Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi or Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also known as Mevlana, meaning our guide, or Mowlavi, meaning my guide) (1207 - December 17, 1273 CE) is a Persian poet and Sufi mystic, who was born in Balkh (present Afghanistan, then within the borders of Genghis Khan's Mogul Empire) and died in Konya (present Turkey, then within Anatolian part of Seljuk Empire). The doctrines of Sufism are expression in his symbolic works and those of Hafiz. His major work is "Masnavi-ye Manavi" (Spiritual Couplets), a six-volume poem regarded by many Sufis as second in importance only to the Koran. Rumi's other major work is the "Diwan-i Shams-i Tabriz-i" (The Works of Shams of Tabriz - named in honor of Rumi's great friend and inspiration, the dervish Shams), comprising some 40,000 verses. Both works are among the most significant in all of Persian literature.
Mevlana who is also known as Rumi, was a philosopher and mystic of Islam. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Moslem, Jew Buddhist and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men and women of all sects and creeds.
Mevlana was born on 30 September 1207 in Balkh. In the advent of Mongol invasion of Central Asia, his father (Baha'al din Veled) set out to Konya, Anatolia within the westernmost territories of Seljuk Empire. It was here where Rumi spent the last forty-some years of his life and wrote his poems. He died on 17 December 1273 in Konya in present day Turkey; it is stated that he was murdered by disciples who were jealous of his relationship with Shams (also spelt Shems). He was laid to rest beside his father and over his remains a splendid shrine was erected. The 13th century Mevlana Mausoleum with its mosque, dance hall, dervish living quarters, school and tombs of some leaders of the Mevlevi Order continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Moslem and non-Moslem world.
The Mevlevi, or Mevleviye, one of the most well-known of the Sufi orders, was founded in 1273 by his followers after his death, particularly his son, Sultan Veled Celebi. The Mevlevi, or "The Whirling Dervishes", believe that union with God can be attained in a dance and music ceremony called sema. Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, his growth through love, desert his ego, find the truth and arrive to the "Perfect," then he return from this spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation, to all creatures without discrimination as to belief, race, class or national origin.
The Mevlevi were a well established Sufi Order in the Ottoman Empire and many of the members of the Order served in various official positions of the Caliphate. The centre for the Mevlevi order is in Konya in Turkey, where Rumi is buried. There is also a Mevlevi monastery or durgah in Istanbul near the Galata Tower where the sema ceremony is performed and accessible to the public. The Mevlevi Order is also linked to other Dervish orders such as the Kadiris (founded in 1165), the Rifais (founded in 1182) and the Kalenderis.
The Mevlevi Order was outlawed in Turkey at the dawn of the secular revolution by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. In the 1950s the Turkish government, realizing that The Whirling Dervishes have value as a tourist attraction, began allowing the Whirling Dervishes to perform annuallly in Konya on the Urs of Mevlana -- the anniversary of his death, December 17. In 1974 they were allowed to come to the West. They performed in France, for the Pope, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and other venues in the US and Canada under the direction of the late Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede.