Jews and Hebrew Bible in Rumi’s Poetry

The eternally intertwined, absolutely unshakable, and historically rich fraternities between Jews and Persians are extensively documented in the Holy Jewish Bible (Holy Torah and Tanakh); dating back to 600 BC when the great Persian ruler, King Cyrus rescued the Jews from slavery in Babylon and allowed their return to Israel to rebuild their Temple (See:  2 Chronicles 36:22-23 in the Holy Jewish Bible, as well as the accounts of Persian Kings, Darius the Great, Cambysses, Xerexes, and Artaxerexes-I, in the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi.)

In post-Islamic Persia, it was precisely the Persian Sufi poets who courageously rejected the medieval Islamic practice of forcing non-Muslims (Jews in particular), who lived within the boundaries of the Islamdom, to wear a distinctive green belt or girdle called 'Zonar' to identify and distinguish them from the Muslim population. Later on during the same medieval periods, the Christians borrowed that shameful practice from their Muslim counterparts and also forced non-Christians (Jews in particular), who lived within the boundaries of the Christendom, to wear a distinctive 'Yellow badge' or the infamous 'Armband'.

Here are just a few poetic examples of Persian Sufi poets' outpourings of deep respect, love, and admiration for Jews which I've selected and translated:

Jews devoutly follow the religion of Moses.
They strongly believe that except for Judaism,
no other religion must be followed.

Ferdowsi - the outstanding 11th century Persian poet and one of the giants of Persian literature who authored the masterpiece of world literature, Shah-Namah- شاهنامه  or The Epic of Kings: Hero Tales of Ancient Persia.

دگر دین موسی که خوانی یهود

که گوید جز آن را نشاید ستود

If you are a Jew,
defeat Pharaoh's magicians like Moses.
If you are Abraham,
destroy your jealous enemies.

Sanai of Ghazna - The eminent 11th century Persian Sufi poet of Ghazna whose mystical outpourings had greatly influenced Rumi and subsequent Persian Sufi poets. Sanai Ghaznavi is the author of masterpiece of classical Persian literature, The Garden of Truth and the Law of the Path - حدیقه الحقیقه و شریعه الطریقه -

گر کلیمی سحر فرعون هوا را نیست کن

ور خلیلی غیرت اغیار را در هم شکن
 حكيم سنايي غزنوي

Always find a way to return someone's favor.
For Jews, that lesson is based on the teachings of
Yehoshua Ben Nun (Joshua).

Nasser Khusro - the great 11th century Persian Sufi poet whose greatest prose work is Safar-namah - سفرنامه or Book of Travel in which he relates detailed accounts of his seven years spiritual journey throughout the Islamic world.

تاویل کن طلب که یهودان را

این قول پند یوشع بن نون است
 ناصر خسرو قبادیانی بلخی

The fire that consumes Love
once turns me into Abraham
and once into a Jew.

Khaqani - The extraordinary 12th century Persian Sufi poet known as the maestro of Qasida (a highly elaborate poetry style with structured forms and rhythmic style) in Persian literature.

آن آتش را که عشق ازو خاست

گاه ابراهیم و گه کلیمیم
 خاقانی شروانی

If God's Grace and Favor 
Don't start raining down on me,
I'll also elevate my supplications 
All the way to celestial spheres.
Just like how the Jews pray
during their Feast of Freedom or Passover.

Sa'adi Shirazi - the universally admired 13th century Persian Sufi poet who was a contemporary of Rumi. Saadi Shirazi's major works are The Orchard and The Rose Garden -بوستان و گلستان

گر نبارد فضل باران عنایت بر سرم

لابه بر گردون رسانم چون یهودان در فطیر
  سعدي شيرازي

Jews search for G-d inside their Synagogue.
Muslims search for Allah inside their Ka'aba.

Attar - The passionate 13th century Persian Sufi poet and author of masterpiece of world literature, Conference of The Birds or Logic of The Birds-منطق الطير

یهودان در کنشت خویش جویند

مسلمان در درون کعبه جویند
عطار نيشاپوري

Everyone is seeking the Beloved,
Whether a sober or a drunkard.
Every Holy House is a house of love,
Whether a Synagogue or a Mosque.

Hafiz Shirazi - The incomparable 14th century poet, unanimously hailed as the greatest poet of Persia.

