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Aqsa Ijaz on Rumi

A conversation with Aqsa Ijaz about the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi. Aqsa Ijaz is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. She is a singer, translator, writer, book reviewer, and a literary scholar.  Outro song: “dil miravad zidastam” by Aqsa Ijaz

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In the time since this show's music began,
the spinning earth has carried the studio of KZSU some 20 miles to the east.
The motion of the earth around the sun has carried us 1500 miles westward.
The drift of the solar system among the stars of the Milky Way has borne us 1000 miles toward the star of Vega.
The turning pinwheel of the Milky Way galaxy has carried us 2000 miles in a great circle around the galactic center.
Verily our universe, along with everything in it, loves to whirl.
Or maybe its whirling is a manifestation of the love that moves the sun and the other stars.
La morque mouve l'Sole l'Althristelle has done to puts it in the very last verse of the divine comedy.
I'm Robert Harrison for entitled opinions and our show today is devoted to the 13th century Persian poet and the ossopher, Jalaludin Rumi.
It's said that one day while he was walking through town, Rumi heard the rhythmic hammering of a goldsmith.
In a state of transport, he stretched out his arms and started spinning.
One hand turned upward to the heavens, the other downward to the earth.
He was somewhere in between the two, I would guess, borne up by the cosmic pulse he heard in that hammer.
Like gold to airy thinness beeped.
The cosmic pulse that keeps us and all other things, turning and spinning.
Whether around God or a monstrous black hole who can say.
I'm no mystic nor do I aspire to be one, but anyone who spontaneously begins to whirl outside a goldsmith's workshop is always welcome on entitled opinions.
So come on in and join us, Rumi. Nice to meet you.
Have a drink and welcome to the show.
I'm joined today by Aksa Ijaz, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in classical Persian literature at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal.
In a show we aired last year on the topic of separation, I read her translation of Rumi's song of the read flute and mentioned that she's a long time devotee of entitled opinions.
According myself, if she weren't so far away and if the studios of KZSU weren't closed down, we could get her on the show to talk about Rumi's theories of cosmic reunions.
Well here we are about to do precisely that. The continued closure of KZSU has motivated us to find ways to do high quality audio recordings remotely.
Not KZSU quality to be sure but good enough to air or so we hope. That's why Aksa can join us today from Montreal. Aksa welcome to the program.
Thank you Robert, it's my honor to be here.
I think it was back in 2013 when you first wrote us to thank us for the entitled opinions podcast and at the time you were still living in Pakistan.
So before we turned to Rumi, would you mind sharing with our listeners how you came to discover entitled opinions and what drew you to the show?
Yes certainly, my discovery of this show was fully accidental. I had bought an iPad back in 2012 and I was browsing through its various applications and its functions.
And that's when I discovered your show on this little icon called iTunes University or I couldn't see you on my iPad.
And this was very interesting because the name of your show was very interesting, very different.
The title of the opinions about life as well as the first show I listened to was on our method. I did not decide to read correctly.
But would drew me to your show it was not the topic but how we used the idea as a conversation.
In person this phenomenon is called Sombeth, you know where you talk to people and you share ideas with passion and conversation is at the sector office.
So this is what really drew me to your show that you were offering them our context of intellectual conversation and inviting us to take part in the persecuted religion of thinking.
So that's my introduction to your show.
That's great. Well now you're on it.
So we're going to turn our attention to this Jarlandur Dean Rumi who of course in America is a very well known poem.
In fact I think he might even be the most high selling poet in the last several decades.
He's an international superstar. I have to say that he's a hero for many cultures and different sex of Islam and the Christians and the Judea religions so forth.
Unfortunately he has been appropriated by a certain kind of feel good, you know, new age, kitschy type, you know these love poems that are a little too saccharin for my taste.
But there is another roomy there that is the one that we want to get to today.
And before we get into the substance of his religious beliefs, his sufism, mysticism, his poetry and all of the substantial things.
I think that we really should start with a little bit of bio if you don't mind.
So who was Rumi and how did he become Rumi?
Certainly I think it's a very good idea to get into the historic configured Rumi and how we know him.
Jarlandur Dean Maranajilalu Dean Rumi are just Rumi as he's known in the West was the 30th, was a 13th century Persian poet, sufiri mystic.
But more importantly he was a jurist and a professor of Islamic law.
He was most likely born in a small town called Vaksh, which is now in modern data, jakistan.
But some people claim that he was born in bus, which is now modern data, kind of stuff.
That's why, you know, his biography is the cause of four nations disputing to be the birthplace of Rumi.
He was born into a Persian speaking family. His father, Baha'u Di Balad, was a very important, very respected professor of Islamic law.
And his father left his hometown, whether it was Vaksh or Bagh, to escape with the approaching codes of the Mongols.
At this point in the 13th century, the much of East and Islamic world is either being destroyed by the Mongols or his under threat.
So his father preempts this threat and moves on to immigrate to Westward.
He goes to Toya, where Sultan Kekobad is in group of the city of Konya, where he has built a very beautiful mosque.
And in the center of the town, the Sultan al-Bhi Melan is going to be the professor of Islamic law there.
Rumi inherits his father's seat after the sada dai's.
And we get to see Rumi, who's sada dai, who's religious orders are asked throughout the East and Islamic world,
is a very important jurist at this point.
In 1231, actually, he goes to Syria and Damascus, where he supposedly needs shumps for the first time.
And you know, your listeners know anything about Rumi know that shumps would be a very important figure in Rumi's intellectual development and spiritual journey.
So I guess we will talk about him in a bit.
So that's Rumi for you in a nutshell, as far as the historical portrait is concerned.
Yeah, the meeting with Shams very important. It's where he becomes more of a mystic, more of a sufi as we know sufism today.
He also begins to write this exquisite poetry for the divine poems for Shams and so forth.
So then he goes on to write the Mazenabhi, which is the long work that we're going to also talk about.
Well, I'm curious.
I mentioned that he is an international superstar.
And you know, in Pakistan, for example, you Rumi was a loomed large for the Pakistani, at least people who were interested in the literary tradition.
Certainly, I think those of us who grew up in the Persianate world or the world, which is now the modern nation state, but initially part of the logic of the native world, Pakistan included in it, definitely grew with the stories of Masnabi,
Rumi's, Matam Opus.
My first introduction with Rumi was because of my entire grandfather who introduced me to Rumi's stories in my mother tongue, which is Urdu.
Rumi's stories were very important for anybody's self-development, and usually you would inherit them from your elders who lived in your households, who would tell you stories.
How a certain ethical sensibility was imparted to the young, was very much through these poets, and Rumi was definitely one of the major poets used for that intergenerational transfer of a system and ethical understanding.
Yeah, can I ask? So there's the poetry on the one hand, and then there are stories. The Masnabi is both.
It's in rhyme couplets, but there are a number of stories. Were you taught mostly the stories? Was it more the narrative or the poetic Rumi that your paternal grandfather was handing down to?
So my maternal grandfather is is handing me the stories in oral traditions, which is narrative, the content of the story rather than the rhyme.
I came to know about the Masnabi as a form of Persian poetry, when I was given the teaching assignment to teach a subject called "Flossics of World Literature" in 2011 at the University of Lahore, where I also graduated from.
This was the time when I discovered Rumi and his Masnabi on the page for the first time prior to that my introduction to Rumi is "Oro" because of my grandfather.
And I would always associate, you know, the singer of Rumi and his wisdom with what my grandfather taught me. So for me it was kind of a homecoming to my grandfather learning something from Rumi.
Yeah, so that's the first time I discovered Rumi in English translation, and when I started teaching it I realized how much important it is for me to learn Persian.
And my own introduction and my own conversion to Persian is actually because of Rumi.
I don't think it would be far-fetched to say that I learned Persian because I wanted to recruit me in Persian.
I think I want to learn Persian too because frankly I'm reading Rumi in English and I haven't read all the translations but the ones that I have looked at are, I mean they're in an impossible bind these translators.
On the one hand, the Masnabi which is a six-volume, long, epic thing, but it's in rhyme couplets.
So if you take away the rhyme and the couplet that you lose the musical part of it and you're trying to be faithful to the actual meaning.
On the other hand, there's something really quite distorted and very off-putting about these translations I try to reproduce the rhyme scheme.
I agree and medieval Persian is also, they rely a lot on meter.
So sound and sense are not distinct. You cannot translate this.
I've all this sound it's impossible to translate Persian poetry into English for example.
