Day in History 17 December – Rumi – Thomas Mitchell

rumiOn this day in 1273, 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى‎), Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), Mevlana or Mawlānā (مولاناOur Master), Mevlevi or Mawlawī (مولویMy Master), Rumi died in Konya, (Ικόνιον Ikónion, Iconium) Sultanate of Rum, now a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey.  Born to native Persian speaking parents, originally from the Balkh city of Khorasan, in modern-day Afghanistan, probably in the village of Wakhsh, a small town located on the Wakhsh River in the greater Balkh region, in modern-day Tajikistan.  Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Turks, Cappadocian Greeks, Afghans, Tajiks, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries.  His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats.  Rumi’s works are written mostly in Persian, though a few written in the lower status vernacular (Cappadocian Greek) of the region in which he settled are preserved.  His Mathnawi has been called one of the purest literary glories of Persia, and one of the crowning glories of the Persian language.  The influence of his poetry reaches beyond Persian literature.  rumiMausoleo_MevlanaThe Final Footprint – Rumi predicted his own death and composed the well-known ghazal, which begins with the verse:

How doest thou know what sort of king I have within me as companion?
Do not cast thy glance upon my golden face, for I have iron legs.

His body was entombed beside that of his father, and a shrine, the Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb, قبه الخضراء; the Mevlâna Museum), was erected over his place of burial.  His epitaph, translated to English, reads:

When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.

The Mevlâna Mausoleum, with its mosque, dance hall, dervish living quarters, school and tombs of some leaders of the Mevlevi Order, continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world.  The “Mawlana Rumi Review” is published annually by The Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter in collaboration with The Rumi Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus, and Archetype Books, Cambridge.  The first volume was published in 2010 and it has come out annually since then.  According to the principal editor of the journal, Leonard Lewisohn: “Although a number of major Islamic poets easily rival the likes of Dante, Shakespeare and Milton in importance and output, they still enjoy only a marginal literary fame in the West because the works of Arabic and Persian thinkers, writers and poets are considered as negligible, frivolous, tawdry sideshows beside the grand narrative of the Western Canon. It is the aim of the Mawlana Rumi Review to redress this carelessly inattentive approach to world literature, which is something far more serious than a minor faux pas committed by the Western literary imagination.”  Rumi’s doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love.  His peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to people of all sects and creeds.


Thomas_Mitchell_in_High_Barbaree_trailerOn this day in 1962,  actor, playwright and screenwriter, Thomas Mitchell, died from peritoneal mesothelioma in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 70.  Born to Irish immigrants on 11 July 1892 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Perhaps best remembered for appearing alongside Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind as Gerald O’Hara, the father of Scarlett O’Hara.  Other memoralbe roles inlcude the drunken doctor Doc Boone in John Ford’s Stagecoach, and Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Mitchell was the first person to win an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony Award.  The Final Footprint – Mitchell was cremated and his cremains are in a vault in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.

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