Rumi Poems and Prose


Sama’ in Rumi’s poetry

May 17, 2019 by Essay Writer

The Sufi musical tradition, or Sama’, has been used as a way to connect with the divine for hundreds of years by incorporating poetry, song, and dance to praise God. For many mystics, this blend is the single most powerful link to God, and is considered an even more elevated form of worship than prayer. Religious music is no new concept and is practiced in both Western and Eastern cultures, but many Sufis believe that the practice can cause visions of God and transport both musician and audience into a new reality. Although Sama’ generally includes both auditory and kinetic features, the aural component is considered the more significant of the two; “Sama’” literally translates to “what is being heard”. Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, was particularly inspired by the ritual and dedicated an entire chapter to the subject in his theological texts, translated into English and condensed in The Sufi Path of Love. According to Rumi, music is in the heart of the universe, or as he says, “melodies are derived from the turning of the spheres”. Sama’ and its intricacies are alluded to in numerous poems, functioning as an allegory for faith through themes such as silence, spirituality, and longing. Through poetry, Rumi presents his own personal theology of both the ritual and music itself.

Ironically, silence is the backbone of Rumi’s beliefs about music. He stresses the importance of being empty, quiet, and still to what seems almost like the point of death; in fact, in one poem, appropriately titled “Quietness”, he asserts that soundlessness is “the surest sign that you’ve died”. This is meant metaphorically and symbolizes the powerful spiritual connection formed with God after a period of meditation. Still, negative associations made from this rather macabre diction suggest that spiritual connection requires a total disconnection from life, as though the two are mutually exclusive. In the same poem, he describes the moon as “speechless” – a rather literal personification that encourages a desire to become like the moon – inanimate, soundless, and peaceful in comparison to man’s frantic, noisy life. Silence not only connects us to nature, but to the rest of humanity. The poem “Only Breath” begins with a list of a few of the most popular religions at the time and appears to be an invitation addressed to all human beings no matter what circumstances they may come from. Rumi implies that he is not really of any of these religions, and that religion and identity are only small attributes that contribute to a greater whole. He suggests that the only feature that all human beings share is breath – not belief, origin, or opinion. The act of breathing represents unity across cultures in a world where language was frequently an unbreakable barrier. Silence is, in essence, humanity. Rumi even goes so far as to say that speech corrupts the human spirit, as demonstrated by the allegory described the poem “Enough Words?”. A frog swimming in a pond can only escape the fatal snake by remaining completely noiseless. If it were to croak or even attempt to emulate the snake’s language, the snake would wake up. It can only reach the grain of barley it seeks, a symbol for enlightenment, through silence.

The paradox between Rumi’s love for music and appreciation for quietness is reconcilable upon closer inspection. Many of his poems are signed not with his name, but with “khamush”, or “silence”. Silence follows Rumi’s message as a reminder to take time to understand the true meaning of the poem. A period of interpretation and comprehension after reading and listening is crucial; inner reflection cannot take place until the external cacophony pauses or ends. The kind of silence Rumi values is not eternal; it is the quiet solitude of post-enlightenment. The poem that concludes the section titled “The Night Air”, published in Coleman Barks’ The Essential Rumi, pithily summarizes this idea:

“There is a way between voice and presence

where information flows.

In disciplined silence it opens.

With wandering talk it closes.”

The imagery of this flowing information is comparable to the flowing of a stream, dammed by “wandering talk” and opened only with “disciplined silence”. Perhaps a better name for Rumi’s “silence” is “space”, as it will always be surrounded by noise.

Sama’ involves a silence of the same variety. Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, an award-winning Indian classical singer, remarks that in addition to the tone and rhythm of the male voice, an essential element of Sama’ is shanti, or silence. This is not limited to the silence that follows a piece (after the ring of the last note dies but before the applause), but the “silence” that occurs when the vocalist rests during the piece’s instrumental sections. Although the Sufi tradition relies heavily on improvisation, the song follows a general format consisting of instrumental improvisational sections that break up lyrical verses, as well as an instrumental intro and outro. In this way, Sama’ emulates this mystical value of silence; Rumi’s poems pay homage to the tradition and reflect the quiet solitude so essential to Sufi music.