Because if you probably see most of the translations that try to stay loyal to the rhyme, miss the meaning and who knows that missed the meaning or keep the meaning, lose the rhyme.
So the pleasure of Persian for reading Persian poetry is in the musicality and especially more so with rhyme.
Because we know the world dance and the world in their wishes come from the very poetic various tactics of rhyme is writing.
When I read some of the verses from this Masnabi, you will see it's the movement of dance and circles and birling that he talks about.
Well I have to say I'm going to give a shout out to Dick Davies who was on this show a few years ago excellent translator of the Persian.
I don't know if he's ever translated the room. I haven't come across any translation of his of room.
But if there's anyone I would trust, it would be Dick Davies for that.
Certainly Dick Davies is also a poet so he understands the poetic sensibility of the thing too.
Anybody who is not a poet, aims to translate poetry I think would be missing something.
So the Masnabi we talked about being a really long kind of epic work.
He wrote it late in his life. He actually dictated it from what I understand rather than wrote it.
And I met made mention of the prologue to the Masnabi in my show on separation because I read from your translation of the song of the read.
And you know we might as well begin there with hearing what it sounds like in Persian, at least in your version of Persian.
And if you wouldn't mind reading the first few you know couplets and I'll read the English after you.
This is the main tune to the Chikaya at Miku-Ned as to the Haha-Hikaya at Miku-Ned.
His name is Tom Tomirar Baburi Vee and David Nafiram Madhu-Zan Nali Vee.
[speaking in foreign language]
[speaking in foreign language]
Yeah, I can hear the music for sure there.
Here we go in your translation.
Listen to the read flute how it complains telling the story of eternal separations.
The read flute says, "Ever since they tore me from my read bed men and women have been owned my laments, I want to heart shredded with a pain of separation so that I could describe the pain of my longing for home.
Anyone who is away from his home is ever longing for the day he shall return.
I share my lament in every gathering, consorting with the joyous and sorrowful alike.
Each interprets my notes and likeness to his own feeling and not one fathoms a secret of my heart.
My secret is not far from my lament, yet I and ear do not possess the ability to know it."
If you don't mind me asking a question of meaning, there is stipulation that there was some primal unity of being.
It was followed by separation, what he calls the eternal separations.
Then he speaks of these secrets.
My secret is not far from my lament, the secrets of the heart.
That word, as I've been reading Rumi in the last few weeks, that word "secret" comes forward quite a lot.
I'd like to ask you if you've thought about the role that secrets play in Rumi's poetics.
The role of secret is very important in Rumi's "
Secret is also complimented with the Sufi idea of a veil that between the reality which is divine or which is the whole and between the human cognition of it.
There is an absolute veil.
In order to go through that veil, there is a certain spiritual discipline that is required.
This is the goal of a Sufi seeker that he has to go through the travails and the eternal discipline of that spiritual cleansing, the cleansing of the
The entire song of the read is actually suspended between what you can know and what you cannot know.
But the fact that what you cannot know exists, regardless of the fact that you don't know it, it's a very important distinction for Rumi.
For me, it's very hard to situate Rumi as somebody who's telling you to know something that is beyond and this and that.
Because if these things are not qualified into how he takes you through that system of from knowing to unknowing or annoying in particular as a whole enterprise, then I think you miss the point.
And then that's when Rumi becomes that kissy love point where he can be appropriated into a Madonna song or co-pray song or the new-age post-spiritualism, whatever.
So, yeah, the secret is very much the esoteric note of knowing the world that they need talks about.
And this would be perhaps one of the ways to understand how Sukhism works.
Yeah, this is a mystical dimension of a religion which is Islam, but at the same time within Islam, Sukhism does not have a place of utmost respect, right?
The Sukhim and the traditionalist scholars of religion would have always been in a very strange kind of attention.
So, the Rumi that I like is not the Rumi who is, as you say, that it would be only a partial interpretation of him to see him only as, you know, interested in the esoteric and the unknown, what's on the other side of the veil.
Because it's so much what's on our side of the veil that infuses his poems and where the phenomenological world of sound, sights, music and so forth.
I don't know if you want to call them a medium by which you pass from one world to the other.
But that there's this co-presence of the secret within the manifest.
I don't know if I'm putting it to Dr. Trimally when I say that, but I think it's important for those who might want to see Rumi as only and as Oteris to remember perhaps that he's not the same.
