Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī also known as Mevlana or Mawlānā (meaning Our Master) and more popularly in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s works are written in Persian and his Mathnawi remains one of the purest literary glories of Persia and one of the crowning glories of the Persian language. His original works are widely read today in their original language across the Persian-speaking world (Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and parts of Persian speaking Central Asia and the Caucasus). His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats.
Sufi Comics (http://www.suficomics.com) is a web comic started by brothers Mohammed Ali Vakil & Mohammed Arif Vakil from Dubai, now settled in Bangalore. These comics are short stories taken from Islamic history & tradition to illustrate spiritual values in the teachings of Islam. Their third and latest book released recently is on the teachings of Rumi, in comic book style.
Rumi is a graphic representation of the 13th-century Persian poet’s life and 11 stories based on his work. Each story is followed by sacred verses from the Quran and hadiths, inscribed in Arabic by the leading Indian calligraphy artist Muqtar Ahmed. While Arif and Ali were involved in the selection of the stories and edits, the Bangalore-based comic-book artist Rahil Mohsin did the artwork. The brothers used Andrew Harvey’s translations of Rumi’s work, but at the same time researched the original Farsi versions of the poems for clarity.
“It wasn’t easy to understand the poems from their English translations, so we roped in a friend, the New Delhi-based Farsi expert Tanzilur Rahman, who helped us understand the original poems,” says Ali. Once they understood the meanings, it became much easier to work on illustrations.
It was Rumi’s worldwide popularity that led the brothers to create a book about the poet.“What attracted us most to Rumi was that he saw divinity in everything,” says Arif, adding that the flow of the poems was also a plus in creating a comic book. “Rumi’s poems use everyday imagery. They usually begin with a story and have a message towards the end.”
A description of the book is below (sourced from Amazon.com):
It’s been 800 years since Rumi lay ink to his mystical words. Yet, even today, the spiritual wisdom that flowed from his lips, creating ripples in our hearts. On reading his poems, one can’t help but reflect that there is more to this world than the physical and material.
Sufi Comics – Rumi is an enriching collection of Rumi’s entrancing poems in graphic form. We’ve chosen to portray the illustrations in the Turkish-Iranian miniature style to reflect the ambiance of 13th Century Persia.
Every poem is followed by sacred verses of the Holy Quran and Islamic traditions, to reflect the inspiration of Rumi’s poems. These verses and traditions are inscribed in Arabic by Muqtar Ahmed, one of India s finest Islamic calligraphers.
We live in a world that is increasingly materialistic and devoid of the spirit. In times like these, Rumi’s poems are an invitation to get in touch with your soul and experience Divine Love.
Here is an extract of the illustrations from the book:
The general theme of Rumi’s thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poSufi Comics_RumieSufi Comics_Rumits of Persian literature, is essentially that of the concept of tawhid — union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been cut off and become aloof — and his longing and desire to restore it. The Masnavi weaves fables, scenes from everyday life, Qur’anic revelations and exegesis, and metaphysics into a vast and intricate tapestry.
Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. It was from these ideas that the practice of Whirling Dervishes developed into a ritual form. His teachings became the base for the order of the Mevlevi which his son Sultan Walad organized. Rumi encouraged Sama, listening to music and turning or doing the sacred dance. In the Mevlevi tradition, samāʿ represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes and nations.
For nine years, Rumi practiced Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din (head of the madrassa or religious school) until the latter died in 1240 or 1241. Rumi’s public life then began: he became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons in the mosques of Konya in Turkey. He also served as a Molvi (Islamic teacher) and taught his adherents in the madrassa. It was his meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi on 15 November 1244 that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.
Shams had traveled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could “endure my company”. A voice said to him, “What will you give in return?” Shams replied, “My head!” The voice then said, “The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya.” On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. It is rumored that Shams was murdered with the connivance of Rumi’s son, ‘Ala’ ud-Din; if so, Shams indeed gave his head for the privilege of mystical friendship.
Rumi’s love for, and his bereavement at the death of, Shams found their expression in an outpouring lyric poems, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. He himself went out searching for Shams and journeyed again to Damascus. There, he realized:
Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!
Inputs from Wikipedia and The National:Arts & Lifestyle websites.