Instrumental music does not come with the same implications as speech in Rumi’s works. Not once does the poet mention the importance of meditating on music in the same way that speech should be contemplated. This seems contradictory, considering that music and speech are essentially the same in that both are created by humans, for humans. Furthermore, there is not one specific song that everyone can identify with, unlike the universal breath. Still, Rumi seems to value music above speech, and in one poem urges his readers not to “open the door to the study and begin reading”, but instead “take down a musical instrument”. Rumi suggests that this creative outlet can be used as a means to praise God, not just to entertain man. Creation for its own sake transcends the boundaries of time, and the space needed in speech is no longer necessary. In a manner that recalls the comparison between man and the moon, Rumi likens the human spirit to birdsong in yet another poem. He expresses a longing for divine inspiration, so that he can become as “ecstatic” as the birds. Here, the birds’ song is not just mere chatter, but a product of their love for life. Music is a gift given by Allah to humans, and then back again. The conversation only ends once man stops listening to divine inspiration. Rumi’s music is actually very similar to silence; it is a reflection on His word, a tranquility that follows the act of listening. In “The Music”, Rumi writes that although he often forgets to listen, the inspiration never ceases. His music is both an apology and a sign of gratitude to Allah.

Once again, it cannot be a coincidence that music reflects core religious values, mainly the idea that “God will provide” as a result of prayer. While this cycle begins on man’s end with the song itself which acts as a symbol for prayer, rhythm symbolizes “flowing” divine inspiration. Sama’ cannot produce its ecstatic effect without its hypnotically steady beat. According to an article on the subject in the Indian Streams Research Journal, Sama’s “powerful rhythm [suggests] the ceaseless repetition of God’s name”. The rhythm section acts as a steady engine, keeping the beat consistent and stable throughout the song. Unlike most Eastern music, which makes use of complicated rhythms, Sama’ tends to be very minimalistic. Oftentimes, there is only one musician playing a rhythmic instrument; the majority of the rhythm section is made up of the handclaps of the resting musicians. Clapping drives the piece. While most Eastern music places its emphasis off the beat, the claps in Sama’ occur almost before the beat, and contribute to the forward-moving nature of the song. Similarly, God’s inspiration “makes the universe turn”. Both rhythm and divine inspiration are foundational elements in their own respects.

The relationship between the musician and the instrument is also a major theme in Rumi’s works. On the surface, this relationship is inconsistent with mystic culture, as Sufis generally practice asceticism. Still, in his poem “Constant Conversation”, Rumi characterizes the relationship between the musician and the instrument as almost sexual. The imagery of the reed’s lips joining with the flutist’s is remarkably intimate, as is the imagery of the the tambourine, which “begs” for the musician to “touch [its] skin”. Music is born out of this contact, and is, as a result, a kind of love-child. This profound relationship between instrument, man, and music is the reason Rumi does not regard the flute as a mere earthly possession.

In other poems, Rumi suggests that man and reed are one and the same. Similarly to how man creates a flute, Allah creates man. The poet is uncharacteristically literal about this parallel, even making a direct comparison between a reed and a human being.

A craftsman pulled a reed from the reedbed,

cut holes in it, and called it a human being.

The second stanza is much more metaphorical, and suggests a comparison between man and music through the personification of the flute.

Since then, it’s been wailing a tender agony

of parting, never mentioning the skill

that gave it life as a flute.

The flute wishes to return to the reedbed, almost as man wishes to return to God. The “wailing” symbolizes man’s discontent with earthly pleasures on his path toward the divine, as he neglects to appreciate the life he has been given. “The Reed Flute’s Song” equates music with man’s longing to be with Allah once again. The music mingles in the “laughing and grieving” of life as a presence that is not recognized by all, but is always there. It is difficult to hear the message, but those who do not want to hear the song are not worth Rumi’s time.