He's not someone who just turned his back on this world as being, you know, authentic and a kind of simulation of the real thing.
Rumi was very much the person of the world.
He is somebody who frequents the royal cults.
He's somebody who is in very shows proximity with the rulers of this time.
So Rumi has no pretensions of telling you that, okay, you know, the spiritual poverty, you know, the word that you need is the precondition of spiritual exercise.
But Rumi, the question of reaching the esoteric, the question of reaching the beyond actually begins in the phenomenal world.
You have to feel the rhythms and the music of the world that you inhabit.
So from a phenomenon, the logical perspective, Rumi would be a very interesting poet to study because his whole vocabulary comes from the world of living from the world of everything.
And more importantly, I think he's also very unique in showing you the anxieties for what can and cannot be expressed.
What remains central and exclusive to the mystics heart, you know, because the kind of language that Rumi is using, the kind of language any mystic would be using, even in the Christian tradition, right?
Not the language that you and I would understand as the language of the daily speech, right?
It will be the language of Epophases, you know, the mystic would speak away.
Now, the inception of Masnadi is very interesting because the tradition that tells us how Masnadi was written.
It was actually at the behest of his foremost disciple, Hassan within Challa vi, who asks Rumi to write a book that could make Faridudinatar,
who wrote the contents of the birds, Matakupet, and Hakim Senai, who wrote Elahiname and other, you know, very high esoteric literature.
Hassan within Challa vi wanted Rumi to make both of these very difficult poets accessible to the average reader or to be average listener.
How would he do that when he would pick up the stories, right? Rumi is drawing on it, all culture, the stories that have been told before him by these master poets, he's using the narratives that are dominant in his own milieu, the intellect to the scores that are dominant in it.
So, you know, for Rumi, the world is, the heart of his work, you know, and so when we say that, okay, Rumi is a Sufi mystic who invites us to shun the world,
you just don't shun the world, and the idea is very noble, right? When might as well shun the world that you have shun anyway.
But, you know, how do you understand it? For first and for me, it's very important to understand that process that takes you from one point to the next.
Yeah, that brings to mind this story in the Masa vi that you first drew my attention to.
The story about the competition between the Greeks and the Chinese in the art of painting and portraiture.
It's very interesting, maybe you could summarize this story and will relate it to what we've just been discussing.
Yes, it's one of the very famous stories from the Masa vi, it's the famous painting competition between the Greeks and the Chinese and the art of painting and portraiture.
So, maybe I could read the first few lines to establish what Greeks and Chinese believe that how the Sultan asked them to paint and show what their claims are.
Once the Chinese said, "At art, we are the best." The Greeks said, "With more talent, we have been blessed."
The Sultan said, "I'll set a test for you to see which of your claims is really true."
They all prepared to paint a room's interior, in knowledge just through the Greeks, were far superior.
And it goes on that both Chinese painters and the Greek painters, Rumi-An as they are called, so you could call them Greeks or Byzantines.
They go into the room, the garden is drawn, and that separates the two.
And the Chinese are asking more paints, more equipment.
They want more paint and one of them. There's so much commotion from the Chinese chambers.
But the Greeks or the Byzantines, they don't ask for anything. There's complete silence throughout the painting competition.
And when the time ends and the Sultan enters and the curtain is taken back, we see that on the one hand you have the Chinese who all painted the beautiful imagery of birds, flowers, all kinds of phenomena,
a national phenomenon that is there.
And when he turns back and he sees the Greek ball, it's so clean that it's burnished to an extent that it's now a mirror and reflects the Chinese painted.
And that's the humor that Rumi is giving you with a very distilled understanding of the fact that the world of the phenomenon, yes, it requires effort, time, paint, and everything.
Right? Like the Chinese did. But it is reflected best only when the mirror of the heart is burnished.
Now, though the wall of the Byzantines is burnished and now, the cleanse is now. And it's perfect as it is reflected in that part.
So this is the idea that when you draw the curtain back, the world of the phenomenon, the Chinese painting disappears.
But the mirror stays because the mirror is going to reflect everything that is there. And the idea of the heart being not polished is actually the landmark of the Sultan thought that you have to polish the heart rather than the phenomenon of the world.
Right. That's the discipline of Sufism that you were talking about earlier is how do you get there.
