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UNESCO Names 2007 Year of Rumi (Maulana Balkhi)


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 2007 "Year of Rumi" to mark the 800th birth of Afghanistan's philosopher and mystical poet Maulana Jalaladdin Balkhi known as Rumi. Maulana was born in Afghanistan's Balkh Province on September 30, 1207 to a family of learned theologians. He is one of the greatest spiritual and literary figures of all times. As the most celebrated poet of the Farsi language, Maulana is renowned for his message of love, humanity and peace, and for his founding of the Mawlawia order, better known as the "Whirling Dervishes".

While fleeing his homeland during the Mongol invasion of Central Asia with his father, Maulana met and received the blessing of Farid al-Din Attar, the preeminent Sufi poet of the day, whom he was to succeed in the annals of Persian Sufi poetry. Maulana's family traveled through the Middle East and made the pilgrimage to Mecca before settling in Konya, Turkey, where he would compose his poetry over the next 40 years.

Maulana was not a poet who happened to practice Sufism, but great Sufi master expressing his deep spirituality though the language of poetry. He founded the Mathnawi Order, which influenced Ottoman society, poetry and musical arts for decades. Maulana composed his Mathnawi and Divan-i Shams, the monumental works devoted to gnosis and divine ecstasy and became a celebrated artist in both the Persian and Turkish speaking worlds. The Mawlawia dervishes continue to celebrate Maulana’s death, on December 17, 1273 as a festival.

Throughout 2007, special ceremonies and programs will be held all over the world to commemorate Maulana, including a two days seminar in Kabul and a tour to his birth place in Balkh province in northern Afghanistan.

"Eminent philosopher and mystical poet of Islam, Maulana advocated tolerance, reason and access to knowledge through love. His mystical relationship to Islam produced masterpieces that…have marked Islamic culture and devotion. His work and thought continue to have universal relevance today," said UNESCO in its announcement.

Come, come, whoever you are...
Come and come yet again...
Come even if you have broken your vows a thousand times
Wanderer, idolater, worshipper of fire...
Ours is not a caravan of despair,
This is the date of hope,
Come, come yet again, come

To read more English translations of Rumi’s poetry, click here or here

To visit the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, click here

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