily and happily followed their path.

(Ahmed Eflaki, Ariflerin Menkibeleri II, 213, 214)


More than seven hundred years have elapsed since the day of this advice and it still holds true for us all.


Hz. Mevlana passed away on December 17, 1273 following a brief time on his sickbed and reached out to Allah and his beloved Prophet. Mevlevi disciples call this night Sheb-i Arus (wedding night), the night of unity.


For those who aspire to the pursuit of truth, the following advice from Mevlana may be meaningful:

There is a life in you, search that life,
Search the secret jewel in the mountain of your body,
Hey you, the passing away friend, search with all your strength,
Whatever you are looking for, look in yourself, and not around.