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

Chapter 53

The Seven Stages

By Khurram Ali Shafique

Beyond ‘A Prayer’ is stretched out a well-conceived floor plan of fifty-six poems. Varying in length, they are untitled but numbered – like those tulips of Sinai in The Message of the East.

Fifty-six is divisible by seven. As you divide these poems into seven sets, the eight poems in each set become a corridor depicting the corresponding stage of your journey. The fourth corridor is supposed to give you Joseph, since he is to be found in the present stage, which is the fourth in your journey.

Stage 1: Poems 1-8

A cup is formed of clay but where does the wine come from?

Invisible to the worldly eyes, the Ultimate Reality descends upon the Garden with morning breeze, mixes up with the scent of the rose and wrestles with the bud. Iqbal prays, “O Lord! Grant my voice to bring back life to the clay that has been dead for a thousand years.”

Stage 2: Poems 9-16

Love feels more restless on the shore than in deep waters.

Iqbal passes by the emperors indifferently, since he is the harp of destiny. However, melodies can be heard only as much as reason can play on it. An old dove hears the music and remarks, “No one ever played the ancient song like this before.”

Stage 3: Poems 17-24

The Beloved passes by and casts a glance at Iqbal, who almost faints. A wine dealer tells him, “The tears you held back last night are much better than any wine.”

Now Iqbal holds out a bitter-tasting antidote in an earthenware cup but the followers of Plato and Aristotle, drinking poison from two golden goblets, pay no attention.

Stage 4: Poems 25-32

A particle of dust aspires to shape destiny and becomes heart. It washes itself clean of all images so that it may acquire the wealth of meaning.

On the Day of Judgment, it sets up a pair of gigantic scales and starts bargaining with the Almighty. In one scale it places the purity of virtue and in the other, the ingenuity of sin.

Stage 5: Poems 33-40

Spring is about to come and birds are chirping again. The new human being feels sad due to the short span of human life.

Stage 6: Poems 41-48

The traveler seems to have arrived at the destination but the tree of knowledge has not borne a thorn suitable for the restless heart.

Stage 7: Poems 49-56

The soul is pitted against adverse times. It is a river weeping among the mountains, recalling how it was hidden in the Divine Life until it was cast out in order to become manifest. Now life appears to be death and death life, unless the Ultimate Reality unveils Itself.


  • Do the first three sets match the first three stages of your journey?

  • If the fourth set describes Joseph, then who or what is Joseph?

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The fourth set of poems offers allegories about the present stage of the reader's journey and here Joseph is found. However, there might be a reason to continue the journey.
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