“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop,” wrote Rumi and just this one quote is enough to give us a glimpse into the renowned poet and Sufi mystic’s understanding of being. Human existence, with its evolved consciousness, encompasses all the that is to be loved and feared about nature itself. Our ability to both construct and destroy, to be loving and giving unconditionally and yet to know what needs to be done to keep the balance that ensures survival. Like natural anomalies, we are all flawed and yet all of us are unique. However, Rumi was also one of the few writers whose gaze towards womenkind was way ahead of the era that he lived in. On some occasions, it feels like it still is. Here's a perspective on Rumi on women.
- Today is Sufi mystic and poet Rumi's birth anniversary.
- While he came into this world 800 years ago, writings have stood the test of time.
- Rumi writing's connected women to the divinity, a rarity for the era he came from.
- Is loving Rumi's words enough, if you don't take them to heart?
This being human is a guest house / Every morning a new arrival / A joy, a depression, a meanness, / some momentary awareness comes / as an unexpected visitor. – Rumi.
The poet was born to a religious scholar more than 800 years ago, and it is he who introduced his son to Sufism. At the age of 37, Rumi developed an intimate friendship with an old traveller named Shams-i-Tabriz, who became his mentor. The friendship is said to have altered the course of Rumi’s life, especially after Tabriz vanished abruptly, leaving behind a heartbroken Rumi who poured his heart out on paper.
Rumi on women: She is creative, not created
While Rumi’s writings on spirituality are considered to be revolutionary for his time, his writings on women are anything but stereotypical. In an era where women were meted out with sub-human treatment, Rumi’s gaze towards women is laced with mysticism. The world saw flesh, while Rumi saw what lay beyond.
“Woman is a ray of God. She is not that earthly beloved: she is creative, not created,” he wrote. Even today women’s identity is reduced to their procreational duties in the society. It is our womb which determines our status in the patriarchal hierarchy at home and outside of it. We are objectified and reduced to just our reproductive organs, and yet we aren’t given the designation of creators. Lore has it that first God created man and out of him women, a story used to justify the man’s superior status and why he is at the centre of the society. However, Rumi reminds the humankind that a woman is creative or creator, just like God.
“Woman is a ray of God. She is not that earthly beloved: she is creative, not created.” - Rumi
Another writing where Rumi puts women closer to the force at the centre of the universe is, “God is never seen immaterially; and the vision of Him in (a) woman is the most perfect of all.”
While the use of “him” for God is debatable to many, though it might have gotten contorted from the original writing of Rumi, one can only guess, here Rumi is calling women to be the closest to the God's image off all their creation. The reverence of women in his writing could be an urge to improve the status of women in the society that he lived in. It could be an attempt on Rumi’s part to both humanise women and give their existence a stronger validation than the world bestows on them. To stop the society from deeming women as the “inferior” gender.
Centuries have passed, and while Rumi’s words have stood the test of time, how have they managed to shape the social and familial interpretation of womanhood in the world that we live in? Is it enough to just love Rumi’s words, but not take them to heart and live by them?
Image Credit: Istanbul
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.