Rumi had a profound influence on western intellectuals for centuries. Many philosophers and poets made Rumi famous in the west. It started with Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, who, In 1889, translated and published some of Rumi’s poetry. This was the first time the west got to know Rumi and become familiar with Masnavi, Rumi’s epic book.
Purgstall’s fascination with Rumi was unending. He wrote, “Rumi transcends not only the sun and the moon but also time and space, creation, and the Judgment Day and reaches infinity, and from there he attains the Absolute Being that is Everlasting and Ever present and represents the ultimate servant, the infinite love and lover.”
Rückert, on the other hand, was the first to introduce the ghazal form of Rumi in German poetry.
In 1819, he wrote, Ghaselen. This book was a collection of Rumi poems that reflected some of Maulana’s work. In this book, Ruckert used Purgstall translation.
This book introduced Hegel, a German philosopher, to Rumi’s poetry. In this book, Rucker used love, separation, unity, and longing to return to the source, Rumi’s symbol that appeared in most of his work.
Hegel, a pantheist, fell in love with Rumi’s poetry and believed that his teaching was a form of Pantheism, a belief that the universe is God. Hegel popularized the idea that Rumi was a proponent of Pantheism.
Rumi was a Muslim and a Sufi mystic. Sufiism is a branch of Islam that believes the universe is a manifestation of God, divine energy, and God breathes it into a human at the moment of first breath. This is why Sufi mystics believe that humans have divine power that longs to return to the source of energy. Rumi always wrote about this separation from the source. His first poem in Masnavi is about this separation from the origin; listen to the flute that cries of separation.
In Pantheism, the follower believes that the universe is God, which is a clear distinction from Sufi’s belief that Cosmo is a manifestation of God and divine energy. Hegel was unaware of Sufiism, and all his knowledge about Rumi came from nineteen pages of Rucker’s book.
Rumi’s poetry is about the divine’s love and returning to the source. Rumi believed in separation and then reunion.
In contrast, In Pantheism, the idea of separation and returning to the source does not exist. This distinction is the most profound difference between mystic Sufi and Pantheism. However, there are some similarities between mystic Sufiism and Pantheism, written in Masnavi, but those ideas disappear once we understand separation and rejoining the source through the love Bridge.
Hegel formed his idea on Rumi’s pantheistic view by reading a part of Masnavi in Ruker’s book, and
was not aware of symbolism in Rumi’s poetry which is the basis for all his poetry.
Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi said nothing real exists besides God, who discloses himself In and through the universe.
Rumi was a mystic Sufi and held this belief that God reveals Himself in the universe and the universe is the manifestation of God, not that the universe is the God as is in the case of Pantheism. This clear distinction should be made between Sufiism and Pantheism. Once we understand these profound differences, we can conclude that Sufiism is not Pantheism and Rumi was not a pantheist.
In Pantheism, God is not distinct from the universe; in Sufiism, God is separate from the universe and manifests himself in the universe, which is the energy behind the creation of Cosmo.
Many pantheists hold two separate views of God and the universe. For example, Aquinas distinguishes between God as the form and matter of all things. These varying beliefs in Pantheism could also be the reason behind Hegel’s view of Rumi’s
In many cases, this differentiation between Pantheism and Sufiism is not well drawn and leads many to believe that Sufism is a form of Pantheism.
Rumi believed that the entire universe is created from one source. He said that the source of consciousness runs through everything in the universe.
As a religious scholar, Rumi quoted this verse from Quran in many of his writing.
“The God proportioned you and breathed something of its spirit into your soul.” Quran 32:9
Rumi’s belief in universal consciousness and man’s divinity within is the inspiration for his poetry. We can’t have a meaningful understanding of Rumi’s poetry if we do not understand Rumi’s Philosophy of universal consciousness as a source and everything in the universe as a part of that source.
, At an early age, Rumi was a devoted Muslim and memorized Quran. As he said, “I am the servant of the Quran as long as I have life.”
But after he met Shamis, he became more of a spiritual man than a religious. His poetry reminds us of the divine power inside our hearts.
“Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart.”