If you visit Konya, and see Rumi's tomb, with his father and son and other family members buried nearby, in a gorgeously illuminated mauseleum-mosque, with its supernal light and its electric energy of peace and vastness, you see Rumi is no pop-figure but drenched in traditions of Islamic Sufism that brings out its deepest and most original heart, the Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) true teaching... compassion, love, and adherence to God's world above and beyond this one through right action and sincerity, wild daring, discipline and spiritual transformation.
Rumi's Masnavi is a true companion on this Path, and Rumi a true indicator of this Path, and for those without Persian, we've relied on the Victorian (though unrhymed and much interpolated) masterpiece of Nicholson (and later revisions by Arberry) and the rather haphazard fragments either "translated" or "rendered" in new, modern versions by contemporary poet-scholars.
With this new translation by Jawid Mojaddedi we have a sensational new take on Rumi, whose original (as indicated by its title) is in rhymed couplets (Masnavi means "rhymed couplets"), and which ranges from praise-poetry to stories, both high and low, to long stretches of ecstatic gnostic realization and "revelation" filled with light. This new translation keeps it all, and in a flowing smoothness that is truly remarkable, drenched (as in the original) in remembrance of Allah (the same One God of us all).
It's eminently readable, and you feel you're getting closer (by the fidelity and sincerity of the translator, direct from Persian this time!) to Rumi's actual tone and intention.
I'm a cheerleader for this translation (and have no qualms calling it this, since it is), it's a sweet gift to us, and attests to Rumi's saintliness after all these centuries. He's reached us in our mire, and now in a voice that sings in poetic tune to lift us from it (from mineral to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to angel)!
May our intrepid and courageous translator be given strength and inspiration to continue until all six books of this world treasure, this rare compendium of spiritual truths, are as superbly translated and made available.