Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mansour and Rumi

To be tangled, oh so briefly, in your love

Is to know disaster, close at hand and real.

Honest Mansour spoke true, as love must do,

And he was hung by the rope of his zeal.

#576: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: brief

I've woken in a mood to get down to business, to get focussed and get brief. Today Rumi talks of the brief but disastrous impact of falling in love with the divine beloved. Here he clearly states his allegiance to the great mystic martyr, Mansur Al-Hallaj, who was cruelly tortured and executed over the heresy of speaking the truth. He was famous (or infamous) for saying Ana al-Haqq, meaning "I am the Truth", and since al-Haqq is one of the names of God/Allah, this was tantamount to identifying with God. Not an unusual claim among mystics but heresy to more orthodox or doctrinal Muslims.

The truth is one of those things that people are prepared to die for. Human beings, however, create truth much as they create their gods while simultaneously being created by the gods and by the truth. What we believe is so critical to how we live and how we live is likewise critical to how our beliefs are perceived: to some, martyrdom will seem to be a proof of greater truth; to others, survival to a gentle death through old age seems more convincing. In our Western tradition the great contrast is seen between Giordano Bruno who was martyred and Galileo who settled for permanent house arrest. Each had their role to play. Perhaps Rumi more closely resembles Galileo. Radical anti-Islamists see him as having saved his own neck by at least pretending to go along with the stupidities of Islam, by at least pretending to revere Mohammad to the extent required of a good Muslim.

However that may be, it is clear in this verse which comes from the heart and from Rumi's own deepest truth that Mansour was a heroic victim and a true knower. Truth is not an easy thing to love but, once encountered, it is impossible to disentangle oneself. I am in awe at the sacrifices of al-Hallaj, of Galileo, of Socrates, of Jesus, of the countless martyrs of history, but in my heart of hearts I am a Rumi or a Galileo. If I can find a way to survive while holding the truth at least safe in my heart, then I will do so. If I must speak false to save myself then speak it I will and hope that those that have ears to hear will know it for what it is.

I only hope it would never come to that.


At Friday, 19 August, 2005, Blogger none said...

what I get from Rumi that few other writers give me is that sense that truth is dangerous, not just in a political or physical sense, but it's dangerous to an evil, cowardly part of self; to get yourself to approach it is the hardest part, not necessarily refering to what you portray outwardly to the world for survival necessities


Post a Comment

<< Home