همه کس طالب یارند چه هشیار و چه مست

همه جا خانه عشق است چه مسجد چه کنشت
حافظ شيرازي

Rumi has also extensively expressed his deep love and respect for Jews throughout his prose and poetic works. Here are just a few examples of Rumi's deep love for Jews which I've selected and translated:

A devout Jew attends a Synagogue
To aesthetically worship Lord, the One God.
While a non-believer always chases
The worldly material possessions.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

وآن دگر بهر ترهب در کنشت
وآن یکی اندر حریصی سوی کشت
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

YOU (GOD) are the One I worship
Whether in a Muslim Mosque
Or in a Jewish Synagogue.
YOU (GOD) are the One I seek
Whether searching upward or downward.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

تویی معبود در کعبه و کنشتم
تویی مقصود از بالا و پستم
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

In the eyes of any Muslim
Who is an open-minded believer,
Every Jew is a wool-wearing Sufi mystic.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

پیش آن چشمی که باز و رهبرست
هر گلیمی را کلیمی در برست
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

If the presence of my Beloved is felt
inside the Temple of Idols,
then it'll be a sin for me going
to Muslims' Ka'aba and circle around it.

If the fragrance of my Beloved
cannot be traced in Muslims' Ka'aba,
then I'd look around for a Jewish Synagogue.

For the sake of tracing the scent
of my Beloved's mystical union,
 the Jewish Synagogue will be
my Muslim Ka'aba from now on.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

در بتکده تا خیال معشوهٔ ما است
رفتن به طواف کعبه در عین خطا است
گر کعبه از او بوی ندارد کنشت است
با بوی وصال اوکنشت کعبهٔ ما است
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Look at Moses son of Amram,
leaving his mother's side,
fleeing to Midian, and then 
becoming the Leader of a Nation.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

نگر به موسي عمران كه از بر مادر
به مدين آمد و زان راه گشت او مولا
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Consider the world as Mount Sinai,
and I as Moses seeking its secrets.
Every instant a Light strikes from above
and drills a deep hole in the Mount Sinai.

The world has became like Mount Sinai,
every atom has become totally illuminated,
and every soul has become like Moses
who fainted catching a glimpse of God's Glory.

My soul is like the dancing Mount Sinai
and I am like the bewildered Moses
who must prepare for his rendezvous 
at Mount Sinai with Lord our God.

Look how the divine light of glory
emanating from Lord's shining face,
made every atom in the universe
becoming intoxicated and glowing 
like the shining bright face of Moses
when he came down from Mount Sinai.

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrows
witnessing the injustices of the Pharaoh.

The Mount Sinai, 
The Light of Divine Glory,
and Moses Son of Amram 
is what I desire.

When Moses empowered by the Spirit
climbed up to Mount Sinai,
a Voice came from the Mountain, asking:
"Who is that tired and bewildered seeker
who has come to meet Me face to face?"
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

عالم چو كوه طوردان ما همچو موسي طالبان
هر دم تجلي مي رسد بر مي شكافد كوه را
عالم چو كوه طور شد هر ذره اي پر نور شد
مانند موسي روح هم افتاد بي هوش از لقا

جان طوراست ومن موسي كه من بيهوش واورقصان
و ليكن اين كسي داند كه بر ميقات من گردد
چون فزون گردد تجلي از جمال حق ببين
ذره ذره هر دو عالم گشته موسي وار مست
جانم ملول گشت ز فرعون و ظلم او
آن نور و طور و موسي عمرانم آرزوست

موسی جانم به که طور رفت
آمد هنگام ملاقات من
طور ندا کرد که آن خسته کیست
کآمد سرمست به میقات من
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

When Moses, the 'Speaker with God'
approached the burning bush,
the raging flames called unto him:
"Remove your shoes and jump in,
I carry the soothing freshwater 
from Lord's Rivers of Paradise."
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

چونک کلیم حق بشد سوی درخت آتشین
گفت من آب کوثرم کفش برون کن و بیا
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Just like Archangel Gabriel 
who constantly dreams about meeting
Jesus or Moses,
You can also dream about reaching
the celestial Lote-Tree of the Extremity.

