Can the V * I * E theory of motivation explain the motivation of Nelson Mandela?

Can the V * I * E theory of motivation explain the motivation of Nelson Mandela?

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The V * I * E theory of motivation (Galbraith & Cummings, 1967; Vroom, 1964) posits that if either the value of a goal, its instrumentality or the expectancy to reach it is zero, then an individual will not be motivated to reach that goal (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail because he was an anti-apartheid revolutionary. Apparently, he never gave up his mission.


Can the VIE theory of motivation, or newer developments of it, explain thoroughly why some people don't give up their goals even if they to live under adverse conditions for a very long period of time?

More details: One might argue that such a person didn't lose the goal but just didn't try to realize it as long as it wasn't possible. In other words: the value was kept upright but the expectancy was zero. On the other hand, if V, I or E is zero, then the motivation - the drive - is zero as well. It is unclear what kept upright the value in this case. What drives a person in such a situation to keep fighting and can that be explained by the VIE theory of motivation?


Galbraith, J., & Cummings, L. L. (1967). An empirical investigation of the motivational determinants of task performance: Interactive effects between instrumentality-valence and motivation-ability. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 2(3), 237-257.

Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. Oxford, England: Wiley.

The VIE theory you mentioned can explain why some people don't give up their goals even if they to live under adverse conditions for a very long period of time, and the theory is very similar to a theory followed in Sociology and Psychology. That is Social Exchange Theory.

Although the theory is generally referred to when talking about social interactions in relationships, it can also be related to the situations you are referring to.

Social Exchange Theory

The basic idea is that the social exchange process brings satisfaction when people receive fair returns for their expenditures. The major difference between social and economic exchange is the nature of the exchange between parties. The social exchange perspective argues that people calculate the overall worth of a particular relationship by subtracting its costs from the rewards it provides.

$Rewards$ $-$ $Costs = Worth$

If the $Costs$ in the situation you are talking about is bigger than the benefits ($Rewards$), the $Worth$ has a negative value leading to the choice of not carrying out the task in mind.

To use your Nelson Mandella example,

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail because he was an anti-apartheid revolutionary. Apparently, he never gave up his mission.

Mandella perceived that the possible positive $Rewards$ (end to apartheid) outweighed the $Costs$ (imprisonment), therefore the $Worth$ of his social activism was positive (greater than zero).

If Mandella saw the $Costs$ being greater than the $Rewards$, the $Worth$ would have been negative and he may have chosen a different path, but then that is speculation. The other point of note is that motivation towards social activism is generally towards improving the status quo within society, leading to positive $Rewards$.

What I have put forward is on Social Exchange Theory, however a possible alternative would be that he felt that change was vital and therefore the value of the fight and its goal outweighed the $Costs$ (VIE Theory). Maybe both theories were in play. This again is open to speculation.

Social Exchange Theory was introduced in 1958 by the sociologist George Homans with the publication of his work "Social Behavior as Exchange" (Cook & Rice, 2001). Homans summarised the theory in 5 propositions (University of Amsterdam, n.d.):

  • The 1st Proposition - Success proposition:
    When an individual is rewarded for their actions, they tend to repeat the action;
  • The 2nd Proposition - Stimulus proposition:
    The more often a particular behaviour has resulted in a reward in the past, the more likely it is that a person will respond to it (possibly with reward); and
  • The 3rd Proposition - Value proposition:
    If the expected result of a behavioural action is considered valuable to the individual, it is more likely for that behaviour to occur
  • The 4th Proposition - Deprivation-satiation proposition:
    The more often in the recent past a person has received the same reward, the less valuable any further unit of that reward becomes.
  • The 5th Proposition - Aggression-approval proposition:
    When the rewards of a social exchange are not as expected, a person will react emotionally, usually in an angry or aggravated manner. Those who receive more than they expect or do not receive anticipated punishment will be happy and will behave approvingly.


Cook, K. S. & Rice, E. R. W., 2001. Chapter 31: Exchange and Power - Issues of Structure and Agency. In: J. H. Turner, ed. Handbook of Sociological Theory. New York City: Springer Science & Business Media, LLC, pp. 699-719.

University of Amsterdam, n.d. SocioSite: George C. Homans - General Propositions. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 4 August 2016].

Dad (1)

On a day like this last year, I suddenly lost my dad (1st of June, 2017). By all indices & human calculations, that was supposed to be my story’s end.

I rested almost solely on him for moral & financial support. I was still in law school, yet to really see the real world.

There was no prior notice of his imminent death. He had driven to & fro work by himself, took tea & bread, we chatted a bit & then he slept, while I continued reading for my bar exams.

He woke me up midnight unable to talk, only showing signs of chest pain and serious discomfort. I called some neighbors. Someone suggested we proceed to the nearest hospital. My dad died on that trip, in his own official vehicle, his head on my lap while he breathed the last breath.

This is the first time ever I’m talking about it publicly. Somehow, I hate to complain when bad things happen to me (which is actually very rare).

First reason is, I’ve had a very privileged life many would pray for. I basically can’t complain each time LIFE happens. That’d be tantamount to ungratefulness to God.

Secondly, I read Dr James Dobson’s timeless book (When God Doesn’t Make Sense) many years ago. I learnt from the book that even when man thinks God doesn’t make sense, He still makes sense! Bad events, sorrow, unexpected scenes are wholly part of life. And life happens unexpectedly!

I have no idea how things have been working for me in dad’s absence. He was so influential, I was sure of many things while he lived. His death was a rude awakening.

Sometimes I feel like there’s an external force somewhere giving me advantage. I could feel it. Things have worked out just fine despite his absence. I know this could only be God. This is a miracle.

There’s light behind dark tunnels, no lie.

I’m a strong believer, I just belief. All I have are God, my beliefs and my mind.

All the things you taught me dad, I still maintain. All what you gave me, I’m building on as you can see. I’m aware you made me & I’m extremely grateful.


It is a sad moment for me to start my first blog of the year with news of passing away of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. There was a flurry of condolence messages and remembrances of this great personality in the news and social media for the past one week or so. Lot has been said about this great man and hence I will not repeat any of those here. The bodily Abdul Kalam has left us but his vision and teachings will ever remain eternal. I want my readers to focus on one thing he wanted from all of us – to be Unique. I quote from one of his speeches which has remained with me forever.

The question is: are you willing to become a unique personality? Let me share an experience.

I have, so far, met 12 million youth in India and abroad, in a decade’s time. I learnt, “every youth wants to be unique, that is, YOU! But the world all around you, is doing its best, day and night, to make you just “everybody else”.

The challenge, my young friends, is that you have to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can ever imagine to fight and never stop fighting until you arrive at your destined place, that is, a UNIQUE YOU! Friends what will be your tools to fight this battle. There are four criteria for building a unique personality, what are they: have a great aim in life, continuously acquire the knowledge, work hard and persevere to realize the great achievement.”

If you want to further get inspired by him, please read his book” You are unique” written and published in 2012.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I remain greatly inspired by Denis Waitely, who, in his book titled “Empires of the Mind” talks about “what worked yesterday, won’t work today”. Again, it was Dr Abdul Kalam who inspired me to read this. I have quoted a few below with my own modifications for my readers to ponder on what works today may not work tomorrow. So are you thinking about this?

  1. Yesterday – natural resources defined power. Today – knowledge is power ( when shared)
  2. Yesterday – Hierarchy was the mode. Today- synergy is the mandate (move away from ‘me’ to “We”)
  3. Yesterday – leaders commanded and controlled. Today – leaders empower and coach (they are facilitators- leaders would lead by asking thought provoking questions)
  4. Yesterday – shareholders came first. Today – customers come first (they will be everything)
  5. Yesterday – employees took order. Today – teams make decisions (supervisors will vanish)
  6. Yesterday – seniority signified status. Today – creativity drives status (innovation will be your daily agenda)
  7. Yesterday – production determined availability. Today – quality is the key (innovate or perish)
  8. Yesterday – value was extra. Today – value is everything (keep adding value)
  9. Yesterday – profits were earned through expediency. Today – Work with integrity and succeed with integrity (integrity will improve sustainability)

Get bored and start thinking

Two months back I went to an eye doctor to check my vision and was made to wait for almost an hour. What did I do? I put on my blue tooth speaker and started listening to music and at the same time started surfing internet, following people on FB and intermittently replying to “Whatsapp”. Did I get bored? Absolutely not! I go back to the 80’s and was playing back what I did waiting for an appointment. Scan around and get fixated on a dull wall calendar or make faces expressing one’s boredom and hoping that receptionist will get the message and call you quickly. Did I get bored? (Rhetoric). Of course, nobody likes to be bored but by avoiding the chance of getting bored, we have also lost the time we used to have to think and process. Those days waiting for an appointment, since there is nothing much to do, you will pay attention to various thoughts coming to you in that empty time space… which was an escape from day to day happening. Today I have no escape until I consciously create one for myself.

In order to focus, we need to escape to focus. Get inspired by Bill Gates, takes a week off twice a year from his busy schedule just to think and read. He has consistently done this for the past three decades. You need those escape and think. Let me announce to all that I am going to follow this from this year. Since I have lost first six months of the year.. I will have one week off just for reading this year. What are you waiting for?

Date literally

As some of you know, Courtyard Marriott at Secaucus was my 2 nd home for the past couple of years. Naturally, I was known to most house staff at this hotel. One of the receptionists always taunted me by asking for a date whenever I was getting out of the hotel on weekends. In one such occasion I told her that she will have a date during my next visit. So when she spotted me in the next visit… she reminded my promise of a date. I said “give me a moment” and rushed back to my room and brought a packet of Arabian dates and gave it to her. I said to her “I have kept my promise of giving you a date”. It was an experience to see the various emotions from her face but sportingly she said “Mr Suresh you are smart”.

Imagination leads to creativity

Creativity blossoms thinking

Thinking provides knowledge

Knowledge makes you great ( of course when you share it)

I promise that I will write more frequently in 2015 as compared to 2014- With that promise I bid good bye with my usual signature “Life is Good”.

PS: Another promised fulfilled as this blog is only 1000 words.

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 1214

Last blog of the year?

People who are following my blogs must have noticed that my blogs 0714 to 1114 has gone missing. I was tempted to write on few topics and even had a sketch and outline on what I wanted to write but did not follow through as I thought those topics would create controversy in my social and professional circle and therefore reserved it for better and appropriate time. I am sure this is sounding curious and this will raise many thoughts on what those topics could be. Have patience it will be pressed (sic) sooner than later. I did not want to give a simple explanation for my disappearance such as “I went on sabbatical”.

Another year has come to an end and like any other year this year has been different in many ways. Couple of thought provoking events that stand out, from my perspective, which we need to be aware and conscious of

  1. Disappearance of three Aircrafts this year – Is this a noise or a signal
  2. Uber rising to fame – Can the disruptive idea/model be copied in other businesses (albeit recent bad publicity)
  3. New way of terrorist thinking- Recent attacks on school Children in Pakistan.

As you stay with these thoughts, I will write more on these topics in 2015.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Back to the future

In early 80’s, an ordinary movie ticket used to cost RS 4( 50 cents) and Coke or its substitute was around Re 1 per 200 ml ( 12 cents based on exchange rate prevailing in those days). As the years progressed invention of VHS and mushrooming of cable television made access to movie very easy. Many liked the concept of viewing movie in the comfort of their drawing room or bedroom. Further invention of DVD made the quality of viewing better. The digital content also posed a big challenge to anti- piracy. Many theatres in US went bankrupt and people seriously questioned the survival of movie industry. Few television movies and success of soap operas added fuel to the fire. In India the concept of multiplex was at nascent stage (one could spot few in Chennai but not in other cities) and no business was willing to invest on a sunset industry.

Fast forward to present

Transformers: Age of extinction grossed over a billion dollar in 2014. Iron Man 3 grossed a similar amount in 2013. Avatar was the highest revenue earner with $2,7 billion in 2004. Coming to Bollywood, PK an Indian movie grossed around $36 million in 11 days. Lingga, a regional Indian movie, has grossed $6 million in first six days.

What has changed since 1980? An industry once categorized as sunset started grossing billions of dollars in revenue? Take a guess – to me it is a four letter word. Don’t let your imagination get wild as I was referring to IMAX.

IMAX is about filming in IMAX cameras and using a different film print as compared to normal print and projecting them in a curved screen that gave a unique viewing experience. The initial experiment of projecting a movie was confined to museums showing natural documentaries as the proposition was simple and less expensive. In 90’s it started licensing its technology to its theatres. This meant an investment of around $ 5million to create space for projection and cost of projector (as normal projector can’t process IMAX format). This was seen as expensive given that the movie industry was seen as sinking. Further, in the pre-digital era, IMAX version of the film print was $30,000 as compared to $1,000 for a normal print. An IMAX print was bulky and it needed extra efforts to lift to the projection room. All these factors made things difficult for IMAX. IMAX also tried producing their own movie using IMAX cameras but the venture was not that successful. Although, everyone acknowledged that IMAX experience was much better than normal theatre experience, the cost and the effort was not worth it even though the initial investment got reduced from $5 million to $1.2 million.

In early 2000, the company took the strategy of installing IMAX projection free of cost and let the theatres deal with the cost of renovating the space (which was roughly 10% of initial investment). In return, IMAX received 12.5% as revenue share for providing the projectors. The theatres could charge at least 20% more on IMAX format of the movie. Further, another technology breakthrough of converting existing movies to IMAX format helped them to make a dent in their market share. But these were not sufficient reason for them to celebrate as their main goal was changing the way Hollywood was producing pictures using IMAX technology and giving differential experience.

They continued to struggle as there were still not enough believers in investing in IMAX. Changing the Hollywood way of doing business over 100 years was another barrier. No bankers came forward to give them line of credit and shares were traded at paltry 55 cents and effort for LBO failed miserably. Mid 2000 was sternest test for IMAX leadership in keeping the morale and motivation of their employees high.

In 2006 another technology breakthrough of replacing their projectors with a plug and play hard drives (costing $150) helped them install in more theatres. In the next few years network of IMAX screens grew from some 350 to 700.

Eventually, their perseverance and new business model of revenue share ( 20% to IMAX) paid off in 2009 with the release of Avatar in IMAX screens. IMAX made $250 million dollar in revenue. It was a win-win situation as theatres could charge premium on tickets for IMAX version and shared portion of that to IMAX. Currently IMAX is adding some 100-150 screens every year and has penetrated various geographies.

Today the stock price is hovering around $30 per share ( as compared to 55 cents few years ago) You can make an impactful change in the industry you are operating with and its reported revenue is close to $300 million in 2014.

You can make impactful change in the industry you are operating by remaining flexible on your business model and keep innovating. The company took several wrong turns before navigating into the right path. So my recommendation is to keep plan B and C handy to change over quickly

By the way, today in a normal theatre a movie ticket would cost you RS 100( $1.40 cents) and IMAX Rs 250 ( $4) and bottle of coke costs approx. Rs 12 (20 cents) for 200 ml. Coke price increased by 60% over three decades whereas movie tickets increased three fold( all in dollar terms) Who would have predicted this two decades ago.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world” – Norman Vincent Peale

I promise that I will write more frequently in 2015 as compared to 2014. With that promise I bid good bye with my usual signature “Life is Good”.

PS: IMAX is thinking of coming out with affordable home theatre. Will this create an impact on the theatres? Take a guess.

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0614

What is Design thinking?

In my last blog I talked about Design thinking and I promised more on this subject. When I was growing, my parents wanted me to develop the habit of saving by asking me to put coins or notes in a small earthen pot with a hole. Whenever we get money by way of pocket money or gifts from relatives and friends, we were encouraged to put money into the earthen pot (which is called Piggy bank in the Western world – it has nothing to do with the animal Pig although it is shaped like pig as etymologically it also means earthenware). The Piggy bank was a great tool to save as people used it in different way viz put money daily or put in leftover change after shopping, etc. However, when the technology advanced to plastic money the concept of Piggy bank slowly started disappearing. The question is how do we bring the Piggy bank concept to the modern world. How do we create the technology to support an observed behaviour or habit? One of the Banks extended this concept in their debit card account. The customers who use their debit cards to make purchases can choose to have the total rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference deposited in their savings account. This was the birth of electronic piggy bank. Few others leveraged this idea to promote donation by asking to round off the dollar to a charitable fund or trust. The key to the concept is that innovation or creativity is powered by a good understanding of what people want through direct observation. Now having grounded you with the concept, here is a test for my readers. Go through my experiences and suggest a good design to improve services in restaurants.

Show me the way!

Scene 1: On 18 th September, 2014, I missed my early morning flight from Toronto to Newark and had to spend more time in the Airport until my next flight could depart. I walked past the waiting area and was heading towards a small coffee shop and observed tables with Ipads. I assumed that these were kept for people to browse internet and check their e-mails. My immediate thought was centered on the technology progress we had made moving away from desktop browsing to Ipad browsing in public place. I needed a shot of caffeine to boost my thought process and so I approached the coffee shop and asked for a cappuccino. Lo and behold, what the person on the counter mentioned was a pleasant surprise. He pointed to the seating area and said you can place the order through Ipads, which were placed in each of the tables. Next to the Ipads were credit card swiping machine (which I failed to notice earlier) to facilitate payments. I quickly ordered a Cappuccino and used my credit card to pay for the transaction and within three minutes one of the staff served me what I ordered.

Scene 2: On 27 th September, 2008, during my visit to Jakarta, my close friend Shahul Hameed invited me to have dinner with his family at Saravana Bhavan (not sure if this is owned by the Chennai chain). What impressed me in the restaurant was that the waiters had a PDA in their hands and were taking order and relaying the information to the kitchen. Once we finished dinner, the payment was also done through the PDA.

Scene 3: It was 4 th September, 2010, and I was treating my wife to an anniversary dinner at a Bangalore restaurant which is reputed for its good food. We were seated in a comfortable table but it took a while for someone to show up and take our order. Any wait is frustrating these days and I was telling my wife about an idea which occurred at that moment. Instead of sending someone to take an order, I quipped that a device in the table should take the order and convey to the kitchen. This was really not a novel idea as it was a modified version of what I saw in 2008 in Jakarta. I did not think this would be a reality until I experienced it in Toronto airport.

Scene 4:On 2 nd September, 2014, I went to Mas Malo at LA for lunch with my wife and a beautiful lady walked towards our table and gave us a Menu card and was guiding us in navigating through the dishes in a pleasant manner. It took me a while for me to believe that she was a waitress employed by the restaurant. I whispered to my wife “why is she here? She should be a model or actress”. Of course, my wife had a typical reaction like any wife would do which is to focus my attention on food and not on the bearer of the food. However, my earlier thought of having a device in each table disappeared quickly and immediately concluded that it was a stupid idea. Really.

If you have to design a service model for restaurants, what would be your design? My answer will be posted in my next blog with more emphasis on further design thinking. Please do respond with your answers.

Minds are like parachutes they only function when open. With those thoughts I sign off with my usual signature “Life is Beautiful”

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0514

Everything has changed, is changing, and will continue to change ?

Lot of people would have seen the change “Uber” has brought to ground transportation. The idea was conceived by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick in 2009 and implemented in Los Angles around 2010. In four years the company has operations in 45 countries and is valued at $15 billion. Travis wanted to ride in style which resulted in the realization of this concept. I can very well relate to this as recently, I was waiting with my wife outside one of the fancy restaurants in LA and a stylish black car pulled to the kerb side to pick us up. Not sure how many people, witnessing this were aware that it was a car I booked through Uber.

The concept is very simple. One pre requisite is that both driver and customer need to download “Uber” app which is an enabling technology. If you have a decent car, you can register yourself as a service provider with Uber. Uber will send you a message as and when the demand arises in your vicinity and you can accept that offer. As a customer or user you need to register yourself by securing your credit card information. If your car is travelling beyond 18 per hour then you are charged on distance but when the speed drops below that you are charged on time meter. It is very convenient and cheaper. I have become a fan of Uber and have started using this for my office airport pick up and drop in NJ. The cost of travel to Newark airport works out to $35 whereas with toll and tip, a normal cab used to cost me ( my firm) something like $55-60. You need not tip the driver and they encourage cash less transaction. However, once the trip is completed you have the opportunity to rate the driver. The driver’s continuance with Uber is dependent on their rating.

When I use Uber, I often engage in conversation with the driver as they appear professional and knowledgeable ( maybe I am profiling here). One of the drivers gave me useful information that even the customers are rated by the drivers. On probing further, he said the drivers usually rate the customers based on their conduct and their friendliness. Another fact I was made aware was that if a customer keeps ordering and cancelling, their rating goes down. I asked him what the relevance of customer rating is. He replied that if a customer had low rating, then not many drivers would come forward to pick them. This was useful information. My behaviour with Uber changed significantly thereafter. Once I order Uber, I will call them greet them and give them the exact location so that they don’t have to search. Why do I do this? To get a good rating and be eligible for further usage and saving cost for myself and the firm. A great example of how behaviour changes once you know that you are being measured.

Food for thought: How about asking all your direct reportees to rate you as a boss and see the true meaning of “Servant Leadership”
The reason I am so fascinated by this concept is because it generates employment, brings structural changes to ground transportation and is a great example of how ‘crowd sourcing’ can be executed. Imagine we had similar apps for many of our needs such as cooking. You want to throw a barbecue party, search which chef is available, see his/her rating, costs and request their services at short notice. This concept is a great boon for all free lancers in whichever areas of expertise they practice.
I certainly see a big transformation ahead of us based on this concept. Do you see as well?

Design is closed, Long live the Design !

I am currently in a project where the Project leadership declared that the ‘Design is Closed’ which kept me wondering is Design, as a term not future continuous? How can you ever close a design? You can stage or pause it for its realization but Design can never be closed. I am great believer in continuous “Design Thinking”. One of the definition that caught my attention which I quote “Design thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art structure and chaos intuition and logic concept and execution playfulness and formality and control and empowerment.”
It is not an experiment it encourages us to experiment. An organization that promotes ‘Design thinking” will always be ahead of the competition and one that maintains status quo will perish soon.
I used to be proud of my typing skills using a qwerty key board either in desktop or laptop with advent of tablets and Phablets, I have to unlearn and relearn my typing skills. What was the core strength yesterday could be your weakness today and therefore, every organization and individual need to reinvent themselves constantly. This is where the tool of design thinking comes handy. Expect more on the topic of ‘Design thinking’ in my future blogs.

