Rumi was the Persian mystic poet of Thirteenth Century. He is called Rumi because of his native place, Konya (Inconium) in Asia Minor which was then known as Rum. He was born in C.E. 1207 and died in 1273. Iqbal acknowledges Rumi as his guide without reservation. No thinker except Rumi has acquired the title of the Pir (guide) from Iqbal. He has whole heartedly paid him tribute and respect nearly in all his books. This tribute arouses much curiosity when it is paid by Iqbal, an eminent poet-philosopher with numinous vision and outstanding scholarship.
The most important factor
which impressed Iqbal to acknowledge Rumi as his guide was Rumi’s interpretation of the Quran and his profound love for the Holy Book and the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
Iqbal believes that Rumi deeply understands the spirit of the Quran. He says:
“The light of the Quran is hidden in his (Rumi’s) breast, the cup of Jam fades in the presence of his mirror”
Iqbal openly acknowledges Rumi’s Mathnavi as the Quran in Pahlvi. He says:
“There appeared the Master, formed in the mould of Truth, who wrote the Koran in Persian.”
Khawaja Hamid Irfani rightly says:
“In understanding and interpreting the Quran, Rumi is in consonance with Iqbal”.
Iqbal is very right in accepting Rumi as the great interpreter of the Quran. Even before Iqbal, Rumi commanded this status. Jami called his Mathnavi “The Quran in Persian” (Hast Quran Dar Zaban-i-Pehlvi).
Rumi’s love and regard for the Quran and the Prophet are worthy of note here. About the Quran, Rumi says:
“Though the Quran is (dictated) from the lips of the Prophet – if anyone says God did not speak it, he is an infidel”.
“To thee the Quran is even as the rod (of Moses), it swallows up (all) infidelities, like a dragon”.
About the Prophet, Rumi says:
“If Ahmad should display that glorious pinion (his spiritual nature), Gabriel would remain dumbfounded unto everlasting”.
Rumi’s love for the Prophet and this homage paid to the Prophet are expressed in several ways. In Mathnavi alone there are numerous sayings of the Prophet which Rumi has quoted and made caption of his verses. “Still is Na’t of Maulana Rumi well known in Turkey and the countries where Rumi’s mystical poetry is read.” Above all, on the meaning of “But for thee, I would not have created heavens”, Rumi asserts that God “bestowed an existence on the heavens” because of His love for the Prophet.
It is however, not incidental that Iqbal acknowledged Rumi as guide. It is worthy of note that all Iqbal’s books were published after 1908, when he had come back from Europe after deeply studying European philosophy and Western way of life. All these books are replete with Iqbal’s love and regards for the Quran and the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and his respect for Rumi and a guide. In fact, he now appreciated Islam in a much more intensive way than before. In this respect he found a kindred spirit and an illustrious guide in Rumi, whom he has openly acknowledged as such on different places.
Besides, there are other potential reasons for Iqbal’s acceptance of Rumi as his guide. To my mind, Rumi’s own towering position as religious leader, incontestable mystic poet and distinguished thinker are other highly important reasons which impressed Iqbal.