Those who don’t yearn to be reunited with God are unable to reach an elated state as well. In an article for the British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Leonard Lewisohn observes that the modern Sufi believes that this absence of yearning is often the reason opponents to Islamic music exist; the opponent’s desire to be with God is not strong enough to reach this state of ecstasy, and such an opponent is unable to truly understand Sama. “Hearing” and “listening” are two very opposite terms in Sufi music. To truly listen is to take part in the song, or as Rumi would say, to “become one” with it – hence the movement component of Sama’. One author says that the dance, or “whirling dervishes,” “should be performed with the entire soul, spirit, love, faith, material and spiritual being.” This seemingly random, rapid twirling motion is more than just an aesthetic component of Sama’; the spinning causes the soul to be hurled toward the sun and joined with God. If done right, the motions will bring the dancer to a state of pure bliss, a feeling stronger even than the emotions evoked by prayer. Sama’ is a literal expression of the same yearning for God that Rumi expresses in his poems.

It is unlikely that this parallel is a coincidence. As the famous Indian singer Tahir Faridi Qawwal said, “Beyond the literal translation of qawwali poetry, there is a profound world of spiritual & cultural metaphor which can take years to understand.” Behind its at times simplistic exterior, Rumi’s poetry provides layers of depth.

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Rumī’s Ghazal and the Mevlevī Samāʿ: A Dynamic Dichotomy of Movement and Stillness

