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Islamic Spirituality

Islamic Spirituality & Mysticism
Rumi Masnavi poetry quotations

Almost fourteen hundred years ago Muhammad, born in Mecca and raised as an orphan by an uncle and receiving little or no formal education, began in middle age to experience what he believed to be Divine Revelations which were recorded through the services of a scribe who later became a disciple.
Muhammad began to expound religious and social teachings based upon these revelations and was obliged to flee from Mecca in what the western world regards as the year 622 A.D. as his teachings had alienated powerful local interests.
The Islamic world has its own calendar which counts up from this year of Muhammads flight from Mecca.
After an eight year absence in the city of Medina, where his teachings had won many converts, Muhammad and a band of muslim faithful thousands strong proceeded to Mecca where the existing idolatrous religious forms were overthrown and the local population were persuaded, more by the clemency shown rather than by the force used, to profess Islam themselves.
Islam had appeal by virtue of the strength of its message and also by virtue of demonstrably regarding all persons as being morally equal under God.
It was seen by its Prophet Muhammad as a completion of the tradition of faith which also encompasses Judaism, Christianity and Sabianism.
Jews, Christians and Sabians are regarded as being "Peoples of the Book".

In order to present key insights about spirituality sourced from Islamic Mysticism a number of quotations from the Masnavi, attributable to the remarkable mystical poet Rumi, are related here. Rumi was born in Afghanistan some eight hundred years ago but his family moved to Anatolia soon thereafter in order to escape the depradations of the Mongols. Rumi is considered as having been a member of the mystical Sufi tradition within Islam.

Sets of quotations and quotes that seem to recognise a pronounced emphasis on such aspects of Spirituality and Mysticism as a Disdain for Materialism, a Distrust of the Intellect, a Preference for Divine Inspiration, Charity, Purity of Heart, Humility and Meekness from each of these major World Religions ( Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Taoist and Vedic or Hindu ) can be accessed through our series of "Central" Spiritual Insights pages.

Please be prepared for some "soul-force" that might be held to reside within many of these quotations!!!

Disdain for Material Things

Quit thy wealth, even if it be the realm of Saba; Thou wilt find many realms not of this earth. What thou callest a throne is only a prison; Thou thinkest thyself enthroned, but art outside the door. Thou hast no sovereignty over thine own passions, How canst thou turn away good and evil? Thy hair turns white without thy concurrence, Take shame for thy evil passions. Whoso bows his head to the King of Kings Will receive a hundred kingdoms not of this world; But the delight of bowing down before God Will seem sweeter to thee than countless glories.

Masnavi ~ Book 4 Story 2

Distrust of Intellect

Would he had been less full of borrowed knowledge! Then he would have accepted inspired knowledge from his father. When, with inspiration at hand, you seek book-learning, Your heart, as if inspired, loads you with reproach. Traditional knowledge, when inspiration is available, Is like making ablutions in sand when water is near. Make yourself ignorant, be submissive, and then You will obtain release from your ignorance.

Masnavi ~ Book 4 Story 2

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment; Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition.

Masnavi ~ Book 4 Story 2

Spiritual Insights are possible!

Reason is like an officer when the king appears; The officer then loses his power and hides himself. Reason is God's shadow; God is the sun. What power has the shadow before the sun.

Masnavi ~ Book 4 Story 4

Little is known by any one but the spiritual man, Who has in his heart a touchstone of vital truth. The others, hovering between two opinions, Fly towards their nest on a single wing. Knowledge has two wings, opinion only one wing; Opinion is weak and lopsided in its flight. The bird having only but one wing quickly drops down, And again flies on two steps or more. This bird of opinion goes on rising and falling On one wing, in hope to reach his nest. When he escapes from opinion and knowledge is seen, This bird gains two wings and spreads both of them. Afterwards he "goes upright on a straight path, Not grovelling on his face or creeping." He flies up on two wings even as the angel Gabriel, Free of opinion, of duplicity, and of vain talk.

