One and Many: The pluralistic expressions In Sufi poetry – Raheel Lakhani’s Blog

Originally published at Aaj News Blogs.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field; I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

When one reads the Persian mystic Rumi allegorically, it feels as if both the creator and the created are speaking. As if Truth is saying that He dwells beyond the fields of paradise and hell, essentially everywhere and the creation shows readiness to indulge in love and praise of HIM. If this talk of sacredness is outside the measures of right and wrong then Rumi here is inviting us to embrace pluralism while appreciating God’s creation.

The notion of love is presented as a cornerstone for developing pluralistic spirit in the poetry of two most eminent mystic poets of Persia and Sindh, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai respectively. The paper elucidates the concept of love as described by these two mystics, the Ihsani traditions which have emerged from these concepts and the way these traditions promote the pluralistic practices.


Sufism is seen by many scholars as the esoteric and mystical dimension of Islam. While most Muslims aim and hope to become close to God in Paradise, Sufis believe that it is possible to draw closer to Divine Presence in this life. The basic principles which form Sufi thought are Unification (Tawhid), Faith (Iman) and Beauty (Ihsan). Sufi’s idea of Tawhid in rooted in the belief that God is incomprehensible and His attributes only represent a slice of His reality (Chittick, 2007).

Sufi thought has been mostly propagated through the poetic works of its masters. Rumi is considered as one of the greatest mystic of Islam and his poetic collection of Mathnawi has been praised by the title of Persian Quran by another poet Jami. Rumi was the ambassador of love, compassion and peace. His poetry is eclectic. “He drew from sources outside Islamic culture, including those of Neo-platonic, Christian, Jewish, Persian and Hindu belief. Possessed by such an overwhelming vision of love, he was unable to confine himself to any one spiritual discipline for his inspiration” (Cowan, 1992).

A poet from Sub-continent who refers Rumi repeatedly is Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. He was a Sindhi mystic saint, poet, and musician. His collected poems were compiled as Shah Jo Risalo. Hossein Nasr described Shah Latif as a direct emanation of Rumi’s spirituality in the Indian world (Nasr, 1974).

The whole creation seeks Him,
He is the Fount of Beauty, thus Rumi says:
If you but unlock yourself, you will see Him
– Bhitai

Read more in Raheel Lakhani’s Blog


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.