But just to dwell a little bit on this strange relationship between the Chinese painting and the Greek cleansing to an absolute, almost empty, abstract white page, if you want, or a white slate.
He says the Greek stand for the Sufis clearly without the techniques from books or theory.
They've cleansed their breasts so well that they shine bright. You could say that in a certain sense, allegoric, I don't want to allegorize it.
But if the Chinese side of the room is the world, the phenomenological world that appears to us. And if the other side is the ultimate divine creator, then that divine is manifested in the world.
It's reflected in the world, but it takes the cleansing of the mirror of the heart in order to see the way in which this world that appears to us.
Yes, that is just the perception, right? He would ask it's the expansion of the consciousness that Sufis discipline is inviting you and the polished heart or the process of polishing your heart would be that expansion of the consciousness that would allow you to see the divine manifest in the phenomenon world.
But at the same time, would allow you to see how the phenomenon of all the manifest.
Yeah, and you know, I don't want to overdo a line of mine, which I've used often on entitled opinions, but this is this is William Blake.
When the doors of perception are cleansed, the world appears as it is infinite. So the burnishing or the polishing of the mirror of the heart seems to stand for the cleansing of the doors of perception in this.
Absolutely. And Blake had, you know, I'm down to me at this time, romantic, have known the room you saw it and the burnishing of the heart has been very important to many of the Western fingers.
So that's great. Then you have a separation, which is not just a closing off, but it's inter-reational. It's somewhat different.
There's definitely traffic going through there. You mentioned shams and the importance that this individual, this figure had in the biography as well as the religious thought of roomy. Can you tell us something about this guy?
So shams is a very mysterious figure in the sources. The sources describe him as in a kind of an itinerant mistake, who is almost a madman.
He's described as somebody living in the world, but not off the world, very unlike roomy does not stand for the word of law. This misses the idea of books and written theory and logic and everything.
He was a charismatic, in other words, no? Very charismatic. Yes, the word that was used for shams and the sources is calendar, which is, you know, the whirling itinerant mistake.
He would dance, he would just talk, he has no claims on worldly manners. If he thinks that you are contradicting yourself, or if he thinks that you are too sure of yourself, he is going to call you out.
Someone like you and I cannot stand in front of a person like shams, because you speak for yourself.
He would believe that you are living in the world of illusions because we are on the cross of the language as we have landed by the book.
Well, listen, he is also, because Socrates would very deliberately engage his interlocutor to find out, well, you think you really know what you are saying? Let me show you that you don't know what you are saying.
Yeah, yeah, well, definitely, because the graduate is very much there in Champs' figure. He is asking questions, but he is not interested in winning the argument. He is interested in showing you, you know, his openness of perception, the doors of perception is very much how Champs' engages, really.
There are many accounts that tell you how Gumi first met Champs, but the one I find more believable comes from the 15th century biography called "Dalachshasama Kami".
Who tells us in his sense biography how Rumi meets Champs, and here is a little anecdote that I would like to go.
Donald Chateau says that Rumi was writing on a donkey when Champs suddenly jumped out at sea's rings to post the question, what's the purpose of self-negation and exercises of renunciation and transmission and acquisition of knowledge?
Rumi replies, "It is the gaunt of the Sunnah and the custom of the Shariya." So now being a tradition of the Prophet's life and Shariya means Islamic law. Champs says,
That's only the outer Sanghuns. Rumi says, "What is beyond that?" Champs says, "Knowledge is for attaining the known."
And then quotes the following couple of from Rumi's predecessor, Haki Senai, a poet who Rumi draws on substantially in his matsnari.
And Champs, "Knowledge that takes you not beyond yourself is far worse than ignorance."
And this is the challenge that Rumi faces from this mad man who just stops him on his way and tells him that all that he will think you know is a delusion.
And if this knowledge does not take you away from yourself, it is worse than ignorance.
And Rumi develops on this motif a lot as he writes his matsnari.
And this is the shock, I would say this is the moment of conversion for Rumi from where he becomes the scholar of Islam, the Jewish stuff, the law, and becomes the lover.
In fact, Champs is very much, he's very many figures, one is the figure of the lover, the one who is loved by Rumi.
The other is that he does seem to be the incarnation of the divine. He speaks about Champs as sometimes you know as God himself, or the presence, the manifestation.
