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The Illuminated Rumi

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Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey to the ocean of meanings...

In the mid-thirteenth century, in a dusty marketplace in Konya, Turkey, a city where Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist travelers mingled, Jelaluddin Rumi, a popular philosopher and scholar, met Shams of Tabriz, a wandering dervish.  Their meeting forever altered the course of Rumi's life and influenced the mystical evolution of the planet.  The bond they formed was everlasting--a powerful transcendent friendship that would flow through Rumi as some of the world's best-loved ecstatic poetry.

Rumi's passionate, playful poems find and celebrate sacred life in everyday existence.  They speak across all traditions, to all peoples, and today his relevance and popularity continue to grow.  In The Illuminated Rumi, Coleman Barks, widely regarded as the world's premier translator of Rumi's writings, presents some of his most brilliant work, including many new translations.  To complement Rumi's universal vision, Michael Green has worked the ancient art of illumination into a new, visually stunning form that joins typography, original art, old masters, photographs, and prints with sacred images from around the world.

The Illuminated Rumi is a truly groundbreaking collaboration that interweaves word and a magnificent meeting of ancient tradition and modern interpretation that uniquely captures the spiritual wealth of Rumi's teachings.  Coleman Barks's wise and witty commentary, together with Michael Green's art, makes this a classic guide to the life of the soul for a whole new generation of seekers.

128 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 1997

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1,010 books14.4k followers
Sufism inspired writings of Persian poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad ar-Rumi; these writings express the longing of the soul for union with the divine.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī - also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Mevlânâ/Mawlānā (مولانا, "our master"), Mevlevî/Mawlawī (مولوی, "my master") and more popularly simply as Rumi - was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic who lived in Konya, a city of Ottoman Empire (Today's Turkey). His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages, and he has been described as the most popular poet and the best-selling poet in the United States.

His poetry has influenced Persian literature, but also Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Azerbaijani, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu, as well as the literature of some other Turkic, Iranian, and Indo-Aryan languages including Chagatai, Pashto, and Bengali.

Due to quarrels between different dynasties in Khorāṣān, opposition to the Khwarizmid Shahs who were considered devious by his father, Bahā ud-Dīn Wālad or fear of the impending Mongol cataclysm, his father decided to migrate westwards, eventually settling in the Anatolian city Konya, where he lived most of his life, composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature, and profoundly affected the culture of the area.

When his father died, Rumi, aged 25, inherited his position as the head of an Islamic school. One of Baha' ud-Din's students, Sayyed Burhan ud-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi, continued to train Rumi in the Shariah as well as the Tariqa, especially that of Rumi's father. For nine years, Rumi practised Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din until the latter died in 1240 or 1241. Rumi's public life then began: he became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons in the mosques of Konya. He also served as a Molvi (Islamic teacher) and taught his adherents in the madrassa. During this period, Rumi also travelled to Damascus and is said to have spent four years there.

It was his meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi on 15 November 1244 that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.

On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. Rumi's love for, and his bereavement at the death of, Shams found their expression in an outpouring of lyric poems, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. He himself went out searching for Shams and journeyed again to Damascus.

Rumi found another companion in Salaḥ ud-Din-e Zarkub, a goldsmith. After Salah ud-Din's death, Rumi's scribe and favourite student, Hussam-e Chalabi, assumed the role of Rumi's companion. Hussam implored Rumi to write more. Rumi spent the next 12 years of his life in Anatolia dictating the six volumes of this masterwork, the Masnavi, to Hussam.

In December 1273, Rumi fell ill and died on the 17th of December in Konya.

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5 stars
1,019 (67%)
4 stars
319 (21%)
3 stars
122 (8%)
2 stars
29 (1%)
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19 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,233 followers
March 27, 2012
I love this book. I love this book. I. Love. This. Book.

I have had it for a long time and I pick it up every so often and find myself flipping back and forth through the pages, and before I know it an hour has past. The poetry and illustrations are a perfect mix. Alone Rumi can be overwhelming, but with images it is much easier to absorb.

I have lived on the lip of insanity,
Wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door.


I've been knocking from the inside!

Rumi lived in Turkey in the mid thirteenth century, yet his writings stand the test of time. It seems to me that life, and what we all want and need as human beings never changes.

I love this one....

Not Christian or Jew or Muslin, Not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system.

I am not from the east or the west, not out of the ocean or up from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist.

