The Quatrains of Rumi: Ruba’iyat-é Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi

Complete Translation with Persian Text, Islamic Mystical Commentary, Manual of Terms, and Concordance

San Rafael, CA: Sophia Perennis, 2008
764 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59731-450-3
Price: $26.95 US
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This is the first complete translation of the nearly 2,000 quatrains attributed to Jalaluddin Rumi, the famous 13th-century mystical poet. It is the result of over 22 years of collaboration by an American Rumi scholar and an Afghan scholar of Persian literature. It should appeal to a wide variety of lovers of Mawlana Rumi’s poetry, not just specialists: general readers who seek a deeper understanding of his spiritual teachings than popularized books (often interpretive versions claimed as translations) can provide, as well as those interested in religious mysticism in general and Islamic mysticism (sufism) in particular.

The quatrains are ordered according to stages and themes of the ‘lover and beloved’ (spiritual disciple and sufi master). Most of the translations are followed by explanatory notes: those intended for the general reader have asterisks and often refer to the Notes, an appended glossary. Readers who have access to previously published translations and versions of the quatrains can use the appended Concordance to make comparisons. Quatrains in the earliest manuscripts that have been found to be composed by earlier poets have been identified and placed in another appendix.

Few of the quatrains have been previously translated by scholars; the quatrains in popularized books are often distorted versions, mostly rendered by authors who do not know Persian; those who do often tend to omit, change, or add. Here, the poems are presented in the context of the Islamic sufi poetry in the Persian language 800 years ago: ‘wine’ and ‘drunkenness’ do not involve alcoholic intoxication, but are metaphors for the ‘mystical taste’ of spiritual grace and ecstasy. The lover’s longing and self-effacing love is not ‘romantic’, but spiritual love of the seeker for his sufi guide. This love is a means to the goal of pure worship of God Most High, the ‘only Beloved’, that necessitates self-effacement and mystical ‘drowning’ in the reality described in the Qur’an: ‘Everything perishes except His Face.’

Table of Contents

Poetry—Religious Practices—The Seasons—Various Kinds of People—The Call of Love
Qualities of the Beloved—The Conduct of the Beloved—States of the Lover—The Lover Speaks to the Beloved
Qualities of the Beloved—Conduct of the Beloved—States of the Lover—At the Threshold of Real Love—Discourses with the Beloved
The High State of Humanity—In the Presence of God—The Desire for Union—The States of the Lover—Devotional Prayers
I: Quatrains Incorrectly Attributed to Mawlana—Appendix II: Untranslated Quatrains—Appendix III: Quatrains in Foruzanfar's Least Early Manuscript Only—Appendix IV: Arabic Quatrains—Appendix V: Quatrains Concordance of Previously Translations and Versions—Appendix VI: Manual of Islamic And Islamic Sufi Terms Used in Persian Poetry—Appendix VII: Index of English Terms in the Manual—Appendix VIII: Index of Names in the Manual—Appendix IX: Index of Persian and Arabic Terms in the Manual


Gamard and Farhadi's erudite labor of love presents Rumi's quatrains in all their linguistic and poetic depth, in a parallel Persian and English text with learned scholarly annotations. Scholars, students and general readers of Rumi will find much here to delight, impress and instruct. This important addition to the literature by Rumi in English not only deepens our knowledge of the composition and textual transmission of his quatrains, but vividly illustrates just how significant Rumi's Ruba'iyat are for a better understanding of this captivating poet's life and thought.
Franklin Lewis, Univ. of Chicago, author of Rumi: Past and Present, East and West and Rumi: Swallowing the Sun

This most welcome addition to the literature on Rumi is the fruit of many years of collaborative effort by two dedicated scholars, both of whom are thoroughly familiar with Rumi's historical, cultural, and religious context. Until now Rumi's quatrains have received little attention from scholars, yet they sum up his teachings in pithy and moving form. Persian speakers and students of the Islamic languages will be delighted to see that the translators have provided the original Persian text instead of hiding behind vague references—as is so often the case in the popular presentations of Rumi's poetry.
William C. Chittick, State Univ. of New York, author of The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi

In the writer's view, after taking into account all the requisites of literary appreciation and criticism, we may reckon in the neighborhood of 500 of these ruba'iyat as among the finest masterpieces of Persian literature.
A.J. Arberry, Cambridge University, author of The Ruba'iyat of Jalal al-Din Rumi and Mystical Poems of Rumi

In the Western world today, especially in the United States, there is a great interest in the poems of Rumi. Poets and writers have rendered his poems into English, usually making new versions with the help of previous translations. In some of these renderings, they do not make direct translations from the original language and they interpret Rumi's thoughts and ideas by using their own points of view, which then creates a different Rumi than the one who actually lived. In the present work, the Quatrains are presented in the original Persian together with English translations, and are ordered by subject. Furthermore, each of the quatrains is followed by explanations about particular words that are necessary for a better understanding of Rumi's intended meaning. I congratulate the distinguished scholar and statesman, A.G. Rawan Farhadi, and our valued Mevlevi friend, Ibrahim W. Gamard for this work that is prepared in accordance with scholarly standards, and also for their services to Rumi.
Faruk Hemdem Chelebi, (22nd-generation direct descendent of Hazrat-é Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, hereditary leader of the Mevlevi Sufi Order, and President of the International Mevlana Foundation)

About the Author

Rawan Farhadi received sufi knowledge from his father, Abdul Baqi (d. 1950), who was a teacher of Persian literature and a disciple in the Naqshbandi sufi tradition in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rawan studied in Paris (1950–55) with Louis Massignon, where he received his Ph.D. He spent years studying and editing classical Persian sufi poetry and also studied the history of Persian language with Emile Benveniste. And he personally knew and exchanged views about Mawlana's poetry with leading Afghan and Iranian scholars. In addition, he knew (and helped) Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch (translator of Mawlana's works into French). He taught Persian Literature at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and at the University of California in Berkeley. He is the author of Abdullah Ansari of Herat: An Early Sufi Master. In addition, he was the Afghan Ambassador to France many years ago, and more recently the Afghan Ambassador to the United Nations (1993–2006). At present, he is retired and living in Paris.

Ibraham Gamard is a licensed psychologist by profession and received his Ph.D. in 1986. A student of sufism for over thirty-five years, he converted to Islam in 1984. He has been a part of the Mevlevi [Mawlawi] tradition of Islamic sufism (the 700 year-old tradition which originated with Mawlana himself) since 1976. In 2007, he was made a Mevlevi Shaykh, or authorized teacher, by Faruk Hemdem Chelebi, the 22nd-generation direct descendent of Mawlana and the international leader of the Mevlevi tradition. Gamard is the author of Rumi and Islam: Selections from His Stories, Poems, and Discourses. He lives in Northern California.

The accompanying photo is of Dr. Farhadi (left) and Dr. Gamard (right) taken in front of Hazrat-é Mawlana Jalâluddîn Muhammad Balkhi-Rûmi"s tomb in Konya, Turkey.