A previous flatmate of mine who had spent time in Pakistan told me that city taxi drivers there are able to recite their iconic poet, Jelaluddin Rumi, verbatim; I doubt London taxi drivers could do the same for Shakespeare.
So it’s a joy to have been asked by my cousin Ashley Ramsden to take the money at the door for his and Duncan Mackintosh’s Rumi Tour, taking place over a year to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth, which rolls into London this evening.
Born on September 30th, 1207 into a family of learned Islamic theologians in what is now Afghanistan, Jelaluddin Rumi was a poetic genius, Sufi mystic and one of the most far-sighted and enlightened men the world has ever known. His vast body of poetry continues to touch and awaken people of all cultures.
When Rumi was five years’ old, he and his family fled their homeland to escape the impending Mongol invasion. After travelling extensively within the Middle East, meeting significant religious scholars and mystics and performing Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mecca, the family settled finally in Konya, in modern-day Turkey.
At the age of 24 his mastery of mathematics, physics, law, philosophy, astronomy and Qur’anic commentary (to name a few) enabled him to take over his father’s position as leading Sheikh in the Sufi learning community. By the age of 35 Rumi’s brilliant discourses and warmth of heart made him the greatest teacher of his time with over 10,000 disciples.
There are few better inspirations who can help bridge the deepening divide between Islamic culture and others.
Having been touched by Rumi’s poetry myself and been to one of this tour’s shows already, I know these next three evenings will be excellent: 27th, 28th & 30th September – In Celebration of Rumi’s Birthday – Essex Unitarian Church – 07847 280826. Please call for reservations, tickets also available at the door. 27th, 28th at 7.30pm. £15/£10 conc. Sunday 30th – Birthday Celebration Performance with Special Guests at 6.00pm – 9.00pm. £15/£10 conc. 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill Gate, London W8 4RT.