from Secrets and Mysteries (1915-17)
following excerpt from Secrets and Mysteries (1915-17)
by Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) depicts the famous first meeting
between Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (19207-73) and his mentor Shams
Tabriz. Iqbal must have been aware of the weak authenticity of this
story, especially since the issue was discussed by Shibli Nomani
in Savaneh Mevlana Rumi (1907) but it seems that he chose
to use it as a parable for making his point.
Illustration by Tabassum Khalid. © 2006 Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
Rumi meets Shams Tabriz
I say over to you the message of the
Sage of Rum: “Knowledge, if it lies on your skin, is a snake;
Knowledge, if you take it to heart, is a friend.”
Have you heard how the Master of
Rum gave lectures on philosophy at Aleppo? Fast in the bonds of
intellectual proofs, drifting o'er the dark and stormy sea of understanding;
a Moses un-illumined by Love's Sinai, ignorant of Love and of Love's
passion. He discoursed on Scepticism and Neoplatonism, and strung
many a brilliant pearl of metaphysics. He unraveled the problems
of the Peripatetic, the light of his thought made clear whatever
was obscure. Heaps of books lay around and in front of him, and
on his lips was the key to all their mysteries.
Shams i Tabriz, directed by Kamal,
sought his way to the college of Jalaluddin Rumi and cried out,
“What is all this noise and babble? What are all these syllogisms
and judgments and demonstrations?” “Peace, O fool!”
Exclaimed the Maulvi, “Do not laugh at the doctrines of the
sages. Get out of my college!
This is argument and discussion; what have you to do with it? My
discourse is beyond your understanding. It brightens the glass of
These words increased the anger of
Shams i Tabriz and caused a fire to burst forth from his soul. The
lightning of his look fell on the earth, and the glow of his breath
made the dust spring into flames. The spiritual fire burned the
intellectual stack and clean consumed the library of the philosopher.
The Maulvi, being a stranger to Love's
miracles and unversed in Love's harmonies, cried, “How did
you kindle this fire, which has burned the books of the philosophers?”
The Shaykh answered, “O unbelieving Muslim, this is vision
and ecstasy: what have you to do with it? My state is beyond your
thought, my flame is the Alchemist's elixir.”
You have drawn your substance from
the snow of philosophy. The cloud of your thought sheds nothing
but hailstones. Kindle a fire in your rubble, foster a flame in
Based on translation by A.
R. Nicholson (1920)
Back to Top
Search the Republic of Rumi