On December 17th, 2019 the Yunus Emre Institute hosted several guests for a lecture on Mawlana, the 13th century Sufi mystic, poet, and scholar. The lecture was given by Professor Bilal Kuspinar, President of Diyanet Center of America, who spoke about the universal characteristics of humans in the philosophy of Mawlana Jalal Al-Din Rumi. Professor Kuspinar has a unique understanding of this topic since he has spent years of his career studying and understanding Islamic philosophy, including the work of Mawlana Jalal Al-Din Rumi.
Mawlana Rumi’s death occurred on December 17th, 1273 therefore this lecture is meant to commemorate his life and the tremendous impact that he had. Born in 1207, he gained his first taste of wisdom from his father Bahaeddin Veled, who was known as the “sultan of scholars.” It was his meeting with Shams, a poet, while he was studying Sufism that would change his entire perspective on philosophy. Mawlana Rumi took in Shams for several years once a genuine friendship was established between them. They talked and philosophized about the importance of love, truth, and compassion until Shams left in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. Although Mawlana was extremely sad about Shams’ departure, Mawlana carried the knowledge that he gained from Shams and expounded upon it on his journey through his poems and speeches to his many followers.
The universal characteristics of humans that Mawlana discussed in his poems are quite touching. Rumi’s teachings were rooted in the Qu’ran and influenced by his life. Mawlana said that we should live as if we are two legs of a compass: one leg always firmly rooted in God while the other leg turns along with many nations. This means that while Rumi always kept God as his highest concern, he also thought that we should keep an open mind to the customs and beliefs of all people. He thought that the lowest moral obligation a person has is to not harm others while the highest is that a person freely forgives others who hurt them. Mawlana had followers from all religious and ethnic backgrounds because he explained that differences in religions do not matter to the divine presence of God.
Attendees were pleased with what they learned about Mawlana Rumi and his philosophy. Professor Kuspinar quoted a few lines of his poems which audience members found very enlightening and said that it gave deeper insight to his perspective. One guest asked about how deep the relationship between Mawlana and Shams had been and the professor answered that they shared mutual love and respect for each other. He elaborated that without the wisdom of Shams there might not have been the wisdom of Mawlana. They also appreciated his philosophy of acknowledging the role of spirituality in one’s life, love, logic, and reasoning. Each guest went home with a deeper knowledge and understanding for the Sufi poet and what he contributed to philosophy, poetry, and spirituality.
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