The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality
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The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality

Chapter 17

The Old Man of the Desert


By Khurram Ali Shafique

The Poet is nowhere to be seen. Mir Nijat Naqshband, or the Old Man of the Desert, appears instead.

Spme precepts for Indian Muslims

A gentleman is running to and fro, learning the subtleties of academic wisdom. He receives the fruits and flowers of knowledge but discovers that they are fake – a mirage of perfume, just like paper roses. He turns to the gatekeepers of the citadel of Islam but they are placing idols of alien thought in Kabah.

The gentleman reaches for the heavenly tree and starts building a new garden. That garden is where you are standing now, and the gentleman is the Old Man of the Desert.

“Since I am acquainted with the harmony of Life, I will tell you the secret of Life,” he says to you. “Sink into yourself like the pearl, then emerge from your inward solitude. Collect sparks beneath the ashes, become a flame and dazzle the world.”

DISCUSS

  • Do you think that Mir Nijat Naqshband, or the Old Man of the Desert, could be Iqbal himself in disguise? Why would Iqbal use this identity?
  • Part 1 of this book started with meeting Iqbal as “the Poet” and has now ended on meeting “the Old Man of the Desert”. What does this signify?
  • Upon entering the Garden you were advised, though indirectly, to suspend all previous knowledge. Does this chapter show you why?

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Here the reader discovers that the Garden is interactive for a reason.
Persian text