Rumi's Ramadan Poem

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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast.

During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking.

Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits -- essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.

During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.

Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship of God.
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O moon-faced Beloved,
the month of Ramadan has arrived
Cover the table
and open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody,
it’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah
how long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker
has made you so sweet even honey says,
“I’ll put myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

Your chick frets within the egg
with all your eating and choking.
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched
from calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds
through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty:  give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath
that fills the reed.
Be like Mary – by that sweet breath
a child grew within her.

- Rumi
Ramadan came, but Bairam is with us.
The lock came, but the key is with us.

Mouth is closed. Eyes are opened.
That brilliance that the eyes see is with us.

We have cleaned soul and heart with fasting.
The dirt which has been with us is cleansed now.

Some stress comes from fasting,
But the invisible treasure of heart is with us.

Ramadan came to the heart's temple;
The one who created heart is with us.

Since Salahuddin* is among this crowd,
Mansur and Beyazid** are with us.

* Salahuddin: Rumi's closest spiritual companion and disciple following the final disappearance of Shams-e Tabriz, whom he put in charge of the spiritual training of his disciples.
** Mansur and Beyazid: two famous Sufis of the past, Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj and Beyazid Bestami (Abu Yazid Isa ibn Tayfur al Bistami).

Ghazal No. 370 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by Nevit Ergin (from the Turkish translation of the original Persian
by Golpinarli), "Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi: Divan-i Kebir," Volume 13, 2001.


Celebrate! The month of fasting has come.
Pleasant journey to the one

Who is the company of the fasting.
I climbed the roof to see the Moon,

Because I really missed fasting
By heart and soul.

I lost my hat while looking at the Moon.
the Sultan of fasting made me drunk.

O Muslims, I have been drunk
since that day I lost my mind.

What a beautiful fortune fasting has.
What a wonderful glory.

There is another secret moon
Besides this one.

He is hiding in the tent of fasting
Like a Turk.

Anyone who comes
To the harvest of fasting in this month

Finds the way to this Moon.
Whoever makes his face

Resemble pale satin
Wears the silk clothes of fasting.

Prayers will be accepted in this month.
Sighs of the one fasting pierce the sky.

The person who sits patiently
At the bottom of fasting's well

Owns the love of Egypt, like Joseph.
O the word which eats the Sahur* meal,

Be silent so that anyone
Who knows fasting will enjoy fasting.

Come, O Shems, the brave one of whom Tebriz is proud.
You are the commander of fasting's soldiers.

* Sahur: Meal before dawn during Ramazan fast.

Ghazal No. 2344 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by Nevit Ergin (from the Turkish translation of the original Persian by Golpinarli), "Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi: Divan-i Kebir," Volume 18, 2002.


So long as the form of the Beloved's image is with us,
for us the whole of life is a joyful parade.

Where friends unite together, there in the midst of the house,
by Allah, is a spreading plain;

And where the heart's desire comes true,
there one thorn is better than a thousand dates.

When we are sleeping at the head of the Beloved's lane,
our pillow and blankets are the Pleiades;

When we are twisted into the tip of the Beloved's tress
on the Night of Power*, power belongs to us.

When the reflection of His beauty shines forth,
mountain land and earth are silk and brocade.

When we ask of the breeze the scent of Him,
in the breeze is the echo of lute and reed-pipe.

When we write His name in the dust,
every particle of dust is a dark-eyed houri.

We chant a spell of Him over the fire;
thereby the raging fire becomes water-cool.

Why shall I tell a long tale? For when we mention
His name to nonbeing too, it increases being.

That subtlety in which Love is contained
is fuller of pith than a thousand walnuts.

That instant when Love showed its face,
all these things vanished from the midst.

Silence! For the sealing has been completed;
the totality of desire is God Most High.

* The Night of Power (see Koran 97:1) was the night (of Ramadan) on which the Koran was first revealed; see Nicholson on Math. II:2935.

Ghazal No. 364 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by A.J. Arberry, "Mystical Poems of Rumi," 1968.


Do not despair, my soul, for hope has manifested itself;
the hope of every soul has arrived from the unseen.

Do not despair, though Mary has gone from your hands,
for that light which drew Jesus to heaven has come.

Do not despair, my soul, in the darkness of this prison,
for that king who redeemed Joseph from prison has come.

Jacob has come forth from the veil of occlusion,
Joseph who rent Zulaikha's veil has come.

You who all through night to dawn have been crying "O Lord,"
mercy has heard that "O Lord" and has come.

O pain which has grown old, rejoice, for the cure has come;
O fastened lock, open, for the key has come.

You who have abstained fasting from the Table on high*,
break your fast with joy, for the first day of the feast has come.

Keep silence, keep silence, for by virtue of the command "Be!"
that silence of bewilderment has augmented beyond all speech.

* This poem was evidently composed to mark the end of Ramadan.

Ghazal No. 631 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by A.J. Arberry, "Mystical Poems of Rumi," 1968.


Dawn has arrived and drawn his polished blade, and from heaven
camphor-white morn has broken forth.

The Sufi of the skies has rent his blue robe and shawl deliberately
even to the navel.

After being routed, the Rumi of day having found the strength has
dragged the Zangi of night from the royal throne.

From that direction whence the Turk of joy and the Hindu of grief
arrived there is everlasting going and coming, and the way is not to be seen.

O Lord, whither has the army of the Abyssinian king fled? Whence
so suddenly has the army of the Caesar of Rum arrived?

Who can catch the scent of this invisible road wrapped in enigma? He
who has drunk or tasted of the wine of love pre-eternal.

Night is bewildered at who has blackened its face; day is bewildered
at who has created it so fair.

Earth is bewildered at how one half of it became grass, and the
other half grazing, and grazed upon that continually;

Half of it became eater and half for eating, half eager for purity
and the other half impure.

Night has died and come to life again; it is life after death. O
sorrow, slay me, for I am Husain and you are Yazid.

The pearl held auction, saying, "Who will buy this?" None had the
price, so the pearl bought itself from itself.

Saki, today we have all become your guests; every night through you
has become a Night of Power, every day a day of festival.

Give from your bowl the wine of they shall be given to drink of f
pure wine, for only new joy will cut away anxiety.

The heart-thirsty reprobates, when they drink wine to excess, when
they lose themselves, then they find that key.

You have taken up your station beside the vat of Unity along with
Noah and Lot and Karkhi and Shibli and Ba Yazid.

Be silent; for the spirit in joy is flapping its wings, so that that
draught has coursed into the head and veins of the spirit.

* For the Night of Power, see note On 43, line 5. 13. Koran 83:25.

Ghazal No. 879 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by A.J. Arberry, "Mystical Poems of Rumi," 1968.


The month of fasting has come, the emperorХs banner has arrived,
withhold your hand from food, the spiritХs table has arrived.

The soul has escaped from separation and bound natureХs hands;
the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has

The army of the snorting chargers has put its hand to plunder,
from the fire of the strikers of fire the soul is brought to lamentation

The Cow was goodly, Moses son of ФImran appeared; through him the
dead became living when it was sacrificed.

Fasting is as our sacrifice, it is the life of out soul; let us
sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest.

fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was
in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived.

When the carnal soul is in need, the spirit goes into Ascension;
when the gate of the prison is broken, the soul reaches the Beloved.

The heart has rent the curtain of darkness and winged up to the sky;
the heart, being of the angels, has again arrived at them

Quickly clutch the rope out of this bodyХs well; at the top of the
well of water cry, "Joseph of Canaan has arrived."

When Jesus escaped from the ass his prayers became accepted; wash
your hands, for the Table has arrived from heaven.

Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that
speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.

* A poem in time of Ramadan.

Ghazal No. 892 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by A.J. Arberry, "Mystical Poems of Rumi," 1968.


Night is broad and long for the sake of lovers and thieves; ho,
come, strumpet night, and do the business of both!

I steal carnelians and pearls from the sultanХs treasury, I am not
mean that I should steal the draperХs cloth.

Within the veil of the nights there are subtle thieves who by
cunning find a way to the roof of the house of mystery.

My ambition in night-faring and knavery is nothing less than the
kingХs treasury and the carnelian of that king of glory.

The cheek before whose onslaught night remains no more in the
world-brave lamp, which lights the sun and fashions the moon!

All the needs of men are granted on the Night of Power*,
for Power attained that exaltation from a full moon like you.

you are all, and beyond all what else is there, that it should enter
the imagination that anyone is your peer?

Ho, pass away from this; open wide your ears, for I am beginning a
tale entirely rare and strange.

Since you have not seen Messiah, give ear to the legend; fly like a
white falcon towards the falcon-drum.

Since you are a coin of red gold, receive the seal of the king;
if you are not red gold, then why all this snipping?

In the time when you became a treasure you did not realize that,
wherever a treasure is, the informer sets to work.

Bring your treasure, and play no tricks, for you will not escape by
vapouring and prostration and commemoration and abstinence and prayer.

Do you steal, and then sit in the corner of the mosque saying, "I am
the Junaid of the age, the Ba Yazid of supplication"?

Give back the cloth, then get on with your abstinence; do not make
feeble excuses and babble your tale.

Hush your pretexts, for in this station men do not purchase a
single grain by dissimulation and artful trickery.

Seize the skirt of felicity of Shams-i Tabrizi, that your perfection
may be embroidered from the magic of his sleeve.

* The Night of Power: a night in Ramadan on which the Koran was first revealed, when prayers are answered.

Ghazal No. 1201 from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi,
translated by A.J. Arberry, "Mystical Poems of Rumi," 1968.


There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.

If the soundboxes stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you run
up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.

Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink,
Satan sits where your spirit should,
an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.
When you fast, good habits gather
like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring.

Don’t give into some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast,
like soldiers appearing out of the ground,
pennants flying above them.

A table descends to your tents, Jesus’ table.
Expect to see it, when you fast,
this tablespread with other food,
better than the broth of cabbages.

Molana (Rumi), Ghazal No. 1739 from Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi