Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi
Life and Times of Jalalludin Balkhi and his philosophy of Sufism


Sufism: A movement within Islam which focuses on the direct experience of God. Sufism is found within both branches of Islam, Sunni and Shi'ite. Some Sufis dance as part of their worship. Tha dancers are popularly known as "whirling dervishes"

Maulana Jalalludin Balkhi was born in 1207 in Balkh, Mazar-i- Sharif. His name was Jalalludin Mohammad. Even though he was born in Afghanistan, in Turkey and ancient Rome he was known as 'Rumi' meaning "from Rome". In the wake of Mongolian attacks his family moved to Anatolia, Turkey. He known mostly as Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi in Afghanistan but in Turkey, to oppose his birthplace claims, Turkey is claiming that Jalalludin Balkhi is from Turkey and not Afghanistan. It is true that the far northern part of Afghanistan's area where he was born was known as Turkistan one time but to conclude he was an Afghan to the end.

Jalalludin Balkhi had great influence on people around the world from his great works.His father was his first teacher. He was however greatly impressed by Shams Tebriz, whose shrine is close to Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi's shrine. Maulaana travelled far and wide, however, after the Mongolian invasion of Afghanistan, Konya, Turkey remained his permanent settlement till his death on December 17, 1273. His mausoleum exists in the garden presented to his father by a king of the time.

In his life time, Maulana did not organise his followers and impose any rules which were to be followed. It was only after his death that his son, Sultan Walid established a school for his followers and wrote books in order to prevent the break-up of the believers. His works include Fih-i-ma-Fih, Diwan-i-Kabir, Mecalis-i-Seba, Rubalier, Mektubat and Menewi. His work is mainly on the universal meaning of Islam and the soul.

Jallaludin Balkhi Stamp

The above is an Afghan Stamp from 1968

The main fundamental principle of Jalalludin Balkhi's teaching was the unification of the mind and the heart. His perception of mysticism is different from that of the other mystics. He was a humanist, moralist and reformist, who advocated these principles throughout his life. He said, "Without demolishing religious schools and minarets and without abandoning the beliefs and ideas of medieval age, restriction in thoughts and pains in conscience will not end. Without understanding that unbelieving is a kind of religious belief as well as a conservative religious belief is a kind of misbelieve and without showing tolerance to opposite ideas, one of those, who look for the truth, will accomplish the mission."

According to Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi , man is the finest creation of God Almighty, even a part of Him. He is to be respected. According to Maulaana, a person who reaches the truth and spiritual perfection, directs his attention to universalism and not individualism and selfishness. Sufi is a person who tries to reach universalism than individualism. He need not abandon worldly matters, but must not consider them an ultimatea end. He believed that priority to human love is must, and religions can be united by this love.

Maulana Jalalludin Balkhi's Monument is situated in the centre of the city in Turkey. Next to the mausoleum is a mosque, Salemi Camii built by the Ottoman prince Salem who was a great follower of Maulana Jalalludin Balkhi .

But after the revolution in Turkey in 1923 which brought Kemal Ataturk to power, the revolunization of Turkey brought the closing of the institution. The mausoleum after being closed for four years was officially opened to the public in 1927. The surrounding halls were turned into a museum. According to him, although after the revolution visits to a large number of shrines were banned, Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi's tomb remained open.

The museum of the Maulaana exhibits a large number of items all associated with his life. They include silver keys, copies of the Holy Koran, the divan of Haifa, robes and lamps used by Jalalludin Balkhi. A number of Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi's works are exhibited in the museum. Within the compound of the shrine are a number of portraits and wax statues of Jalalludin Balkhi. He is portrayed in his traditional dress, doing the Sufi dance.

Followers of Jalalludin Balkhi are scattered all over Turkey and in neighbouring countries. They travel to the mausoleum in December and May each year to perform their famous whirling dance, circling from right to left to commemorate the dance made by Maulaana himself. The main event occurs during 10 to 17 December each year. The biggest whirl is on 17 December, the day Jalalludin Balkhi died. His followers call it the "wedding night" as on that night Jalalludin Balkhi was married to eternal life. The second event of the whirl is on May 3 each year which lasts for only a day.

The festivities in December mark the death anniversary of Jalalludin Balkhi (this year being the 727th Anniversary). And in May the arrival of Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi into the city from Karma is celebrated. The whirling dervishes sing and dance in circles; the movement symbolizes the giving of charity in the name of Allah. The whirl is in two parts: First, they wear black cloaks and long cone like caps. The cloaks represent graves, and caps tomb stones. They circle slowly three times around the chamber. It is known as the 'Sima Ceremony'. The three circles represent the revival of one's self in the presence of God. In the Maulaana school of thought, there are three revolutions in one's life: To attain knowledge of God; seeing God, and being in the presence of God. After the black cloaks are taken off underneath white traditional gowns are worn.

Then the regular rotation begins. The sequence is completed in four circles:

 

Interested?...........Check out this great book on Sufism

*Discourses Of the Sufi Path (Javad Nurbaksh)* 


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