March 1, 2019 by Essay Writer

The flowing white tennure, the rotating sikke, the twirling spin of the right foot, the turning hands – one pointing towards the heavens, one towards the earth- the revolving mass of the flesh, and the spiral gyrating of the spirit; nothing seems to be still. The entire world is lost in the spontaneous revolving movement that is full of energy and vitality, as if power radiates from within the core of this vivacious movement. The tranquil calm and serene expression of the Semāzen, however, belies a different tale altogether. The sure footed anchorage of the left foot and the aura of contentment surrounding the whirling body are in stark contradiction to the apparent frenzy of this spectacular dance – the Samāʿ. Unique to the Mevlevī Order founded upon the teachings and ideals of Maulānā Jalāluddīn Rumī, the Samāʿ is an exquisite symbolic representation of the idea of oneness amidst diversity, peace amidst turmoil and tranquility amidst movement. The ability to bring together such diverging dichotomies in an unnatural union is quintessentially Rumī, and is evident throughout his work and word. In his conception of God, we see Mercy and Wrath uniting as One, in his view of nature, the exquisite and the mundane come together in a delicate balance, and in his speech, voice transcends into silence. Similarly, in the circular movement of the body during the Samāʿ, the heart and soul become one with the surroundings, the exterior melts into interior and the form dissolves into the meaning. The Samāʿ, however, is not the only thing associated with Rumī that elicits a similar interplay of dichotomies and contradictions. The play between spontaneity and calm present in the Mevlevī dance is reflected in the form and meaning of Rumī’s ghazals, where energy is contained effectively within the parameters of metre and rhyme. This essay attempts to explore how Maulānā Jalāluddīn Rumī’s poetry, specifically the ghazal, achieves an anchored rootedness through the effective use of metre and rhyme, while simultaneously flowing spontaneously in a powerful surge of motion – an exquisite dichotomy that is incorporated in body and soul in the symbolic dance of the Mevlevī Samāʿ. The spontaneous movement within the confined structure of Rumī’s ghazal is a proof to the eccentricity of Maulānā Rumī’s creative expression. This creative expression is made manifest through the flow of active progress in the ghazal within the limitations of a poetic expression that fulfills metric and rhythmic qualifications, in addition to a common radīf. Rumī, restrained within the straitjacket of these boundaries, still brings out an entirely unrestrained form of poetic expression that never fails to astound the reader. The ghazal, “Ah che bi rang o bi neshān ke manam” is an effective example of this. Consider the first verse of the ghazal “Ah che bi rang o bi neshān ke manam ke binam merā chenān ke manam”“Oh, how colorless and formless I am! When will I ever see the am that I am?”This verse is full of a natural life that refreshes the reader and sets up a tone of intimacy between the Maulānā and the reader. The conversational tone and the simple, yet effective choice of words is such that it lends the ghazal a sense of naturalness, as if Maulānā is conversing with the reader over a cup of chae. Pure sincerity, and not glittering artificiality, adorns this setting. The authenticity in the long drawn “Ah” at the beginning sets up a tone of informality that immediately befriends the reader – a conversation between two intimates has now begun, where words are not premeditated before they are spoken. A natural outpour of beautifully aligned words follows next, again, in the same conversational tone. “You said: The secrets that you know, bring forth, put out, talk up!”Here, the persona of the ghazal addresses a being, presumably God. However, the tone again is one of energetic dialogue that naturally pours forth from a highly charged source. A paradox is established through portraying “secrets” as gushing forth, where the silent, concealed nature of a secret is turned upside down. The urgency in the tone, the immediate demand to lay bare all the hidden knowledge adds the element of frenzy and spontaneous rush that makes the ghazal appear as a result of a chaotic flow of words. The seventh, eighth and ninth verses, however, epitomize the sense of unarranged fluidity in the ghazal.