And it seems like Rumi spent a couple of years at least in Thrall and convinced that he was in the presence of the thing itself.
Yes, the Alan, he was, we have to remember that, you know, this is what most English translations do do Rumi's work that they sanitize and promise Islamic worldviews.
Because of very Islamic entity you have to understand, this is a very Islamic phenomenon. And Rumi would become a dank heresy if he said that he was actually in the presence of the divine.
He definitely saw Champs to be the conduit to be the divine, but not the thing itself.
For he, it's important to know that all his lyrical poems keep you suspended in that influence, you know, where he, if the first wasle, for example, the first lyrical poem of the divine, the Persian version of the divine.
Rumi calls Champs, Rastarize Nagahan, which means the sudden resiraptor. So for Rumi, Champs gives him a new life, you know, it's a new life that Rumi gets.
And it's not a life that he would prescribe to people, you know, if the life filled with blood, all that he talks about love.
For example, in the Song of the Ri, there's this very beautiful couplet where he says, if you let me read the Persian version of first, you can almost feel how he talks about the violence of love, what it does to you.
He says, "Hekiran jong is zishkic-a-kshokshu, ose of hesto-eir-pul-le-kokshu."
The one whose color is torn apart by love, only he is the one cleansed of all defect and pain.
And what does Rumi mean by love? I mean, that's something that I haven't quite understood whether love is a drive for reunification with the primordial unity from which one was separated,
whether it's that which comes between and relates different entities as well as persons, is it human as well as divine and is music the most sublime manifestation of that love?
A lot of questions for you.
There are lots of questions that I think they're all interconnected. Rumi is understanding of separation.
And how he understands love within that separation is very important.
So historically speaking, Rumi is somebody who just doesn't talk about the separation at the cosmic level or a cosmic proportion out of nowhere.
He has historical reasons to talk about it. So first of all, his own migrations from his hometown where he escapes the Mongol onslaught and then moves to planes and mountains and all kinds of artists joining the 40-bitist Konya.
And then his most defining separation from shums because Shums' presence in his life is not accepted by his fears.
His family doesn't like him because Rumi specks too much time with Shums. He can't be found from Monton and Monton and so on and so forth.
And then obviously that separation then shums his mysteriously disappeared from the scene for whatever reason, for whatever reason, whether he was killed or whether he found it, that the shums thought that it was time for him to let Rumi be on his own because he has taken him to the spiritual station where he could just have his journey by himself.
Rumi definitely felt the brunt of that separation. Right? And that separation, as you said, Rumi's influence about Shums being the pain itself, being the presence itself, as well as the human that he associated with or he found a certain depth of emotion with.
It's very much at the heart of a reason, the standing of love. Right? So it's in separation and I think you say that in your mind a lot of unseparated to that it's only within separation that we love. Right? And it is within the separation that Rumi explicates his idea of love.
And at the same time, love is not the endifices of the reason here, which is a common misunderstanding that is associated with Rumi.
Here, you know, the question of love in terms of Rumi, you can only understand while you understand how much importance he gives to the philosophical reason.
Rumi is living at a time when Islamic philosophy is very much influenced by Hellenistic philosophy and Greek philosophy in general. Right? Rumi is somebody who is also responding to someone like Adesena. Right? And he thinks that Adesena lacks the perception of the Sufi because he is too enjoined and bought down within his methodology and philosophical proof that he cannot see beyond the limits. Right?
So, Rumi, your quest to rational and empirical means, and of course, this division between rational and empirical means only gets to be differentiated in the 18th century in the West. But, you know, he situation that knowledge that takes us to the limits of human consciousness and then knowledge that takes us beyond it.
In that sense, there's affinity with Plato, I would say as well, because Plato, especially in this symposium with his doctrine of Eros, which is not opposed to reason, is just that reason can take you so far.
But, whatever Eros understood as the intrinsic transcendence of the soul is what will finally get you across the threshold to behold the abstract forms, the absolute forms of the other world.
So, I think there's a platonism there that is very convergent with Rumi's understanding of love. But you did mention that thing, I actually got a quote from what I, that you were referring to from that show on separation, where I say I prefer to think of separation as primordial rather than exilic, since it makes possible relation, makes possible bonding, makes possible togetherness.
And we affiliate in separation, we come together in separation, we love in separation.
Yes. So, if Rumi is present here between us and I can see him nodding.
