Spiritual Verses Audio CD – Audiobook, Aug 1 2007
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About the Author
Called 'Jelaluddin Balkhi' by the Persians and Afghans, Rumi was born on September 30, 1207, in Balkh, Afghanistan, then a part of the Persian Empire. He was the greatest mystical poet of Persia, famous for his didactic epic Masnavi-ye Ma'navi (Spiritual Couplets), a treasure-house of Sufi mysticism. Rumi died on December 17, 1273. Alan Williams is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
This volume contains a dozen stories from Book One of the six-volume collection, composed in rhyming couplets by the Afghan/Persian poet Rumi in the 1260s. With Anton Lesser's patient, precise narration, and Naxos's quality production, these religious stories are accessible to a wider audience. Without being effeminate, Lesser's voice is unusually high pitched for a man's voice, which may be jarring at first for some listeners. But his classical but unpretentious Shakespearean style, perfectly paced, makes this set worthy of repeated listening. Persian music, commissioned for this recording, sets the tone. The liner notes include background to the work and an introduction by the translator. S.E.S. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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He was one of the corner stones of Sufism. His ideas influenced many Muslims. His poems consist of stories, analogies and advices. He speaks of love towards creator, god. His god is benevolent, omnipotent and everlasting. Everything that is good or bad comes from god and nothing can be done without god’s approval.
In this collection of his poems, “Spiritual Verses” The stories are told to derive lessons from and not to repeat mistakes of previous generations. In his poems Rumi uses authorial voice very often. He addresses humankind (you) or god (you). Every poem is told in the form of a story. His stories include narratives and characters (people and animals). There are always analogies to keep the reader alert and teach lessons. Every story has a moral reflection paralleled with serving god. Rumi’s readers have to take lessons from his writings. Rumi did not waste a single line without a moral reflection or spiritual discourse.
His poems (stories) are long but beautifully written. He plays with words and meaning of them. According to Rumi, soul is not visible but definitely exists.
He explains how soul starts to exist. For him there is no question of existence of god. God exists; his duty is to find how to serve the god best way possible. He believes the best way to serve god is to avoid worldly possessions such as gold and silver. Also lust and desire are the enemy of men. Lust and desire do not allow men to grow up but keep them as children. Rumi thought as long as men strive for lust and desire they cannot achieve the exalted state of getting close to god. Thus those men are like children.
In his poems he explains god’s power and compares it to a king’s or the most powerful animal, lion. According to Rumi whatever god does is okay and acceptable regardless of its nature. In one of his poems (stories) a king falls in love with a slave girl. Slave girl gets sick and all the doctors in the kingdom cannot find a cure for this slave girl. She gets sicker by the day. The king finds out that his asking the doctors to find a cure instead of asking god’s help was the reason that the doctors could not help the slave girl. As soon as king realizes that he runs to the mosque, prays and asks god to help him. This king is a godly king thus god helps him. After his prayers, a doctor comes to king and finds out slave girl’s problem. She too is in love with someone. They bring the man she is in love with and give him poison then he loses his health in front of slave girl’s eyes. He dies and the slave girl stays with the king. Rumi says what the king did was for the best. He compares that king to god and says what god does is also good.
Rumi claimed that those who take life are basically instruments of god’s hands. Nobody does anything without god’s wish thus when a man slaughters someone, he does it because god wishes.
Rumi also do not believe all men are equal. He divides men to two groups one is the exalted men who are knowledgeable and close to the god. The other group is the children men who play with toys (women). In one of his poems he explains how regular men cannot understand dervishes. A parrot spills the oil and his owner shaves its head. Parrots sees a dervish and yells at him,
The parrot thinks dervish must have had similar experience as him. Rumi explains how dervishes are different than regular people. Regular people must not act as if they might be as good as dervishes.
Rumi’s poems (stories) are influenced by epic stories and oral traditions from Quran and Hebrew Bible as well as other sources. Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Omar, Ali, are some of his revered prophets he uses in his poetic stories. There are evil Jewish kings who conspire to terminate all Christians by their evil plans. But the Jewish Moses and Solomon are kind and great people. As a Persian man Rumi mainly talks about Arab and Jewish prophets.
Even though Rumi uses the term “infidel” to describe the unbelievers his writings are based on love and tolerance.
Peaceful he is but he is clear that infidels will be punished in afterlife. His stories are written to raise awareness to return to “the beloved” he does not use the term “Allah” much. His relationship with his creator is more personal thus he uses “the beloved.” Even though he is not hostile to others, from his poems one gets the feeling he feels closer to Christians than Jews. He reproaches Jews for not accepting Mohammad. (He did live under Roman rule, Christians).
Rumi’s poems exalt prophets. His praises manifest men-angels who could do no wrong even if they wanted to. Moses, Solomon, Jesus, Mohammad, all of them are very kind men who care about others more than themselves. They don’t even hurt a fly. Muhammad knows everything because god tells him the secrets of the world. Even Ali cannot do wrong. Omar is an angel as well.
Rumi told others to remove their colored glasses to see things as they were yet he himself wore pink glasses through his spiritual world and painted these prophets as angels. From Hebrew Bible and Quran we know his portrayal of Mohammad and Moses are distorted. Both, Moses and Mohammad, were warmongering, temperament men who did not hesitate to start wars or kill innocents.
Rumi’s love of music, poetry and dance are rooted from his pre-Islamic culture of Zoroastrianism. Islam doesn’t tolerate music or dance. Rumi’s birthplace is a place between Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The area is historically Zoroastrian and Buddhist geographic area.
The idea of striving to find the secret self, attaining exalted state of being, avoiding pleasure (nefs) and showing compassion and love is big part of Eastern religions and philosophies. The idea of Karma, “whatever we do, will come back to us” is rooted in Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Karma is a foreign concept in Arabic culture and Islam.
Rumi was a man of contradiction because he described and narrated stories about Jewish and Arabic men in a Persian (Zoroastrian) context. His conviction as a follower of Islam (Arabic religion) did not hold him back to express his pre-Islamic traditions.
Some may argue that Rumi’s way of Islam is distorted because it is so far from the origin of Islam. His poems create harmony, love and kindness, which does not reflect on the historical people of the religion. Although he avoids to speak about the punishment and mainly focuses on reward of loving god, the god he describes is not a loving god, but a cruel god. He does not hesitate to punish and he has the power to do whatever he wishes. It is people's duty to submit to him regardless of his brutal nature.
That said, Rumi’s poems are beautiful and filled with divine love. It absolutely manifests a different kind of Islam. Many other Persian poets referred to Sufis as hypocrites but Rumi was known for his genuine love for divine and his attachment to love and compassion. Even though his god is as cruel as Moses’ god. He tells people to love and listen to god not because god is loving but because god is powerful and will punish non-believers. [...]
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