“I said Friend, you are just like me! He said How can you speak of likeness to the obviousness I am? I said That’s it, that’s what you are! He said Silence! No tongue has ever uttered what I am. I said Since no tongue has given voice to you, Here I am! your unutterable exposition.” The rapid exchange of words between the “You” and the “I” is remarkable in its effect of creating the flow of raw burning energy in the ghazal. The responses are unprompted, impulsive and unrestrained, yet contained, shaped and influenced by the others’ response. Just like surging massive ocean waves, rushing forth towards the shore in a loud oblivion of any worldly constraints – until they crash against the solid mass of rocks that come in their way. The wave is tamed by the rock, and the “I” is breathless in its encounter with the “You”. This dynamism of spontaneous and surging flow is evident in all of Rumī’s ghazals in general, and this particular ghazal in specific, where the liveliness is almost tangible in its effectiveness. However, Rumī is a poet of exquisite genius. He gives the reader spontaneity interwoven with a sense of rigid anchorage, which gives footing to the overflowing current of the ghazal. What appears impulsive and unrestrained is, in actuality, in strict adherence to the constraints of rhyme and metre, and bound together with the thread of a radīf. For instance, consider the first bayt again. “Ah che bi rang o bi neshān ke manam ke binam merā chenān ke manam” The monosyllabic sound of “Ah”, “che”, “bi”, “rang” and “ke” in the verse give its deliverance a rhythmic quality akin to the beat of a drum. The energy that springs from within the words of the verse is not a coincidence – monosyllables have been effectively employed to produce this very energy. The khafīf metre has been adhered to in this ghazal, which has a xu-x-u-xu- metre. Here, “-” denotes a long syllable, “u” is used for a short syllable, while “x” is for a syllable that can be both long and short. Writing fluid poetry within the parameters of a metre of such rigid rules is indeed, what exalts Rumī as a poet. His verse seems to expand and contract, all at the same time. However, it is the radīf that is the true anchor of Rumī’s ghazals. Bürgel speaks in detail on the unifying characteristic of the radīf in “Speech is a ship, and meaning the sea”, hailing it as a device that not only brings acoustic coherence, but also adds thematic unity to Rumī’s verse. Bürgel defines the radīf as “one or more words, sometimes even a whole phrase, that follows right after the rhyme in every line of a poem, without any alteration.” (Bürgel 48) For instance, in “Ah che bi rang”, the repetition of the word “manam” at the end of every line qualifies it for the status of the radīf. When the word “manam” is repeated thirteen times, an obvious coherence is achieved. The radīf, however, contributes much more to the poem than acoustic coherence. As Bürgel puts it, “In Rumī’s ghazals, the radīf is not a mere ornament, and also not just a formal factor that imparts unity to the poem, but a strong vehicle of meaning which intensifies the message and the symbolism.” (Bürgel 50) The radīf “manam”, meaning “I am”, becomes important in reinforcing the theme of being and self that dominates the ghazal. While the ghazal speaks of self-annihilation – destruction of the self to discover the real self – the radīf “manam” becomes the axis around which the ghazal turns. The fixed nature of the ghazal in terms of its radīf and metre, while flowing in ecstatic exuberance at the same time is proof to the ability of Rumī to bring together spontaneity amidst rootedness in a meaningful union. The third bayt of “Ah che bi rang” beautifully elicits this idea. “kiyy shavad īn ravān man sākin īn chanīn sākin rawān ke manam” “When will my soul be still? It moves when motionless, the anima I am.”The movement in the poem is coupled with the stillness of a kind that does not restrict its movement, but helps it move with unmatchable grace and elegance – like the flowing soul (ravān) that is made more beautiful when the stillness (sākin) of love touches it.The ghazal “Morde bodam zende shodam” is another effective example. “Morde bodam zende shodam, gerye bodam khande shodam Daulati ishq āmad o man daulati pāyindā shodam”The rhythmic pattern of the line “Morde bodam zende shodam, gerye bodam khande shodam” achieves “phonetic concretization” (Bürgel 47) in the ghazal, where the ecstasy of the persona is highlighted through the brimming musicality of the line. The explosive sound of the “b” and the “d” sounds in “morde”, “bodam”, “zende”, “shodam”, “khande”, “daulati” and “āmad” adds to the volatility of the verse, while the “sh” sound, repeated thrice through the use of the word “shodam” and once in “ishq”, adds a spark of ignition to the flame of life that burns through these words. Again, the ecstatic aura of a loss of self control is hidden underlined by a very strict metre and radīf. Here the metre is sarī, i.e. xxu- xxu- -u-, while the radīf is “shodam”. The radīf in this case is special since it not only adds the explosive acoustic effect to the ghazal, but is an intelligent play on tense and verb. The word “shodam” is a suffix to a verb for the present tense. For instance, according to Google translator, “zende shodam” means “I live”, while “khande shodam” means “I laugh”. Without a verb before it, the “shodam” has no meaning. Moreover, the “shodam” signifies that the action is taking place right now, in the present. Thus, through the use of the word “shodam”, the message of movement, specifically in the present is highlighted, where stagnation nullifies the “shodam” and is detrimental to the being of man. Hence, within Rumī’s ghazal, there is a distinct life and spontaneity