When you buy a product what do you look at? I am sure you look at the functionality and configuration of the product but more importantly you buy because of the manufacturer and associated quality that comes with the brand. People decide to buy Nikon or Cannon camera because they have confidence in the brand creators. But we don’t use the same yard stick when we evaluate our potential. God or the creator has created man who in turn created or innovated beautiful things in this world. So how can we not trust the creator of creators of these products. So have trust in the creator. God has not created you to do ordinary things in life. If Pawn in chess can invoke a powerful queen, I am sure you can unleash your potential. With those thoughts I sign off with my usual signature “Life is Beautiful”
PS: I forgot to tell you that whatever savings I achieved by using Uber was treated as allocable surplus by my wife towards shopping. Can I ever complain?

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0414

Is India Inc finally getting out of family (sic) politics ?
My last blog was one of my rare political blog and was thrilled with some of my desires coming true. So I thought of venturing into writing my second political blog and wanted to see the outcome. When this blog hits the web, India would be ready to embrace a new PM and refreshingly the country has a given their mandate to one single party. This has not happened in the past two decades as the outcome in previous elections was either fractured majority or coalition comprised with vested interest of regional parties.
Another outcome of the election is that political parties ruled by the family has been heavily punished. Nationwide congress party controlled by Gandhi family (mother and son) had to bite the dust. In other states viz Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, three different political parties controlled by father and son combination have been decimated. This is no coincidence and do not treat this as noise but certainly a signal. Unfortunately, the parties have not learnt from it as no heads have rolled nor the families have taken responsibility for their defeats. Does this surprise anyone?
My unsolicited advice to Congress party and other parties controlled by family: Wake up! The writing is on the wall. I suggest that the family members resign from their party posts and let the party be taken over by efficient talent. This election has clearly taught the political parties one lesson which is ‘reward for performance’. Mr Modi, who led the campaign of BJP was rewarded for good governance in Gujarat.
Some initial indication leads me to believe that Modi is going to perform. He clearly sent a message in his acceptance speech by asking his party men to focus on serving the nation rather than positions. His emotional speech was pointer that he will empathize with poor people and take appropriate actions to lift their lives. He did surprise many people by inviting heads of state of all neighbouring countries including Pakistan. He did not worry about opposition from his own alliance partner for inviting Srilankan Prime Minister. In fact his invitation to Sri Lanka’s PM resulted in counter good gesture from Sri Lanka of freeing of few hundreds of Tamil fisherman. Like a typical corporate CEO, he has asked all the cabinet secretaries to give a presentation about their vision for the next five years. If this trend continues, he will surely create a reputation of zero tolerance for nonsense and reward for performance.
Mr Modi if would benefit from roping in Dr Manmohan Singh as one of economic advisor as I feel that this man has lot to offer and Congress Party made him ineffective. I still can’t forget how he turned around the financials of the country between 1991 and 1995. He deserves some respect and dignity.

Lastly, one advise on the newly formed AAP (common man party), who failed miserably in the election, please use this as a learning lessons and build the trust of people. Please do not indulge in dramatics and antics as these neither help you to build trust or win elections. Take the first opportunity to guide your leader to refrain from such antics. Yes I am referring to his recent act of not providing bail on defamation case (bail amount $150) and volunteering to go to jail. Indians will appreciate you going to jail for a good cause such as fighting against corruption but not when you call someone a thief and fail to provide adequate proof.
Enough of politics and let me switch to other things as I promise not to write on politics for an undefined period of time.
How silly is your idea?
Benjamin Franklin said ‘I have not failed I’ve had 10,000 ideas that did not work.’ Thomas Edison said ‘Of the 200 bulbs that did not work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.’ Be bold in your ideas and remove your mental blocks. Here is the test for you all. Come up with a name for a new wine that will be launched in the market next week. Stop here and take a moment to come up with the name you believe will be a top seller.
Start being wrong and then you will realize that anything is possible. The common mistake people is that they want their idea to be accepted at the first go. There is often a fear of failure while articulating an idea but the success of idea getting realized is in the belief that you are not trying to be perfect or infallible.
By the way “Fat bastard” Chardonnay is the name of the wine which became famous in just six years. Did you measure up with this silly name? I rest my case here.
If you are fired from your job, do not worry as these are seen as sign of initiative these days. Getting fired often means that you at odds (due to your action) with your company. I know a person who got fired three times and every time there was a progress in his career. So give yourself a spin and re-launch your career. With those fearless thoughts, I bid you good bye saying “life is beautiful”.

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0314

India waiting to be led.

When this blog hits the web, India would have almost finished their 8 phase election spanning over a month. I was not physically close to what happened as I was mostly living outside of India. However, I followed the news through NDTV and Times Now so that I get different perspectives. One thing was clear that it was a fiercely fought battle with lots of accusations and counter accusations. Politicians were slandering and sledging each other which is unfortunate and could have been avoided. India is the largest democracy but not necessarily a very healthy democracy for various reasons.

  • One of the largest party which ruled majority of the years is dependent on leadership from one family.
  • One of the key opposition parties was banking on Charisma of one person instead of exhibiting pool of leadership talent they possess.
  • The number of regional parties that has emerged over the last two decades is not healthy as it stifles growth and liberalization. No economist would disagree with me that coalition government in Indian context has limitation as regional, religious and caste politics takes precedence over national interests
  • Lastly any new party which throws their hat quickly gets house trained and changes its color within days (yes I am referring to AAP party) – They lost a great opportunity to stand out.

I never state a problem without a solution. Here is my very simple model.

Political reforms:

  • One of the key changes that needs to be carried out is that, only parties with more than 20% seats in the parliament should be represented for national politics. Any party winning less than that should surrender their seats to other parties in proportion of % votes gained. Regional parties can fight state election but need 20% seats in the national assembly to be recognized as national party.
  • Ban politics based on religion (which is dividing the nation) and encourage inclusiveness of all religion. No religion will be treated as minority in the new world as it is a personal preference of an individual. Discourage or ban support institution such as hospitals, universities, schools which has religion bias.

Socio-Economic reforms

  • We are well past 67 th year of independence and for historical reasons we had reservation based on caste. Change that with immediate effect and provide infrastructure and support structure for economically backward people and their regions.

Environment reform

In the recent UN report there was a forecast that India will go to war due to climate change. Asia is facing the brunt of climate change and will see severe stress on water resources and food-grain production in the future, increasing the risk of armed conflict among India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.. The report also predicts an increase in extreme weather events, such as last year’s flash floods in Uttarakhand and cyclone Phailin in Odisha, if steps are not taken to control the rise in temperature.

  • Take immediate steps as a national priority to unify all the major rivers in addition to other environmental initiatives.

To me these reforms are precondition and necessary to any good economic model. If we miss these basics, we will continue in our status quo and see history repeating itself.

You must be wondering why I did not touch upon corruption. One of the main causes of rampant corruption is weak government (pulled in different direction by regional parties) and dominance of power by single person. I still believe that Dr Manmohan Singh with executive power backed up by majority would have far better results than what we witnessed.

It was one MK who dreamt of Independence and led the nation in their fight of independence. Here is another MK (nowhere near the calibre of the great man) having a dream for India. Will the nation deliver? Time will say.

Poll prediction and exit polls- Lies, damn lies and poll predictions.

Staying with Indian politics, I was fascinated to see how much importance is paid to these. If any of the poll prediction comes true in Indian context, it is just a coincidence. I fully understand the science, art and algorithms of prediction but fail to understand how much importance it assumes in election prediction. By the way I love the book ‘the signal and the noise ‘written by Nate Silver (became famous through accurate prediction of US election). Any forecast such as weather, currency, stocks have a purpose as it is supposed to serve as input for people to take appropriate action. What am I supposed to do with poll prediction? Go along with the prediction when I vote. How does this help political parties who develop blind spots by believing that they would win the election anyway? What do I do with exit polls when the actual results will be known soon? Why am I against poll prediction and exit polls?

When voting ‘predictability irrationality syndrome” kicks in. Couple of examples: One of my near and dear one was in favour of voting for a national party and was totally against AAP (new kid on the block) but on the day of the election, voted for AAP because the candidate was good. Another friend of mine kept criticizing Congress on corruption but on the day of election voted for congress as it is a secular party. We do not know how our mind will think at the time of pressing the button. Sometimes voting happens by human instincts or peer pressure or other loyalties.

I can boldly predict now that none of the pre poll or exit polls will be accurate and if they are found accurate, it will be by sheer coincidence. It will be funny to see how various channels will defend their prediction with such terminology such as ‘last minute swing’, increased % of votes polled’orregional polarity.

I guess the media is playing with people psychology of wanting to know the unknown. Here is another channel doing its bit. I was also greatly inspired by CNN with their coverage on MH 370 wanting to know the unknown and hats off to them for their perseverance. Even yesterday there was coverage on MH 370 for couple of hours.

This is one of my rare political blog but like any other media I wanted higher TRP staying with current topic. I bid you good bye saying “you don’t have to be creative to be creative” and of course “life is beautiful”. By the way my next topic is “ how good you want to be”.

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0214- “In God we trust. All others must bring data”

If you are reading my blog for the first time, please read my previous ( MELT 0114) blog to get the context and continuity. Let me start my blog with a famous quote “In God we trust. All others must bring data”
Elementary Mr Suresh your topic for next blog is “Big Data” This was the answer I was expecting. Unfortunately no one really predicted this although some were close but not on target (sic).

We did not target your daughter but future moms
Last week I wrote about how a father got upset on Target for sending e-mail promotion for baby cloths to his 16-year-old daughter. “The father visited the store again within a week and met the manager. Here is what transpired
“I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of.” He took a deep breath. “She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
In some 600 hospitals across the United States, new mothers get gifts from the various companies. Those companies have started a separate division to focus on parents of infants. Procter & Gamble sends gifts to new moms at the hospitals where they deliver the child.
Target thought it was too late to approach in the maternity ward and wanted to predict future moms through their buying patterns. They asked Andrew Pole, a data expert to develop pregnancy prediction algorithms based on certain trends such as buying lotions, unscented soaps, vitamins etc.
Here is the sample of what those analytics did based on buying patterns
Jenny Ward, a twenty-three-year-old bought cocoa butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc, magnesium, and a bright blue rug? The tool predicted that there is 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. Liz Alter, a thirty-five-year-old who purchased five packs of wash cloths, a bottle of “sensitive skin” laundry detergent, baggy jeans, vitamins containing DHA, and a slew of moisturizers? She’s got a 96 percent chance of pregnancy, and she’ll probably give birth in early May. Caitlin Pike, a thirty-nine-year-old in San Francisco who purchased a $ 250 stroller, but nothing else? She’s probably buying for a friend’s baby shower. Besides, her demographic data shows she got divorced two years ago. Amazing isn’t it?
Who is the big brother of the modern world?
We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used. The immense volume, diversity, velocity, and potential value of data will have profound implications on privacy, the economy, public policy and corporate strategies.
Government collects data for various reasons and so do corporates for improving their market share and profits. Social network collect data to attract advertisements. Imagine the implication where are all data are combined to start predicting and tracking your behavior. This is the big brother of modern world- BIG DATA.

Big Data- What is it
We have been using Data for analytics since ages immemorial so my readers must be wondering what the hype all about is. In the last five decades data have been used for decision making in various terms such as decision support, executive support, online analytical processing, business intelligence and analytics. Typical characteristics of data analytics in the past have been based on sampling, trends and/ or structured data (most often static). Inability to process data faster and judicious allocation of budgets for analytics were limiting factor in leaping to “Big Data” world. . We often heard “Data Costs Money”.
Netflix, Amazon, Google and others have proved through robust analytics that Data costs money but also could make tons of money. Target retail chain in this blog is a classic example of using data to enhance sales and market share. Amazon tries to predict your next purchase based on your shopping history, and gives their recommendation. They are using data although voluminous but mostly generated internally. This is where the shift is happening.
Big Data is much more than this. Typical characteristics of big data are as follows:
1. Large volumes, unstructured, continuous and in multiple formats (texts, pictures, voice)
2. Move away from sample and use whole (all) Data
3. Accept messiness for the reasons mentioned in one and two above
4. More importantly to accept correlation
5. Multiple location of data
Big data comprise of 100 terabytes to petabytes as compared to few terabytes or less in traditional analytics. To give you a feel, if we have to store 100 terabytes in any digital format, it will occupy every inch of the tallest building in the world (somebody prove me wrong here).

What will you do with the big data ? Torture the data until they confess
Ronald Coase said” If you torture the data long enough, it will confess”
An abortion lead to drop in crime rate was the conclusion drawn by the authors of Freakonomics but by a sheer coincidence and not by structured correlation. Now through Big Data we have a tool and methodology to look for other correlation for example drop in prices of condoms or arrival of new birth control pills.
We are living in age of data abundance and business leaders are ready to exploit this abundance and bring transformational change in the way we do business.
Some provocative thought on how data could transform some business
1. Auditing: No more statistical sampling. Audit the whole data as it only takes a fraction of time to process data and throw the deviations. Will auditors be responsible to report on frauds?
2. Human: Resourcing: Use intranet social network (surf through chatting trends) to formulate teams and determine effectiveness of collaboration
3. IT: Instead of reacting to hacking or security breaches how about predicting and preventing it.

What is your new career?
Leaders who took decision on hunch (due to lack of robust analytics) can now dump those hunches and rely on Big Data. What skills they need to develop? Correlate unrelated events as in the future as there are no casual occurrences. As I write this blog, MH 370 disappearance has shaken the world and this can’t be treated as casual or one off occurrence. Big Data is certainly going to take over aviation and military space (countries will now be more willing to share data in this regard to prevent such happening).
If you are young and want to build career, think about learning machine language ( Coursera offers some good on line course for free). As someone said ‘Data Scientist” will be the sexiest job of the future.

One blog is not sufficient to write on Big Data and I will be writing more on this and hence watch out in this space. I bid you good bye saying “Data is always predictive” and of course “life is beautiful”.

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0114

Here is the challenge for my readers. Kindly connect the dots between various unrelated events listed below and predict the subject of my next blog. Wear your Sherlock Holmes hat and tell me Elementary Mr Suresh your topic for next blog is ……..

Whatever your answer might be one thing is certain that my topic of the next blog has transformational impact. Is it a clue? You may think so.

Why are you targeting my daughter ?

It was business as usual in a large retail store in Minnesota and suddenly an angry man stormed into the store and wanted to see the manager. Seeing the mood of the visitor, the staff hurried him to fulfill his desire to meet the manager. As he entered the manager’s office the visitor raised his voice and thundered “My daughter got this in the e-mail. She is still in high school and you are sending coupons for baby clothes and cribs. Are you encouraging her to get pregnant?

The manager looked at the e-mail and was perplexed and was wondering how this could have happened and made a mental note to discuss with the IT folks. He then turned towards the angry father and apologized profusely and promised that these type of mistakes will never happen again.

The father still in his angry tone quipped “you may be big target store but don’t target my daughter” ( wow what a pun) and walked away.

The father visited the store again within a week and met the manager. Guess the conversation that transpired after a week.

1948 returns but is not 1984 but 2014

It was cool morning in October 1984 I was reading George Orwell novel 1984 and suddenly my father walked into my reading room and seeing 1984 book in my hand made a sarcastic observation” I never knew that 1984 was part of your syllabus for Auditing exams” and walked away. Yes I had my Chartered Accountancy final exams scheduled the next day.

I sheepishly kept the book aside and switched to Spicer and Pegler’s Practical auditing. But my thoughts were around big brother a symbolic character in the book. Is my father a big brother? Is he monitoring all my actions?

For the benefit of people who have not heard about 1984, here is the gist about the book:

The book was written in 1948 , the year that gives the book its title was still almost 40 years in the future. Some of the things Orwell imagined that would come to pass were the telescreen, a TV that observes those who are watching it, and a world consisting of three megastates rather than hundreds of countries. In the novel, the country of Eastasia apparently consists of China and its satellite nations Eurasia is the Soviet Union and Oceania comprises the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies.

Winston Smith , character in the novel wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. These criminal deeds bring Winston into the eye of the opposition, who then must reform the nonconformist. George Orwell’s 1984 introduced the watchwords for life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.”

Who is the big brother of the modern world? Keep thinking!

The tip: Abortions leads to drop in crime rate so does broken window.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping point” discusses the incredible transformation of New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s from a crime and drug ridden city to a modern, relatively safe metropolis. While crime rates went down nationwide, New York saw a massive reduction in crime. He eventually proposes that the cause was a new policy that was adapted by the administration called “The Broken Windows Theory“. It goes something along these lines: A single broken windows can have a far greater influence than one may realise. It can spread a certain attitude and create assumptions that it’s acceptable to behave in a certain way or, in other words, “ maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime. By the way the Broken Window theory was initially formulated in 1982 by James Q Wilson and George L Kelling.

No one predicted it. Everyone thought that high crime rates were a permanent feature of urban life. And the standard arguments to explain why crime falls don’t seem to work in this case. Levitt and Dubner ( author of Freakonomics) went through all the usual explanations for crime decreases—a booming economy, decline in the crack trade, innovative policing strategies, tougher gun laws, aging of the population—and find only two that they think really matter. Putting more police on the street and number of young men put away in prison in that same period. But neither of those two factors were sufficient to explain the full magnitude of the crime drop. There has to be something else—and their candidate for the missing explanation is the legalization of abortion.

People undergo abortions, in other words, for a reason: because they are poor, or don’t want a child, or live in an environment where it is hard to raise children. An unwanted child has a higher chance, when he or she grows up, of becoming a criminal. By removing a large number of unwanted children, legalized abortion ended up lowering the crime rate

So be the jury and decide whether it was Broken Window theory or Abortion the reason for decline in crime rate in New York back in 1990.

Performance Report or Minority Report ( this event has not happened but may happen)

John walks to Jim’s work place and stood behind as he continue to work without acknowledging any human presence. John taps Jim’s shoulder which evokes a freezing reaction as he did not expect John to show up at his work place. John says “congratulations Jim you are rated 5 for the performance year 2016”

Jim mumbled to John “ Sir we are still 2014 and how can you give performance rating for 2016? “John replies that “we went through your past performance and have come to this conclusion based on your potential”. John prophesized “you will execute transformation program in Japan successfully in 2016”. In his bubbling voice said “Good stuff son” and he moved on. Jim was still in shock and was wondering could this be real. This is something similar to “Minority Report” where some is arrested before a crime is committed.

Now readers connect or correlate these events and predict my next topic of my Blog. If you have time try reading the book “Black Swan”

Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom- General George S Patton. With those inspiring thoughts I bid you good bye. As always “life is beautiful”.

Feminist Movement: Overview

The feminist movement is also called the Women’s liberation movement which sought to deal and tackle with issues such as abortion, maternity leave, harassment and violence against women, domestic violence, genital mutilation of females, honour killings, etc. Scholars and academic have divided feminist movements into three waves, which have dealt with several aspects of feminism but in a different way. The first wave feminist had initiated between the nineteen and twentieth centuries and it was mainly concerned with Suffrage movement. The second wave of feminism was the period between sixties and eighties in which feminists sought to deal with discrimination against women in society and law. It had the basic ideas of first wave feminism. The basic idea behind these movements was to struggle and to improve the conditions of women. According to researchers, feminism is defined as the continuous battle against the oppression and suppression of females. It was essential to initiate the feminist movement because women were subjugated at all levels in the Western society. The feminist movement aimed at removing this bias and concentrated on removing sexism from society so that women would also get a chance to develop their careers. It is one of the most influential and long lasting social movements which have influenced women in all spheres of life.


Ager,D., (1986) “Help levels in CALL materials ” in Cameron, K. C. Dodd, W.S. and Rahtz, S.P.Q. Computers and Modern Language Studies Ellis Horwood Ltd.

Ahmad, K., Greville, C., Rogers. M., & Sussex R., 1985.Computers, Language Learning and Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP.

Geoffrion, Leo D & Olga P. Geoffrion. 1999: Supporting Learning and Teaching. London: David Fulton Publishers.

Goodwyn Andrew & Jane Branson. 2005., Teaching English: a Handbook for Primary and Secondary School Teachers. New York: Routledge Company.

Kenning and Kenning (1983:2) An introduction to Computer Assisted Language Teaching Cambridge: CUP.

Kumar Swapna & Maija Tammelin, (2008). Integrating ICT into Language Learning and Teaching: Guide for Instituiton. New Delhi: ODLAC Press.

Levy, M., (2003) Using ICT in Learning and Teaching: How Good is Our School?. London: Clarendon Paperbacks.

Phillips, M., (1986). “CALL in its educational context”. In Geoffrey Leech & Christopher N. Candlin (eds), Computers in English Language Teaching and Research, London: Longman.

Taylor, R. P., (1980) (ed.), The Computer in the School: Tutor, Tool ,Tutee, Teacher’s College, Collumbia University (New York: Teachers College Press, New Work) .

Warschaucer, M., (1995) Using ICT to Support Students Who Have English as an Additional Language: General Guide for a Teacher Illinois: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wyatt, D. H.,(ed), (1984). Computer Assisted Language Instruction .Oxford: Pergamon

The Use of Computer in learning a Foreign Language

The use of computer in learning a Foreign Language

What advantages and disadvantages?

Tri Ilma Septiana

The advent of new technologies in learning process is always exciting. They add new dimensions to the class and spark students to higher level of motivation and achievement. CALL gives some impetus both to the teacher and to the student. For the former, it makes the course design easier, and for the latter it creates numerous possibilities for active interaction, and offers larger horizons for him or her to be directly involved in new concepts and way of thinking. Davey, Jones and Fox (1995) postulate that computers (multimedia) have great potential as state of the art technology for language learning. They found that their project, Computer Assisted Language Learning ‘Lingua”, could generate interaction and improve competence.

The computer has brought a revolution in education. Although it did not immediately get the right place among the language teachers, due to people’s prejudice against any technological device in education which derived from the failure of language laboratory to meet its expectation and enthusiasm when introduced in schools, finally it established itself as an important aspect in language teaching. Language teacher gradually became aware of the many ways in which the unique combination of tutorial, interactive, and visual capabilities enable computers to have a beneficial effect to learner motivation and recognized computers as a means which provided new possibilities for learning, thinking, and growing emotionally and cognitively. Davey, et al, (1995:31) stated that the inclusion of computer (multimedia) in language learning materials can transform the learning experience and enhance motivation of learner.

