Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Depth of Rumi’s Spiritual Vision Extended beyond Narrow Sectarian Concerns

By Qalamdar, New Age Islam
09 December 2019

Name of the Book: Rooh-e-Rumi: Seeking God is Seeking Love
Author: Mamta Sehgal
Published by Notion Press, Chennai
Year: 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64587-181-1
Pages: 173
Price: Rs. 240

Much has been written about the famed thirteenth century Sufi and Persian poet, Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, underlining the continuing relevance of his message centuries after he left the world. In this delightful book, Mamta Sehgal highlights certain key themes of Rumi’s poetry and elaborates on valuable lessons that we can draw from them for our own life, in our day and age.
Sehgal provides a brief introduction to Rumi’s life and poetry. From her we learn that Rumi wasn’t just a Sufi and a poet: he was also an Islamic scholar, theologian and jurist. She explains that, “It is undeniable that Rumi was a Muslim scholar and took Islam seriously.” “Nonetheless,” she adds, “the depth of his spiritual vision extended beyond narrow sectarian concerns.”
Sehgal believes that the depth of Rumi’s work inspires one to attain both the love of God and the beloved, and it is this, she says, that inspired her to write this book.
The book weaves together more than 40 translated quotes from Rumi’s poetry that deal with a diverse range of issues related to the spiritual journey, such as faith in God, self-realisation, listening to the inner voice, following one’s heart, the wisdom to protect oneself from one’s own thoughts, and love. Sehgal elaborates on the quotes in simple language, relating them directly to the quest for inner transformation based on surrender to, and love for, God. In this way, she brings out the continued import of Rumi’s message.
Here is a sample to illustrate the teaching method Sehgal adopts:
    “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears”, Sehgal quotes Rumi as writing.
Reflecting on this quote, Sehgal explains that “The most important thing in life is the realization that there is only one Supreme Power which is responsible for the well-being of every living being, that He is the reason for us to receive a human life and be on this earth. Only He knows the path of our life and what we are destined to face in our journey. When we surrender completely and pray to Him to keep us in His guidance, then He not only shows us the right way but also makes sure that we are able to walk on it with ease. He makes the journey so easy that we do not see the need for assistance from our fellow beings. His grace brings us out of difficult and confusing situations and shows us the right way.”
Based on a universalistic understanding of spirituality, this book, based on the wisdom of Maulana Rumi, one of the world’s best-known spiritual Masters, is itself a beautiful spiritual guide. At a time when misunderstanding and conflict in the name of religion abounds, the book highlights the salience of the spiritual path. It tells us that true spirituality transcends narrow manmade boundaries and is based on love for and surrenders to the One Creator of all. “Spirituality is a true love for God. It is a continuous effort to attain Him and is transcendental to any religion, caste or creed and is for the entire humanity. God is universal and eternal and cannot be restricted to any religion [...] Thus, spirituality, to me, is not bound just by my own religion but is beyond that”, Sehgal informs us. “I can relate anything and everything to God”, she says. “I can feel His presence in the morning sky, in the clouds, in the rain, in the plants, in the chirping of the birds, in the stars at night and precisely everything around me.”
This beautiful book could have done with more careful editing, especially with regard to grammar and punctuation. Many of the Rumi quotes here are about love, and some readers might find that unnecessarily repetitive. A more diverse range of themes for the quotations might have good idea. But, despite all of this, this is a gem of a book!

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