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William Harmless

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300383

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300383.001.0001

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Mysticism and Islam: Rumi

Mysticism and Islam: Rumi

(p.158) (p.159) 8 Mysticism and Islam: Rumi

S.J. William Harmless

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Rumi (1207–1273), a leading mystic of Islam and perhaps its finest poet. Jalal al-Din Rumi was a Sufi and founded one of Islam's major Sufi orders, the Mevlevi, known in popular parlance as the “whirling dervishes”. Rumi's mysticism was pseudonymous. Shams may have been a favorite mask, but it was not his only one. Rumi consciously drew on the Sufi distinction between the states of separation and union. As Rumi complains, his poems are the expression of separation, not union. Judging the mystical experiences that underlie them, Rumi's poems were not meant to be read. They were recited to Sufi disciples who had gathered around him and who lost themselves in the whirling dance of the samā. Rumi as shaykh sought to lead them into the ineffable silence of God, into an experience of the speech-defying union of annihilation.

Keywords:   Sufi mystic, Rumi, Islam mystic, Mablevi, Sufism, annihilation, Shams

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