Balleden (1984) points out that computer technology will increasingly penetrate all areas of life, including education. Meanwhile, Madison (1983) maintains that the technology of education and the technology of communication are two sides of the same coin. The remarkable versatility of computers is the major cause for their growing popularity in schools. Unlike most machines that are capable of only a few tasks, computer can be programmed to perform a multitude of tasks and thus becomes a useful tool in the hand of teachers and learners helping them at any stage of learning process: presentation, learning, and practice including language use. Ahmat et al (1985) points out that the auxiliary role of computer in education characterizing it as a medium applied by teacher to serve him in teaching and not to replace teacher in class. This role is apparent if we analyze some acronyms such as CALL and CAI (Computer assisted Language Learning or Computer aided/assisted instruction) where the letter A stands for the words “Assisted or Aided “indicative of the role of computers as a tool.

Computer and Language Learning

Recently, developments in linguistics as well as in language teaching and learning theories and practice call for new approaches, strategies, techniques, equipment, methods and materials to facilitate learning. Learner’s reaction to computers in education appears to be generally very favorable. Part of this fascination is undoubtedly due to the appeal of the visual effects allotted by modern microcomputer systems using TV display a success. As a result of this unique combination of tutorial, interactive, and visual capabilities, computers frequently have a beneficial effect on learner’s motivation. Nelson, et al (1976) stated that the unique property of the computer as medium for education is its ability to interact with the student. Books and recordings can tell a students what the rules are and what the right solutions are, but they cannot analyze the specific mistakes the student has made and react in a manner which leads him not only correct solution.

Using the computer in the class, a teacher applies both the behaviorist and acquisition approaches to language learning. The first because historically the behaviorist approaches are based on the principle that a response, linguistic or otherwise, is a learned behavior resulting from associating that response with a given stimulus. Through positive reinforcement for incorrect behavior, these responses become over learned until they are automatic. The second because according to Krashen’s theory of second language learning and acquisition, the organizer and affective filter are central to the acquisition portion of the overall model, as they are involved in the learner’s unconscious analysis of strings of speech in the processing of speech input, the production of input, and the synthesis of new rules. (Phillips 1986).

Advantages of CALL

Ahmad et al (1985) evaluating the pedagogical contribution of computer admits that the feelings of enthusiasm and enjoyment that the learners who use CALL programs experience, create a positive attitude to the activity of learning and to the subject matters. In particularly case, the computer may act as a teacher or tutor. Providing material, guiding a students how to learn it, and giving more information and explanations. (Hartoyo, 2006).

The computer can work accurately and precisely. It does not tire, and its attention does not alter. It can repeat an activity with none of the errors which easily arise from repetition by humans. “It can handle a very large volume of interaction and can deliver to student’s feedback of some subtlety, at more frequent intervals than would be possible for a human teacher in all but individual tuition session.” (Ahmat et al 1985:4). Besides, another potentiality of the computer is its ability to create highly motivating micro worlds. Computers can create small worlds that students explore freely. For example, a student can rearrange reading topics to suit personal needs. He can even become one of the characters in a story and directly influence its outcome.

From the point of view of the teacher, the computer presents aspects of a particular promise. Prominent among these is the versatility in handling different kinds of materials. The simplest is the one way presentation of information, in the form of text, graphic, audio and video. “The computer can take the drudgery out of teaching by doing all the boring, repetitive work, leaving to the human teacher the more creative aspects of the job. The computer is an obedient beast and will readily take on the role of drudge if required to.” (Higgins & Johns 1984:9). It can keep score and display the score, records results, errors, success rates, the time spent, and much more information for the teacher to view at a later time. Thus, the teacher can examine students’ errors and scores and other information and decide about the students’ progress and the efficiency of CALL materials.

On the other side , for students the computer offers many advantages because of flexibility of time and the variety of educational courses it offers to students who may choose when and how long to spend on studying particular topics. More than this, the computer can also allow students to take courses, or parts of courses, at a distance.

Disadvantages of computers in language learning

Many experts have asserted that the computer can enhance linguistic competence but it can do nothing to develop communicative competence. However, through properly designed activities, the student can have “feeling” for how the forms of a foreign language are used in communication. This is what the project carried out at Concordia University tried to do. Its orientation was “to develop more communicative and discourse -oriented material that was the computer’s preeminent ability as an interactive partner” (Wyatt 1984: 36).

A considerable disadvantage of the use of computer in Language Learning is that it cannot-yet-operate in the same way as the human brain, taking imaginative leaps and cutting through a tangled web of argument to arrive at new insights. Underwood (1984:45 ) adds another drawback of CALL programs when he denotes that the computer miss “anything resembling what we do when we use language, any semblance of communication, even so much as the ‘feel’ of conversation language.”

In general, reading a text, especially the long ones, on the screen is slower, more difficult and tiring. Gould and Grischowsky (1984) have shown that people read 20 – 30 % slower from low resolution screens. It may, sometimes, account for the eye irritation and pain. Moreover, if we compare between traditional books with the electronic book, the electronic book is considered to be much less handy. It is much different from traditional books that are small enough.

Islamic reading for Islamic Reader

READING: Fasting, The Fourt Pillar Of Islam (Edisi 49/ V/ Desember / 2006)

Islam has been from the beginning much more than what is usually meant by general concept “religion” Islam, meaning in Arabic submission to Allah’, is indeed at the same time a religious tradition, a civilization and a total way of life. Islam proclaims a religious faith and sets forth certain rituals, but it also prescribes patterns of order for society in such matters as family life, civil and criminal law, business, etiquette, food, dress, and even personal hygiene. For Islamic followers there are few if any aspects of individual and social life that are not considered to be expression of Islam, which is seen as a complete, complex civilization in which individuals, societies and governments should all reflect the will of Allah, the almighty God.

The prescribed Islamic practices include what so called five pillars of Islam. One of the pillars is fasting, which is our present topic. The rests are: the profession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Once each year Islam prescribes a rigorous, month-long fast during the moth of Ramadan, the ninth moth of the Islamic calendar. From sunrise to sunset, all adults Muslims whose health, permits are completely abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity. Ramadan is a time for reflection and spiritual discipline, for expressing gratitude for Allah’s guidance and atoning for past sins, for awareness of human frailty and dependence of Allah.

Concerning fasting quality, Al-Ghazaly, in his Ihya Ulum al Din (Bringing Religious Knowledge to Live), classified fasting into three grades: ordinary, special, and extra special. Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual satisfaction. Whereas special fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands, and feet – and all other organs – free from sin. Meanwhile, extra – special fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard, of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is he. This kind of highest quality of fasting is broken by thinkinjg anything other than Allah and the hereafter.

Abstain – Menahan, Menantang

Sunset – Matahari terbenam

Way of life – Filsafat hidup

Pillar of Islam – Rukun Islam

1. Is Islam similar to the general concept of religion?

2. Could you mention all of the five pillars of Islam consecutively?

3. Is the fast of Ramadan annually prescribed?

4. How long should adult Muslims abstain from food and drink during the fasting month?

5. Could you explain the Ghazalian typology of Fasting?

READING: The Great Pilgrimage to Mecca or Hajj: The Fifth Pillar of Islam (Edisi 50/VI/Januari 2007)

The last of five pillars of Islam is the great pilgrimage or hajj to the sacred monuments in and near Mecca, performed during the twelfth month, Dzual-Hijjah, of the Muslim lunar calendar. It is required of adult Muslims at least once in a lifetime if they are physically able to make the trip and can afford it. The great pilgrimage, like prayers, also requires ritual purification, symbolized by wearing of the white garments, the ihram. Men should don two seamless, white sheets. Meanwhile Women may don a long white dress and head covering or veil. Neither jewelry nor perfume is permitted sexual activity, hunting and the other bad deeds are prohibited as well.

In addition to the hajj, there is devotional ritual, the ‘umrah’, means visitation generally called the lesser pilgrimage, which we, Muslims, may perform when visiting the holy sites at other time of the years. Those who are on the hajj often perform the ‘umrah rituals before, during, or, after the hajj. However, performance of the’umrah’ only does not replace the hajj obligation.

Islamic law or Islamic jurisprudence stipulates three methods of performing the hajj ceremonies: a) ifrad, means one by one, a preferred method, completing the hajj ceremonies first and then the ‘umrah ones b) tamattu’, means enjoyment, performing the ‘umrah first and then breaking the state of ritual purity or sanctification to enjoy the pleasures of Mecca for a few days before resuming the ihram for the hajj and c) qiran, means conjunction, beginning the ‘umrah and the hajj, and the completing both at the same time.

The focus of the great pilgrimage is the Ka’bah, the cube-shaped house of Allah, in which the sacred black stone is embedded. The Ka’bah was originally built by the prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. The black stone was given to Ibrahim by the angel Gabriel and thus is a symbol of Allah’s covenant with Ismail and, by extension, the Muslim community in general.

Can afford – Mampu (secara finansial)

Black stone – Hajar aswad (batu hitam)

1. When is the great pilgrimage performed by the Islamic followers?

2. How many times should a Muslim perform the pilgrimage?

3. Mention the three alternatives of doing hajj according the text?

4. Who were the early builders of Ka’bah?

5. What Is the meaning of ‘the cube-shaped House of Allah?

READING: The Essence of Hijrah (Edisi 51 /VI/ Februari 2007)

Hijrah, as Ismail Raji al-Faruqi explains in his the Hijrah: The Necessity of its iqamat or Vergenwartigug (1981), literally means “emigration,” or self-separation from one’s fellow or country. Technically, i.e., as an Islamic term, it means the departure of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.From Makkah al-Mukarramah to Yathrib, from that time to be known as Madinat al-Nabiyy or Madinah al Munnawwarah, and his arrival there on September 24, 622 A.C. under the Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn Khattab, the Hijrah – in the technical sense was resolved to be the most crucial event in the history of Islam and its date was declared the beginning of Islamic history.

Hijrah is indeed not restricted to those historical events to which it applies both a linguistic and as technical terms. The term has acquired several figurative meanings having religious and moral content. The holy Qur’an has used conjugations of the term Hijrah in the command to avoid evil, to turn away from the disobedient wife, to lend no ear to and hence, to flout the Qur’an, to leave the unbelieving parent with becoming dignity and decorum rather than offence, to return to Allah in expectation of receiving His guidance, to leave one’s place or condition for sake Allah. All these are new meanings invested to the root term of ‘h-j-r’ and its derivatives by Islam. In Muslim minds, thus, the eticoreligious meanings have overshadowed the linguistic lateral meaning of the verb ‘hajara’, to emigrate.

Hijrah became the greatest religious exercises, namely, forsake the piety pursuits of this world for disciplines of piety, the commitment one’s energies to self-purification and ennoblement, to the study of the science of the faith, to a life of service to Allah, knowledge and mankind. In any one of these meanings, one chould ‘hijrah’ or ‘emigrate’ without ever leaving his own house.

For the sake of – Demi untuk Allah

Peace be upon him (P.B.U.H) – Shallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam’ (SAW)

1. What is the technical meaning of hijrah?

2. When did the Prophet Muhammad pbuh arrieve at Madinah al Munawarah?

3. Could you give one or figurative meaning of hijrah?

4. Does one have to leave his/her own village to do hijrah?

5. What is the Arabic root of hijrah?

READING: The Witness to Faith: The First Pillar of Islam (Edisi 52/VI/Maret 2007)

The witness to faith or profession pf faith, which is generally called in Arabic Shahada and in Indonesian language Kalimat Syhadat, consists of pronouncing the two phrases “There is no god but Allah” and “Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Reciting this simple statement in Arabic constitutes the beginning and essence of being Muslim. The theologian al-baghadi(d.1037), however, states that the person who utters the Shahada (confession) must know the meaning and the truth of statement and must repeat it out of understanding and with heartfelt sincerity. The Shahada is repeated as part of the Muslim prayers, and thus gains more of a sense of being an oft-repeated ritual than simply a once in a lifetime statement.

The term in the Shahada translated above as ‘God’ is Allah, The Arabic proper name of God used by Muslims. This name probably comes from al-ilah, ’the god’ the common Arabic noun for deity, with definite article the. The first Shahhada phrase ‘la ilaha illallah’ affirms Islam’s absolute monotheism, an unshakeable and uncompromising faith in the oneness (tawhid) of God. As such, also serves as a reminder to the faithful that polytheism, the association of anything else with divinity, is forbidden and is the one unforgivable sin.

The second Shahada phrase ‘Muhammadar-rasulullah’ is the affirmation that Muhammad as the messenger of Allah, the last and final prophet, who serves as a model for the Muslims community. Molding individuals into an Islamic society requires activities that recall, reinforce, and realize the word of God and the example of the prophet.

I short, belief in the one God and acceptance of His word as revealed to Muhammad p.b.u.h. requires acceptance of the body of duties and obligations recorded in that message. These duties are both spiritual and legal, both societal and devotional, regulating each individual’s relationship with God, with his fellowmen and with His other creatures. The first duty is this profession of faith.

Who says that a person who recites the Shahada should not only know its true meaning but also utter it with heartfelt sincerity?

Witness – Saksi Affirmation – Penegasan

Witness – Mempersaksikan Affirms – Menegaskan

Confession – Pengakuan Unshakeable – Tak tergoyahkan

Consist of – Terdiri atas Reminder – Pengingat

Messanger – Rasul Divinity – Tuhan

Prophet – Nabi Forbidden – Dilarang

Essence – Hakikat Unforgivable – Tak terampuni

New convert – Mualaf Sin – Dosa

Theologian – Teolog Muslim Community – Umat Muslim

Recite – Mengucapkan Word of God – Firman Tuhan

Utters – Mengucapkan Example- Contoh/Tauladan

Pronounce – Mengucapkan Recall – Mengingat

Heartfelt – Sepenuh hati Reinforce – Melaksanakan

Sincerity – ketulusan Realize – Menyadari

As well as – Dan Acceptance – Penerimaan

Deity – Tuhan Hisword – Firman-Nya

Prayer – Salat Revealed – Diwahyukan

God – Dewa Obligation – Kewajiban Good – Baik Devotional – Ibadah

Goods – Barang Creature – Makhluk

1. What does the first of the two statements of the faith confession mean?

2. What is the meaning of God in Arabic?

3. Which part of the Shahada indicates the absolute monotheism Islam?

4. Where can the duties and the obligation of Muslims be found?

5. What is the first duty of a Muslim according the above reading text?

6. What is forbidden and even considered as unforgivable sin in Islam?

7. Who does the final prophet refer to?

8. When is the Shahada always repeated by a Muslim?

PRAYER: The Second Pillar of Islam (Edisi 53/VI/April 2007)

Having proclaimed wholeheartedly that there is no god but allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, a Muslim should offer prayer (salat) five time each day. Thus the second pillar of Islam. Although times for player and ritual actions are not specified in the Qur’an, they were indeed established by the prophet Muhammad, e upon him, Shubuh is offered during day break or at dawn, dhuhur prayer is offered at noon, ashar prayer is offered at mid-afternoon, magrib prayer is offered at sunset, and ’isha prayer is offered in the evening. In line with this, we can simply namethe five prayers respectively as dawn prayer, noon prayer, mid-afternoon prayer, sunset prayer, and evening prayer. In the holy Qur’an, Allah states that “Perform regular prayers. Verily, the prayers are joined on the believers at fixed hours or times,” (QS. An-Nisa : 103). Ritually, each of his regular prayer is preceded ablution that cleanse the body (such as hands, mouth, face, ear, forehead, and feet), and spirit bestow the ritual purity necessary for divine worship.

These five prayers can be performed individually or in a group wherever they may be – in mosque, at home, at work, or even on the road. The beginning of the period for performing each of prescribed daily prayers and the time to go to the mosque on Friday prayers are announced by a public call to prayer called adhan, given by mu’adhin, ‘caller’ from the mosque minaret. The call to prayer consists of seven short statements whose English translation go as follow:

I testify that there is not god but Allah.

I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Prayer is better than sleep (this is recited for the after dawn prayer only)

“Prayer is to the believer,”according to Abdul Hasan Nadwi, “what water is to the fish.” Of course, it is unceasing shower which cleans up one bodies, hearts, and spirits from dirt, defects, and all unjust deeds. The prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. confirms this ideas by his sayings and actions according to following sound hadith:

“See you: If there is river by a house of one of you and washes himself five times a day, can anything of his dirt remain? They said: that does not leave anything of his dirt He said: That is similar to the five prayers by which Allah annuls (minor) sin.” (HN Bukhari Muslim)

The Almighty God himself in the holy Qur’an states that “…establish regular prayer: for prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds.” (QS Al Ankabut : 45)

Congregational salat – Salat jamaah

Prescribed prayer – Shalat wajib

Noon Prayer – Sholat dhuhur

Worship – Menyembah, Beribadah

Afternoon Prayer – Salat Ashar

The Assembly – Salat Jum’at

Sunset Prayer – Salat magrib

Public call to prayer – Adzan

Evening Prayer – Salat Isya

Major ablution – Mandi wajib

Salutation of peace – Salam (diakhir salat)

Preacher – Khatib, Salam (dalam salat)

Customary (vouluntary) prayer – salat sunah

Prescribed daily prayer – Salat lima waktu

Direction of prayer – Kiblat

1. How many times should a Muslim offer prayer?

2. Is ablution necessary for a Muslim before performing Friday prayer?

3. Are all the rituals of prayers described in detail in holy Qur’an?

4. How are the five prescribed prayer performed?

5. Where should any prayer be established?

6. Who announces the beginning of each prayer period?

7. What is the English Translation “hayya ‘alas-shalah!”

8. When is statement of ‘prayer is better than sleep” recited?

9. Who likens the relationship of a Muslim and prayer with that of water and dish?

10. Can you write the original partial Qur’anic verse of “prayer restrains from shameful

READING : SHARI’AH : The Path of Allah (Edisi 54/VI/Mei 2007)

Shari’ah literally means the road to a watering place, hence the path of Allah. It is the body of revealed laws primarily found both in the Holly Qur’an and in the Sunnah. The aim of the Shari’ah is to make people happier in this world and the hereafter. In line with this, a Muslim’s life is ruled in its entirely by the Shari’ah, which spells out the precise rules and regulations governing individual relations with Allah as well as with fellow Muslims and non-Muslims. Thus, it embraces ideally both the religious and non-religious activities of the Muslims. Bearing in mind the unique character of Islam as a religion and complete code of life, Shari’ah is the law according which Allah wants a Muslim to live. Shari’ah has a comprehensive public law that covers both constitution and international affairs. Likewise, it has a private law that covers both criminal and civil matters. It is fundamentally a doctrine of acts and obligation based entirely on revealed sources-namely the Holly Qur’an and the Sunnah. It has a complete way of life towards which the individual and society must strive.

The sources of Shari’ah, as generally believed, fall into two main categories: the primary sources, as already mentoned, the Holly Qur’an, and the Sunnah, about which no schools of Islam disagree upon, the secondary sources are Ijma or consensus and Ijtihad or reasoning. The primacy of the Holly Qur’an and the Sunnah, over all other sources, can be inferred, among other things,in one of the Prophet’s tradition. When Muadh Ibn Jabal was appointed as the governor and judge of Yaman, the Prophet is reported to have asked him as to how he would decide matters coming up before him. “I will judge matters according to the Book of Allah,” said Muadh. “But if the Book of Allah contains nothing to guide you?” ”Then I will act upon the precedents of the Prophet of Allah:.” “But if the precedents of the Prophet of Allah fail?” “Then I will exert to form of our own judgment.”

Since the Shari’ah is believed to be Allah’s law for the entire community, indeed for all humankind. In the final analysis Allah is sovereign ruler of the world and its sole legislator. Since the Shari’ah is concerned with what a Muslim ought to do or ought not to do, all acts are ethically categorized as: obligatory, recommended, in different or permissible, reprehensive, but not forbidden, and forbidden. To break the Shari’ah is transgression against both society and Allah a crime and a sin the guilty are subject to punishment in this world and the hereafter.

Bring in mind – Mempertimbangkan

Disagree – Tidak setuju hukum yang diwahyukan

Entirely – Secara keseluruhan

Code of life – Aturan hidup

Way of life – Filsafat hidup, cara hidup

Reprehensive nut not forbidden – Makruh

Forbidden – Dilarang, haram

Literally – Secara harfiah

Path of God – Jalan atau agama Allah

Transgression – Pelanggar, orang yang berdosa

Break the rule – Melanggar hukam, aturan

Fellow – Muslim, saudara sesama muslim

1. What is the literal meaning of Shari’ah?

2. What is the principal meaning of Shari’ah?

3. Mention one out of the two aims of the Shari’ah?

4. How should a Muslim live a life?

5. Could mention all the sources of the Shari’ah in Islam?

6. Which are the sources of the Shari’ah held by all school of Islamic law?

7. Who appointed Muadh Ibn Jabal as the governor?

8. Mention al-ahkam al-khamsah is the Shari’ah?

9. Who is the sovereign over this world?

10. Could write in Arabic the Prophet tradition mentioned in the text?

Mufassir Bahasa Inggris dan Potensi Dakwah Global (Edisi 55/VI/Juni 2007)

Oleh Ilzamudin Ma’mur

iantara cabang tafsir yang dimusabaqahkan di tingkat Privinsi Banten yang diselengarakan pada tanggal 30 April s/d 15 Mei 2007 di Serang, tafsir bahasa Arab, dan tafsir bahasa Inggris, tafsir yang diebut terakhir merupakn sub cabang tafsir yang paling belakangan diperkenalkan, yakni dalam MTQ Provinsi Banten ke III yang diselengrakan di kota Cilegon pada 12-16 Mei tahun 2004. Pada tingkat nasional tafsir al Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris bahkan baru diperkenalkan pada tahun 2006, yakni dalam MTQ ke XXI di Kendari ibu kota Provinsi Sulawesi tenggara. Ini berarti bahwa tafsir al-Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris memerlukan waktu selama selama kurang lebih 38 tahun untuk menduduki posisinya yang sekarang ini sejak MTQ Nasional pertama kalinya di Indonesia tepatnya di Makasar pada tahun 2968. Apapun alasanya, ini merupakan keputusan strategis, keputusan yang berhak dihargai dan disambut baik oleh semua pihak. Kenyataanya bahasa Inggris sekarang ini, suka tidak suka, termasuk bahasa Internasional atau bahasa global yang menurut futurolog kenamaan John Niasbiit dan Patricia Aburdence, dalam Megatrend 2000, menjadi bahasa papan atas dalam millenium ketiga, millenium yang baru kita masuki sejak beberapa tahun yang lalu.

Arti Penting Tafsir al-Qur’an Bahasa Inggris

Banyak pertimbangan yang menjadi pendorong mengapa tafsir al-Qur’an bahasa Inggris pada akhirnya dimasukan sebagai salah satu cabang yang dimusabaqahkan dalam MTQ. Diantara pertimbangan tersebut, barangkali adalah : Pertama, umat Muslim yang jumlahnya lebih dari satu miliar orang , tersebar diseluruh pelosok lima benua mulai Asia, Afrika, Amerika, Australia, hingga Eropa. Mereka memiliki budaya dan bahasa yang beragam dan bahasa yang umumnya mereka kuasai barangkali adalah bahasa Inggris. Yang pasti, dapat diestimasikan bahwa, walaupun tidaka dapat menujuk data statistik pastinya, jumlah umat Islam penutur nahasa non-Arab melampaui jumlah umat Islam penutur bahasa Arab yang pada uymumnya bermukim di nnegara-negara Arab di Timur Tengah, sehingga memerlukan bahasa yang menjembatani pemahaman terhadap isi kanandungan al-Qur’an yang berbahas Arab. Bahasa jembatan tersebut diantaranya dalam hal ini, adalah bahas Inggris.

Kedua, jumlah penutur bahasa inggris di dunia ini melampaui jumlahn pengguna bahasa-bahasa internasional lainya. Sedangkan pesan Allah yang tekandung dalam al-Qur’an harus disampaikan kepada seluruh umat manusia, baik Muslim maupun non-Muslim, terlepas apakah mereka pada akhirnya menerima atau menolak pesan tersebut. Kewajiban umat Islam adalah memperkenalkannya dengan wajahnya yang tepat dan benar.

Ketiga, di tingkat internasional ummat Islam itu sendiri mereka menggunakan bahasa Inggris dalam pertemuan-pertemuan serta konferensi-konferensi yang diselenggarakannya, sebagaimana disinyalir oleh Akbar S Ahmad, antropolog penggiat Islamisasipengetahuan yang berbasis di Inggris. Ia menyatakan bahwa ”Dalam kegiatan konferensi Islaminternasional apakah diselengarakan di Kuala Lumpur ataupun New York, bahasa utama yang digunakan adalah bahasa Inggris, Menyadari arti penting bahasa Inggris ini pula dan dalam mengurangi missunderstanding dunia terhadap konsep-konsep dasa Islam. Almarhum Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, seorang guru besar di Madison University, Amerika serikat, dan penulis Cultural Atlas of Islam bernama Lois Lamya Al-Faruqi, juga menulis buku berjudul Toward Islamic English (Menuju ke Arah Bahasa Inggris Islami).

Keempat, dalam konteks Indonesia, bahasa Inggris sejak sajak tahun 1958-an sudah diwajibkan memasukannya dalam kurikulum sebagai salah satu mata pelajaran yang harus diajarakan mulai dari sekolah tingkat menegah pertama, bahkan sekarang di tingkat sekolah dasar juga dianjurkan, hingga pendidikan tinggi. Di pesanteren-pesanteren, terutama pesanteren Khalaf atau pesantren modern, bahasa Inggris sudah sejak lama diwajibkan tidak saja mempelajarinya tetapi juga menggunakannya sabagai alat komunikasin sehari-hari berdampingan dengan bahasa arab.

Kelima, terjemahan al-Qur’an dan tafsir al-Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris baik yang konvensional maupun yanng digital sudah banyak tersedia dan dengan mudah dapat diakses di Indonesia. Misalnya, terjemhan al-Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris, diantaranya, adalah The meaning of the Glorious Koran karya Muhammad Marmaduke Pitchall The Holly Qur’an karya S.V Mir Ahmed Ali (1988). The Qur’an : Arabic Text with Corresponding English Meanings karya Team Saheeh Internasional (1997) The Holy Qur’an : Text Translation and Commentary karya Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1989) Translation of the Glorious Qur’an karya Ahmad Zidan dan Dinha Zidan (1991) The Qur’an : The First American Version karya Thomas Ballantine Irving (1986) Al-Qur’an a Contemporary Translation karya ahmad Ali 91963), Qur’an Translation: Discourse, Texture, and exegesis karya Abdur-Raof (2001). The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of Commentary karya Ghulam Farid Malik (1969) The Holy Qur’an: Arabic Text, Translation and Commentary karya Maulana Muhammad Ali (1951) The Noble Qur’an: English Translation on Meanings and Commentary karya Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali (1999) dan The Message of the Qur’an Translated and Explained, karya Muhammad As’ad (1984). Sedangkan diantara kitab-kitab tafsir dalam bahasa Inngris adalah : Abdul A’la Al Mawdudi, The Meaning of the qur’an, Vols.17 jilid (1984) syed Anwer Ali, Qur’an the Fundamental Law of Human Life, (16Jilid) Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Interpretation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur’an in the english Language, 9 jilid (1999) dan abu al-Fida ’Imad Ad-Din Ismail bin’Umar bin Kathir Al-Quraeshi, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 10 jilid (2003)

Terakhir, umat Islam Indonesia yang jumlahnya merupakan yang terbesar di dunia Muslim, dengan menguasai al-Qur’an, bahasa Arab dan bahasa Inggris sekaligus diharapkan dapat berperan lebih aktif lagi dalam pecaturan peradaban global, terutama dalam bingkai dakwah global kepada warga global dengan menggunkan bahasa global, bahasa Inggris.

Mufassir Sebagai Dai dan Mubaligh Global

Kendatipun masih terbilang baru, cabang tafsir al-Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris nampaknya semakin diminati dan mendapatkan tempat di hati para generasi muda Muslim Banten. Hal ini diindikasikan oleh terus meningkatnya jumlah peserta yang mendaftarkan diri dan mengikuti musabaqah cabang tafsir al-qur’an dalam bahasa inggris dari waktu ke waktu dalam setiap penyelengaraanya baik dalam tingkat kabupaten maupun tingkat privinsi. Misalnya, saat tafsir pertama kali diperkenalkan di MTQ ke III Provinsi Banten yang diselengarakan di kota Cilegon pada tahun 2004, peserta mufassir dan mufassirah yang tercatat hanya 12 orang, sedangkan pada MTQ ke VI Privinsi Banten yang sekarang diselenggarakan di kota Serang, peserta yang tercata tidak kurang dari 24 orang. Dengan demikian ada peningkatan sebanyak 100%. Tren peningkatan yang sama juga terjadi pada MTQ tingkat kabupaten, MTQ kabupaten serang misalnya, pada penyelenggaraan MTQ yang diselengarakan di kecamatan Cinangka pada tahun 2004, peserta kurang lebih 12 orang, sedangkan pada penyelenggaraan tahun 2007 di kecamatan serang, peserta mufassir dan mufassirah yang tercatat sebanyak 33 orang, peningkatan sebanyak lebih dari 150%. Kalau trend peningktan di kecmatan serang tersebut dapat dijadikan representasi karena Serang juga dipandang sebagai ’gudang’nya Qori dan Qari’ah, maka trend yang sama kemungkinan besar juga terjadi dalam penyelenggaraan MTQ di semua kota dan kabupaten diwilayah provinsi Banten. Suatu trend yang mengembirakan dan perlu mendpatkan perhatian, sambutan, dan dukungan serius dari semua pihak. Ini merupakan potensi luar biasa tidak saja bagi kepentinmgan pribadi para peserta yang bersangkutan, tetapi pemerintah daerah, LPTQ, Depag, dan juga bangsa Indonesia seacar keseluruhan yang sebagian besarnya juga beragama Islam.

Dengan al-Qur’an diluar kepalanya, tafsir terkuasai dalam fikiranya, kepiawaian retotika dalam bibirnya, antusiasme berdakwah yang mengelora dalam dadanya, para mufassir dan mufassirah bidang tafsir al-Qur’an dalam bahasa Inggris memiliki potensi besar sebagai dai-dai’yah dan mubaligh-mubalighah yang sangat kompeten dan mumpuni di masa depan. Mereka memiliki keistimewaan berupa kemungkinan jangkauan khlayaknya pada masyarakat global daram era globalisasi. Mereka dapat melakukan dakwah global, baik dengan lisan mupun tulisan, yang menjangkau umat Muslim dan Non-Muslim yang menggunakan bahasa Inggris sebagai native speaker, sebgai bahasa pertama, bahasa kedua, dan bahkan bahasa asing sekalipun. Mereka memiliki potensi dan peluang besar untuk dapat mengajak kepada kebaikan dan sekailgus menjelaskan dengan benar apa itu Islam dan apa maknanya menjadi Muslim. Islam seperti tersirat dalam namanya adalah agama pencinta dan penganjur kedamaian, bukan pendukung apalagi pelaku terorisme seperti yang coba dikesankan dan dicitrakan oleh ”dunia luar” melalui berbgai masmedia internasional akhir-akhir ini. Wallahu a’lam!

READING: Belief In Allah’s Books: The Third Article of Faith (Edisi 56/VI/Juli 2007)

The true Muslim believes should also believe in all the books and revelations of the almighty Allah.

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0414

Is India Inc finally getting out of family (sic) politics ?
My last blog was one of my rare political blog and was thrilled with some of my desires coming true. So I thought of venturing into writing my second political blog and wanted to see the outcome. When this blog hits the web, India would be ready to embrace a new PM and refreshingly the country has a given their mandate to one single party. This has not happened in the past two decades as the outcome in previous elections was either fractured majority or coalition comprised with vested interest of regional parties.
Another outcome of the election is that political parties ruled by the family has been heavily punished. Nationwide congress party controlled by Gandhi family (mother and son) had to bite the dust. In other states viz Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, three different political parties controlled by father and son combination have been decimated. This is no coincidence and do not treat this as noise but certainly a signal. Unfortunately, the parties have not learnt from it as no heads have rolled nor the families have taken responsibility for their defeats. Does this surprise anyone?
My unsolicited advice to Congress party and other parties controlled by family: Wake up! The writing is on the wall. I suggest that the family members resign from their party posts and let the party be taken over by efficient talent. This election has clearly taught the political parties one lesson which is ‘reward for performance’. Mr Modi, who led the campaign of BJP was rewarded for good governance in Gujarat.
Some initial indication leads me to believe that Modi is going to perform. He clearly sent a message in his acceptance speech by asking his party men to focus on serving the nation rather than positions. His emotional speech was pointer that he will empathize with poor people and take appropriate actions to lift their lives. He did surprise many people by inviting heads of state of all neighbouring countries including Pakistan. He did not worry about opposition from his own alliance partner for inviting Srilankan Prime Minister. In fact his invitation to Sri Lanka’s PM resulted in counter good gesture from Sri Lanka of freeing of few hundreds of Tamil fisherman. Like a typical corporate CEO, he has asked all the cabinet secretaries to give a presentation about their vision for the next five years. If this trend continues, he will surely create a reputation of zero tolerance for nonsense and reward for performance.
Mr Modi if would benefit from roping in Dr Manmohan Singh as one of economic advisor as I feel that this man has lot to offer and Congress Party made him ineffective. I still can’t forget how he turned around the financials of the country between 1991 and 1995. He deserves some respect and dignity.

Lastly, one advise on the newly formed AAP (common man party), who failed miserably in the election, please use this as a learning lessons and build the trust of people. Please do not indulge in dramatics and antics as these neither help you to build trust or win elections. Take the first opportunity to guide your leader to refrain from such antics. Yes I am referring to his recent act of not providing bail on defamation case (bail amount $150) and volunteering to go to jail. Indians will appreciate you going to jail for a good cause such as fighting against corruption but not when you call someone a thief and fail to provide adequate proof.
Enough of politics and let me switch to other things as I promise not to write on politics for an undefined period of time.
How silly is your idea?
Benjamin Franklin said ‘I have not failed I’ve had 10,000 ideas that did not work.’ Thomas Edison said ‘Of the 200 bulbs that did not work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.’ Be bold in your ideas and remove your mental blocks. Here is the test for you all. Come up with a name for a new wine that will be launched in the market next week. Stop here and take a moment to come up with the name you believe will be a top seller.
Start being wrong and then you will realize that anything is possible. The common mistake people is that they want their idea to be accepted at the first go. There is often a fear of failure while articulating an idea but the success of idea getting realized is in the belief that you are not trying to be perfect or infallible.
By the way “Fat bastard” Chardonnay is the name of the wine which became famous in just six years. Did you measure up with this silly name? I rest my case here.
If you are fired from your job, do not worry as these are seen as sign of initiative these days. Getting fired often means that you at odds (due to your action) with your company. I know a person who got fired three times and every time there was a progress in his career. So give yourself a spin and re-launch your career. With those fearless thoughts, I bid you good bye saying “life is beautiful”.

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Divan-E-Shams In English Farsi

“Divan-e Shams is a masterpiece of wisdom and eloquence. It is often said that Rumi had attained the level of a “Perfect Master” and as such, he often dwelled in the spiritual realms that were rarely visited by others of this world. Rumi had attained spiritual heights that were attained by only a few before him or since…While the origins of Rumi’s poetry are distinctly Muslim and Sufi in nature, this hasn’t stopped his poetry from being vastly widespread and influential. From German romanticism to American transcendentalism, Rumi’s influence has been broad and deep.
The French writer, Maurice Barres had once confessed: “When I experienced Rumi’s poetry, which is vibrant with the tone of ecstasy and with melody, I realized the deficiencies of Shakespeare, Goethe and Victor Hugo.

The eminent British-born Orientalist and Rumi translator, A. J. Arberry had once stated:
In Rumi we encounter one of the world’s greatest poets. In profundity of thought, inventiveness of image, and triumphant mastery of language, Rumi stands out as the supreme genius of Islamic Mysticism.”

The greatest Rumi scholar and translator, R. A. Nicholson, who was the first British-born Orientalist to translate the entire Masnavi into English, characterized Rumi and his works as: “The Masnavi is a majestic river, calm and deep, meandering through many a rich and varied landscape to the immeasurable ocean the Divan is a foaming torrent that leaps and plunges in the ethereal solitude of the hills.Rumi is the greatest mystic poet of any age.”

Sir William Jones, an 18th century British scholar of the Persian language, had proclaimed that: “I know of no writer to whom Rumi can justly be compared, except Chaucer or Shakespeare…so extraordinary a book as the Masnavi was never, perhaps, composed by Man. It abounds with beauties, and blemishes, equally great with gross obscenity, and pure ethics with exquisite strains of poetry, and flat puerility with wit, and pleasantry, mixed jests with ridicule on all established religions, and a vein of sublime piety…Rumi’s Masnavi reflects a much more ecumenical spirit and a far broader and deeper religious sensibility than Dante’s Divine Comedy.”

“The name Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi stands for love and ecstatic flight into the infinite. Rumi is one of the greatest spiritual masters and poetical geniuses of mankind and was the founder of the Mevlevi Sufi Order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam. Rumi was born in Balkh [a historic city in northern modern Afghanistan near Mazar-e Sharif, back then the eastern frontiers of the great Persian Empire], in 30 September 1207 to a family of learned theologians. Escaping the Mongol invasion and destruction, Rumi and his family traveled extensively in the Muslim lands, performed pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in Konya, Anatolia, then part of Seljuk Empire. When his father Bahauddin Walad passed away, Rumi succeeded his father in 1231 as professor in religious sciences. Rumi 24 years old, was an already accomplished scholar in religious and positive sciences.
Rumi was introduced into the mystical path by a wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz. His love and his bereavement for the death of Shams found their expression in a surge of music, dance and lyric poems, `Divan-e Shams Tabrizi’. Rumi is the author of six volume didactic epic work, the `Masnavi’, called as the ‘Quran in Persian’ by Jami [the eminent 15th century Persian Sufi poet], and Discourses, `Fihi Ma Fihi’, written to introduce his disciples into metaphysics.
If there is any general idea underlying Rumi’s poetry, it is the absolute love of God. The Mevlevi rites, Sema [Sufi Dance of Whirling Dervishes] symbolize the divine love and mystical ecstasy they aim at union with the Divine. The music and the dance are designed to induce a meditative state on the love of God. Mevlevi music contains some of the most core elements of Eastern classical music and it serves mainly as accompaniment for poems of Rumi and other Sufi poets. The dervishes turn timelessly and effortlessly. They whirl, turning round on their own axis and moving also in orbit. The right hand is turned up towards heaven to receive God’s overflowing mercy which passes through the heart and is transmitted to earth with the down-turned left hand. While one foot remains firmly on the ground, the other crosses it and propels the dancer round. The rising and falling of the right foot is kept constant by the inner rhythmic repetition of the name of “Allah-Al-lah, Al-lah…”

The Sema ceremony can be seen as a great crescendo in three stages: knowing God, seeing God and uniting with God…Rumi’s influence on thought, literature and all forms of aesthetic expression in the world of Islam cannot be overrated.

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi died on December 17, 1273 A.D. Men of five faiths followed his bier. That night was named Shab-e Arus [literally Wedding Night or Rumi’s Night of Union with God). Ever since, the Mevlevi Sufi Dervishes have kept that date as a festival.
It is very gratifying to note that at the death of Rumi, his mourners were of all creeds. A Christian was asked why he wept over a Muslim grave, and he replied: “We esteem him as the Moses, the David, the Jesus of our time and we are his disciples, his adherents.” This was indeed a splendid and worthy tribute to the memory of so great a man.
Excerpts from Rumi’s World: The Life and Works of the Great Sufi Poet by the eminent German-born scholar of Rumi, Annemarie Schimmel (1922-2003).

RUMI CHRONOLOGY above is courtesy of The Masnavi – Book One by the Afghan-born Rumi scholar and translator, Professor Jawid Mojadeddi (Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Religion at Rutgers University).
In parentheses [ ] information above are my insertions.

A Short Outline of Rumi’s Lifeby Emin Aydin
Rumi’s teaching of peace and tolerance has appealed to men and women of all sects and creeds, and continues to draw followers from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world. As both a teacher and a mystic, his doctrine advocates tolerance, reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love, looking with the same eye on Muslims, Jews, Christians and others alike.Today, this message of love, peace and friendship finds strong resonation in people’s hearts…Jelaleddin Rumi was one of the great spiritual masters and poetic geniuses of mankind, and the Mevlevi Sufi order was founded to follow his teachings.”
Read Entire Paper Below:

A Short Outline of Rumi’s Life

Rumi’s poetry is divided into various categories: the quatrains (rubayat) and odes (ghazal) of the Divan, and the six books of the Masnavi. The prose works are divided into The Discourses, The Letters, and The Seven Sermons.
Rumi’s works were recorded, collected and compiled during his lifetime and after his death, by his son, friends and students particularly his much-loved and loyal last disciple, Husamuddin Chelebi to whom Rumi had dedicated his magnum opus, Masnavi, as Husami Namah or The Book of Husam.
Rumi’s poetry and prose writings have a spiritual content that is the universal language of the human soul. They speak of the spiritual journey of Man’s ascent through the mind and soul towards the Perfection (God). Love, tolerance, humanity, compassion, respect, openness, acceptance of the other in his or her otherness, and interfaith dialogues are fundamentals of Rumi’s thoughts and practices.
The general theme of Rumi’s thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poets of Persian literature, is essentially that of the Sufi concept of Tawheed–توحید the ultimate mystical union of a Sufi mystic lover with the Beloved (God)– from Whom he or she has been cut off and become aloof– thus the lifelong longing and desire of a Sufi seeker to annihilate Self and become One with the One and Only (God).
It is often said that the teachings of Rumi are ecumenical in nature. For Rumi, religion was mostly a personal experience and not limited to logical arguments or perceptions of the senses. For Rumi. creative love, or the urge to rejoin the spirit to divinity, was the goal towards which everything moved.
The main theme and message of Rumi’s thoughts and teachings is the love of God and His creatures. The focus of his philosophy is humanity and his objective is to achieve and to help others reach the state of perfect human being. Rumi founded the Mevlevi Sufi mystic order, commonly known as the “Whirling Dervishes” and created the Sema rite, a ritualistic sacred dance to symbolically seek the divine truth and maturity. Rumi’s message and teachings continue to inspire people from all religions and cultures today and show us how to live together in peace and harmony.
The world of Rumi is not exclusive, but is rather the highest state of a human being – namely, a fully evolved human. He offends no one and includes everyone, as a perfect human being who is in search of love, truth and the unity of the human soul.Rumi’s very broad appeal, highly advanced thinking, humanism and open heart and mind may derive from his genuinely cosmopolitan character, as during his lifetime he enjoyed exceptionally good relations with people of diverse social, cultural and religious backgrounds. Rumi was familiar with the core message of all of them and therefore was appreciated by believers of many religions. There was perhaps no more beautiful tribute to Rumi’s universality than his funeral, a 40-day marathon of grieving attended by distraught and weeping Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastrians who mourned in such a manner that one would have believed that Rumi belonged to each one of them.”

Masnavi Manavi – مثنوی معنوی –

Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meanings

“The Masnavi, or Rhymed Couplets, is Rumi’s last and most famous work. It consists of six lengthy books of poetry (each containing several thousand lines of text), set up in a teaching-style format designed to convey important spiritual lessons. It’s the only one of Rumi’s works that he deliberately composed in chronological order for a single purpose. Rumi’s Masnavi consists of a collection of around 25,000 rhyming couplets and 440 mystical/spiritual stories divided into 6 books.

The Masnavi contains thousands of rhyming couplets (a type of poetry called, in Arabic, Mathnawî) with stories, ethical teachings, and deeply spiritual Sufi teachings. The Masnavi weaves fables, scenes from everyday life, Quranic revelations and exegesis, and metaphysics into a vast and intricate tapestry. The Masnavi is deeply permeated with Quranic meanings and references, which is why it has been so famous and well-loved for so many centuries all across the Muslim world.

The Masnavi is set up in the classic style of a Sufi teaching manual. It conveys its message almost entirely through stories of varying length. The material which makes up the Masnavi is divisible into two different categories: theoretical discussion of the principal themes of Sufi mystical life and doctrine, and stories of fables intended to illustrate those themes as they arise. Like many such collections that came before it, Rumi’s Masnavi contains within its tales references to the Quran, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, Muslim history, famous saints and sinners, poetic allusions, and tales of animals and fantastic events.

The six books of the Masnavi can be divided into three groups of two because each pair is linked by a common theme. Book one of the Masnavi must be read in order to understand the other five volumes:

Books 1 and 2: They “are principally concerned with the nafs, the lower carnal self or Ego, and its self-deception and evil tendencies.”

Books 3 and 4: These books share the principal themes of Reason and Knowledge. These two themes are personified by Rumi in the Biblical and Quranic figure of the Prophet Moses.

Books 5 and 6: These last two books are joined by the universal ideal that Man must deny his/her physical earthly existence to understand God’s existence.

In the Masnavi, Rumi deals with many of the major questions of Islamic theology, addressing himself not primarily to learned scholars, but to ordinary people, using lively and accessible arguments to capture their attention. The aim is to explain the very roots of spirituality and the meaning of religion as understood by those who tread the mystical path, and thus to provide a guide for the thinking person to resolve everyday moral and metaphysical quandries as a true Sufi might. Rumi does not approach his theology in any systematic fashion rather, the Masnavi is composed of parables nested within stories, interrupted by funny anecdotes or bawdy jokes, designed to reel in his audience. Rumi puts these dramatic vignettes to good purpose, drawing from them theological conclusions, pointing them with morals that illustrate his spiritual and mystical perceptions, and admonishing his readers to deeper understanding and higher aspiration.

The eminent 15th century Persian Sufi poet, Jami called Rumi’s Masnavi ‘The Quran in Persian Language’. Rumi’s Masnavi is unanimously considered as one of the greatest works of mystical poetry and religious literature.”

In the prologue to the Masnavi, Rumi writes:

“This is the Book of the Masnavi, which is the roots of the roots of the roots of the Way in respect of unveiling the mysteries of attainment and of certainty and which is the greatest science of God and the clearest way of God and the most manifest evidence of God…

The likeness of the light thereof is as a niche in which is a candle shining with radiance brighter than the dawn. It is the heart’s Paradise, having fountains and boughs, one of them a fountain called Salsabil among the travelers on this Path and in the view of the possessors of stations and graces, and it is best as a station and most excellent as a resting-place. There the righteous eat and drink, and there the free are gladdened and rejoiced and like the Nile of Egypt it is a drink to them that endure patiently, but a grief to the people of Pharaoh and the unbelievers, even as God has said, He lets many be misled thereby and He lets many be guided thereby. It is the cure for breasts, and the purge of sorrows, and the expounder of the Quran, and the abundance of gifts, and the cleansing dispositions by the hands of noble righteous scribes who forbid None shall touch it except the purified. Falsehood does not approach it either from before or behind, since God observes it and watches over it, and He is the best guardian and He is the most merciful of them that show mercy. And it has other titles of honor which God has bestowed upon it.”

Divan-e Shams Tabrizi or Divan-e Kabir –
دیوان شمس تبریزی یا دیوان کبیر –
Rumi’s Great Collection of Lyrical Love Poems Dedicated to His Mystical Lover and Sufi Master, Shams of Tabriz

“Rumi’s second best known work is the Divan-e Shams Tabrizi or Divan-e Kabir, totaling some 35000 couplets, which is a collection of poems describing the mystical states and expounding various points of Sufi doctrine. While the Masnavi tends towards a didactic approach, the Divan is rather a collection of ecstatic utterances. It is well known that most of the ghazals/odes of the Divan were composed spontaneously by Rumi during the Sema or “Mystical dance.” This dance, which later came to be known as the “Dance of the Whirling Dervishes,” is an auxiliary means of spiritual concentration employed by the Mevlevi Sufi Order, a means which, it is said, was originated by Rumi himself.

Besides approximately 35000 Persian couplets and 2000 Persian quatrains, the Divan contains 90 ghazals/odes and 19 quatrains in Arabic, a couple of dozen or so couplets in Turkish (mainly macaronic poems of mixed Persian and Turkish) and 14 couplets in Greek (all of them in three macaronic poems of Greek-Persian). The Divan is the inspiration of Rumi’s middle-aged years. It began with his meeting Shams of Tabriz, becoming his disciple and spiritual friend, the stress of Shams’ first disappearance, and the crisis of Shams’ final disappearance. It is believed that Rumi continued to compose poems for the Divan long after this final crisis– during the composition of the Masnavi.

The Divan is filled with ecstatic verses in which Rumi expresses his mystical love for Shams as a symbol of his love for God. Shams of Tabriz was the man who transformed Rumi from a learned religious teacher into a devotee of music, dance, poetry, and founder of the Whirling Dervishes. Shams stayed with Rumi for less than two years when upset by the hostility of Rumi’s disciples, spearheaded by Rumi’s own son, Alauddin, one day Shams left unannounced. After the final disappearance of Sham of Tabriz, Rumi was consumed by an extended period of soul-searching. He continued to compose poems and odes to assuage his wounded heart, and this ever-growing body of work formed the basis of his book, Divan, which he dedicated to the memory of Sham of Tabriz. These beautiful and emotional poems spoke of a platonic form of love between a student and his lost master. Rumi roamed the city at nights and danced spontaneously around uttering verses in ecstasy and lamenting the separation from his master, while his students recording the muse. This valuable wealth of mystic poetry, over 50,000 verses, are preserved in the form of what is known as Divan-e Shams Tabrizi –Rumi uses Shams as nom de plume in the poems as a glowing tribute to his mystical lover and Sufi master, Shams of Tabriz.

In the ghazal/ode 1720 from his Divan-e Shams, Rumi writes:

We come spinning out of nothingness,
Scattering stars like the dust.
The stars form a circle,
And in the center we dance.
Shams of Tabriz,
This love of yours thirsts for my blood.
I head straight to it,
Blade and shroud in hand!

Fihi Ma Fihi – فیه ما فیه –

Discourses of Rumi

“It contains a collection of 71 talks and lectures given by Rumi at various occasions – some formal and others informal – to his disciples. Fihi Ma Fihi is a record of those 71 spiritual discussions that often followed music and dance, the reciting of sacred poems and phrases, and the now famous Whirling Dance of Sufi Dervishes that Rumi originated to bring spiritual awakening to the masses. Like Masnavi, it was written during the last few years of Rumi’s life. Fihi Ma Fihi or The Discourses was compiled from the notes of his various disciples, so Rumi did not author the work directly. An English translation from the Persian was first published by A.J. Arberry as Discourses of Rumi (1972), and a translation of the second book by Wheeler Thackston as Sign of the Unseen (1994).

In the preface to Arberry’s translation of “Fihi Ma Fihi”, Doug Marman writes:

‘It’ refers to God. Therefore God is what God is. This is the same as the Muslim saying, ‘There is no god but GOD.’ In other words, Rumi asks, ‘What more is there to say?’ All the words here, all the stories and explanations are saying nothing more than this. There is no more to reality than reality. God is. Reality is. It is what it is. Explanations cannot explain it. Words cannot reveal it. “Fihi Ma Fihi” refers to the “Immanent” aspect of the Cosmic Consciousness. Immanence, derived from the Latin in manere – “to remain within” – refers to the divine essence permeating the whole Cosmos and forming the basis of existence and life. Without this essence there is no existence and there is no life. The life giving essence is at the core of each entity from elementary particles to the entire Cosmos and from viruses to human beings. This essence is also known as the Soul. Unit Souls and the Cosmic Soul seem different but they are reflections of that nameless indescribable ocean of love and bliss. Rumi experiences this infinite ocean, he is unable to explain it and unable to describe it. He simply says “It is what It IS.”

Majalis-e Saba – مجالس سبعه –

Seven Sermons of Rumi

“It contains a collection of Seven Rumi Sermons or Lectures given in seven different assemblies. The Sermons themselves give a commentary on the deeper meaning of Quran and Hadith. The Sermons also include quotations from poems of Sanai, Attar, and other Persian Sufi poets, including Rumi himself. As his hagiographer, Aflakī relates, after Shams Tabrizi, Rumi gave sermons at the request of notables, especially his second deputy, Salah al-Din Zarkub. Throughout his life, Rumi gave many sermons in the mosques of Konya and many addresses and speeches to gatherings of his students, followers, and others. On seven of these more auspicious occasions, either Rumi’s son, Sultan Walad, or his last deputy, Husamuddin Chelebi, recorded what the Master said. These seven recorded sermons, together, are known as the Majalis-i Saba’, which translates as the Seven Sermons. Each of these seven speeches centers upon an important saying, or hadith, of Prophet Muhammad and is expounded upon with a wide variety of anecdotes, examples, and persuasive arguments. In tone, these speeches are more businesslike and less like the poetry that characterizes Rumi’s other works.

Here is a brief summary of the contents of each of the Seven Sermons of Rumi. They appear as well-organized speeches in all respects:

Sermon 1: Believers should follow the example and way of Prophet Muhammad. Untold rewards will accrue to the benefit of those who adhere to the Prophet’s way in uncertain times.

Sermon 2: Whoever preserves himself/herself from falling into sinful ways and who avoids arrogance, one of the worst sins, will gain spiritual richness from God. Real wealth is a contented heart. Followers of the Truth avoid greed, arrogance, and revenge, and they advance their knowledge through education.

Sermon 3: Pure and sincere faith will propel a person toward honest worship of God. Prayers should be performed in a humble frame of mind, and God’s help should be sought in all affairs.

Sermon 4: God loves those who are pure at heart. God favors those who are humble and who love Him rather than the material world. God loves those who repent to Him if they ever commit a sin. God accepts the repentance of the sincere and erases their sins.

Sermon 5: The only way a person can be saved from the pitfalls of the world is through religious knowledge. Those who know nothing of religion are like an empty scarecrow. Those who acquire religious knowledge are like doctors who heal others. Knowledge is the weapon a believer uses against sin.

Sermon 6: The world is like a trap that captures any who cling too closely to it. Those who focus themselves only upon the world of the present pass through life unaware of the bigger picture. They are heedless and do not perform the tasks that God would have them do. They can only expect destruction in the next life.

Sermon 7: The only way a person can understand his/her soul and how his/her motivations work is through knowledge and reason. When a person uses his/her mind to delve deeply within self, he/she can finally begin the journey towards becoming a true lover of God.”

Maktubat – مکتوبات –

Letters of Rumi

“It contains a collection of 150 of Rumi’s Persian Letters to his family members, friends, and men of state and of influence. The Letters testify that Rumi kept very busy helping family members and administering a community of disciples that had grown up around them. Islamic civilization was a society that placed a high value on preserving written records. In Rumi’s time, it had already been a well-established practice to collect the letters of scholars together and publish them in book form. Thus, Rumi’s students saved many of his letters and collated about 150 of them in a book. This collection of letters is called the Maktubat, or Letters. In keeping with Rumi’s religious and philosophical nature, all of these letters are liberally sprinkled with references from the Quran, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, anecdotes, quotes from famous writers, and poems. Rumi’s Letters, which were written to rulers, friends, students, and others, fall into three basic categories that can be summarized as follows:

Rumi’s Masnavi and Divan are his Poetic works, while Discourses, Sermons, and Letters are his Prose collections. Rumi’s Sermons and Letters are not yet fully translated into English.

Most of the eBooks and Rumi related Articles listed in this post are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. If you currently don’t have Adobe Reader to open your PDF-format files, please click above icon or links to download the latest free version of Adobe Reader.
Just as a memory refresher, all Rumi e-Books and Articles listed here are solely for educational purposes.

The sublime humanism of Rumi fired the imagination of mankind long before the West discovered the dignity of Man.Dante was a young boy at the time of Rumi’s death. The great humanist of the West, Petrarch came a full century after him and Erasmus followed him two and a half centuries later.
Sir William Jones, an eighteenth-century British scholar of the Persian language, proclaimed that “I know of no writer to whom Rumi can justly be compared, except Chaucer or Shakespeare…so extraordinary a book as the Masnavi was never, perhaps, composed by Man. It abounds with beauties, and blemishes, equally great with gross obscenity, and pure ethics with exquisite strains of poetry, and flat puerility with wit, and pleasantry, mixed jests with ridicule on all established religions, and a vein of sublime piety…the Masnavi reflects a much more ecumenical spirit and a far broader and deeper religious sensibility than Dante’s Divine Comedy.”
Hegel considered Rumi as one of the greatest poets and thinkers in world history. In the early twentieth century, Edward Granville Browne declared Rumi “without doubt is the most eminent Sufi poet whom Persia has produced,” adding that “his mystical Masnavi deserves to rank among the greatest poems of all time.”
The twentieth century German poet Hans Meinke saw in Rumi ‘the only hope for the dark times we are living in.’ The French writer Maurice Barres once confessed, ‘When I experienced Rumi’s poetry, which is vibrant with the tone of ecstasy and with melody, I realized the deficiencies of Shakespeare, Goethe and Victor Hugo.’
In contemporary England, Professor R. A. Nicholson translated the Masnavi into English and characterized Rumi and his works as ‘the Masnavi is a majestic river, calm and deep, meandering through many a rich and varied landscape to the immeasurable ocean the Divan is a foaming torrent that leaps and plunges inthe ethereal solitude of the hills. Rumi is the greatest mystic poet of any age.’
The eminent 20th century British Orientalist and translator of Rumi’s works, Professor A. J. Arberry stated, “In Rumi we encounter one of the world’s greatest poets. In profundity of thought, inventiveness of image, and triumphant mastery of language, Rumi stands out as the supreme genius of Islamic Mysticism.”
Most interpreters have sought to expound the Masnavi in terms of the pantheistic system associated with Ibn al-Arabi, but this is doing grave injustice to Rumi. He is essentially a poet and a mystic, not a philosopher and logician…The nature of Rumi’s experience is essentially religious. By religious experience is not meant an experience induced by the observance of a, code of taboos and laws, but an experience which owes its being to love and by love Rumi means ‘a cosmic feeling, a spirit of oneness with the Universe.’ ‘Love,’ says Rumi, ‘is the remedy of our pride and self-conceit the physician of all our infirmities. Only he whose garment is rent by love becomes entirely unselfish.’…
In Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Rumi is honored as a saint, a sage, and a seer.
Excerpts from The Life and Work of Jalaluddin Rumi by the eminent 20th century India-born scholar of Rumi, Afzal Iqbal (1923-1994). Late Prof. Iqbal’s monumental book is A MUST READ if you’re interested in leaning more about Rumi’s life, works, and profound Sufi teachings. Read Entire e-Book Online Below:

“Rumi is perhaps the only example in world literature of a devoted prose writer who suddenly burst forth into poetry during middle age to become a truly great mystical poet for all time. This book, a long-overdue reckoning of his life and work, begins with a description and examination of the living conditions in 13th-century Persia. Building on this context, Afzal Iqbal [the eminent 20th century India-born scholar of Rumi] proceeds to fully analyze the formative period of Rumi’s life leading up to 1261–when he began the monumental work of writing the Mathnawi. Toward the end of the book, Iqbal more generally investigates Rumi’s thought and includes translations of those portions of the Mathnawi that have been hitherto unavailable in English. Combining an unparalleled familiarity with the source material, a total and critical understanding of the subject, and a powerful and readable prose style, this is an extraordinary study of a truly remarkable poet and mystic.”


“Rumi entitled his collection of odes Divan-I Shams-i-Tabriz, the Mathnawi he calls Husami Namah- the Book of Husam. Shams was the hero of the Divan, Husamuddin is invoked as the inspiring genius of the Mathnawi. Rumi took nearly twelve years to dictate 25.700 verses to Husamuddin. The modern reader demands a summary which he can dispose of in an hour. This is not possible. Even the best of summaries would do serious damage to the work. We could only attempt an outline, often using the words and employing the idiom of the author….Rumi is aware of the massive contribution he is making. In the prose introduction of Book IV, without being unduly immodest he says, ‘it is the grandest of gifts and the most precious of prizes . . . It is a light to our friends and a treasure for our (spiritual) descendants.’ He is now a poet with a purpose. He asks,

Does any painter paint a beautiful picture for the sake of the picture itself?
Does any potter make a pot in haste for the sake of the pot itself and not in hope of the water?
Does any bowl-maker make a finished

owl for the sake of the bowl itself and not for the sake of the food?
Does any calligrapher write artistically for the sake of writing itself and not for the sake of the reading?
[Masnavi IV, 2881, 2884, 2885, 2886.] In the last volume of the Mathnawi, referring to his critics, Rumi complains that the ‘sour people are making us distressed, but what is to be done? The message must be delivered. ‘Does a caravan ever turn back from a journey on account of the noise and clamour of the dogs?, ‘If you are thirsting for the spiritual Ocean,’ says Rumi, ‘make a breach in the island of the Mathnawi. Make such a great breach that at every moment you will see the Mathnawi to be only spiritual

‘I saw my Lord
I do not worship a Lord whom I have not seen!’

Rumi says: So long as you are under the dominion of your senses and discursive reason, it makes no difference whether you regard God as transcendent or immanent, since you cannot possibly attain to true knowledge of either aspect of His nature. The appearance of plurality arises from the animal soul, the vehicle of sense-perception. The ‘human spirit’ is the spirit which God breathed into Adam, and that is the spirit of the Perfect Man. Essentially it is single and indivisible, hence the Prophets and saints, having been entirely purged of sensual affections, are one in spirit, though they may be distinguished from each other by particular characteristics.

‘The world of creation is endowed with (diverse) quarters and directions, (but) know that the world of the (Divine) Command and Attributes is without (beyond) direction. . . . No created being is unconnected with Him: the connection . . . is indescribable, ‘because in the spirit there is no separating and uniting, while (our) thought cannot think except [in terms] of separating and uniting. Intellect is unable completely to comprehend this reality for it is in bondage to its own limitation of thinking in categories it has coined for itself. That is why the Prophet enjoined: ‘Do not seek to investigate the Essence of God.’

In the Proem of Book V of Masnavi, Rumi says to God:

Thy dignity hath transcended intellectual apprehension: in describing thee the intellect has become an idle fool.
(Yet), although this intellect is too weak to declare (what thou art), one must weakly make a movement (attempt) in that (direction).
Know that when the whole of a thing is unattainable the whole of it is not (therefore to be) relinquished.
If you cannot drink (all) the flood-rain of the clouds, (yet) how can you give up water-drinking?
If thou wilt not communicate the mystery, (at least) refresh (our) apprehensions with the, husk thereof.

The man who has seen the vision is alone unique and original and he cannot give expression to his vision for there are nor words to describe the experience which is impossible to communicate. When the Prophet left Gabriel behind and ascended the highest summit open to man the Qur’an only says that ‘Then He revealed to His servant that which He revealed.’ What he saw is not explained it cannot be explained and it cannot be described. A stage arrives when silence becomes the height of eloquence! And yet we cannot remain content with knowledge borrowed from others. We must strive to experience for ourselves that unique indescribable vision. Our bane is that we see with borrowed light and color and we think it is our own. Rumi asks God ‘what fault did that orchard commit, that it has been stripped of the beautiful robes and has been plunged into the dreary destruction of autumn?’ The reply comes:

‘The crime is that he put on a borrowed adornment and pretended that these robes were his own property.
We take them back, in order that he may know for sure that the stack is Ours and the fair ones are (only) gleaners
That he may know that those robes were a loan: ‘twas a ray from the Sun of Being. . . .
Thou art content with knowledge learned (from others): thou hast lit thine eye at another lamp.
He takes away his lamp, that thou mayst know thou art a borrower, not a giver.’
[Masnavi Book V, 979-93.]…”
Excerpts from Afzal Iqbal’s The Impact of Rumi on Islamic Culture. Read the entire eBook Online Below:

“This work attempts to present Rumi to the English-speaking world and to shed light on his life as seen from within the Islamic mystical tradition. The knowledge presented in this work comes from Sefik Can, a great expert of Rumi and who used to be the highest authority, Sertariq, of the Mevlevi Sufi order in Turkey until he passed away on January 24, 2005… According to Rumi, beauty takes us from ourselves, frees us from the prison of the body, and brings us closer to another realm, to God. Thus we find God within the impact of the fine arts on sensitive people.”
Read Entire eBook Below – courtesy of Rumi Forum

“Ever since Rumi’s death, his family kept complete records of their family. These records show that Celebi family is one of the oldest families in the world. Rumi’s family tree spans more than eight centuries and includes 26 generations. The oldest recorded member of Rumi’s family is his great-grandfather, Ahmad Khatibi who lived in 12th century AD.”

The Mawlawiyah Order – طریقه مولویه (known as Mevlevi, or Mevleviye in Turkey) – one of the most well-known of the Sufi Orders – was founded in 1273 by Rumi’s followers after his death, particularly his last deputy, Husamuddin Chelebi, and his son and successor, Sultan Walad in Konya, central Turkey from where they gradually spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. Today, the Mawlawīyah or Mevlevi Sufi Order can be found in many Turkish communities throughout the world, but the most active and famous places for their activity are still Konya and Istanbul in Turkey. The first successor in the leadership of Mevlevi Sufi Order was Rumi’s last deputy, Husamuddin Chalabi, after whose death in 1284 Rumi’s younger and only surviving son, Sultan Walad (died 1312), was installed as grand master of the Sufi Order. The leadership of the Order has been kept within Rumi’s family in Konya uninterruptedly since then.

The Mevlevi Sufis, also known as Whirling Dervishes of Rumi, believe in performing their Zikr (Remembrance of God) in the form of Sema Sufi Whirling Dance. Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path the whirling is part of the formal Sema ceremony and the participants are properly known as Semazen or Whirlers. Rumi developed a form of combined mobile meditation, symbolism, and teaching which became the basis of the Mevlevi Dervishes, popularly called the Whirling Dervishes and also the Mawlawi Dervishes in the Muslim world. The participants enact the turning of the planets around the sun, a symbol of man linked to the center which is God, source of life, but it is also an internalized turning of the body toward the soul, likewise source of life. Rumi tried to map out a system in which sound, motion and one-pointed concentration of thought would lead to an end to the personal self and union with the Higher Self.

During the time of Rumi (as attested in the Manaqib ul-Arefīn by Rumi’s hagiographer, Aflakī), his followers used to gather for musical and “turning” practices. Rumi himself was a notable musician who played the robab (stringed-lute), although his favorite instrument was the ney or reed flute. The music accompanying the Sema ceremony consists of settings of poems from the Rumi’s Masnavi and Divan, or of Rumi’s son and successor, Sultan Walad’s poems. The Mawlawiyah was a well-established Sufi Order in the Ottoman Empire, and many of the members of the Order served in various official positions of the Caliphate. The center for the Mawlawiyyah was in Konya, central Turkey. There is also a Mevlevi monastery in Istanbul near the Galata Tower in which the Sema ceremony is performed and accessible to people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

Do you know what Sema,
the Sufi Dance of Whirling Dervishes is?

Sema is letting go completely of your existence
and tasting eternity in non-existence.

Sema is hearing the affirmation sound of
separating from Self, and reaching God.

Sema is seeing and knowing Lord, our Friend
and hearing, through the Divine Veils,
the Secrets of God.

Sema is struggling hard with your carnal soul,
your own ego,
and throwing it to the ground like a half-slain beast.

