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19 June 2009

Rumi-nations


Love is from the infinite, and will remain until eternity.
The seeker of love escapes the chains of birth and death.
Tomorrow, when resurrection comes,
The heart that is not in love will fail the test.


In the past week I have had two conversations about Rumi.
One person grew up with his book in her home and was familiar with him, but not his context. (She thought he was a Rabbi!)
Another woman uses his poetry regularly in her worship services. She makes it a point to remind her congregation that Rumi was Muslim.

I am blasphemy and religion, pure and impure;
Old, young, and a small child.
If I die, don't say that he died.
Say he was dead, became alive, and was taken by the Beloved.

Mavlevi Jalal al-Din Rumi was a Sufi Muslim. And his poetic passion for God and God's creation flowed from his practice of Islam, and was not in spite of it.

With the Beloved's water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved's rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?

I reflected on this rumination after watching news coverage of the pro-life activist who murdered and martyred a physician for providing legal medical services to women. I am always struck that these persons are never called Christian terrorists even when they like the Oklahoma City bombers and white supremacist who murdered a guard at the Holocause museum draw their ideology and actions from their Christian faith.

It seems that in our news cycles, only Muslims who bastardize their faith are religious terrorists. And Muslims like Rumi, who love God and the world with all that they have and more, are all-too-often lifted from their Islamic context so that a singular presentation of Islam pervades our media.

This is true Islam:
Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? "God is One."
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For the one who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding the dead, say neither bad nor good,
For that one is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that God may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don't call all these lights "the Light of God";
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
...Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire.

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