Masnavi ~ Book 3 Story 7


How long wilt thou dwell on words and superficialities? A burning heart is what I want; consort with burning! Kindle in thy heart the flame of love, And burn up utterly thoughts and fine expressions. O Moses! the lovers of fair rites are one class, They whose hearts and souls burn with love are another.

Masnavi ~ Book 2 Story 7

Purity of Heart

"Why hast thou said I have sinned so much, And God of His mercy has not punished my sins?" Thou sayest the very reverse of the truth, O fool! Wandering from the way and lost in the desert! How many times do I smite thee, and thou knowest not? Thou art bound in my chains from head to foot. On thy heart is rust on rust collected, So thou art blind to divine mysteries.

Masnavi ~ Book 2 Story 15


I regard not the outside and the words, I regard the inside and the state of the heart. I look at the heart if it be humble, Though the words may be the reverse of humble. Because the heart is substance and the words accidents.

Masnavi ~ Book 2 Story 7

Would you become a pilgrim on the road of love? The first condition is that you make yourself humble as dust and ashes.

Ansari of Herat


O Thou that changest earth into gold, And out of other earth madest the father of mankind, Thy business is changing things and bestowing favours, My business is mistakes and forgetfulness and error. Change my mistakes and forgetfulness to knowledge; I am altogether vile, make me temperate and meek.

Masnavi ~ Book 5 Story 3

Communion with God

Fools laud and magnify the mosque, While they strive to oppress holy men of heart. But the former is mere form, the latter spirit and truth. The only true mosque is that in the heart of saints. The mosque that is built in the hearts of the saints Is the place of worship for all, for God dwells there.

Masnavi ~ Book 2 Story 13

I pray God the Omnipotent to place us in the ranks of His chosen, among the number of those He directs to the path of safety; in whom He inspires fervour lest they forget Him; whom He cleanses from all defilement, that nothing remain in them except Himself; yea, of those whom He indwells completely, that they may adore none beside Him.

Al Ghazzali

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  The Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi is an overtly religious work formed within an Islamic context more than seven hundred years ago.

  In the Masnavi there are several passages which suggest that personal spirituality is relative ~

  The monk said, "I am searching everywhere for a man
Who lives by the life of the breath of God."
The other said, "Here are men the Bazaar is full;
These are surely men, O enlightened sage!"
The monk said, "I seek a man who walks straight
As well in the road of anger as in that of lust.
Where is one who shows himself a man in anger and lust?
In search of such an one I run from street to street.
If there be one who is a true man in these two states,
I will yield up my life for him this day!"

Masnavi Book 5 Story 10

  The Ka'ba is a singularly important Islamic shrine which stands in the court of the Great Mosque of Mecca and is a site of pilgrimage for all Muslims.

  The Ka'ba, whose renown waxes greater every moment,
Owes its foundation to the piety of Abraham.
Its glory is not derived from stones and mortar,
But from being built without lust or strife.

Masnavi Book 4 Story 2

[It is widely known that Allah's faithful are expected to pray five times a day, and it is widely believed that they are expected to face the city of Mecca in doing so.
It is actually the case that it is the Ka'ba, and not the city, that is the (global) focus of those countless prayers-to-Allah]!

  See more, similarly directed, quotations from the Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi:~

Jalaluddin Rumi
and the tripartite soul

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The following linked pages are intended to fully demonstrate a degree of Common Ground between the Inner-most Spiritual Teachings of several major World Religions on Charity, Purity of Heart, Humility, Meekness, A Disdain for Materialism (compared to the Spiritual), A Distrust of the Intellect (compared to Divine Inspiration) and A Yearning for Divine Edification (or A Thirst for Spiritual Enlightenment).
These quotations are presented on a series of very brief pages where each faith is considered individually.

We have seen it as worthwhile to add another category of quotation ~ where recognition has been given to the possibility of Mystical Communion with God ~ as this addition may rather directly tend the range of agreement about "Core Spiritual Truths" already demonstrated towards actually becoming something of a proof of the Existence of the one God or Spirit which is the focus of Mystical Faith.

World Religions Spirituality Quotations

Buddhist       Islamic       Hindu


Sikh       Taoist       Jewish