The Greek Poetry of Jalaluddin
Medieval Sufi masters where Islamic scholars who
were well versed with the Koran and the Hadith and frequently quoted
from these sources in their speech and writing. They were also imbued
with early Islamic mysticism. Nevertheless, they were attacked by
orthodox ulemas, accused of heresy and blasphemy, and even subjected
to persecution and execution. This was perhaps due to alien ethnic
origins of Sufism, with emphasis on love, harmony, and some elements
of pantheism versus the rigidity of other orthodox Muslims. Arguments
about the roots of Sufism in ancient Indo-Iranian religions (Zoroastrian/Vedanta)
are well recorded are not relevant to the present discourse. On
the other hand, the Greek influence, which came much later, is attested
by Greek poetry of Rumi and his son, Sultan Valad.
As the Sufi orders developed, they deviated in
many ways from the early Islamic mysticism. Sufi doctrine grew in
several stages, enriched by contacts with Gnosticism, Neoplatonism,
and even Buddhism. They were also influenced by Greek philosophy,
especially the works of Aristotle, which reached them through Islamic
philosophers like Avicenna (d. 1037) and Averroes (d. 1198). When
Rumi and his movement were established in Konya, the city was still
under the influence of Christianity, and the Greek language was
common among communities around the city. Thus the Sufis could not
avoid being influenced by the Greek culture and philosophy that
were promoted by the Christians. The English orientalist, F.W. Haslucke,
describes these situations and states that in a mosque in Konya,
that was formerly the St.Amphilochius church, was a tomb that was
beloved to be that of Plato and the Muslims in the city had reverence
for it and even some considered Plato a prophet*. There are also
indications that both the Sufi masters and Saljuq monarchs encourages
harmony and friendship between the Sufis and Christians. Much later
when the Ottoman Sultans ordered the persecution and massacre of
Armenias, Sufis sheltered and saved the lives of some of them.
Under these circumstances, we can assume that Rumi
and his son knew Greek and wrote the so-called Greek poems.
Both Rumi and his son Sultan Valad wrote their poetry
and prose primarily in Persian but there are occasional writings,
in the orders of frequency, in Arabic, Turkish, and Greek. The Greek
verses are mixed with Persian and Arabic lines and Turkish words,
and they are written in the Persian/Arabic alphabet! Sultan Valad
has more Greek verses, as attested by the following count of the
poems in his Rabab Nama.*
Turkish: (Ottoman): 157
The following is a translation of a poem by Rumi
in Greek (Ghazal 2264). An earlier literal French translation of
these poems with a few misreading and lacunae has been published.*
The Turkish scholar Abdulbaki Golpinarli has translated these poems
into Turkish with the aid of a Greek scholar, Mir Miroghli.* The
original poems are longer, with most of the lines in Persian.
For example Ode 2264 consists of 18 couplets in the Foruzanfar edition
of Rumi's Divan of Shams. I am recording here the Greek lines and
lines counting Greek phases. According to Miroghli, the Greek language
used is that of the common folk in Anatolia at the
time of Rumi.
Were are you my master?
the dispenser of benevolence
and the moon-faced charmer?
I will say in Sarrazin who I am and who you are.
I came to you, friend
to be sacrificed for love,
and when I saw you
my desires were magnified.
If you give me a glass of wine, I'll be happy.
and if you abuse me, I'll be happy.
My lord, what you desire I desire
and I seek.
When I am drunk, listen to my babbling.
O Lord, help me in my chattering!
Where are you Chelabi*
Where are you?
Where are you, dear?
I have abandoned pride and principles,
console my heart!
-- from: "Rumi
and the Sufi Tradition": Essays on the Mowlavi Order and
By John A.Moyne, Global Publication- Binghamton University In association
with Mazda Publishers, New York, 1998
* Haslucke (1929). This material is also quoted by Sa'id Nafisi
in the introduction to Sultan Valad (1959).
* Sultan Valad (1980).
* Burgiere and Mantran (1952).
* Golpinarli (1951)
* Presumably refers to Husamuddin Chelebi, the companion of Rumi
and the first leader of the Mowlavi Order after Rumi's death. Rumi
dedicated his great Mathnawi to Chelebi.