Worrying over losing the Love of God,
Moses shed many tears of blood on Mount Sinai
until God appeared to him as a Voice
and strengthened his resolve and faith.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

جبرئیلت خواب بیند یا مسیحا یا کلیم
چرخ شاید جای تو یا سدره‌ها یا منتها
طور موسی بارها خون گشت در سودای عشق
کز خداوند شمس دین افتد به طور اندر صدا
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Because of strong brotherly ties,
Aaron instantly recognizes Moses,
even if Moses doesn't carry his magical rod
or hides his shining turned-white hand.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

کلیم را بشناسد به معرفت‌ هارون
اگر عصاش نباشد وگر ید بیضا
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Obeying Lord's command,
both Moses and Abraham
quickly approached the burning fires.
But Lord turned the raging flames 
into fresh flower gardens for them both.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

جان کلیم و خلیل جانب آتش دوان
نار نماید در او جز گل و گلزار نیست
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Moses climbed up the Mount Sinai
begging God to show His Face to him,
but Lord flatly told him: "NO!"
All the while gone astray Israelites
started worshiping a golden calf.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

بر کوه طور طالب ارنی کلیم وار
وز خلق دررمیده به عالم چو سامری
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Love is hidden in the the Holy of Holies.
The wand of Moses swallowed up the dragon 
As soon as he threw it on the ground.

Love was the only reason 
for Moses to use his magic wand.
Overcoming obstacles and challenges
were the driving forces
behind Moses' magical acts.

Don't be in denial, 
look at the magic wand of Moses: 
one minute, it's just a simple rod,
in another, it becomes a dragon.

Be advised that Moses, 
the Pharaoh slayer,
is in town.
You won't see his magic wand,
but he's always carrying it with him.

My dear, you are Moses
and I am your magic wand.
Sometimes I'm like Moses,
the savior of Israelites,
and sometimes his fiery dragon!

Both Moses and Pharaoh 
knew the essence of the Path.
But Moses clearly walked the Path
while Pharaoh went astray from It.

O Moses, 
Pharaoh's serpent is no match
for your magic wand.
O wise Prophet, our pain is no match 
for your medications.

O Master, cover my naked soul.
O Water, drown me in your depths.
O Moses son of Amram, 
come, strike the red sea with your wand.

Once Moses turned his magic wand
into a fiery dragon,
the Pharaoh and his army
were sent straight to hell. 

For the Pharaoh and his army,
The River Nile was turned into blood
For the Moses and Israelites,
The Nile was turned into salvation route.

O Moses, O Prophet of Love,
ambush the Pharaohs of our times.
Strike them hard, defeat them 
just like how Moses did it 
by using his magic wand.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

عشق از سر قدوسیی همچو عصای موسیی
کو اژدهارا می خورد چون افکند موسی عصا 

حاصل عصای موسوی عشقست در کوی وی روی
عین و عرض در پیش او اشکال جادویی بود

منکرمباش بنگر عصای موسی
یک لحظه آن عصا بود یک لحظه اژدها شد 

بدانکه موسی فرعون کش درین شهر است
عصاش را تو نبینی ولی عصا دارد

جانا تویی کلیم و منم چون عصای تو
گه تکیه گاه خلقم و گه اژدهای تو

مار کی ماند عصا را ای کلیم
درد کی ماند دوا را ای حکیم

ای شیخ ما را فوطه ده وی آب ما را غوطه ده
ای موسی عمران بیا بر آب دریا زن عصا

موسی و فرعون معنی را رهی
ظاهر آن ره دارد و این بی‌رهی

بر فرعونان که نیل خون گشت
به مومن خوش گوار باشد

از آن سو که عصایی اژدها شد
به دوزخ برد او فرعونیان را

ای کلیم عشق بر فرعون هستی حمله بر
بر سر او تو عصای محو موسی وار زن
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

If Moses shows up,
I will learn the entire Tenets of Judaism.
If Jesus comes back,
I will convert myself into Christianity.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

گر شود موسی بیاموزم یهودی را تمام

ور بود عیسی بگیرم ملت ترساییی
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

When Moses, the Speaker of God,
approached the burning bush,
the raging flames called upon him:
"Remove your shoes and jump in,
I am the soothing waters from 
Lord's Rivers of Paradise."
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

چونک کلیم حق بشد سوی درخت آتشین
گفت من آب کوثرم کفش برون کن و بیا
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Just like Joseph, 
my shirt is also torn to pieces
by the large paws of the savage wolves.
But I also feel well-protected
by Jacob's indomitable fatherly spirit.

