Rumi’s philosophy of Love in the Era of U-turned Islam

Rumi’s Philosophy of Love in the Era of U-turned Islam
by Nevad Kahteran

| PDF| 12 Pages| English|


The essential awareness of the spiritual state of today’s world, and of the question of terrorism, reflects the social pathologies of the modern world – a pathology that is accustoming people to the presence of violence as something quite normal and logical, and where they are all too familiar with danger and the presence of death. There is thus a great need for studies which will stimulate mutual understanding, inter-faith dialogue and multicultural encounters. Hazrat Mawlana, who is one of the greatest spiritual and literary figures of all time, who advocated unlimited tolerance, and for whom love is the most significant conceptual component in a manner transcending all national, cultural and civilizational boundaries, is undoubtedly the most suitable figure for this task..

Key concepts: Rumi’s metaphysical and ontological status of Love, philosophical inter-cultural dialogue, U-turned Islam.
Lā hayāta lil-ummah allatī lā tahayya thikra ‘azamā’ihā (“a people that does not preserve the memory of its great men has no future”). In this age of globalization, this Arab saying should make us think again, prompting us to adopt it as a motto for our reflections on the cosmopolitan nature of Rumi’s works, through which it acquires fresh relevance, while our reflections on his cosmopolitanism should show that his philosophy of love has become even more important in our modern, global world. In fact, in the tradition of respecting and remembering our forebears, the rationale for this type of anniversary is clear enough: on the one hand, to keep alive the link broken by death, and on the other, to celebrate the lasting bond between the deceased (marhūm) and his descendants – a bond that death cannot erase, but that may in the event be a stimulating partner in the debate, even in the twenty-first century. This is indeed true of Jalāl al-Dīn al-Balkhī, better known as Rūmī in the West, and as Mawlānā in the East.1)..

New insights into comparative and world philosophy should encourage western philosophers and students of Islam to cultivate their interest in Islamic philosophy, to help them define their priorities for deeper study and creative philosophical work, as conducive to an understanding of and programme for the complexity and diversity of Rumi’s thinking – Rumi the thinker, poet and, above all, Sufi – to whom this conference, and the year 2007, have been dedicated by UNESCO. It is my sincere hope, therefore, that this international conference will generate many friendships and good philosophies, and in particular a deeper insight into and understanding of Rumi through a clear articulation of the philosophical concepts and theories that would enable Islamic philosophy to share in global philosophical exchanges. If it is to take part in these globalizing processes, Islamic philosophy must begin with a number of key philosophers from the entire pleiade of Muslim thinkers, each of whom is worthy, in his own distinct fashion, of our study and research, and a deeper understanding of whom preserves and advances Islamic philosophy. Recognizing these thinkers is an important step towards mutual understanding and enrichment. As a result, conferences like this are significant if prompted by the need to review and systematically expound the great resources of Islamic philosophical wisdom, and if such dialogue will enable Islamic philosophy to become an active force for the enrichment of world civilization and human society; if, in other words, Islamic philosophy is to gain recognition in the West as a living tradition of philosophical thought and to regain its proper place in the world of living philosophical tradition, rather than merely being the subject of demonstration or repetition in today’s world philosophical forum.

Of course, all this goes with a grounding in western philosophy and a systematic comparison of Islamic and western philosophy, since throughout his life and work Rumi himself encouraged this kind of dialogue in the sincere hope that each would learn something from the others, and it would seem that in his case a deep pluralism of religion was at work: a pluralism in which each religion would be respected, and open to all others. Hence this interpretation of Islamic philosophy as a living religious tradition, not merely knowledge of concepts; the need, that is, for attesting to Islam as a living spiritual tradition, contrary to the study or reconstruction of Islam as an abstract, theoretical philosophical system. Further, the revival of the vitality and creativity of Islamic culture and expounding Islam as a spiritual tradition, and indeed the importance of Rumi in this regard, is reinforced by the cumulative endeavours of those who have dealt with his works in the past forty years or so, and who have made him far better known to us and familiarized us with this Muslim genius. Then again, contacts made at international conferences like this are further facilitated by the use of electronic communications and web sites – that new-found continent – in which Rumi, too, is an increasing presence; the impact of this greater ease of communication is quite remarkable. In the light of what I have already said, this growing interaction provides a new vitality for the transformation of human life and society and of the world as a whole.

In this dismal prospect of drained energy and disintegrating culture in the world of today, of a world order that functions thanks only to the balance of fear, dictated by compromises and the occasional coincidence of interests, and to the retreat and breakdown of tradition that reflected culture as a life force, it would seem that the Islamic tradition has suffered a loss of confidence, and has become not so much a captive of western ideology and values as trapped in the intellectual morass, lack of inventiveness and self-pity of Muslims themselves as they bewail their own fate. We seem to be so divided that the only thing uniting us is misfortune; only rarely are there such commendable events as this conference. True, this wretched state of affairs has been exacerbated by the constant crises resulting from foreign incursions and outside cultural and military dominance, but it was a different matter as long as the surge of new energy and new visions lasted. Above all,

we must once again identify the philosophical insights of Rumi’s work, and among the questions we must ask ourselves is: What now constitutes the warrant of the substantiality and value of Islamic philosophical discourse in general? What is the standard mode of Islamic philosophical discourse? What has become of those unfettered visions of life and reality that even now we can discern in Rumi’s writings? By asking this we are raising questions of self-transcendence, comparison, contrast, evaluation, integration and definition, or of the transformation of our Muslim identity and vision towards a global understanding of the human race and the world as a whole..

|PDF|12 pages|English
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