Sema is opening the heart like Shams of Tabriz,
and clearly seeing the Divine Light within.

The Mevlevi Religious Sema Ceremony – Whirling Dervishes

“We live in a world of illusion bound by fear. To awaken the soul is to enlighten the mind. There is one eternal, simple truth: I AM. And because that is so, everything is because I AM. I AM God the Creator, everything else I am not, although I can be if I so choose. To illuminate the mind is to confront fear, to confront fear is to examine our limitations and boundaries. To open the mind is to invite the courageous soul into those places where once resided fear and worry. As the soul awakens from the slumber induced by being human, we are created, re-created anew…I AM is the spark of a God, all knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and invincible. I AM always with God, in God, as God, of God.”

“Shams Tabrizi (1184-1247) was a mysterious Persian mystic, credited as the spiritual master of Rumi, and is referenced with great reverence in Rumi’s poetic collection, in particular Divan-e Shams Tabrizi (The Works of Shams of Tabriz). A wandering Sufi mystic born in Tabriz, Iran, Shams became Rumi’s beloved companion in Konya, Turkey. Rumi had been a sober Muslim scholar, teaching Islamic Law and Theology to a small circle of students, but the coming of Shams turned him into a devotee of music, dance, and poetry. After Shams’ final disappearance, Rumi attributed more and more of his own poetry to Shams as a sign of love for his departed friend and master. In Rumi’s poetry, Shams becomes a symbol of God’s Love for mankind Shams was a sun (“Shams” means “Sun” in Arabic) shining the Light of God on Rumi.”

Maqalat-e Shams-e Tabrizi (Discourse of Shams Tabrizi) is a Persian prose book written by Shams of Tabriz [Rumi’s Spiritual Master].The Maqalat seems to have been written during the later years of Shams, as he speaks of himself as an old man. Overall, it bears a mystical interpretation of Islam and contains spiritual advice. Maqalat-e Shams-e Tabrizi is one of the two or three most important prose texts providing us with context for the ideas expressed in the Masnavi and Divan of Jalaluddin Rumi. The following excerpts from the Maqalat provide us some insight into the profound Sufi thoughts of Shams of Tabriz:

Blessing is excess, so to speak, an excess of everything. Don’t be content with being a faqih (religious scholar), say I want more – more than being a Sufi (a mystic), more than being a mystic – more than each thing that comes before you.

Man has two qualities: One is (his) need. Through this quality, he hopes and he has his eyes on reaching the goal. The other quality is being without a need. What hope can you have from being without need? What is the utmost end of a need? Finding what has no needs! What is the ultimate end of seeking? Finding what is sought. What is the ultimate end of the sought? Finding the seeker! Find a true seeker.”

“Rumi’s Sun collects many lessons and discourses from Shams of Tabriz, the Sufi mystic and spiritual master who was the catalyst for Rumi’s awakening. His teachings and insights inspired much of Rumi’s poetry and are still celebrated today by all Sufi. Translated by two noted students of Sufi [Camille Helminski and Refik Algan], Shams’ timeless teachings are presented here in their traditional order. Through the book, readers discover the teachings that made Rumi dance and gain access into Sufi traditions and the power of mystical love.Rumi’s son, Sultan walad wrote, “After meeting Shams, my father danced all day and sang all night. He had been a scholar now he became a poet. He had been an ascetic, now he became drunk with Love.” Shams of Tabriz was, indeed, Rumi’s Sun, the one who caused him to radiate Divine Love. After almost 800 years, that light is spreading more than ever to encompass the whole of the world.”

“Who is talking to HU!” tells the amazing story of the master Shams of Tabrizi (1184-1247) who as the “Ya-Man-HU’ or Godman of his age, about 800 years ago developed a fascinating relationship with the highly regarded theologian and a professor of Islamic Law, Jalal al-din Rumi (1207-1273), in order to teach the ways of a unique, ancient, but long forgotten spiritual path at a difficult time and in a hostile and intolerant environment.”

“The Sun had a special significance for Rumi because it alluded to his master, Shams—the one who awakened the truth within Rumi. Rumi’s use of the terms “Shams,” “Shams-e Tabriz” (Shams of Tabriz), and “Shamsuddin” refers not only to his master but also to the many aspects of the Beloved, embodied in Shams: “Shams” symbolizes the power of grace, the power that awakens the truth within us “Shams” symbolizes the inner sunrise, the inner light of consciousness, one’s own soul and its awakening. Rumi writes:
Shams of Tabriz:
You are either the Light of God
Or God Himself in human form.

Is this the reflection of my love for Shamsuddin,
Or bright light emanating from the hand of Moses?
Is Shams of Tabriz simply my hallucination,
Or he equals two hundred miracles of Jesus?

O my soul, where can I find rest
but in the shimmering love of his heart?Where can I see the pure light of the Sunbut in the eyes of my own Shams of Tabriz?

From Tabriz shone the Sun of Truth,
and I said to him:
Your light is at once joined with all things and apart from all.
The sun of the face of Shams, glory to the horizons,
never shone upon anything perishable
but he made it eternal.
From the sun, the pride of Tabriz,
behold these miracles, for every tree gains beauty
by the light of the sun.

“By all accounts, Rumi lived a grand and illustrious life-he was a respected teacher, a master of Sufi lore, the head of a university in the Anatolian capital city of Konya (in present-day Turkey ). At the age of thirty-four he claimed hundreds of disciples, the king being one of them. And what is so remarkable and unforgettable about Rumi’s life is that in one moment all this changed-the moment he met a wandering darvish named Shams-e Tabriz.
There are several accounts of this historic meeting. One version says that during a lecture of Rumi’s, Shams came in and dumped all of Rumi’s books–One handwritten by his own father-into a pool of water. Rumi thought the books were destroyed, but Shams retrieved them, volume by volume, intact. Another version says that at a wave of Shams’ hand, Rumi’s books were engulfed in flames and burned to ashes. Shams then put his hand in the ashes and pulled out the books. (A story much like the first.) A third account says that Rumi was riding on a mule through a square in the center of Konya. A crowd of eager students walked by his feet. Suddenly a strange figure dressed in black fur approached Rumi, grabbed hold of his mule’s bridle, and said: “O scholar of infinite knowledge, who was greater, Muhammad or Bayazid of Bestam?” This seemed like an absurd question since, in all of Islam, Muhammad was held supreme among all the prophets. Rumi replied, “How can you ask such a question?-No one can compare with Muhammad.” “O then,” Shams asked, “why did Muhammad say, ‘We have not known Thee, O God, as thou should be known,’ whereas Bayazid said, ‘Glory unto me! I know the full glory of God’?”

With this one simple question–and with the piercing gaze of Shams’ eyes-Rumi’s entire view of reality changed. The question was merely an excuse. Shams’ imparting of an inner awakening is what shattered Rumi’s world. The truths and assumptions upon which Rumi based his whole life crumbled. This same story is told symbolically in the first two accounts, whereby Rumi’s books-representing all his acquired intellectual knowledge, including the knowledge given to him by his father-are destroyed, and then miraculously retrieved or “resurrected” by Shams. The books coming from the ashes, created anew by Shams, represent the replacing of Rumi’s book-learned knowledge (and his lofty regard for such knowledge) with divine knowledge and the direct experience of God.

According to an embellished version of this third account, after Shams’ question, Rumi entered a mystical state of ego annihilation that the Sufis call fana. When he regained consciousness, he looked at Shams with utter amazement, realizing that this was no ordinary darvish, but the Beloved himself in human form.

From that moment on, Rumi’s life was never again the same. He took Shams to live in his home and the two men were inseparable they spent hours a day together, sometimes isolating themselves for long periods to pray and fast in divine communion with God. About this meeting, Rumi’s son Sultan Walad wrote: “After meeting Shams, my father danced all day and sang all night. He had been a scholar–he became a poet. He had been an ascetic-he became drunk with love.
Rumi was totally lost in this newfound love that his master revealed, and all his great attainments were blossoming through that love. Every day was a miracle, a new birth for Rumi’s soul. He had found the Beloved, he had finally been shown the glory of his own soul. Then, suddenly, eighteen months after Shams entered Rumi’s life, he was gone. He returned some time later, for brief period, and then he was gone again forever. Some accounts say that Shams left in the middle of the night and that Rumi wandered in search of him for two years. (Perhaps a symbolic and romantic portrayal of the lover in search of his missing Beloved.) Other accounts report that Shams was murdered by Rumi’s jealous disciples (symbolizing how one’s desires and lower tendencies can destroy the thing held most dear).
Without Shams, Rumi found himself in a state of utter and incurable despair and his whole life thereafter became one of longing and divine remembrance. Rumi’s emptiness was that of a person who has just lost a husband or a wife, or a dear friend. Rumi’s story shows us that the longing and emptiness we feel for a lost loved one is only a reflection, a hologram, of the longing we feel for God it is the longing we feel to become whole again, the longing to return to the root from which we were cut. (Rumi uses the metaphor of a reed cut from a reed bed and then made into a flute-which becomes a symbol of a human separated from its source, the Beloved. And as the reed flute wails all day, telling about its separation from the reed bed, so Rumi wails all day telling about being separated from his Beloved.)

It was Shams’ disappearance, however, that ignited the fire of longing within Rumi and it was this very longing that brought him the glorious union with the Beloved. Years later Rumi wrote: “It is the burn of the heart that I want. It is this burning which is everything-more precious than a worldly empire-because it calls God secretly in the night.”

Excerpts from Jonathan Star’s outstanding book Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved

You are my Sufi master and my desireYou are my pain and my medicationI’d be blaspheming for saying this:You are my Shams, You are my God.
O my truth-bestowing truth
I’ve reached the Ultimate Truth (God) through you.I give thanks and praises to youYou are my Shams, You are my God.
Just a fleeting glance of yours
And I’ll be checkmated twice!You are the king of my both worldsYou are my Shams, You are my God.
I’ll annihilate my Self right before your eyes
Until there is nothing left of me.That’s how I show my love and respect for youYou are my Shams, You are my God.
The roaring echoes of my homesickness cries
Travel from the gates of Roum in Anatolia
All the way to Balkh in eastern Persia.My origin never forgets its native rootsYou are my Shams, You are my God.
Jesus raised the dead to life
But sacrificed his own life.You are the ever-eternal oneYou are my Shams, You are my God.
Come over O clouds and shower some rain
Over the East and the West of this world.I’ll blow the Resurrection TrumpetTo announce you’re the coming MessiahYou are my Shams, You are my God.
You are my Mosque, You are my Synagogue
You are my Heaven, You are my HellYou are my Companion, You are my LifeYou are my Shams, You are my God.

پير من و مراد من درد من و دواي منفاش بگفتم اين سخن شمس من و خداي مناز تو به حق رسيده‌ام اي حق حقگزار منشکر تو را ستاده‌ام شمس من و خداي منمات شوم ز عشق تو زانکه شه دو عالميتا تو مرا نظر کني شمس من وخداي منمحو شوم به پيش تو تا که اثر نماندمشرط ادب چنين بود شمس من و خداي مننغرۀ های و هوی من ازدر روم تا به بلخاصل کجا خطا کند شمس من و خدای منعیسی مرده زنده کرد دید فنای خویشتنزنده جاودان تویی شمس من و خدای منابر بيا و آب زن مشرق و مغرب جهانصور بدم که مي‌رسد شمس من و خداي منکعبه‌ي من کنشت من دوزخ من بهشت منمونس روزگار من شمس من و خداي منمولانا در فراق شمس

“By Allah, seeing your face is a blessing!…Happy the one who finds Maulana [Rumi]! Who am I? One who found him. Happy am I! By Allah, I am deficient in knowing Maulana. There is no hypocrisy or politesse or interpretation in these words I am deficient in knowing him! Every day I realize something about his state and his deeds which I didn’t know yesterday. I discover Maulana better, so I do not later grow confused.

Maulana has two ways of talking: one public and one heartfelt. As for the public one, the souls of all the saints and their collective spirit long to have found Maulana and sat with him. And as for the heartfelt one, devoid of hypocrisy, the spirit of the prophets long for it: “If only we had been in his time and been his companions and heard his words!” So don’t you miss out now. Don’t look to the first, but to this other thing, to which the spirit of the prophets looks with longing and regret.
I first came to Maulana with the understanding that I would not be his Shaykh (Sufi Master). God has not yet brought into being on this earth one who could be Maulana’s Shaykh he would not be a mortal. But nor am I one to be a disciple. It’s no longer in me. Now I come for friendship, relief. It must be such that I do not need to dissimulate. Most of the prophets have dissimulated. Dissimulation is expressing something contrary to what is in your heart. In my presence, as he listens to me, Maulana considers himself – I am ashamed to even say it – like a two-year-old child or like a new convert to Islam who knows nothing about it. Amazing submissiveness!
Regarding me and Maulana, the intended aim of the world’s existence is the encounter of two friends of God, when they face each other only for the sake of God, far distant from lust and craving.The purpose is not for bread, soup with bread crumbs, butcher, or the butcher’s business. It is such a moment as this, when I am tranquil in the presence of Maulana.Beyond these outward spiritual leaders who are famous among the people and mentioned from the pulpits and in assemblies, there are the hidden saints, more complete than the famous ones.And beyond them, there is thesought one that some of the hidden saints find. Maulana thinks that I am he, but that’s not how I see it. The story of the sought one cannot be found in any book, nor in the explanations of religion, nor in the sacred treatises – all those are explanations for the path of the seeker.We’ve only heard about the sought ones – nothing more has been said. In the whole world, words belong only to the seeker. The sought one has no mark in this world. Every mark is the mark of the seeker.

Which arrow is it that strikes you? These words.
Which quiver do these arrows come from?From the world of the Real.
Whose bow do they fly from?God’s…

These arrows will take you to the world of the Real. They are in the quiver there, but I can’t shoot them. The arrows I shoot all go back into the quiver from where they come. There may be one fault in a man that conceals a thousand qualities, or one excellence that conceals a thousand faults. The little indicates much. Being the companion of the folk of this world is fire. There must be an Abraham if the fire is not going to burn. I have no business with the common folk of the world I have not come for their sake. Those people who are guides for the world unto God, I put my finger on their pulses.”

Excerpts from ‘Maqalat-e Shams-e Tabriziمقالات شمس تبریزی‘, literally ‘Shams Tabrizi’s Discourses‘ – translated to English by one of the greatest contemporary American scholars of Rumi, Professor William C. Chittick as Me and Rumi: The Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi

“William Chittick’s masterful translation of the Maqalat of Shamsi Tabrizi moves Rumi’s beloved mentor from the shadows into the light, and restores Shams to the central position of prominence that he so richly deserves. This work immediately joins the indispensable short list of scholarly works on Rumi and his community. Highly recommended for all scholars and students of Sufism, Islamic Philosophy, Persian literature, and of course for all the legions of Rumi fans.”

Who is an Anatolian Turk?
Who is a Persian Balkhi?*Who is a Black Zangi?*
Who is a White Rumi?Where did I come from?Where did all this poetry come from?Yet somehow, these poems are breathed into meand all this poetry is simply pouring out of me…Rumi – from Divan-e Shams – My Translation

*Balkhi = From Balkh – a historic city in northern Afghanistan where Jalaluddin Muhammad was originally born.

*Zangi = From Zanzibar – The ancient Farsi name for the entire East African Coast. Zangi in Farsi or Persian also means a Black Person.
ترکی کی بلخی کی زنگی کی رومی کی

من از کجا شعر ازکجا لیکن بمن در می دمد
مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

“Diwan (Persian دیوان), also transliterated as Deewan or Divan, is a Persian word used also into Arabic (Arabic: الدیوان) and Turkish, and was borrowed also at an earlier date into Armenian. It derives from the Persian dibir, ‘writer, scribe’, and diwan or divān originally designated a list or register. The term derived from Pahlavi referring to a collection of poems by a single author it may be a ‘selected works’, or the whole body of work of a Persian, Urdu or Ottoman Turkish poet. Thus Diwan-e Mir, and so on. The introduction of the term is attributed to Rudaki. It is also worth mentioning that the most famous work with this word as its title is the collection of poetry called Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi by Rumi, named so because of Rumi’s love and dedication to Shams Tabrizi. The term divan was used in titles of poetic works in French, beginning in 1697, but was a rare and didactic usage, though one that was revived by its famous appearance in Goethe’s West-Östlicher Divan (Poems of West and East), a work published in 1819 that reflected the poet’s abiding interest in Middle Eastern and specifically Persian literature. This word has also been applied in a similar way to collections of Hebrew poetry and to poetry of al-Andalus.”

“Divan-e Shams is a masterpiece of wisdom and eloquence. It is often said that Rumi had attained the level of a “Perfect Master” and as such, he often dwelled in the spiritual realms that were rarely visited by others of this world. He attained heights that were attained by only a few before him or since.
In Divan-e Shams, he has used many images from the mundane world. Images such as the wine and the wine bearer, the pearl and the ocean, the sun and the moon, the night and day, the caravan, pilgrimage and many more. However, he has always expressed spiritual wisdom of the highest level through this imagery.

While many other poets have a mystical vision and then try to express it in a graspable language, Rumi has never attempted to bring his visions to the level of the mundane. He has always expected, nay, demanded the reader to reach higher and higher in his or her own spiritual understanding, and then perhaps be able to appreciate what Rumi was saying. Perhaps this is why there are many layers to his poetry… not so much because of his writing, but because of our understanding. As we transcend in our understanding, we grasp more and more of what he conveyed to us.
Yet there is more. While many of the translations of Rumi’s poetry have tried to convey the immense wisdom contained therein, often they overlook the musical and artistic beauty that they contain. Particularly in Divan-e Shams, Rumi has created such level of beauty through the use and mastery of musical rhythm and rhyme, that the reader not only can appreciate its wisdom, but also reach levels of ecstasy and mystical energy that is seldom found in other poems or any translations of his poetry.
The mastery of rhyme and rhythm is such that he often creates a new vocabulary, using the same old words, yet creating new feelings that are associated with them. Furthermore, often he has such mastery of play on words and puns, or at other times he uses the same word with a different accent or vowel twice or even thrice in the same verse, with a different meaning each time. One cannot help but marvel at the linguistic mastery he displays.
In any case, the end result is the same… the experience of artistic beauty, musical genius, rhythm and ecstatic energy, all in conjunction with the mental understanding of the wisdom conveyed. This is as close as one can get to the mystical experience itself, without actually being there with Rumi. In other words, His presence pervades his poetry, and one cannot help but be touched by such powerful and loving presence.

In translation from Farsi to English, it is inevitable that much of the intricacies are lost. However, the present translations have attempted to retain some of the rhythm and rhyme as well as the imagery and the core message of each poem, though often in feeble ways, only to attempt to present a glimpse of his mastery.

The translations are far from creating the ecstasy that Rumi creates and communicates, but it is hoped that they will point the reader in the same direction. And perhaps by using his or her imagination, the reader can have a glimpse of how Rumi would provide glimpses of ecstasy and mystical experience. And hopefully this will pave the way for the reader to connect with Rumi’s all and ever-pervasive presence, and with time, be touched by that spirit.”

Click on each link below to read a Poem from Rumi’s Divan in English and Farsi or Persian simultaneously

Rumi 21Rumi 24Rumi 26Rumi 30Rumi 32Rumi 33Rumi 36Rumi 39Rumi 40Rumi 41Rumi 44Rumi 47Rumi 50Rumi 51Rumi 52Rumi 53Rumi 56Rumi 57Rumi 59Rumi 61

Rumi 65Rumi 66
Rumi 72Rumi 76Rumi 78Versions I & IIRumi 81Rumi 82Rumi 83Rumi 84Rumi 89Rumi 90Rumi 99Rumi 101Rumi 103
Rumi 105Rumi 108Rumi 110Rumi 113Rumi 114Rumi 116

Rumi 117Rumi 122Rumi 123Rumi 129Rumi 131Rumi 134Rumi 138Rumi 143Rumi 146Rumi 147Rumi 149 – Versions I & IIRumi 151Rumi 155Rumi 159
Rumi 160Rumi 165Rumi 170Rumi 171Rumi 176Rumi 177


Translated by Nevit O. Ergin

The complete English translation of Divan-e Shams Tabrizi or Dîvân-i Kebîr (22 Volume Set), translated by Dr. Nevit O. Ergin, is now available for purchase, through Society for Understanding Mevlana

Translated by Dr, Emine Yeniterzi

Translated by R. A. Nicholson

Translated by R. A. Nicholson

Translated by R. A. Nicholson

Translated by A.J. Arberry as Mystical Poems of Rumi

Translated by A.J. Arberry as The Ruba’iyat of Jalal Al-Din Rumi

This poetry,
I never know what I’m going to say. I don’t plan it. When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.Do you think I know what I’m doing,That for a moment, or even half a moment,I know what verses will come from my mouth?I am no more than a pen in a writer’s hand,No more than a ball smacked around by a polo stick!

Translated by Coleman Barks
What have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that. It has become incumbent upon me, as when a man plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake of a guest’s appetite, because the guest’s appetite is for tripe. I have studied many sciences and taken much pain, so that I may be able to offer fine and rare and precious things to the scholars and researchers, the clever ones and the deep thinkers who come to me. God most High Himself willed this. He gathered here all those sciences, and assembled here all those pains, so that I might be occupied with this work. What can I do? In my own country and among my own people there is no occupation more shameful than poetry. If I had remained in my own country, I would have lived in harmony with their temperament and would have practiced what they desired, such as lecturing and composing books, preaching and admonishing, observing abstinence and doing all the outward acts..”

“This spirituality that Rumi represents has obviously touched a very deep nerve in the American psyche.

“Rumi, the 13th century [Afghan-born] Muslim mystic, is now America’s bestselling poet. Amazon lists more than a hundred books of his poetry, and Hollywood stars like Madonna and Martin Sheen have made a CD of his writings. In a country where Pulitzer Prize-winning poets often struggle to sell 10,000 books, Coleman Barks’ translations of Rumi have sold more than a quarter of a million copies. Recordings of Rumi poems have made it to Billboard’s Top 20 list. And a pantheon of Hollywood stars have recorded a collection of Rumi’s love poems – these translated by holistic-health guru Deepak Chopra…Put it all together and you’ve got a Rumi revival that’s made the 13th-century Persian wordsmith the top-selling poet in America today.

In America, Rumi is a teacher of universal spiritual love that crosses religions. Rumi was truly focused on the inner experience, and his writings about the spiritual journey have resonated with people from all walks of life. Rumi is also able to “evoke ecstasy from the plan facts of nature and everyday life” – and in our fast-paced world, that’s something we can all appreciate.

“An Americanized Rumi who speaks to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people and builds bridges of understanding between the Muslim World and the West is, after all, better than an Academized Rumi who speaks to no one.”

“..The Western world has for decades been culling through the most alluring and exotic blooms of Eastern poetry and philosophy in search of a “spirituality” completely unencumbered by the spiky thorns of “religion.” From the Zen masters embraced by the Beats of the 󈧶s, to the Hindu holy men momentarily adopted by the Beatles in the 󈨀s, to that quintessentially enigmatic Chinese mystic Lao Tzu whose Tao Te Ching has been Americanized by even more translators in the past few years than Rumi’s work has the message most ardently sought by the West from these Eastern visionaries is ever the same: the divine is bigger than every vessel that seeks to hold it. But what too often gets ignored is the fact that the poets and mystics making this claim were always speaking from within such vessels themselves: complex cultural worlds to which they remained deeply attached and indebted no matter how free their words, cleaned up and tweaked by modern translators, might make them seem. The New Age dream of finding a guiding ancient voice free of all orthodoxies, dogmas and cultural conditionings has remained just that.

Jalaluddin Rumi was, among many other things, a lover of irony, of the odd and absurd juxtapositions that life creates. So it may be that Rumi would have savored the fact that Madonna set translations of his 13th century verses praising Allah to music on Deepak Chopra’s 1998 CD, A Gift of Love that Donna Karan has used recitations of his poetry as a background to her fashion shows that Oliver Stone wants to make a film of his life and that even though he hailed from Balkh, a town near Mazar-i-Sharif situated in what is today Afghanistan, his verse has only become more popular with American readers since September 11, when Harper Collins published The Soul of Rumi, 400 pages of poetry translated by Coleman Barks…previous Rumi best seller, The Essential Rumi, published by HarperCollins in 1995 with more than 250,000 copies in print, it is easily the most successful poetry book published in the West in the past decade…

The man most responsible for Rumi’s popularity in the West today is Coleman Barks, a poet and retired professor of English at the University of Georgia. Humble and soft-spoken, Barks acknowledges that his translations are often far from exact renditions of the Farsi of Rumi’s day which in any case he doesn’t speak. To create them, he has used literal translations provided by others. Barks’ emphasis on poetic essence over linguistic exactitude owes a strong debt to earlier poet-translators like Robert Bly, Kenneth Rexroth and Ezra Pound who championed a style of direct, aggressively unacademic translation. Following their example, Barks was able to create an American Rumi: one who speaks across the centuries with a voice as direct and imperative as a tug on the shirt…The God Rumi speaks of in his poems or at least in Barks’ translations of them is one who seemingly has little interest in the intricacies of orthodoxy and doctrine. “Rumi keeps breaking the mosque and the minaret and the school,” Barks told National Public Radio last year. “He says when those are torn down, then dervishes can begin their community. So he wants us all to break out of our conditioning, be it national or be it religious or be it gender based…

If Rumi himself were somehow zapped, robes and all, into the present day and given a look at the vast spiritual Starbucks where he is the most popular flavor of the moment, what would he make of it all? “

“The excellent Rumi is now a favorite in America, and if we believe Coleman Barks, Rumi’s grand translator, today more Americans read Rumi than Shakespeare. What lies behind this passionate love of Americans for Rumi?”
Toward the end of Candid, Voltaire writes in 1758 about a dervish saint who lived in Turkey without citing his name. In the novel, Candid approaches and asks the dervish: “Master…we have come to ask a favor. Will you kindly tell us why such a strange animal as man was ever made?“When His Highness sends a ship to Egypt, do you suppose he worries whether the ship’s mice are comfortable or not.” The dervish answered.

This dervish was Jalaluddin Mohammad Rumi, also known as Mavlana-i-Balkhi, the greatest metaphysical thinker and Sufi poet of all times…As the labyrinth of suffering and injustice and fever of war is raging in our world today, the West looks upon the East for inspiration as Voltaire did in his turbulent age. For our age, Rumi’s poetry offers the remedy for the apocalyptic hysteresis of our time. It is the prime reason why Rumi is becoming increasingly popular in the West. The medieval poet is loved and read in the West and he still is a bestseller in the US. His ideas and poetic legacy still haunt universities, pubs, spiritual industries, valentine day, theater, opera, ballet, film etc…
Rumi and Idris Shah himself were among the great inspirers for the Western esotericism, New Age in the 1960s. Rumi’s spiritual doctrine of God as an apex of a pyramid with numerous paths leading to it was adapted by the New Agers. This led within the movement the notion of unity and harmony between all religions of the world. With the help of a spiritual master, one can get access to such a high consciousness and a cosmic energy beyond human physical faculties…

The universal message of Rumi is a hopeful alternative to the ignorance and lack of spirituality in modern times. Rumi’s writings of the thirteenth century advocate an understanding that there is something beyond religion and scholarly learning that can open our eyes to the reality beyond this existence for Rumi we must climb a spiritual ladder of love. Furthermore, Rumi envisioned a universal faith, embodying all religions, because he understood that the cause of every religious conflict is ignorance. Rumi implies that religiosity consists in something other than outward religions. Real belief is apparent only on the inside of a person, which is not visible. Therefore, Rumi makes it clear that the religion of love involves loving the eternal and invisible source of existence.”
Excepts from Rumi, Islam and America

“Rumi is thus seen, not just as an icon of Islamic civilization (or of Afghan, Iranian, Tajik or Turkish national heritage), but of global culture. And, indeed, the popular following he enjoys in North America as a symbol of ecumenical spirituality is evident in bookstores, poetry slams, church sermons and on the internet. Some claim that Rumi is the bestselling poet in the United States, achieving great commercial success at the hands of authors who “translate” despite not speaking the original language.

Since another Persian poet, Omar Khayyam (d. 1121), once had societies dedicated to him in every corner of the Anglophone world, but is relatively little read today, we may well ask whether Rumi’s recent fame in the West represents just another passing fad. But might he have something profound to say about, not only the paradigm of new age thought and spirituality, but also the mystical traditions of the other established religions?

Excerpts from Rumi: World Figure or New Age Fad? by one of the greatest contemporary American scholars of Rumi, Professor Franklin Lewis.

Franklin Lewis is associate professor of Persian in the department of near eastern languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. The following eight articles on Rumi by the outstanding contemporary American scholar of Rumi, Professor Franklin Lewis are A MUST READ, if you’re interested in leaning more about Rumi’s life, works, and profound Sufi teachings:

Excerpts from Prof. Franklin Lewis’ outstanding lecture, The Icon and the Man: In Quest of the Historical Rumi:

What identities did this Rumi hold? Most of us do belong to different professional, communal, intellectual, family, and social circles – and as such have simultaneous multiple overlapping identities. We are not one thing alone, and to understand any utterance we make, or anything we write, it helps to know the context of our comment, and the discourse in which we intend it to participate.

Rumi was of course, Muslim, but what does that mean? Not just a Muslim, but a Sunni Muslim (which is to say he was not Shi’i, though like most Shi’is and Sunnis, he did hold ‛Ali in especial reverence). He was trained in and followed the Hanafi school of law (i.e., he was not Mâliki, Shâfi’i or Hanbali, though he often was influenced by or admired others who did follow those other schools). He was a member of the ulema, the class of religious scholars (meaning he was not a farmer, not an artisan, and though he held the ear of several important people of state, and received state patronage, he did not work for the government). More specifically, he was trained, like his father, as a popular preacher (vā`eẓ). He has furthermore been identified as a ṣufi, in his case meaning someone who shares a mystical technique or approach to the reading of, and living out, the Qur’an and Islamic teachings.Sufism is a catch-all term that means different things and must itself be unpackaged. It was associated in Rumi’s case with ascetic practices – the term probably comes from the wearing of coarse wool cloaks (ṣuf) – and Rumi certainly did engage in extended fasting and other spiritual / physical disciplines as part of his quest for God. However, it more broadly came to mean that, in addition to following the path of behavior established in the Shari`a or Islamic law, one would also follow another word for “path” – the ṭariqa, a mode of insight and experiencing God that goes beyond the acquisition of religious and legal knowledge. It might in some contexts refer to wandering mendicant dervishes, who shaved their heads and eyebrows and beard and practiced reliance on god, or begging. It might designate a community of disciples who train with a particular master, spending time in his company (soḥbat) for many years learning his behavior and his teachings, and following specific rules. It might denote a person who is engaged in a contemplative gnostic quest to apprehend the Godhead – ‛erfân. And it was most certainly associated in this latter sense with Rumi after his time with Shams.

Ethnically Rumi was most probably Persian, though he himself does not make an issue of it. He wrote primarily in Persian, which was obviously his mother tongue, though he also wrote a good deal of poetry and prose in Arabic, and he even composed a little bit of verse with lines in Turkish or in demotic Greek. Though he would not have seen himself in terms of modern day nationalities or citizens of particular nation-states, this has not stopped various countries claiming him as their own, as I earlier alluded. How did Rumi identify himself? Well, we might try to understand that from the following lines of his Masnavi (1:1205-7):

A language shared brings kinship and a bond
But talk with folk of unlike mind’s a chain:

Often Turk and Hindu can communicate
Whereas two Turks may meet and feel estranged
The lingo the like-minded share is best!
Better a common heart than common tongue!

As part of this question of identity, there is even the question of what to call him. In the West we now refer to him as “Rumi,” meaning in Persian, from “Rome” or Byzantium, that is Anatolia, though this might also be said of thousands of other people of the pre-modern era.His given name was Moḥammad, his title was Jalâl al-Din (“the Majesty of the Faith”), his followers called him “Mowlavi” (an Arabic term used also in Persian, and later in Urdu, meaning “my master”) or Mowlânâ, meaning “our master.” In Turkish this is pronounced as Mevlana, the name by which he is generally known in Turkey, while Rumi is a name that is peculiar to him in the modern West.”

Read and Watch Entire Lecture Below:

Prof. Franklin Lewis’ Major Works on Rumi are:

MUST READ…The Quintessential Book on Rumi

“An astounding work of scholarship by Prof. Lewis, which brings Rumi, his father, his son, Shams i Tabriz, and the entire world of medieval Konya to life in this monumental biography of Rumi and the Mevlevi Sufi Order he founded. Setting a benchmark in Rumi studies, this award-winning work examines the background, the legacy, and the continuing significance of this thirteenth-century mystic, who is today the best-selling poet in the United States. Franklin D. Lewis has drawn on a vast array of sources, from writings of the poet himself to the latest scholarly literature, to produce this detailed survey of Rumi’s life and work. In addition to offering fresh perspectives on the philosophical and spiritual context in which Rumi was writing, and providing in-depth analysis of his teachings, Lewis pays particular attention to why Rumi continues to enjoy such a huge following in the West. Also featured in this ground-breaking study are new translations of over fifty of Rumi’s poems, and never before seen prose, together with extensive commentaries and a full annotated bibliography of works by and about Rumi.”

“It will simply not do to extract quotations out of context and present Rumi as prophet of the presumptions of an unchurched and syncretic spirituality. While Rumi does indeed demonstrate a tolerant and inclusive understanding of religion, he also, we must remember, trained as a preacher, like his father before him, and as a scholar of Islamic law. Rumi did not come to his theology of tolerance and inclusive spirituality by turning away from traditional Islam or organized religion, but through an immersion in it his spiritual yearning stemmed from a radical desire to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad and actualize his potential as a perfect Muslim…To understand Rumi one must obviously understand something of the beliefs and assumptions he held as a Muslim. Rumi’s beliefs derived from the Koran, the Hadith, Islamic theology and the works of Sunni mystics like Sana i, Attar, and his own father, Baha al-Din Valad.”

“Timeless and eternal, distilled from the deepest spirit, the poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi is loved the world over. In this beautifully presented volume of new translations, Franklin D. Lewis draws from the great breadth of his work, in all its varied aspects and voices. Working directly from the original Persian, Lewis brings to this translation not only the latest scholarship in Persian and English, but a deftness and lightness of touch that allows for a profound sensitivity to Rumi’s mystical and philosophical background. Complete with a detailed introduction and notes, this is a perceptive, insightful, and deeply moving collection that will prove inspirational to both keen followers of Rumi’s work and readers discovering the great poet for the first time.”

Rumi – Ghazal/Ode # 1855 from Divan-e Shams – Translated from Farsi or Persian by the eminent American-born scholar of Rumi, Prof. Franklin Lewis:

How could I know melancholia
Would make me so crazy,
Make of my heart a hell
Of my two eyes raging rivers?
How could I know a torrent would
Snatch me out of nowhere away,
Toss me like a ship upon a sea of blood
That waves would crack that ship’s ribs board by board,
Tear with endless pitch and yaw each plank
That a leviathan would read its head,
Gulp down the ocean’s water,
That such an endless ocean could dry up like a desert,
That the sea-quenching serpent could then split that desert
Could jerk me of a sudden, like Korah, with the hand of wrath,
Deep into a pit?
When these transmutations came about
Nod desert, not sea remained in sight
How should I know how it all happened
Since how is drowned in the Howless?
What a multiplicity of how could I knows!
But I don’t know
For to counter
The sea rushing in my mouth
I swallowed a froth of opium.

Here is Rumi’s original Ghazal/Ode #1855 in Farsi or Persian from his Divan-e Shams:

چه دانستم که این سودا مرا زین سان کند مجنون
دلم را دوزخی سازد دو چشمم را کند جیحون
چه دانستم که سیلابی مرا ناگاه برباید
چو کشتی ام دراندازد میان قلزم پرخون
زند موجی بر آن کشتی که تخته تخته بشکافد
که هر تخته فروریزد ز گردش‌های گوناگون
نهنگی هم برآرد سر خورد آن آب دریا را
چنان دریای بی‌پایان شود بی‌آب چون هامون
شکافد نیز آن هامون نهنگ بحرفرسا را
کشد در قعر ناگاهان به دست قهر چون قارون
چو این تبدیل‌ها آمد نه هامون ماند و نه دریا
چه دانم من دگر چون شد که چون غرق است در بی‌چون
چه دانم‌های بسیار است لیکن من نمی‌دانم
که خوردم از دهان بندی در آن دریا کفی افیون

مولانا- غزل شمارهٔ ۱۸۵۵ از دیوان شمس تبریزی

“William C. Chittick is a professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Professor Chittick is one the world’s leading translators and interpreters of the mystical poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi. He is also recognized for his translation and interpretation of the writings of the great 13th century Andalusian Sufi theorist and poet, Ibn Arabi.”
Prof. Chittick is the author of following Books on Rumi & Sufism:

“The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi is the most accessible work in English on the greatest mystical poet of Islam, providing a survey of the basic Sufi and Islamic doctrines concerning God and the world, the role of Man in the cosmos, the need for religion, Man’s ultimate becoming, the states and stations of the mystical ascent to God, and the means whereby literature employs symbols to express “unseen” realities. William Chittick translates into English for the first time certain aspects of Rumi’s work. He selects and rearranges Rumi’s poetry and prose in order to leave aside unnecessary complications characteristic of other English translations and to present Rumi’s ideas in an orderly fashion, yet in his own words.”

Excerpts from The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi by one of the greatest contemporary American scholars of Rumi, Prof. William C. Chittick

Although Rumi has become one of America’s favorite poets, very little is known about the underlying metaphysical foundation which illuminates his language.Rumi is not a great poet in spite of Islam, He’s a great poet because of Islam. It’s because he lived his religion fully that he became this great expositor on beauty and love. Rumi has come to embody a kind of free-for-all American spirituality that has as much to do with Walt Whitman as Muhammad. Rumi’s work has become so universal that it can mean anything readers use the poems for recreational self-discovery, finding in the lines whatever they wish.

In the modern West, Jalaluddin Rumi has become the best known Persian poet. Some Persian speakers may consider him the greatest poet of their language, but not if they are asked to stress the verbal perfections of the verses rather than the meaning that the words convey. Rumi’s success in the West has to do with the fact that his message transcends the limitation of language.He has something important to say, and he says it in a way that is not completely bound up with the intricacies and beauty of the Persian language and the culture which that language conveys, nor even with poetry (he is also the author of prose works, including his Discourses, available in a good English translation by A.J. Arberry). One does not have to appreciate poetry to realize that Rumi is one of the greatest spiritual teachers who ever lived.

Rumi’s greatness has to do with the fact that he brings out what he calls “the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion,” or the most essential message of Islam, which is the most essential message of traditional religion everywhere: Human beings were born for unlimited freedom and infinite bliss, and their birthright is within their grasp. But in order to reach it, they must surrender to love. What makes Rumi’s expression of this message different from other expressions is his extraordinary directness and uncanny ability to employ images drawn from everyday life.

Beauty, Rumi knows, is a profound need of the human soul, because God is beautiful and the source of all beauty, and God is the soul’s only real need…For Rumi, separation from Shams was the outward sign of separation from God, which is only half the story. As much as Rumi complains of separation, he celebrates the joys of union. Shams, he lets us know, never really left him, nor was Rumi ever truly separate from God.

Shams Tabrizi is but a pretext-
I display the beauty of God’s gentleness, I !”

“In clear and accessible language, The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi is an introduction to the spiritual perspective illuminating Rumi’s magical poetry. In this beautifully illustrated work, William C. Chittick, a leading scholar of Sufism and Rumi, opens doors that give us access to the inner sanctum of Rumi’s thought.”

Excerpts from The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi by one of the greatest contemporary American scholars of Rumi, Prof. William C. Chittick:

Rumi is justly celebrated as one of the great poets of human history. When I started reading him as an undergraduate 45 years ago, I did not know Persian and relied on the work of R. A. Nicholson, who produced the first critical edition of Rumi’s 25,000-verse Mathnawi along with a complete English translation and two volumes of commentary (eight volumes in all). At that time Rumi was practically unknown outside the field of Middle East studies, so his popularity in the West is a recent phenomenon. In the Persianate world (which extends from the Balkans through Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent), he has been a cultural icon for centuries. Although he is now far better known in the West than he was 40 years ago, the understanding of what he is actually talking about seems to have decreased. It was not easy to plow through Nicholson, but one did learn a great deal about the religious and philosophical content of Rumi’s teachings. Having breezed through one of the popular selections, one comes out feeling good.

Everyone recognizes that Rumi was a poet of love. This means that most people see him as an oddity in Islamic history. When we situate him in his own historical context, however, we see that he spoke for the mainstream. What made him stand out was that he got to the heart of the matter more quickly and much more enticingly than most authors. He makes his agenda explicit in the introduction to the Mathnawi: He is explaining “the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion,” that is, the Islamic religion founded by the Koran and Muhammad…

Rumi gave a great variety of names to the human participation in God’s love — hunger, thirst, need, desire, craving, passion, fire, burning. Like many others, he identified love with the “poverty” mentioned in the Koranic verse, “O people, you are the poor toward God, and God is the rich, the praiseworthy” (35:15). Love is that empty spot in our hearts that we can never fill, because it craves the infinite riches of the Hidden Treasure.

Once upon a time, Rumi says, we were fish swimming in the ocean, unaware of the water and ourselves. The ocean wanted to be recognized, so it threw us up on dry land. We flip after this, we flop after that, pursuing an ever more elusive happiness. Is the ocean tormenting us? Well, yes. It put us here. But, the more we burn, the more intensely we will love the ocean’s beauty when it calls us back.”

The earliest introductions of Sufism to America took place in the early 1900’sthrough scholars, writers, and artists who often accessed information on Sufism through the Orientalist movement. Examples of Western figures who were influenced by Sufism include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rene Guenon, Reynold Nicholson, and Samuel Lewis. These individuals helped to introduce concepts of Sufism to larger audiences through their writings, discussions and other methods of influence. Emerson, for example, was influenced by Persian Sufi poetry such as that of the poet Saadi, and this influence was then reflected in Emerson’s own poetry and essays. Rene Guenon incorporated information about Sufism into his traditionalist philosophy, andNicholson offered Western readers some of the great Sufi works for the first time in the English language, especially the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi.

The first major Sufi figure in the United States was Hazrat Inayat Khan, a musician from India. He blended aspects of Sufism and Islam with other spiritual, musical and religious concepts and practices. He did not actually consider his group a Sufi group and preached a Universalist spiritual movement. Hazrat believed destiny had called him to speed the “Universal Message of the Time” which maintained thatSufism was not essentially tied to historical Islam, but rather consisted of timeless, universal teaching related to peace, harmony, and the essential unity of all human beings. Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Order in America, called ‘The Sufi Order in the West’ was founded in 1910.

The poetry of Jelal-ud-Din Rumi has made the greatest impression upon humanity. The original words of Rumi are so deep, so perfect, so touching, that when one repeats them hundreds and thousands of people are moved to tears. They cannot help penetrating the heart. This shows how much Rumi himself was moved to have been able to pour out such living words… [after meeting Shams of Tabriz], Rumi experienced a wonderful upliftment, a great joy and exaltation. In order to make this exaltation complete, Rumi began to write verses, and the singers used to sing them and when Rumi heard these beautiful verses sung by the singers with their rabab, the Persian musical instrument, he experienced the stage known to Yogis as Samadhi, which in Persian is called Wajad…”

“While one considers the place of Rumi in the European intellectual context, the inquest cannot be complete without mulling over his role in shaping Western thought and theology. This is where the mystical dimensions of Rumi have the most far reaching impact. The cosmology of Rumi’s work is perhaps one of the most diverse in the entire literary history. It is only thus that it has appealed to the most assorted set of individuals in the East and West alike. The mystical chants of Rumi reached their zenith when they influenced the thought of two of the most prominent thinkers in modern history, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and Karl Marx (1818-1883).

A number of Orientalists can be credited with introducing Rumi to Europe. The role that the German speaking Orientalists played in introducing Maulana in the Western consciousness is eminent.

Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), who in Annemarie Schimmel’s words was the “indefatigable translator of Persian, Turkish and Arabic literature.” Purgstall, who was an Austrian diplomat, started publishing a journal of Oriental Studies in 1809 named Fundgruben des Orients, in which some translations from Rumi were published. In 1835, a Turkish commentary of the Masnavi written by Ismail Rüsuhi Ankaravi was accompanied by the first thorough review of the Masnavi done by Purgstall. The analysis of the “great poem” that Purgstall did here was outstanding in conveying the spirit of Masnavi. The study of Purgstall was well founded, as he was able to differentiate the mystical dimensions of Rumi’s poetry from those of Hafez and Khayyam, which many later readers in England failed to do. One of the most important contributions of Purgstall was his classical book on the history of Persian literature, Geschichte der schonen Redekunste Persiens, published in Vienna in 1818. Purgstall dedicated many pages of his book to Rumi. This classical work presented the European audience with seventy passages from the Masnavi and Divan-e Shams. Although the translations of Purgstall were dry and lacked much needed beauty and eloquence, their importance in introducing Rumi to the West is undeniable. Purgstall’s fascination with Rumi was unending. He wrote, “Rumi not only transcends the sun and the moon but also time and space, creation, the assembly of Alast, and the Judgment Day and reaches infinity, and from there he attains the Absolute Being that is Everlasting and Ever-present and represents the ultimate servant, the infinite love and lover.”

Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) – The contributions of Rückert are the most eminent among all other nineteenth century Orientalists. In the years to follow, he was to stir up many a lover of Rumi in the West. Rückert was the first one to introduce the ghazal form in German poetry… in the book that he produced in 1819, called Ghaselen, was a collection of exquisite poems that reflected the true spirit of Maulana’s work. Ghaselen played a crucial role in introducing Rumi to the likes of Platen and Hegel. This collection contained forty four ghazals of Rumi, translated in the most affable manner. In this work, Rückert spoke about the essence of love, longing, and unity, using the symbols of Rumi. His cadence and his elegance were such that this collection can be considered one of the best introductions to Maulana Rumi’s poetic genius even today. Ghaselen was followed by a second collection of Rückert’s ghazals in Maulana’s style published in 1836…

When works on Sufi doctrines and translations from parts of Masnavi started appearing in the West in the nineteenth century, a view started developing among the Western orientalists. and philosophers that Rumi had taught a kind of pantheism. The British scholar Graham dwelt upon this issue in one of his publications in 1819. Followed by Graham, an influential nineteenth century theologian, F.A.D. Tholuck published a short introduction to Islamic mysticism in Latin in the year 1821. This work contained several quotations from the Masnavi, whereby Tholuck characterized Rumi as a proponent of pantheism. He quoted Rumi as a defender of the theory wherein the world is considered to be a prison for our souls…
Although historically not as important as Rückert, an Austrian Orientalist, Rosenzweig-Schwannau (1791-1865) was also very attracted to Rumi’s ghazals. Schwannau published 75 poems from the Divan of Rumi, along with his notes and German translation in 1838. Rückert however, as already mentioned, was the true champion of Rumi. Among those inspired by his work was the poet August Graf von Platen (1796-1835). After having met Rückert in 1820, Platen published his own collection of Ghaselen. Most of his ghazals, which numbered over 150, were written between 1821 and 1823. These ghazals of Platen were published in four separate collections namely Ghaselen (1821,) Ghaselen, Zweite Sammlung (1821), Spiegel des Hafis (1822), and Neue Ghaselen (1823). The second volume, containing 36 ghazals, was dedicated to Friedrich Rückert. This collection largely focused on mystical themes and the implications of the Oriental love motifs. The mysticism portrayed by these ghazals was directly influenced by Rückert’s translations of Rumi’s poetry. Hence Rumi played a significant role in inspiring a new German verse-form, the German ghazal…It was Rückert’s translations that familiarized Hegel with Rumi. While Rumi had disturbed Tholuck on one hand, he inspired Hegel on the other. It is argued that Rumi also influenced the development of Hegel’s dialectics. While according Rumi great importance in his writings, Hegel addressed him as the “excellent Jalaluddin Rumi” in his Encyclopaedie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1827). Hegel mentioned Rumi at several places in his lectures and extensively in the section on the philosophy of mind in his Encyclopaedia.While discussing divine love and oriental poetry in the section “Mohammadanische Poesie” of his lectures on fine art, Hegel mentioned Rumi and praised the beautiful translations done by Rückert. In the same set of lectures, Hegel mentioned Rumi again while discussing the aesthetics of the oriental epic, Aesthetik des orientalischen Epos…

In his Encyclopaedia, in the section on Absolute Mind, Hegel wrote about the relation between philosophy and religion. In this section, the main discussion focuses on pantheism, and Hegel talks about the Bhagawat-Gita and the Vedas, comparing the idolatry of a Hindu to the “everything is God, and God everything” of a pantheist. In the midst of this discussion, Hegel brings in Rumi and says that, “If we want to see the consciousness of the One—not as with the Hindus split between the featureless unity of abstract thought, on one hand, and on the other, the long-winded weary story of its particular detail, but—in its finest purity and sublimity, we must consult the Mohammedans. If, e.g., in the excellent Jelaleddin-Rumi in particular, we find the unity of the soul with the One set forth, and that unity described as love, this spiritual unity is an exaltation above the finite and vulgar, a transfiguration of the natural and the spiritual, in which the externalism and transitoriness of immediate nature, and of empirical secular spirit, is discarded and absorbed…”

Hegel’s fascination with Rumi is unmistakable. Hegel goes on to say that he cannot refrain from giving a few examples from Rumi in order to give a more lucid impression of his ideas. With words of praise for the skill of Rückert, from whom he took the translations of Rumi, Hegel mentioned 21 verses of Rumi in his Encyclopaedia…These ideas on the nature of Mysticism inspired Karl Marx, who later gave a theory to uncover the mysticism of capital and capital accumulation in the capitalist social system. Hence, the mysticism of Rumi led to the development of Marx’s theory on commodity fetishism.Capital, Volume I was the first of the three volumes in Karl Marx’s monumental work, Das Kapital. Section 4 of the first chapter, titled “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof,” is where Marx explained what he saw as the “mystical” character of commodities. Marx wrote, “A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties…For Marx, the fetishism of commodities originated in the peculiar social character of the labor that produced them. His conception of their nature derived itself from Hegel’s definition of “mystical,” and this definition, in turn, was Hegel’s reflection on Rumi’s poetry. It is indeed remarkable how far reaching the influence of Rumi can be, from inspiring a new genre of poetry to theories in political-economy.”
Excerpts from The Whisper that Echoed across the Seven Seas: Rumi in the Western Intellectual Milieu

“Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, or R. A. Nicholson (1868 – 1945), was an eminent British Orientalist and scholar of both Islamic Literature and Islamic Mysticism, Sufism. Nicholson is unanimously regarded as the greatest scholar and translator of Rumi in the English language. A professor for many years at the Cambridge University in England, he dedicated his life to the study of Islamic Mysticism and was able to study and translate major Sufi texts in Arabic, Farsi or Persian, and Ottoman Turkish.

Nicholson’s monumental achievement was his work on Rumi’s Masnavi (done in eight volumes, published between 1925-1940).He produced the first critical Persian edition of Rumi’s Masnavi, the first full translation of it into English, and the first commentary on the entire work in English.This work has been highly influential in the field of Rumi studies worldwide. Nicholson also produced two volumes which condensed his work on the Masnavi which were aimed at the popular level: Tales of Mystic Meaning (1931) and Rumi: Poet and Mystic (1950). In addition, Nicholson published the first information about Rumi’s Discourses (Fihi-Ma-Fihi) in the English language (in a 1924 article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society).

“The Divani Shamsi Tabriz is a masterpiece of Persian literature and a classic work in the history of Sufiism. With his Masnavi it is one of the key writings of the renowned Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). Professor Nicholson’s English translation of selected poems from the Divan of Rumi was first published in 1898, and is often credited as being the best-known version in a European language. It is suitable for scholars and students of Persian literature and for all those interested in the mystical literature of Islam. The Persian text is printed with facing English translations, and there are copious notes, a lengthy introduction, appendices and indices.”

|PDF | English | 2635 Pages |
“Rumi’s poetry and prose were composed in Persian, translations of his work into European languages first began appearing in the late eighteenth century. French and German renderings led the way, with English translations not appearing until the end of the nineteenth century. Of the earlier English translators, it is Reynold A. Nicholson whose work continues to be of immense value. Nicholson became an outstanding linguist and scholar, specialising in Arabic, Persian, and Islamic Studies, and lecturing at Cambridge University. With publication beginning in 1925, Nicholson was the first Western scholar to translate Rumi’s entire Masnavi into English (accompanied by a commentary). He also translated many of the odes from Rumi’s Divan-e Shams.
Şefik Can, a Mevlevi Shaykh (Sufi Master) and scholar from Turkey offers this affectionate picture of Nicholson’s dedication to Rumi:

“Nicholson was not only a great Orientalist and a renowned scholar but also a great lover of God. As related by his friends and students, he would shed tears during Masnavi lectures, becoming enraptured. In a room of his house decorated in oriental fashion, he would prepare the explanation of the Masnavi dressed in clothing wearing the long, round Mevlevi hat on his head. It is said that Nicholson completed this commentary in forty years.”

Fundamentals of Rumi’s Thought, Şefik Can.

“Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-73) was the greatest of the Persian mystical poets. In his extensive writings he explored the profound themes that had gradually evolved with the long succession of Sufi thinkers since the ninth century, such as the nature of truth, of beauty, and of our spiritual relationship with God. Professor R. A. Nicholson translated this inspiring collection of mystical poems shortly before his death. It contains delicately rhythmical versions of over a hundred short passages from Rumi’s greatest works, together with brief yet illuminating explanatory notes. With this attractive and accessible translation, a wider readership can appreciate the range and depth of Rumi’s intellect and imagination, and discover why it is so often said that in Rumi the Persian mystical genius found its supreme expression.”

“Arthur John Arberry or A. J. Arberry (1905-1969) was a British Orientalist, scholar, translator, editor, and author who wrote, translated, or edited about 90 books on Persian and Arab language subjects. He specialized in Sufi studies, but is also known for his excellent translation of the Koran. A. J. Arberry attended Cambridge University, where he studied Persian and Arabic with R. A. Nicholson, an experience which he considered the turning point of his life. After graduation, Arberry worked in Cairo as head of the classics department at Cairo University…Arberry is also notable for introducing Rumi’s works to the West through his selective translations.”

A. J. Arberry’s major Rumi Translations are:

  • Mystical Poems of Rumi – Arberry’s translations of 400Rumi Ghazals/Odes from Divan-e Shams.
  • Discourses of Rumi – Arberry’s translation of Fihi Ma Fihi, the major Prose work of Rumi.
  • The Rubaiyat of Jalal al-Din Rumi – Arberry’s translations of 359 Quatrains by Rumi from his Divan-e Shams.
  • Tales from the Masnavi – Arberry’s selection of Tales from Rumi’s Masnavi based on Nicholson’s literal translation of Masnavi.

|PDF | English | 97 Pages |

As salt resolved in the ocean
I was swallowed in God’s Sea,
Past faith, past unbelieving,
Past doubt, past certainty.
Suddenly in my bosom
A star shone clear and bright
All the suns of heaven
Vanished in that star’s light.
A quatrain/rubai by Rumi – trans. by Arberry.

“At the end of Rumi’s Dîvân (collected works of poetry) are nearly two thousand quatrains [rubâ`iyât]. A. J. Arberry wrote (in 1950) that, “maybe about 1,600 are authentic.” The quatrains make up about 4% of the total verses in the Dîvân. They consist of four half-lines, and their brevity (which challenges the poet to be concise, condensed, terse, pithy, ingenious, witty, subtle) makes them ideal for aphorisms and maxims. The original translation is by Professor A.J.Arberry (1905-1969), who selected 359 finest and the most individual of the quatrains attributed to Rumi. Arberry’s book was published first in 1949 as “The Ruba’iyat of Jalal al-Din Rumi – Select translation into English verse”.”

The Rubaiyat or Quatrains of Rumi from Divan-e Shams – Translated by the eminent 20th century British Orientalist, Prof. Arthur John Arberry – along with their Farsi or Persian Transliterations – Courtesy of outstanding site on Rumi: Khamush

|PDF | English | 97 Pages |

“Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–73), legendary Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and mystic, wrote poems acclaimed through the centuries for their powerful spiritual images and provocative content, which often described Rumi’s love for God in romantic or erotic terms. His vast body of work includes more than three thousand lyrics and odes. This volume includes four hundred poems selected by renowned Rumi scholar A. J. Arberry, who provides here one of the most comprehensive and adept English translations of this enigmatic genius. Mystical Poems is the definitive resource for anyone seeking an introduction to or an enriched understanding of one of the world’s greatest poets.”

|PDF | English | 450 Pages |
“Rumi’s major Prose work, Fihi Ma Fihi was translated into English under the title “Discourses of Rumi” by A. J. Arberry in 1961 and consists of 71 Discourses.”
Excerpts from Fihi-Ma-Fihi or Discourses of Rumi:

“Everyone likes a mirror, and is in love with reflections of their own attributes and attainments, but friends you misses the true nature of the face. You think this bodily veil is a face, and the mirror of this veil is the mirror of your face. Uncover your face, so you can know for sure the mirror of your true self…

The true Sufi is like a mirror where you see your own image, for “The believer is a mirror of their fellow believers.”… a mirror shows no image of itself. Any image it reflects is the image of another…The seeker of truth is a mirror for their neighbors. But those who cannot feel the sting of truth are not mirrors to anyone but themselves…

If you find fault in your brother or sister, the fault you see in them is within yourself. Get rid of those faults in yourself, because what bothers you in them bothers you in yourself. An elephant was led to a well to drink. Seeing itself in the water, it shied away. It thought it was shying away from another elephant. It did not realize it was shying away from its own self. All evil qualities—oppression, hatred, envy, greed, mercilessness, pride—when they are within yourself, they bring no pain. When you see them in another, then you shy away and feel the pain. We feel no disgust at our own scab and abscess. We will dip our infected hand into our food and lick our fingers without turning in the least bit squeamish. But if we see a tiny abscess or half a scratch on another’s hand, we shy away from that person’s food and have no stomach for it whatsoever. Evil qualities are just like scabs and abscesses when they are within us they cause no pain, but when we see them even to a small degree in another, then we feel pain and disgust. Within our being all sciences were originally joined as one, so that our spirit displayed all hidden things, like clear water shows everything within it—pebbles, broken shards and the like—and reflects the sky above from its surface like a mirror. This is Soul’s true nature, without treatment or training. But once Soul has mingled with the earth and its earthly elements, this clarity leaves it and is forgotten. So God sends forth the prophets and saints, like a great translucent ocean that accepts all waters, and yet no matter how dark or dirty are the rivers that pour into it, that ocean remains pure. Then Soul remembers. When it sees its reflection in that unsullied water, it knows for sure that in the beginning it too was pure, and these shadows and colors are mere accidents

A friend of Joseph returned from a far journey. Joseph asked, “What present have you brought me?” The friend replied, “What is there you do not possess? What could you need? Since no one exists more handsome than you, I have brought a mirror so that every moment you may gaze in it upon your own face.” What is there that God does not possess? What does He need? Therefore, bring before God a heart, crystal clear, so that He may see His own perfection. “God looks not at your form, nor at your deeds, but at your heart.”

|PDF | English | 450 Pages |

“In the English-speaking world, The Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi by Reynold Alleyne Nicholson was the first major work on the Masnavi. Nicholson’s student, A.J. Arberry, translated its stories in lucid prose as Tales from the Masnavi.”

Excerpts from Introduction of Tales from the Masnavi by Arberry:
The use of the parable in religious teaching has of course a very long history, and Rumi broke no new ground when he decided to lighten the weight of his doctrinal exposition by introducing tales and fables to which he gave an allegorical twist.He was especially indebted, as he freely acknowledges in the course of his poem, to two earlier Persian poets, Sana’i of Ghazna and Farid al-Din ‘Attar of Nishapur, Rumi’s immediate models

The first mystics in Islam, or rather those of them who were disposed to propagate Sufi teachings in writing as well as by example, followed the lead set by the preachers. Ibn al-Mubarak, al-Muhasibi and al-Kharraz were competent Traditionalists and therefore sprinkled acts and sayings of the Prophet, and of his immediate disciples, through the pages of their times, furnished the next generation of Sufi writers with supplementary evidence, their own acts and words, to support the rapidly developing doctrine…

Meanwhile the allegory, reminiscent of the ‘myths’ of Plato and the fables of Aesop, established itself as a dramatic alternative method of demonstration. It seems that here the philosophers were first in the field, notably Avicenna who himself has mystical interests he would have been preceded by the Christian Hunain ibn Ishaq, translator of Greek philosophical texts, if we may accept as authentic the ascription to him of a version ‘made from the Greek’ of the romance of Salaman and Absal. Among Avicenna’s compositions in this genre was the famous legend of Haiy ibn Yaqzan, afterwards elaborated by the Andalusian Ibn Tufail…

Shibab al-Din al-Suhrawardi al-Maqtul, executed for heresy at Aleppo in 1191- only sixteen years before Rumi was born in distant Balkh-combining philosophy with mysticism wrote Sufi allegories in Persian prose, and was apparently the first author to do so unless indeed we may apply the word allegory to describe the subtle meditations on mystical love composed by Ahmad al-Ghazali, who died in 1126.

Such in brief are the antecedents to Rumi’s antecedents. When Sana’i began writing religious and mystical poetry in the early years of the twelfth century, he found the Persian language prepared for his task by Hujviri and Ansari. His greatest and most famous work, the Garden of Mystical Truth, completed in 1131 and dedicated to the Ghaznavid rule Bahram Shah, is best understood as an adaptation in verse of the by now traditional prose manual of Sufism. The first mystical epic in Persian, it is divided into ten chapters, each chapter being subdivided into sections with illustrative stories. It thus gives the superficial impression of a learned treatise in epic is shown by the lengthy exordia devoted to praising Allah, blessing his prophet, and flattering the reigning Sultan. Rumi in his Masnavi quotes or imitates the Garden of Sana’i on no fewer than nine occasions. It should be added that Sana’i, like Rumi after him, composed many odes and lyrics of a mystical character unlike Rumi, he also wrote a number of shorter mystical epics including one, the Way of Worshipers, which opens as an allegory and only in its concluding passages, far too extended, turns into a panegyric.

Farid al-Din ‘Attar, whom Rumi met as a boy and whose long life ended in about 1230, improved and expanded greatly on the foundations, laid by Sana’i. Judged solely as a poet he was easily his superior he also possessed a far more penetrating and creative mind, and few more exciting tasks await the student of Persian literature than the methodical exploration, as yet hardly begun, of his voluminous and highly original writings. His best known poem, paraphrased by Edward FizGerald as The Bird-Parliament, has been summarized by Professor H. Ritter, the leading western authority on ‘Attar and a scholar of massive and most varied erudition, as a ‘grandiose poetic elaboration of the Risalat al-Tyar of Muhammad or Ahmad Ghazali. The birds, led by the hoopoe, set out to seek Simurgh, whom they had elected as their king. All but thirty perish on the path on which they have to traverse seven dangerous valleys. The surviving thirty eventually recognize themselves as being the deity (si murgh – Simurgh), and then merge in the divine Simurgh.’ It is not difficult to apprehend in this elaborate and beautiful allegory, surely among the greatest works of religious literature, the influence of the animal fables of Ibn al-Muqaffa’.

In his Divine Poem, which has been edited by Professor Ritter and of which French and English translations are understood to be in preparation, ‘Attar takes as the framework of his allegory a legend which might have been lifted bodily out of the Thousand and One Nights. ‘A king asks his six sons what, of all things in the world, they wish for. They wish in turn for the daughter of the fairy king, the art of witchcraft, the magic cup of Djam, the water of life, Solomon’s ring, and the elixir. The royal farther tries to draw them away from their worldly desires and to inspire them with higher aims.’ The supporting narratives are, like those of the The Bird-Parliament, told with masterly skill and a great dramatic sense…”

Classical Persian Literature

The renowned German-born scholar of Rumi, Professor Annemarie Schimmel (1922 – 2003) was also a specialist on Islamic Mysticism, Sufism. Professor Schimmel published 80 books and lectured at various universities including Harvard where she was Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture from 1970-1992. She was fluent in ten languages including Arabic, Farsi or Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.

Prof. Annemarie Schimmel’s major works on Rumi are:

  • Triumphal Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalaluddin Rumi.
  • I Am Wind, You Are Fire: The Life and Work of Rumi.
  • Look! This is Love: Poems of Rumi.
  • A Two Colored Brocade: The Imagery of Persian Poetry.
  • As Through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam.

Badi al-Zaman Foruzanfar (1904 – 1970), the highly distinguished Iranian-born scholar of Persian Literature, is universally recognized as the greatest Persian Scholar of Rumi.Forouzanfar’s critical edition of Rumi’s Divan- e Shams Tabrizi (in 10 volumes) is the best edition available to date. The most accurate critical edition of Rumi’s original Quatrains (Rubaiyat) was also published in 1963 by Foruzanfar. He is also credited with publishing the first critical edition of Rumi’s Fihi Ma Fihiwhich was translated into English by the eminent British-born Orientalist, Professor A. J. Arberry as Discourses of Rumi.
Prof. Foruzanfar’s other major works on Rumi are:

  • A Treatise on Rumi’s Life and Works.
  • A Summary of Rumi’s Masnavi.
  • Tales from Masnavi.
  • The Masnavi Traditions.
  • An Account of the Sacred Masnavi.
  • The Sources of Masnavi’s Stories and Allegories.
  • The Sufi Teachings of Baha Walad, Rumi’s Father.

Unfortunately, none of his above mentioned works are yet translated into English (I’ve taken the liberty to translate the above titles of Prof. Foruzanfar’s works from Farsi into English.)

The eminent Iranian-born scholar of Rumi, late Prof. Abdul Hossein Zarinkoob (1923 – 1999) is widely known and revered among Farsi-speakers for his profound researches and publications on Rumi and his works.

Prof. Zarinkoob’s major works on Rumi are:

  • Step by Step until Meeting God (about Life, Works, and Teachings of Rumi).
  • Shams of Tabriz: The Voice-Pipe of Rumi.
  • Love in Rumi’s Masnavi.
  • Secret of the Reed (Critical and Comparative Analysis of Rumi’s Masnavi).
  • Sea in a Jug (Critical and Comparative Analysis of Rumi’s Masnavi).
  • Persian Sufism: Its Heritage and Spiritual Values.
  • Persian Sufi Literature and Its Humanitarian Values and Principles .
  • A Research on Persian Sufi Mysticism.
  • A Research on Sufi Mystics in Ancient Iran.

Unfortunately, none of his above mentioned works are yet translated into English (I’ve taken the liberty to translate the above titles of Prof. Zarinkoob’s works from Farsi into English.)

One of the greatest contemporary Iranian-born scholars of Rumi, Prof. Majid Naini

Rumi Translations – Majid Naini

The award-winning and hugely popular Iranian-born and New York-based “New Agey” translator of Rumi, Shahram Shiva.