Am not an entity in this world or the next. Did not descend from Adam and Eve or any origin story. My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know.

First, last, outer inner, only that breath breathing.

Human Being.

Profile Image for Patrick Gibson.
818 reviews68 followers
September 16, 2009
The illustrations - superb.
The poetry - sublime.

"In the orchard and rose garden

I long to see your face.

In the taste of Sweetness

I long to kiss your lips.

In the shadows of passion

I long for your love.

Oh! Supreme Lover!

Let me leave aside my worries.

The flowers are blooming
with the exultation of your Spirit.

By Allah!

I long to escape the prison of my ego

and lose myself
in the mountains and the desert.

These sad and lonely people tire me.

I long to revel in the drunken frenzy of your love
and feel the strength of Rustam in my hands.

I’m sick of mortal kings.

I long to see your light.

With lamps in hand
the sheiks and mullahs roam
the dark alleys of these towns
not finding what they seek.

You are the Essence of the Essence,

The intoxication of Love.

I long to sing your praises
but stand mute
with the agony of wishing in my heart."

Profile Image for Yelda Basar Moers.
186 reviews145 followers
December 13, 2022
The Illuminated Rumi is a beautiful illustrated book of Rumi poems, insights and mystical illuminations by the famous Rumi translator Coleman Barks and his illustrator sidekick Michael Green. I loved this book! I also own his book The Illuminated Prayer, which I highly recommend. Both are gorgeous, mystical, soulful and enlightening, bringing Rumi’s words to life.
Profile Image for Susan .
1,184 reviews5 followers
June 24, 2009
"Be notorious. You've tried prudent planning long enough."

"I don't regret how much I love and I avoid those who repent their passion."

"Many people travel to Syria and Iraq and meet only hypocrites.
Others go all the way to India and see just merchants buying and selling.
Others go to Turkistan and China and find these countries filled with sneak-thieves and cheats.
We always see the qualities that are living in us."

"When we talk about God we're like a school of fish discussing the possible existence of the ocean."

44 reviews2 followers
September 25, 2007
one of my favorites.

something maybe to do with sufis and past lives...

beautiful art combined with the words of rumi. who often brings tears to my eyes any day of the week

ma'salam ya habibi
2 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2007
This is sort of a trippy way of reading rumi. The visuals add to the overall experience of the poem, but they do overpower the small typeface this book uses for most of the poems.

I think I like the poem The Guest House best from this collection.
Profile Image for Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore.
29 reviews35 followers
November 13, 2009
Though these illuminated pages are based on the versions of Rumi by Barks, each page is worth a diving into to swim in beauty, and the glorious visual imagery alone takes you closer, closer, closer...
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,028 reviews57 followers
May 7, 2012
Some of these illustrations are so wonderful and amazing. And yet, to me at least, the poetry itself is so evocative that some of the pictures, lovely as they are, actually limit the images already springing forth from my mind. But some are so wonderful.

I should read this book more often.
Profile Image for Amir kasravi.
6 reviews
December 29, 2007
Translation of poem and concept of profound mystical experinces, often strips the words of its original cultural value and meaning, leaving a mere conceptual shadow of the orginal word.
Profile Image for Heidi.
9 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2009
"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

This is my favorite verse from "The Illuminated Rumi", a beautifully translated and illustrated edition of selected verses by the 13th-century Persian poet. Coleman Barks and Michael Green, respectively, did real justice to the poems contained in this collection.
Profile Image for Carlé.
6 reviews9 followers
August 18, 2017
Coleman Barks is the only translator I will read from now into the hereafter.
Profile Image for Annette.
322 reviews2 followers
December 4, 2013
Always inspiring to see how other's visualize the essence of Rumi's message... this is a beautifully illustrated work, yet the words themselves paint the greatest pictures!
Profile Image for Satyajeet.
111 reviews328 followers
July 27, 2017
Beautiful! Astonishing illustrations, coupled with Rumi's poetry.
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,256 reviews819 followers
June 7, 2017
I always surf the internet for inspirational quotes and I always find Rumi's quotes beautiful. But I didn't love this book, not the quotes or where it was headed. Not the illustrations though at first they look good, but all in all, they are not related to Islam. You see I am Muslim, and Sufism is a branch in Islam dedicated only for Allah, which has many meanings such as "Pure Wisdom". I felt the authors/translators going more into the "brotherly love" between Shams and Rumi and losing the true meaning of Sufism.