Though there was only Joseph
surrounded by a hundred savage wolves,
the fatherly goodwill wishes
were pouring and pouring
from Jacob's breath.

From the scent of Joseph,
Jacob regained his sight.
O Lord,
from which Canaanite
that scent was coming from?
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

چون یوسف از کف گرگان دریده پیرهنم
ولی زهمت یعقوب پاسبان دارم

گرچه یکی یوسف و صد گرگ بود
از دم یعقوب کرم رست رست

چشم یعقوبی ازین بو باز شد
ای خدا این بوی ازکنعان کیست
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Tell Joseph to go and find 
his grieving and separated father, Jacob.
Without his coat of many colors, 
Joseph's triumphs are Jacob's tribulations.

O Joseph, come back to the blind Jacob.
O youthful Joseph,
poor Jacob has grown too old, come back.

How could Jacob be disappointed with Joseph,
if to his other envious sons
Joseph was always a huge burden?

O honest and innocent Joseph,
you were sold so cheap by your brothers,
making you worth virtually nothing.

You are also the pride of Egypt
just like Joseph, interpret our dreams.
Joseph of Egypt is on his way,
you all better get ready
for your honest confessions!
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

بگو بیوسف یعقوب هجر را در یاب
که بی زپیرهن نصرت تو حبس اوست

ای یوسف سوی این یعقوب نا بینا بیا
یعقوب مسکین پیر شد ای یوسف برنا بیا

یعقوب کجا رمد ز یوسف
گر بر پسرانش بار باشد

ای یوسف امانت آخر برادرانت
بفروختندت ارزان واندک بها کردند

فخر مصرید چو یوسف هله تعبیر کنید
می رسد یوسف مصری همه اقرار دهید
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Look at Joseph of Canaan
leaving his father's side,
journeying faraway to Egypt,
and then transforming himself
into an exceptional Egyptian Prince.

I've heard that Joseph didn't sleep at nights
for ten consecutive years,
pleading every single night with the Almighty
on behalf of his brothers:

"O Lord, forgive my brothers
or I'll fill the foundations of this Egyptian Palace
with a hundred more brotherly cries of mine."
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

نگر یوسف کنعان که از کنار پدر
سفر فتادش تا مصر و گشت مستثنا

شنیده ایم که یوسف نخفت شب ده سال
برادران رااز حق بخواست آن شه زاد
که ای خدای اگر عفوشان کنی کردی
گرنه درفکنم صدفغان درین بنیاد
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Lord said: "O My servant,
only an exceptional one like Isaac
would happily sacrifice himself at My Command.
It takes a righteous messenger like Isaac
to accept being sacrificed and scattered
like dust at My Doorstep.

Even the fatherly love of Abraham for Isaac
did not deter him from sacrificing his beloved son 
like a sacrificial ram at My Command.

My servant, Abraham said to his son: 
"You are my Isaac,
you are my son, 
you are my joy and pride. 
I am your father, 
how can I lose you o my precious pearl?
But I must obey my Lord's Command."

As I listened to my Lord's Divine Words,
I felt the soft breeze of dawn passing over me.
Then tears started flowing down my face...
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

گفتا نشود قربانی من
جز نادره‌ای ای چاکر من
اسحاق نبی باید که بود
قربان شده بر خاک در من
عشق است پدر عاشق رمه را
زاینده از او کر و فر من
اسحاق تویی من والد تو
کی بشکنمت ای گوهر من
این گفت و بشد چون باد صبا
شد اشک روان از منظر من
 مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

Overly impatient to obey Lord's Command,
Abraham has started acting erratically
like the legendary mad-lover, Majnoon:
Abraham has placed his sharp knife
under the throats of both Ishmael and Isaac!

O heart, 
since Abraham's willingness
to sacrifice his own son at God's Command
was compensated by holding back his hand,
sacrificing Isaac wouldn't have caused him any harm.

Saint George got martyred a hundred times over
for the sake of Lord's divine love.
Isaac was willing and ready to be sacrificed
by Lord's sacrificial dagger.

You're covered in blood like the red rose flower.
How come you're so happy and in such a good mood?
Don't tell me you are Isaac son of Abraham
happily going under the knife while fasting!

Stick your neck out, become our Isaac.
Take a vow of silence, become our ocean.
So your ship doesn't get wrecked
so you don't end up shipwrecked on our island!