I'm imagining it's not in to me.
I nodded on this behalf when I listened to your monologue and I think the distinction that you were making, the primordiality of separation as exilicness.
I thought, well, the world of the non-mononomics is to us because we are perceiving the world within that state of separation.
Now, Rumi, you could call that primordiality God, a black hole or whatever, wherever the have come from.
But there is definitely a desire to reach beyond what human reason can give us.
So, can I ask?
What's that? I'm sorry.
No, I was saying that, you know, Rumi, you say that it's platonic, it's platonic strain.
I don't want to say it's merely platonic. There's a platonic strain to it.
There is a platonic strain in that, but I would also say that the way Rumi makes a concrete for his reader that journey, that intellect that you take with intellect,
it's called Aki, and the journey that you take with the heart, with your heart, right? That's the distinction that Sufi's May or Rumi would make in his work.
He uses the very important event in the Islamic heart, which is the Prophet Muhammad's Mira Ash, you know, his ascension to his night journey to heaven.
And he is accompanied by ancient Gabriel, who is going to take him to the heavens where he would visit all these places.
But at a certain point, he has to stop, you know, that an arrogance called Sadrato Muntaha, which is the farthest and of the paradise, beyond which Muhammad cannot go with Gabriel.
And Gabriel here symbolizes the intellect, the reason, the discipline that comes from human agency, right?
Gabriel tells the Prophet, you know, this is the lottery, and you have to go beyond it by yourself, as I cannot accompany you, because if I accompany you beyond it, my wings will burn off, right?
This is the very telling image that when intellect tries to go beyond its grasp, you know, it burns off, right? It is just with us.
Because that ultimate place is fire, it's fiery, right?
Exactly, it just makes a fire. So what would take you to that fire? What would allow you to bear that fire? It's love.
This is the room you're understanding of love, and that is what room you need to speak of, you know?
The one who lacks the fire cannot know what the rich song is.
Right. So his rich song is very concrete, you know, the historical very concrete for roomy.
Yeah, that line that you're referring to is this plant of the flute is fire, not mere air, let him who lacks this fire be accounted dead.
Yeah, exactly. It's one of the very famous lines in Virgin poetry, artishes, then dongy nay or nis, but how can our teschnadar at least, but?
And the next couple of years, it's the fire of love that befell the reed and made it saying it's the ferment of love that possesses the wine.
So yes, and this fire also in the Christian tradition is also the fire of purgation, a purgatory, which is a cleansing.
It's kind of, it's at which burns things down to the essential, no?
And therefore, it's also pentecostal when you have the tongues of flame. Anyway, we could talk a lot about these interconnections, but I want to make sure that we say something about music, because
roomy, of course, is associated primarily with the whirling dervishes and the way in which dance and music seem to be the somatic, but it's not even somatic because in the couple it before the one I just cited
roomy says body is not hidden from soul nor soul from the body yet it is not the norm for someone to actually see the soul.
Is it your impression that dancing, whirling, singing is the way in which the body and soul are really become one entity and you know perform some sort of what I call it, striving towards and beyond the threshold?
It's definitely I think a very unique level of consciousness when it is accompanied by dance and music and the whirling, right?
Because what whirling does to those dervishes is to transport them into a different mode of reality, right?
The eyes are closed, the sensory organs that we have do not see or do not do their function, but it's the extended awareness that goes beyond the image or goes beyond the organs.
And the couple that you just read actually talks about that, the ear and the heart, it's all the sensory organs and the zerish or the mystic or the soupy would go beyond it and to attain that spiritual consciousness to attain that depth of perception.
Music is definitely an important dimension.
However, in Rumi's sense, we have to remember that he is living in Anatolia at this point and Anatolia is a very diverse and vibrant culturally vibrant place in 30th century.
People from all over the Islamic world are fleeing their homelands and coming here for refuse because this place is still in the relative peace and has escaped the Mongol onslaught.
So, Rumi is at the heart of a city, which is crowded by Christian Jews, Persians, Tajik, Greeks, Armenians and so on and so forth.
And the hospitality is one of the factors, the cultural hospitality is one of the factors that plays a huge role in Rumi's appropriation of music.
Because we have to remember that Rumi belonged to a very conservative family. His father wanted him to stay away from this pluralistic toilet, cultural menu, right? He did not approve of any of it.
