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

Chapter 75

The Spirit of Muslim Culture

By Khurram Ali Shafique

Jupiter is an unfinished planet. Its night sky is adorned by several fast paced moons. Their combined effect around midnight is something like a bright day. Stars appear so close that near, far, late and early get muddled up and the senses may become drowsy with fear. At least that’s how Iqbal felt when Rumi brought him here.

Three noble souls are here. They were offered Paradise but they preferred eternal voyage.

The first of these is Mansur Hallaj, the Sufi who was executed because he said, “I’m the Creative Truth.” The second is Mirza Ghalib, the Indian poet of Persian and Urdu. The third is Qurratul Ain Tahira, the Iranian woman who was executed for heresy.

The Mystery of Hallaj

“I saw a people who claimed to believe in God but they did not believe in themselves,” says Hallaj. “I kindled in myself the fire of life and spoke to the dead of the mysteries of life. Beware! You know my secret and have been guilty of the same crime in seeking to resurrect the dead. Beware!” The warning is intended for Iqbal but can it also apply to you?
“A new world comes into being from the sin of a frenzied servant of God,” Tahira adds.

The Last Prophet

“Wherever there is a new world there too is the Mercy Unto All Worlds,” Ghalib refers to the Prophet by one of his titles. Hallaj says more boldly, “His essence is neither Arab nor non‑Arab. He is human, yet more ancient than the human being. His Path is a secret among his secrets.”

The Poet asks Hallaj about the mysteries of the Devil. “Speak little of the Lord of the Separated Ones,” Hallaj replies. “We are not privy to his secrets because he is more ancient in love and service to God.” The free spirits leave but think of the Devil and he is there.

The Devil

Darkness spreads far and wide. Then there is a blaze, and out of it comes the Lord of the Separated Ones. He is the Devil: an elderly person dressed in deep black and surrounded by convoluted smoke. He is passion head to toe but also has a grave temperament and speaks sparsely. He is a drunkard, a scholar, a philosopher, a mystic and an ascetic.

The Poet’s soul quivers and immediately the Devil looks that way: he can see souls in the bodies. “Alas, separation is so intoxicating that I cannot talk of union,” he says. “If I unite with Him, neither He remains nor I!”

He begins to roll and toss in his own smoke until he is completely lost in it. “Lord of Right and Wrong,” his voice comes out of the fumes. “Give me a seasoned rival with a penetrating look, one who could defy me and wring my neck.”

If you are the protagonist of this narrative then Devil is the arch villain. He is seeking a battle with you at a time he will choose. This is the time to make your fifth wish and you may see that the fifth stage has come to an end.

Fifth Wish

You have set my falcon to hunt down the leopard,
Now give it a high will and sharper claws!

Sign of the End
Of Stage 5

From Your light arise the black and the white:
The river, the mountain, the desert, the forest, the moon and the sun.

  • How are these observations relevant to the world of Marghdin which you saw on the previous planet?
  • How can you guard your soul against the Devil when he can see it and you cannot?
  • How has Jupiter, the fifth planet, been similar to or different from the fifth stage of your journey that ended just now?
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On Jupiter, which is the fifth stop, Rumi and Iqbal meet spirits of Mansur Hallaj, Quratul Ain Tahira and Mirza Ghalib, who were offered Paradise but they chose perpetual traveling instead. An interview with the Devil follows.
Persian text

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