I'm intoxicated and bewildered
by You, O my Lord
I pay good attention to, and 
obey all Your Commands.

I am the Isaac to be sacrificed 
at Your Command,
This is my Feast of Sacrifice.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

چون عنایت‌های ابراهیم باشد دستگیر
سر بریدن کی زیان دارد دلا اسحاق را

جان ابراهیم مجنون گشت اندر شوق او
تیغ را بر حلق اسماعیل و اسحق می‌زند

همچو جرجیس شود کشته عشقش صد بار 
یا چو اسحاق شود بسمل از آن خنجر او

تو گلا غرقه خونی ز چیی دلخوش و خندان
مگر اسحاق خلیلی خوشی از خنجر روزه

اسحاق شو در نحر ما خاموش شو در بحر ما
تا نشکند کشتی تو در گنگ ما در گنگ ما

مست و پريشان توام موقوف فرمان توام
اسحاق قربان توام این عید قربانی است این
مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

For the divinely blessed Noah, 
Lord's Covenant was his Ark.

Every living creature on earth
who didn't enter Noa's Ark,
drowned and died in the Great Flood.

I am like the Noah's Ark
sailing in this deluge of the Spirit.
Tossed around by the raging flood,
and feeling helpless and depressed,
I am simply clinging on to my Faith.

Like the rolling waves, 
I also plunge downward, 
and then resurface to the top.
I keep on sailing and watching
my own Self watching over me.

O Lord,
I am the Noah's Ark
sailing in Your wind.

O my Friend,
You provided the wind
and I raised the sail.
Don't let me drown in this flood.

How strange though,
If I am Noah's Ark, 
then I must be filled 
with my Lord's Spirit.

If I could ride out this storm,
If I make it safely to the shore,
then I must be born of my King.

The whole world was destroyed,
but those who were filled with God's Love,
safely entered Noah's Ark 
and survived the Great Flood.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

اينك آن نوحي كه لوح معرفت كشتي اوست
هر چه در كشتي ش نايد غرقه توفان كند

كشتي نوحيم و در توفان روح
لاجرم بي دست و بي پا مي رويم
همچو موج از خود برآوريم سر
باز هم. در خود تماشا مي رويم

به صفت كشتي نوحم كه به باد تو روانم
چو مرا باد تو دادي مده اي دوست به بادم

من اگر كشتي نوحم چه عجب چون همه روحم
من اگر فتح و فتوحم چه عجب شاه نژادم

جمله جهان ويران شود وزعشق هرويرانه اي
با نوح همكشتي شود پس محرم توفان شود
مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

At every early dawn,
The call of prayer can be heard
From Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

از مسلمان و یهود و ترسا
هر سحر بانگ دعا می‌آید
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

This saying is so cold and calculated,
it's like a frozen donkey covered in ice:
Do Not Preach the Gospel to Jews!
~ Rumi ~ My Translation ~

این بیان اکنون چو خر بر یخ بماند
چون نشاید بر یهود انجیل خواند
مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

The Divan: Collected Poems of Shams Tabrizi by Rumi

The Illuminated Rumi - Translated to Hebrew by
Gil Ron Shama

One Song by Rumi - Translated to Hebrew by
Gil Ron Shama

Poetry of Rumi in Hebrew and Farsi...Performed by the Israeli singer/songwriter, Hanna Jahanforooz who was born to a Jewish family in Tehran, Iran and migrated to Israel when she was 12...

Hanna Jahanforooz - SOUL/ RUMI 

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Thank you for visiting Maulana Rumi Online, a blog dedicated entirely to the life, works and teachings of Maulana Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi better known simply as Rumi here in our beloved America. Just as a memory refresher, all articles, e-books, images, links and reading materials listed in this Blog are solely for Educational purposes. This Blog is designed and maintained by yours truly, your comments, critiques or suggestions are quite welcome and greatly appreciated. As for my own Rumi Translations, you are welcome to copy and use them as long as it's not for commercial purposes. For best viewing, please try this Blog on Google Chrome Browser. This is a very long Blog though, so please make sure to use the Scroll To Top or Bottom Buttons at the left side, or Back To Top Button at the bottom right corner of your screen for smooth navigation. If you have any question, comment, critique or suggestion, please contact me by clicking the Contact Box embedded at the right middle corner. As Rumi would say, "Come, come, whoever you are, come back again.."!

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