But Rumi's father was already 18 and Rumi was coming to the coming of an age and he could not feel the influence that Rumi was imbibing in his time.
So, music is also very much historical cultural reality which Rumi transforms into a mystical inner reality and uses it as some kind of...
I don't want to call it a psychedelic, but it's a kind of a tool for him that allowed to reach a different level of perception.
I was speaking of Anatolia, you know, I was born and Turkey, I grew up there and I maintain a lot of connections to Turkey.
So, I've been to Konya in other places and seen the Dervishes a number of times.
Always with it, I have to confess with a sense of anguish and a sense of oppression.
These Dervish performances because it seems so austere and severely inhibited.
I mean, the protocols are so standard. Everything it seems to be within very narrow limits of possibility and what's permissible.
And they swirl around and usually say their eyes are closed and things and you don't get... I don't get any sense of joy.
I mean, they may have this kind of internal ecstasy, but I'll take Zorba the Greek any day who will dance spontaneously on the Greek Earth.
And you will see that he's in connection with the land, the sea, the sky, the thing.
And it's pure joy which is expressing itself through his dance and the music.
I don't know whether they've taken the spirit of Rumi, the ecstatic rapture's joyful Rumi and put it in a straight jacket or what.
Madeline, Madeline, Madeline, the order is an order and there are hierarchies, right?
There is a shake and that there are these Dervishes who are trying to find something.
In any case, they are imitating the original, right?
Here they are imitating Rumi's joy and ecstasy that he feels for Shamsan.
He's very much ecstatic with the joy of meeting Shamsan, even the melancholy of separation with him, right?
And that's a very bittersweet feeling.
The melancholy doesn't really capture it, the Persian word, cozy.
Like everything else, you know, I think anything that is imitated lacks the spirit but keeps the form, right?
And I would find it very regimented to me personally.
I think it's a name of the spirit of dance that you do while you're free, right?
Rumi is somebody, I don't think that's the Rumi that you would see in these world in the rations of dance.
That's, you know, Rumi that says, there's a very beautiful couplet in Devan that says,
"Masa de Isch, masa de d'Iyere, hich kastra de riou, revai et list."
Meaning the religion of love is of a different kind.
Anyone who follows it does not follow a tradition.
So it's the absolute freedom.
It's the absolute independence of human agency that he feels in love and in dance.
So I share your English.
Well, that's great.
And, you know, I'm speaking of music now that we wind down the show, you are a musician and a singer yourself.
And you, you know, music is important to you.
And you also provided us with a song in which you are the singer.
And this song is related to our discussion about Rumi, although the poem that provides a lyrics for this song, don't come from Rumi, but come from Hafiz or Hafiz,
who is also a Persian poet.
We're going to leave our listeners with your song, you know, when we close the show, but maybe you can say a word about this song
and who was Hafiz.
So, Hafiz was another Persian, very important Persian poet, quoting century Persian poet.
And was, has been very famous still is very famous, very important to Persian culture.
It is said that in Persian families there are only two books that are stable.
You know, there would be a copy of the Quran and then the copy of Hafiz is Bhibhan, right?
It's used as an oracle. So, this is the importance of Hafiz of Shiraz, Hafiz Shiraz, as it is called.
This is the song that I provided you with is very famous, Hafiz wrote, called, "Bileena vazadastam sahib d'adan Khadara."
This song was composed originally by a very important scholar of Persian literature in Pakistan, who was also very crucial in establishing the diplomatic ties between Iran and Pakistan in the 1950s.
He composed a song for a Bengali singer who sang it in a private gathering in Tehran in the 1950s.
He composed it in an Indian style, so it was, I think, for me, the song and this composition and the way this song epitomizes the Indo-Persian culture and how Persian culture became part of the subjective identity and aesthetics.
His son, another very famous and very, very renowned Persian scholar in Pakistan, so it was a shirpani.
He reconstructed the melody from his memory and he asked me to sing it and I was very honored to sing it for the family and this is what your listeners will be hearing in a few moments.
Well, we've been speaking with Axa Ijaz, I'm Robert Harrison for entitled opinions, I hope you enjoyed this show about roomy I did for sure and stay tuned. We'll be back with you soon. Thank you again, Axa.
Thank you, Robert, my pleasure.
All right.
Thank you.
Thank you.