The story of how two great poets met
One day, Rumi, a famous scholar, was reading with a huge pile of books by his side when a great mystic from Tabriz called Shams – meaning ‘sun’ in Arabic – passed by. He asked Rumi what he was doing, to which he replied, ‘Something you cannot understand.’
Upon hearing this, Shams threw all the books in a nearby pool. But when Rumi picked them out of the water, to his surprise, the books were all dry. Shocked, Rumi asked, ‘What is this?’ to the mysterious man. ‘Something you cannot understand,’ came the reply.
When the two met, Rumi was thirty-seven years old and Shams was already in his sixties. Shams possessed a profound spiritual and philosophical knowledge and was seeking an equally extraordinary talent. He saw that spark in Rumi.
The two struck a close friendship and, from there on, Rumi’s impassioned pursuit for truth and love began.
Rumi’s eternal thirst for knowledge and truth and Shams’s mysticism is what brought these two great poets together. In Persian, they are called ashiqs, which means lovers – not to be confused with romantic love, as their ‘ashq’ was a spiritual and platonic love.
It’s said that Shams taught Rumi for a total of forty days in seclusion in Konya.
After that, the master left Konya and flew to Damascus. Rumi couldn’t bear the painful separation from his guide and poured his emotions into his poetry, writing a great 70,000 verses. He wrote 3,000 poems for Shams, expressing his love and devotion for his guide. For Rumi, Shams was shining the light of the sun and drew out the darkness out of his heart.