Profile Image for Rob.
39 reviews3 followers
March 1, 2010
While I normally love the combination of image and text, I found myself distracted by the illustrations in this book. This was my first experience with Rumi, and I'm eager to try another collection, but this time without the images.
Profile Image for Kerfe.
897 reviews37 followers
April 6, 2011
I was attracted by the illustrations of Rumi's poetry, which echo and illuminate the enigmatic text.

"We are the mirror as well as the face in it."

Word images of thought and collages of open question merge and complement each other.
Profile Image for manic_reader.
74 reviews2 followers
June 20, 2012
I loved this book! I really liked how the book was put together, the artwork and little anecdotes about Rumi and Shams.
Term explanations in the begging of a chapter also make the reading experience much better.
Profile Image for Jen.
7 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2010
Beautiful and always good to browse through when you are feeling low.
Profile Image for Sandy.
357 reviews
April 11, 2012
Rumi, Rumi - were you a real person? How I wish I could have known you and talked to you and spent time in your presence. Oh to breathe the same air you breathed.
Profile Image for Jeff.
26 reviews2 followers
October 2, 2012
This is one of the books I often recommend to people new to Rumi. The marriage of the text and illumination is stunning - definitely the best book of this type I've ever experienced.
Profile Image for Shikha.
Author 6 books19 followers
January 30, 2020
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stringer pull of what you really love."

"When soul rises into lips, you feel the kiss you've wanted."

I connect to Rumi's proses and poems so well, it feels like he is conversing with me. I loved each and every line of the book. Its not enough to read only once.
Profile Image for Layali.
78 reviews
May 21, 2020
I cannot believe it... but such a translation in which all religious content was stripped and distorted, so as to paint the orientalist picture perfect, which the west promoted to the whole wide world in order obscure the way Islam and the orient is seen, and giving rise to Islamophobia and other propaganda in such manipulative deceiving ways... be careful in what translation you read of Rumi.. this one and plenty others by the same translator, were popularised by a man who doesn’t even speak Persian thus stripping the script and actually altering words in the sake of convenience.. I’d recommend you read translations by Jawid Mojaddedi where the translation is much more credible and true....
I’ve revisited this book multiple times only to feel disconnected with it in each read.. there might’ve been some truth to it but I cannot accept such forgery.. this.book.is.going.to.be.burning.in.flames.asunderrr
Profile Image for Gabriel Iqbal.
Author 7 books14 followers
December 16, 2014
Imagine a 1000 suns... even then it is not enough in comparison to a spirited soul - Rumi was one such being whose torch of love was excited by Shams. Now the world is illuminating by the passion Rumi expresses...God Speed... Coleman my friend we will met in a garden far beyond doings of right and wrong... then we will dance and sing and make merry... and share bliss and grace...With oceans of love - Gabriel
Profile Image for Laura.
124 reviews17 followers
November 9, 2007
I actually lost my original copy of this book, so I am on the hunt for it. But the memory of this collection of Rumi poetry and art lingers strong.

It is a lovely introduction to the poetry of Rumi as the poems are isolated by art, and the reader's pace slows as the words and images are enjoyed in concert.
Profile Image for Ayesha Fatima Nava.
10 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2013
Anything Rumi has written, is already beautiful. But accompanied with these gorgeous drawings, it makes his words come alive. This book brought peace to my soul. I love to randomly open it, and read what I find. Every word is powerful. I am very proud to own this beautiful book. The art is also breathtaking.
Profile Image for Dianne.
285 reviews9 followers
April 13, 2011
SO gorgeous - to open at any page, fine to read from the back (which I love), possibly forever on my 'currently reading' list. Although, now it's due at the library so I will return; I especially recommend reading this at the same time as FORTY RULES OF LOVE: A NOVEL OF RUMI.
Profile Image for Julia.
398 reviews
May 6, 2015
The actual Rumi was great: he's so introspective while still speaking directly to you. It's like he's looking at God by staring directly into your eyes. The commentary was a little too mythological for my taste, so I stopped reading it.
Profile Image for Diana Bogan.
113 reviews7 followers
December 28, 2015
I'm so grateful to the friend who loaned me this book. I've seen Rumi quoted prolifically, but I'd never actually read a body of his work before. I liked the quotes I'd previously seen; but seeing the full tapestry of his words has drawn me into a new love affair.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews

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