17 Dicembre, La Notte delle Nozze di Rumi

Why cling to one life
till it is soiled and ragged?

The sun dies and dies
squandering a hundred lived
every instant.

God has decreed life for you
and He will give
and another
and another.

Mathnawi V. 411-414


The night of December 17th, is the (solar) anniversary of the death of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, who died in 1273 in Konya, Turkey (which for many centuries had been known as Rum, the Anatolian peninsula long ruled by Rome, meaning the Eastern Roman, and then Byzantine, Empire).

The observance of the anniversary of a sufi saint is called (in Arabic), `urs, which means “wedding” because the saint is believed to have attained “union” (or utmost nearness together with other saints and the prophets) with God, the Only Beloved.
The `urs of a sufi saint is normally celebrated according to the Islamic lunar calendar (according to which Rumi died on 5 Jumad al Akhira, 1273). However, due to the Westernization of the calendar in Turkey, Rumi’s `urs has been celebrated on the equivalent solar calendar date, not only in Turkey, but in many Western countries.

In Turkey, the night of Rumi’s `urs is called Sheb-i Arus or “Wedding Night”.

Many sufi gatherings of various kinds will be mentioning the name of this saint on this night, praying that the blessings of God be upon his soul, and celebrating his “Wedding Night” by the “Whirling Prayer Ceremony” (Samâ`) of the Mevlevi (“Whirling Dervish”) Sufi order, recitation of his poetry, and sufi prayer chanting, zikru’Llah— “remembrance of God”.

After finishing first five volume of his masterpiece Mathnawi, during the sixth volume, Mevlana Rumi became weak and ill. His rest was uneasy and his body suffered dramatic changes in temperature. As he rested in this weakened state earthquakes shook Konya. Rumi japed with those visiting him and told them not to be afraid, for the earth was just hungry and would soon receive a fat morsel. Death, he said to them, was not separation but a liberation.

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi died in Konya, on December 17th, 1273. The evening sky burned red as men and women of various religions pressed through the swelling crowd to touch the green cloth that covered his coffin.

Sadreddin al-Qunawi was to offer funeral prayers for Rumi but fainted when he saw angels and Prophet Muhammad joining the funeral. The prayer was then offered by Husamuddin Chelebi.

According to Sipeshala’r account, when Shaykh Sadr al-Din was asked why he fainted and fell, he responded by saying: “When I came in front of the coffin to lead the prayer, I saw that the angels formed a line in front of the coffin. From the awe of the moment, I lost my consciousness”.

As Aflaki writes, shortly before Rumi’s passing away, his cat came to Rumi and meowed sadly. Rumi smiled and asked those around him: “Do you know what this cat said?”

They said: “No”.

Rumi said: “Soon you will go to the heavens, to your homeland with safety. What will I do without you?”

Rumi’s cat did not eat or drink anything after his passing away and survived for only seven days after Rumi’s passing.

When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world

don’t shed any tears
don’t lament or
feel sorry
i’m not falling
into a monster’s abyss

when you see
my corpse is being carried
don’t cry for my leaving
i’m not leaving
i’m arriving at eternal love

when you leave me
in the grave
don’t say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind

you’ll only see me
descending into a grave
now watch me rise
how can there be an end
when the sun sets or
the moon goes down

it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed

have you ever seen
a seed fallen to earth
not rise with a new life
why should you doubt the rise
of a seed named human

have you ever seen
a bucket lowered into a well
coming back empty
why lament for a soul
when it can come back
like Joseph from the well

when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time.

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi