Rumi's "Wedding Night"

by Ibrahim Gamard, 12/98 (revised 12/00, 11/02, 12/08)

The night of December 17, is the (solar) anniversary of the death of Jalâluddîn Rûmî, who died in 1273 in Konya, Turkey (which for many centuries had been known as "Rûm," the Anatolian peninsula long ruled by "Rome," meaning the Eastern Roman, and then Byzantine, Empire). The observance of the anniversary of a sufi saint is called (in Arabic), `urs, which means "wedding," because the saint is believed to have attained "union" (or utmost nearness together with other saints and the prophets) with God, the Only Beloved. The `urs of a sufi saint is normally celebrated according to the Islamic lunar calendar (according to which Rumi died on 5 Jumâdî II 672 AH-- occurring next on the evening preceding April 15, 2013, then April 5, 2014, then March 25, 2015). However, due to the Westernization of the calendar in Turkey, Rumi's `urs has been celebrated on the equivalent solar calendar date, not only in Turkey, but in many Western countries.

In Turkey, the night of Rumi's `urs is called Sheb-i Arus or "Wedding Night" (the correct Persian would be "Shab-é `Arûsî," except that this is an unfamiliar term in Iran, and the celebration of the anniversaries of the deaths of sufi saints has not been practiced there for a number of centuries).

Many sufi gatherings of various kinds will be mentioning the name of this saint on this night, praying that the blessings of God be upon his soul, and celebrating his "Wedding Night" by the "Whirling Prayer Ceremony" (Samâ`) of the Mevlevi ("Whirling Dervish") Sufi order, recitation of his poetry, and sufi prayer chanting, zikru 'llâh-- "remembrance of God."

The following is a summary and partial translation from the hagiography of Rumi, "Manâqibu 'l-`ârifîn" (The Glorious Talents and Abilities of the Knowers of God, chapter 3, section 579, written in Persian by Shamsuddîn Ahmad Aflâkî (died, 1353): Aflâkî relates (pp. 587-590) that when Mawlânâ ("our master," in Arabic) was on his death bed, he quoted the following verse from the Qur'an: "Do as you are commanded, (for) you will find me, God willing, among those who are patiently submitting" (Q. 37:102). He asked for a basin of water, in which he put his feet, and from time to time rubbed water on his chest and forehead and recited some poetry. Then some minstrels came in and sang this quatrain of Rumi's, in bitterness of the coming separation:

(My) heart bears suspicion toward you, (when) far away from you,
That (is) also because of its weakness (which) it bears, (when) far away from you.
(There is) bitterness in the mouth of every bitter-hearted person;
Sugar itself bears a grudge toward you, (when) far away from you.

del bar tô gomân-é bad bar-ad dûr az tô
w-ân nêz ze-Za`f-é khwad bar-ad dûr az tô
talkhê ba-dahân-é har delê Safrâ'î
khwad bar tô shakar Hasad bar-ad dûr az tô

--Translation of Rumi's Quatrain No. 1533 (c) by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi, from "The Quatrains of Rumi," Sufi Dari Books, 2008, p. 159

After this poem was sung, those who were present wailed and wept. Mawlânâ responded, "Yes, it is (just) as (my) friends are saying. But if the house is being destroyed, what is the benefit (of wailing and weeping)? . . . My friends are drawing me (to) this side, and Hazrat-é Mawlânâ Shamsudîn [Shams-é Tabrîz] is calling me (to) that side." He quoted the verse, "Respond to God's summoner and believe in Him" (Qur'an 46:31). He then told his son, Sultân Walad to go lay his head down to get some rest, for the latter had been sleepless and sobbing constantly. When his son had put his head down, Mawlânâ composed his last poem to console him:

Go lay (your) head on the pillow (and sleep). Leave me (to be) alone; leave me (to be) ruined, night-wandering, and afflicted.
I am alone with a wave of passion, from night until day. If you wish, come with mercy; if you wish, go (and) be harsh.
Escape from me, so that you may not also fall into affliction! Choose the path of safety (and) shun the path of affliction.
With the tears of (my) eyes, I have crawled into the corner of sorrow. Grind the mill hundreds of times upon the tears of my eyes.
For me there is an oppressor who has a heart like a hard rock. He kills, (and) nobody tells him to arrange payment of the blood- price!1
For the king of the beautiful-faced ones, loyalty is not necessary. (But) you be patient and faithful, O sallow-faced lover!
It is a pain for which there is no remedy except to die. So how can I ask that this pain be cured?
Last night I dreamed of an elder in the lane of Love: he gestured to me with (his) hand, (meaning) "Make (your) aim (to come) to me."
If there is a dragon on the road, Love is like an emerald (which will blind it); drive away the dragon with the (green) flash of this emerald!
Stop, since I am losing myself!2 If you are (a man) of abundant knowledge, recite the History of so-and-so3 (and) admonish so and so!
(Persian text below)4

--Translation of Rumi's Ghazal No. 2039 from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard, 12/98; revised 12/00 (with gratitude for Arberry's 1979 British translation) (c) Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)

Sometime during the night after composing this poem, Mawlânâ died. It was the night of December 17, 1273, Sunday, the fifth of the Islamic lunar month, Jumâda 'l-âkhir, A.H. 672.

Summary and translation from Aflâkî by Ibrahim Gamard (This account was also translated by O'Kane, "The Feats of the 'Knowers of God," 2002, pp. 403-04

Prayer for Mawlânâ:

A disciple of Mawlânâ's named Ikhtiyâru 'd-dîn "...saw in a dream that God-- may He be glorified and exalted-- gave a prayer [du`â] for the deceased [Mawlânâ Jalaluddin Rumi] with this expression:

"O Allah, be merciful and kind toward my chief, my reliance, my shaykh, the place of the spirit in my body, the provision of my today and tomorrow, and Our Master [Mawlânâ], the Glory [Jalâl] of the Truth [ul-Haqq] and the Religion [ud-Dîn]! And upon his fathers, his ancestors, his mothers, his children, his successors, and his followers until the Day of Resurrection!"

allâhumma 'arHam wa taHannan `alà sayyidî wa sanadî wa shaykhî
wa makâni 'r-rûHi min jasadî wa Zakhîrati yawmî wa ghadî wa
mawlânâ jalâlu 'l-Haqq wa 'd-dîn wa `alà âbâ'i-hi wa ajdâdi-hi wa
ummahâti-hi wa awlâdi-hi wa khulafâ'i-hi wa atbâ`i-hi ilà yawmi

--from Aflaki, "The Glorious Talents and Abilities of the Knowers of God" [Manâqibu 'l-`ârifîn], I, p. 380 (Chapter 3, section 311), translated and transliterated by Ibrahim Gamard. (See also the translation by John O'Kane, "The Feats of the Knowers of God," 2002, p. 262.)

Final Mevlevi Prayer [golbâng] Recited in Turkish on Mawlânâ's "Wedding Night":

"May this noble occasion be favorable and blessed, may good things be revealed, may evils be (kept) distant! May the lordly Wedding Night, the arrival to the Glorious Private Palace (of God),

the holy right of the great lord (Mevlânâ) in regard to (receiving) the favor of an exalted (spiritual) station, and the abundant favors of the exalted spiritual ones (and) in regard to all the followers-- (all) be complete and universal! For the sake of the (blessed) words [dam] of our Venerable Master, the secret [sirr] of Shams-é Tabrîz, the nobility and generosity of Imâm `Ali, let us say: 'Hû!

Vakt-i sherif hayrola; hayIrlar fethola; sherler def'ola; leyle-i arûs-I rabbânî, vuslat-I halvet-serây-i sübhânî, hakk-I akdes-i Hudâvendgârîde an-be ân vesîle-i i'tilâ-yI makaam ve fuyûzât-I rûhâniyyet-i aliyyeleri cümle peyrevânI hakkInda shâmil ü âmmola. Dem-i Hazret-i Mevlânâ, sIrr-I Shems-i Tebrîzî, kerem-i Imâm-I Alî, Hû diyelim: Hûûûûûû!

--from Golpinarli, "Mevlevi âdâb ve ErkanI," 1963, p. 104, translated by Ibrahim Gamard

May the blessings of the `Urs of Hazret-i Mevlana Jalaluddin Muhammed Rumi be upon all those who have been increased in love of God through his mystical poetry!

Ibrahim Gamard

(See also "On The Day of My Death" and "If Wheat Comes Up From My Grave" "in the "Odes" section of this website.)


1blood-price: payment which the murdered person's family can ask in court from the family of the murderer, in lieu of execution.

2losing myself [bê-khwodî]: also means bereft of self, beside myself, bereft of my senses, enraptured.

3(recite the history of so-and-so: a history book by some well-known person. This final line may be understood as aluding to silence, a common theme of Rumi's final lines in many ghazals: "If you possess a lot of knowledge, then talk about it; my journey is into the great Silence that begins at the moment of death."

4raw sar be-neh ba-bâlîn, tan-hâ ma-râ rahâ kon
tark-é man-é kharâb-é shab-gard-é mubtalâ kon

mâ-yêm-o mawj-é sawdâ, shab tâ ba-rôz tan-hâ
khwâh-î be-y-â ba-bakhshâ, khwâh-î be-raw jafâ kon

az man gorêz! tâ tô ham dar balâ na-y-oft-î
be-g'zîn rah-é salâmat, tark-é rah-é balâ kon

mâ-yêm-o âb-é dîda, dar konj-é gham khazîda
bar âb-é dîda-yé mâ Sad jây-é âseyâ kon

khîra-koshê-st mâ-râ, dâr-ad delê chô khârâ
be-k'sh-ad kas-ash na-gôy-ad: "tadbîr-é khûn-bahâ kon"

bar shâh-é khôb-rôy-ân wâjib wafâ na-bâsh-ad
ay zard-rôy-é âshiq, tô Sabr kon, wafâ kon

dardê-st ghayr-e mordan ân-râ dawâ na-bâsh-ad
pas man che-gûna gôy-am k-în dard-râ dawâ kon?!

dar khwâb-é dôsh pîrê dar kôy-é `ishq dîd-am
bâ dast ishârat-am kard ke `azm-é sôy-é mâ kon

gar azhdahâ-st bar rah `ishqî-st chôn zumurrud
az barq-é în zumurrud hîn, daf`-é azhdahâ kon

bas kon ke bê-khwod-am man w-ar tô honar-afzây-î

târîkh-é bu `alî gô tanbih-é bu 'l-`alâ kon

(meter: XXoX oXX XXoX oXX)