Salad al-din Rumi was born in modern-day Afghanistan, then part of the Khwarezmian Empire. He lived during the Islamic Golden Age, and is one of the most widely read poets of all time. Rumi comes from a long line of theologians, mystics, and jurors.
In 1219 the Mongols invaded the Khwarezmian Empire, forcing Rumi to flee. His father led the family more than 2,000 miles west to escape the invasion. They eventually settled in modern day Turkey, where Rumi wrote most of his works.
In 1244, Rumi met Shams Tabriz, a dervish “God-man” who had taken a vow of poverty. Their meeting is considered a central event in Rumi’s life. Shams travelled throughout the Middle East searching for someone who could “endure my company”. A voice called to him, “What will you give in return?” Shams replied, “My head!”. The voice then said, “The one you seek is Jalal al-din of Konya (Rumi).”
On December 5th, 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, and was never seen again. Shams may have been murdered with the help of Rumi’s son, ‘Ala’ al-din; if so, Shams did indeed give his head for the privilege of Rumi's company.
The elegant poetry of Rumi is nearly without equal. He is a great reminder of the breadth and diversity of the great works of Asian art and literature.
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