What melts stones and wins wars when your weapons become useless? The answer is love and emotions.
Mawlana Rumi is a great name in History. Born in Afghanistan and later settled in Konya, Turkey the stories of his seminary teachings are famous to date. He also went to Syria for theological education and with all that knowledge he played a great role in teaching the religion of Islam to the people in a way that filled hearts with love and made them practice love, patience, and tolerance in a time when the Mongols were destroying everything in their wake.
Not only is he a sacred figure in the Muslim world but the west also loves him and finds peace in his teachings. However, the catch is the teachings they love and admire so much are missing the real element; the element of Isam and its teachings.
Without an understanding of the Quran, it is not possible to understand Rumi’s words.
It is weird that most of us know Rumi as a Poet and mystic Sufi and nobody mentions how he was a lifelong scholar of the Quran and Islam. Marketing and Hype I tell you are the new Gods (Na Auzubillah)! When they can’t come against you with an outsider they come for you through your own.
You might be thinking this debate has no meaning but let’s take a tour down the lane of facts and you can be the judge of whether Rumi is being used as a seed of a new sectarian group or not.
Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love by Brad Gooch
A new biography of Rumi written by Brad Gooch shows another side of Rumi. According to the writer “ Rumi made claims for a ‘religion of love’ that went beyond all organized faiths.” and this claim is supported by one of his translated works
“Out beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing there’s a field; I’ll meet you there” In reality, the words Rumi used were iman (“religion”) and kufr (“infidelity”) but here the translation refers to right and wrong which completely changes the religious context.
Coleman Barks – The Essential Rumi
Famous actors and singers from Hollywood which include Chris Martin, Madonna, and Tilda Swinton have found peace in Rumi’s poetry which has been translated into English by Coleman Barks. Recently Ivanka Trump also posted the aforementioned quote in one of her tweets regarding peace in Afghanistan.
What adds fuel to a conspiracy is the lack of research and knowledge by the people who hear rumors and stories. It is made up of a pint of religion, a pint of a person’s life experience and this time may be one of Rumi’s most-loved quotes.
Masnavi was one of his last works and is regarded as a Tafseer of the Quran i.e understanding the teachings of Quran. 50,000 of the lines written are in Persian and some of them contain Arabic Excerpts from Muslim culture. The translation of such a work requires ample knowledge of the Quran and Islam. The book relates incidents mentioned in the Quran for moral lessons and such a masterpiece can only be written if you have memorized the Quran. Rumi being a Mawlana probably had the Quran memorized and used his knowledge to give sermons to the people back in the days.
So the question is how can a person with little or no knowledge of the Quran or the depth of the Arabic language translate the work of a Muslim scholar to English? And having done that how can you be sure he pulled out the real meaning of the poetry in his translations?
When asked why he evaded the Quranic interpretations in Rumi’s work in his translations, in his defence Barks said
“I was brought up Presbyterian, I used to memorize Bible verses, and I know the New Testament more than I know the Koran.” He added, “The Koran is hard to read.”
The truth is my friends that any language if unknown to you is hard to read be it English, Persian or Arabic that doesn’t mean you can just start translating whatever meaning you find in those writings to your advantage without having any legal qualification for the job and build a fortune by misleading the people whom it was written for!
The author has been known to make a fortune just by translating Rumi’s poetry from Persian to English. It is quite amazing as he has no record of possessing any Islamic knowledge, any cultural teachings or things that are deemed necessary for a person to know before he or she jumps into translating the writings meant for the people of a specific religion.
“The Rumi that people are in love with sounds very appeling in English, but this comes at the cost of cutting out culture and religion from his teachings,” says Jawid Mojadded who has ample knowledge of Rumi’s work and can very well identify how wrongly it has been translated into english by cutting out the religious meaning behind its words.
The real problem is our Muslim generations are also reading these translations and developing new meanings from Rumi’s writings. When the real element of religion is missing from Rumi’s writings the interpretations being made are not only diverting them away from the meaning of Islam and Quran but also pushing them away from the real purpose Rumi worked for all his life.
Barks is not a Persian translator or interpreter, neither can he read or write in the language. Instead, what he does is that he only converts the nineteenth-century translations into American verse.
In one of his translations he writes “Whoever asks you about the Houris, show (your) face (and say) ‘Like this.’ ” Houris are virgins promised in Paradise in Islam. Barks avoids even the literal translation of that word; in his version, the line becomes, “If anyone asks you how the perfect satisfaction of all our sexual wanting will look, lift your face and say, Like this.” The meaning behind the verse is gone from the religious perspective. And in other portions of the same poem, Barks has changed the Quranic references to Jesus and Joseph. When someone asked him about this, he said “he couldn’t recall if he had made a deliberate choice to remove Islamic references.” and just like that the man easily swiped away the importance of those teachings.
The conspiracy is to give birth to a sect of Muslims who only see the spiritual side of the religion and deviate from what are the actual Religious practises which originate from the teachings of the Quran.