The great Turkish mystic and poet Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi was born in Belh, in Afghanistan, on September 30, 1207 A.D.
His father Bahaeddin Veled, who was known as Sultan-ul Ulema (the king of the learned men), was a renowned scholar who,however,raised the ire of the established academia of his times by critising the tenets of Greek philosophy. This and the start of the Mongol invasions made him decide to leave Belh.This was when Mevlana was only five years old. The family,which reached Anatolia after stopping in Yemen and Damascus, lived in Larende(Karaman) for seven years;and then, upon the invitation of the Selcuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, Bahaeddin Veled settled in Konya in Central Anatolia in 1220. Meanwhile Mevlana married Gevher Hatun in Karaman; his son, Sultan Veled, was born in 1226 in the same town. Bahaeddin Veled, Mevlana's father, was a cultured scholar and mystic.
His knowledge, his discourses and his environment played a significant role in shaping and educating Mevlana, who advanced so rapidly that when his father died in 1230, he had already become a scholar and a teacher at the tender age of 23. Thus it would not bean exaggeration to say that Mevlana had learned the fundamentals of philosophy and mysticism from his father.
Mevlana also was educated in the two major university centers of the time, Aleppo and Damascus; he was a well rounded scholar who had accumulated much theological and scientific knowledge. He had such command of Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Greek that he could write poetry in all four languages.
Mevlana,who first met Semseddin Tebrizi in 1244, so fell under his spell that the emergence of Mevlana as mystic poet is traced to the effect Semseddin Tebrizi had on him. Much, most of it speculative, has been said about the personality and identity of Semseddin Tebrizi, this wielder of such a powerful effect on the spirit of Mevlana, himself the strangest of personalities.
Everything seems to point to Semseddin Tebrizi's being a sufi master of such extraordinary knowledge and power that he could touch and light the torch in Mevlana's heart, in a sense transforming him. It was also Sems, who taught Mevlana the ritual dance-like practice callled SEM'A and the latter concieved it almost as a form of prayer or meditation. Sems, who must have reached rarefied spiritual heights, was a fearless man who would make no concessions to the prejudices, of the masses or the learned, either in behavior or in speech. So he made a great number of enemies and was not at all popular in Konya.Therefore he left Konya and went to Damascus in 1245; but returned to Konya when Mevlana implored him to, such was the older man's attachement to Sems. Two years later, in 1247, Sems dissappeared in a mysterious manner and was never heard of again.
Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi's masterpiece, his six volume Mesnevi consisting of 25700 couplets, is regarded as the most outstanding work of Persian-Islamic mysticism. It is not clear when Mevlana started writing the Mesnevi, though it is known that he started on the second volume of his magnum opus in 1264.
This masterpiece of Islam's mystic literature was written in the form of poetry which included philosophical, mystical, and spiritual messages and could in a sense be considered allegories which carry deep spiritual and religious meanings.
His second masterpiece,Divan-i Sems, though smaller in size is no less important from a literary and mystical standpoint. Divan-i Sems or (Divan-i Kebir as it is sometimes called) is a collection of verses (gazels) in which Mevlana reached heights of poetry, mu sic and mysticism. It is regarded as the mature expression of his conscious ness of universal unity(Vahdet-i Vucud).
Apart from these two masterpieces, Mevlana produced works, called Fihi Ma-Fih, Mecalis-i Seba and Mektubat ( or Letters ) which have all been translated into Turkish, and also, in part or in full, into Arabic, English, French and German.
Following a short bout with an illness Mevlana died in Konya on December 17, 1273, whereupon Husameddin Celebi, a student and a disciple of his, stepped into his place on the insistence of Mevlana's son Sultan Veled, upon the former's death in 1284, Sultan Veled in turn became the master and made important contributions to the emergence of the sect which is called Mesnevi after Mevlana's name.