which is effectively tamed with the help of metre, rhyme (radīf) and rhythm.In this respect, Rumī’s ghazal is like a young river. In strictly geographical terms, a young river is defined as one that is close to its source, is high both in volume and velocity and has the power to erode all earth particles of sand and gravel that come along its path. Even so, this headstrong river has a current, invisible to the eye, which drives it forward in one path with tremendous thrust and power. Rumī’s ghazal, too, is as fresh and exciting as the youthful river. It is close to the source of the Truth, it is heavy with the load of imagery and metaphors and has multiple layers to its depths. It gushes forth in an ecstatic outpour of words, eroding all base elements of ignorance that it comes across. And just like the river, it is also disciplined with the strong thread of the radīf. All of the power and energy of the ghazal is contained within the unity of the rhyme, rhythm and metre of it, making sure the ghazal is coherent in its entirety and direction. Gushing forth from the matlāʿ, the first verse, and meandering its way to the maqtāʿ, the ghazal fulfills its likeness to the river. Franklin D. Lewis, understanding the river like the nature of the ghazal, sets out his translations in a unique pattern (Lewis). Each ghazal visually flows before the reader, winding its way around each verse, and is voluble with the load of its contents. Rumī himself may not have arranged his verses in this pattern, but Lewis, through the brilliance of his transcreation, recognizes and pays tribute to the “behre bekirān” that is Rumī’s ghazal. The effect of the visual impact can be better understood if the arrangement of the ghazal is studied, where the varying length and indentation of each line produce a unique image. For instance, in the translation of “Ay Yusuf-e Khwosh”, Lewis organizes the ghazal in the following way;_____________ _________________ ____________________ _____________ ______________ _______________ _____________ _________________________________ _________________ ____________________ __________________ ___________________ _____________________ _______________________ __________________ The fluid nature of the ghazal becomes apparent through its elegantly flowing form. It is through this creative visual impact that the reader beholds, quite literally, the ghazal as the metaphoric river of Rumī’s thoughts and words. It flows, winds, meanders, grows and shortens like the forceful, vigorous river. However, Lewis too, it seems, is sensitive to the concept of an anchorage, a unity amidst the flow. The arrangement of the verses, despite emanating a sense of radiant liveliness, is still coherent in its entirety, thus fulfilling the essence of Rumī’s dichotomy.The coherently flowing world of Rumī’s ghazal is, in essence, a microcosm of the image of Rumī’s concept of God and His worship. Spontaneity, selflessness, lack of control – all are central to Rumi’s thoughts and teachings – but not without a strong sense of control and rootedness. Just like the Parwānā (moth) circumambulates the Shamāʿ (flame) in a selfless oblivion of the world around it – yet there is fixedness in its centre of focus. It is this devotion to an unchanging centre, and the restless yet focused movement, that leads to the ascension of the soul to a level where angels transcend. The Shamāʿ/parwānā image is a recurrent one in Rumī’s work, and is a parallel to the image of the Tawāf – the symbolic enactment of circling the One Beloved, approaching His Unity from all angles. Only after the seven rounds of allegiance, can the spiritual journey of the Hajj be complete. Being static before the Kaaba for years and years cannot grant one the status of being a Hājī as the seven rounds of movement do. Interestingly, movement is usually typically identified with restlessness. Inaction does not coexist alongside progress – it is the stationary that is likened to the serene and calm. However, Rumī’s genius lies in the brilliance with which opposing dichotomies are brought together as one. In Rumī’s world, it is restlessness that brings calm and it is movement that brings rest. It is through the devoted, revered movement around the Beloved that raises the heart from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high. Just like the impulsively flowing ghazal that achieves focus and coherence at the same time, movement in Rumī’s thought and teachings, is deeply intertwined with the idea of anchorage. Without the one, the other cannot truly exist. As Rumī says,“It moves when motionless”This single line seems to incorporate the diverse, dynamic and inherently vast world of Maulānā Jalāluddīn Rumī into a nutshell. Every soul, every heart, every intellect, every body, every verse, every ghazal, every thought, every duā, every ibādāh – in short, every single atom of the universe of God is in the motionless movement that defines the very essence of existence. T.S. Eliot, in his poem “Four Quartets”, magnificently incorporates this idea. At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity (T.S.Eliot)Eliot seems to take us by the hand, from the realm of Rumī’s ghazal and teachings, back to the platform of the Semākhāne, where the whirling bodies and the spinning souls oscillate between the worlds of “flesh and fleshless”. Existence and non-existence become one at the place where movement and stillness are united. “At the still point, there the dance is”. The restlessness of the whirling dervish has a whole new meaning now, where it becomes “neither arrest nor movement”. Just like the ghazal that is spontaneous amidst restraint, just like the parwānā that is at calm amidst its frenetic circumambulation of the shamā, just like the Lover who finds rest in the motion of the tawāf of the Beloved, the rotating, selfless twirling of the Semāzen too, embodies calm, serenity and fixedness. The act of the Samāʿ itself, therefore, is an embodiment of the dichotomies Rumī exhibits in the form and meaning of his ghazal. The Mevlevī Samāʿ, though not the initiation of Maulānā himself, is not entirely removed from his influence either. Ibrahim Gamard traces the origins of the Samāʿ to Baghdad, where it existed as a spiritual exercise centuries before Rumī’s time (Gamard). Lewisohn further validates this claim as he writes, “In Islam, its (Samāʿ’s) background can be traced back at least to the time of Abfi’l-Qasim Junayd (d. 298/910) who… lived most of his life in Baghdad where Samāʿ-khānes, lodges dedicated to the performance of mystical musical concerts, had been operative since the second half of the 9th century.” (Lewisohn 5) The Samāʿ of that time was not unlike the Mevlevī Samāʿ of today in that the dance-like movements of the dervishes were inspired by recitations of the Holy Quran or Sufi songs. Gamard writes that the dervishes, in such an environment “would enter ecstatic spiritual states of consciousness”, where the physical movements would be in line with the recitations, yet would simultaneously belie a complete lack of control. Maulānā Rumī, though known to have whirled in ecstasy reciting his own poetry, did not initiate the ritual we know as the Mevlevī Samāʿ. Institutionalized systematically by Pir ʿAdel Chalebi (d.1461) (Lewis 461), the Mevlevī Samāʿ today is an elaborate ceremony with specific steps and instructions pertaining to the dress and movements of the Semāzen. Detailed manuals regarding definite instructions composed during the time of its institutionalization, outlining the proper conduct (adāb) of performing the Samāʿ, are even today, heavily relied upon. If the Samāʿ today is such a documented method of predetermined guidelines, but symbolizes, in essence, a rapturous joy of love for the Beloved, what then, is the reality of the Mevlevī Samāʿ? Exploring the answer to this question takes us back to the images we started off with – the white flowing frock (tennure), the tall conical cap (sikke), the black cloak (hirkā), the palms each facing heavens and earth, and the anchorage of the foot – all are deeply enshrined in the tarīqā of the Mevlevī Order. All of this is crucial in understanding how the Samāʿ, an act of ecstatic loss of control, is carefully contained within the parameters of predefined rules. In this way, the paradox of movement within stillness, control within a loss of control is as much central to the Mevlevī Samāʿ as it is to the ghazal. Maulānā Rumī, through the deliberate formation of his ghazal and the insightful concepts of his teachings, instructs us how one cannot forgo discipline even within elation. This fundamental lesson is also central to the Mevlevī Samāʿ; “The foremost point of etiquette upon which all the Sufis are agreed, is that silence and stillness must reign throughout Samāʿ notwithstanding the participant becoming affected by ecstasy and rapture (wajd)” (Lewisohn 8). The Semāzen, therefore, must adhere to and be sensitive to the dichotomies that Rumī has employed throughout his word and work. The Mevlevī Samāʿ, although in its modern day form may not be what Rumī imagined Samāʿ as in the 13th Century, however, it is still essentially bound to Rumī’s teachings in terms of the fundamental concepts they share. The Mevlevī Samāʿ, just like the ghazal, is the embodiment of the thoughts and ideas of Maulānā Jalāluddīn Rumī. While each word, verse, metre and rhyme employed in the ghazal is symbolic of the dichotomy of a composed stillness amidst spontaneous movement, each bow, each turn, each halt of the Mevlevī Samāʿ is a physical representation of the same creative thought of Maulānā Rumī. In the act of the Samāʿ, both the physical and the spiritual come together in a blissful union that transcends the boundaries of existence into non-existence.Works CitedBürgel, J. Christoph. Speech is a Ship and Meaning the Sea. n.d.Gamard, Ibrahim. August 2009. Dar-al-Masnavi. 12 December 2012 <>.Lewis, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West. England: Oneworld Publications, 2000.Lewisohn, Leonard. “The Sacred Music of Islam: Sama in the Persian Sufi Tradition.” JSTOR (1997): 1-33.T.S.Eliot. Four Quartets.

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