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Jalal al-Din Rumi: The hope and beauty of travel

What makes us truly human is our ability to laugh, cry and most importantly, heal. Our self-defining moment emerges when we encounter an earthquake severe enough to shake our mental stability. And sometimes, we look to poetry to soothe us in ways only our heart can understand.

The poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi unites humanity through verses of solace. It has survived centuries paving its way to present day United States. How is the work of a 12th century Persian poet still appreciated? It began with a wanderer named Sham. The story of Sham and Rumi signifies how the effect of travelling can keep your soul alive through literature even after the physical burial of your body.

Many critics have explored and questioned the complicated relationship between Rumi and Sham. The phrase “opposites attract” proved to be true as the dynamic student and teacher formed an unbreakable bond. Rumi at the time was in his 30s when encountered by the 60 year old “wild bird.” Despite the different economic statuses, Rumi valued their friendship. To incorporate Sham into the family, Rumi had Sham marry his teenage daughter. The consequence of the marriage led to the end of both Sham and Rumi’s daughter. To grief for his beloved friend, Rumi spent the next couple of years traveling and writing 70,000 verses of poetry.

Jalal al-Din Rumi’s grief is plastered on paper embodying his emotions of hope, love and unity. Among many striking verses he writes, “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” Such comforting lines build a special connection between the reader and the poet. Other self-esteem boosting verses include, “You were born with wings why prefer to crawl.” Religious quotes are universal as Rumi writes “In every religion there is love, yet love has no religion.” Rumi encourages travelling by stating “I was not born for one corner, the whole world is my native land.” Through these dialogues, anyone and everyone can find inspiration in this man that used poetry as a weapon to defeat sorrow.

Taking a step into a foreign land brings two people with unique perspectives together. The interaction of Rumi and Sham is far from a coincidence. It is a reminder that there are strangers out there waiting to be discovered that will have a deep impact on our lives. Much like Sham’s influence on Rumi that had him mourning for a decent amount of years. Such friendships cannot be formed without the migration from one place to another. If Sham wasn’t a free bird, perhaps Rumi wouldn’t have created beautiful poetry in his absence.

As people of faith, we affiliate consequences with the qadr of Allah. We tend to accept our losses and gains gradually believing that there is a meaning behind it all. The interaction between Rumi and Sham teaches us that mourning is not just a time for sorrow but a time for rejuvenating our minds with new forms of thinking. It gives us a chance to break a cycle of pattern in order to embrace a new one. When faced with difficulty, “Do not be sad. For God sends hope in the darkest moments. The heaviest rain comes from the darkest clouds (Rumi).”

Travel. Explore the world, soften your heart by meeting others and knowing the beauty of the languages, customs and cultures that Allah has put on this Earth. Use your wings to fly and expand your horizons, then when you see the golden corners of the world, those magical sunrises and miraculous sunsets, the beautiful starry night skies and gentle ocean waves crashing against beachy shores, praise God. Thank Allah for what He has created and the world he has made us caretakers of. Everything is a blessing, and blessings should be coupled with gratitude. One of the best ways of appreciating something is to use them, explore them and thank the one who gave them to you.

The world is yours. Enjoy it.

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