Turning Rumi: Singing Verses of Love, Unity and Freedom

I have rediscovered Rumi recently. I knew his poetry from other people or heard someone reciting it but suddenly I have found the treasure of his poems through Internet while searching for verses on love and unity. I searched for these verses because I felt I want to present a positive image of Islam, my faith, to non Muslims and Muslims alike through my painting caliber. I have always felt that there is a far richer purpose of God in leading me towards Islam and blessing me with so much talent and energy. Definitely not merely to earn a living or achieve fame! If I keep these two only as my goals, I would fail beyond imagination because these goals are ego-centric and in my love for God, I had promised to give up my ego and serve His purpose. Day by day He is showing me my path, my purpose and I have to create works for the benefit of the communities, nations and worlds. How would I do it? Perhaps by creating works which translate the Words of Allah in a positive manner to the world through my paintings? I started my series Words of Wisdom: Transparent Images last year and started creating Diptychs with Arabic calligraphy and flow of humanity images. While doing these paintings and searching verses from Quran on diversity and unity, I landed on Rumi’s poetry which explain Quranic thoughts of Love and Unity in simple language and depth which common person responds easily. Rumi is very popular in modern world and why not depict his poems for the good of the world? Idea has taken me over completely and I have been reading Rumi and drawing endlessly.

I have begun my new series: Turning Rumi: Singing Verses of Love, Unity and Freedom.

To view some of these series visit: https://salmaarastu.com/category/index/1/2011

First Rumi Poem that speaks my heart and has inspired me to create my new works:

Why think thus O men of piety
I have returned to sobriety
I am neither a Moslem nor a Hindu
I am not Christian, Zoroastrian, nor Jew

I am neither of the West nor the East
Not of the ocean, nor an earthly beast
I am neither a natural wonder
Nor from the stars yonder

Neither flesh of dust, nor wind inspire
Nor water in veins, nor made of fire
I am neither an earthly carpet, nor gems terrestrial
Nor am I confined to Creation, nor the Throne Celestial

Not of ancient promises, nor of future prophecy
Not of hellish anguish, nor of paradisic ecstasy
Neither the progeny of Adam, nor Eve
Nor of the world of heavenly make-believe

My place is the no-place
My image is without face
Neither of body nor the soul
I am of the Divine Whole.

I eliminated duality with joyous laughter
Saw the unity of here and the hereafter
Unity is what I sing, unity is what I speak
Unity is what I know, unity is what I seek

Intoxicated from the chalice of Love
I have lost both worlds below and above
Sole destiny that comes to me
Licentious mendicity

In my whole life, even if once
Forgot His name even per chance
For that hour spent, for such moment
I’d give my life, and thus repent

Beloved Master, Shams-e Tabrizi
In this world with Love I’m so drunk
The path of Love isn’t easy
I am shipwrecked and must be sunk.

Ó Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
March 25, 1998

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