Thursday May 24, 2018

Rumi & Shams: Bonded in words and beyond

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By Akash Shukla

The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

Also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎‎) is popularly celebrated by the world as Rumi. A 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, jurist, and Sufi mystic, Rumi’s influence scales national borders and jumps ethnic divisions. TajiksTurksGreeks, IraniansPashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have hugely appreciated his spiritual legacy for seven centuries.

An Iranian Muslim Shams-i-Tabrīzī (Persian: شمس تبریزی‎‎) is celebrated as the spiritual instructor of Rūmī. He is remembered with great reverence in Rumi’s poetic collection in particular Diwan-i Shams-i-Tabrīzī (The Works of Shams of Tabriz).

The tale and tradition unfolds that Shams taught Rumi in seclusion in Konya for 40 days before fleeing for Damascus.

The tomb of Shams-i-Tabrīzī was recently nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Described as the ‘most popular poet’ and the ‘best selling poet’ in the United States, Rumi’s poems have been translated into several languages of the world and transposed into various formats.

Rumi & Shams: The tale untold

Meeting of Rumi and Shams was one of the grandest events that the planet ever saw. With their bond in deep friendship, categories of teacher and student, lover and beloved, master and disciple stood dissolved.

Rumi was born in the remote town of Balkh and this place is now in Afghanistan. He spent most of his life in Konya, Turkey. In the 13th century, it was a meeting point for many cultures at the Western edge of Silk Road. This was a place where Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and even Buddhist travelers mingled.

At the age of 37, Rumi became an accomplished doctor of theology. He was a venusian lover of the beautiful and the good, an artist and a scholar.

There was a wandering dervish monk, rough-hewn and sinewy. Known as a street bodhisattva who mingled with laborers and camel drivers, people called him Shams.

He attracted glamour in all spontaneity but when he did, he always slipped out of side doors. Many-a-time he left town. Shams never wanted followers or fame. Somewhere, he wanted to find one person vast enough in spirit to be his companion and then in the trail of his thought, he met Rumi in Konya.

One fine day, Rumi was riding a donkey through the marketplace. While he was besieged by many disciples, a stranger with drilling eyes stepped from a doorway and seized his bridle and challenged him: “Who is greater, Muhammad or Bestami?”

Given to the ecstatic communion with God, legendary Sufi master Bestami who cried out with mystic candor that he and the Supreme were one; while Muhammad was the founder of their tradition, the anointed one, but his greatness was lodged in his stature as messenger of God.

So, who was greater?

Rumi gave the approved answer, “Muhammad.”

On Shams’ counterview, Rumi reached on the verge to reply but he realized that this was no seminary debate about the mysteries.

In a not-so-impressive and nothing out-of-the-ordinary marketplace in south central Anatolia, he came face to face with the mystery. A doorway to eternity opened and in one pure outrageous act of faith, Rumi drove through. In an instant of mystical annihilation, fire met fire, ocean met ocean, and Rumi fell into pure being.

Rumi said, “What I once thought of as God I met today as a human being.”

The material world records and remembers this incident as Rumi tumbling from his saddle after the question and faints.

Lying on the ground when Rumi managed to regain consciousness, he answered, “Bestami took one swallow of knowledge and thought that was all. But for Muhammad, the majesty was continually unfolding.”

Shams not only gauged but also felt the depth of the answer and this was the one he had sought.

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

The two began a series of months-long retreats into solitude where they entered into a deep communion of words and silences called sohbet. Who can say what transpired there? We can only guess that Rumi endured the refining fires of a deep spiritual purification.

But some of Rumi’s pupils witnessed their beloved teacher being strayed by ‘madman Shams’; their intrigue forced Shams to leave Konya.

Shams went into exile several times, but he always returned at Rumi’s behest. But on December 5, 1247, fanatics killed Shams and the body went missing. Rumi wandered for months in great pain and one day in Damascus, he realized there was no longer a need to search; Shams was ‘with him’ and ‘in him’.

With this final illumination, he began singing the spontaneous poetry of such beauty and perfection that is now loved and revered across the world as revelation.

When Rumi died, he was mourned by Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. While he underwent his spiritual entourage within the Islamic Sufism pattern, his whole life witnessed unrestricted universality of Heart.

I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
more

All of this poetry can be heard as Rumi’s continuing conversation, an exploration of what it is to be together in God and with God.
So now listen with what Rumi called ‘The ear in the center of the chest’.

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4 Christian Movies on Netflix That Teach You History

In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies.

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Christian movies get a bad rap
Movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature.

Christian movies get a bad rap. Many people avoid watching them under the assumption that they are a personal soap box for the directors or writers to showcase their faith in God. While you can easily make this case for a certain number of them, movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature. In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies. Either way, while they are not full on historical renditions, they can teach you a lot about that historical era. Without further ado, here are four Christian movies on Netflix that teach you history.

Joseph & Mary (2016)

Joseph & Mary is a historical biblical drama that follows the journey of Elijah, a devout rabbi, who swears revenge upon King Herod the Great, who slaughtered hundreds of innocents, including his two child proteges. Elijah’s quest for revenge gets a lot more complicated when he starts spending time with Joseph, Mary,and their young Son, who challenge the very beliefs that fuel his rage.

Starring Kevin Sorbo as Joseph – which you might remember from the light-hearted Tv Show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda –, and Lara Jean Chorostecki – of Hannibal and Designated Survivor fame -, the film, due to its heavy subject matter, might not be an easy watch for everybody.

However, history buffs will surely appreciate the care and detail that the writers and producers put into the décor, costumes,and script, as it feel very authentic from a historical standpoint. If you are interested to see more Christian movies that are historically accurate, make sure to check out this article on Netflix Guides, a website frequently updated with well-written guides and reviews.

Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)

Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated biblical musical drama.  Serving as a prequel to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the plot itself is an adaptation of the story of Joseph from the Book Of Genesis in the Bible. Not many people might think to get their history lessons from an animated musical, you will soon find out that Joseph: King of Dreams will shatter this perception. While the film does take some artistic liberties when it comes to historical facts, the animators made a great job of reconstructing the spirit and atmosphere of the era.

Featuring a stellar cast that includes Ben Affleck, Richard Herd (Get Out, Star Trek: Renegades) andMark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, and many other voice roles in animated shows and video games), King of Dreams is a great Christian film that will charm you with its smart direction, good music and enticing story.

The Book of Esther (2013)

Released in 2013, the film follows the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who is handpicked as the new queen consort to King Xerxes I of Persia. The story centers around Esther’s efforts to stop Lord Haman from exterminating her people. The film does take some artistic licenses from the Biblical account, but the main actress’ good performance compensates for any of the film’s shortcomings. If you are looking for an intrigue film with a historical Christian twist, then do not hesitate to try out The Book of Esther.

 Son of God (2014)

Christian movies get a bad rap
Christian Movies are worth watching.

Son of God is a direct adaptation of the ten-hour miniseries The Bible, which aired on the History channel throughout March 2013. Starring DiogoMorgado as Jesus Christ, Darwin Shaw as Saint Simon Peter, Sebastian Knapp as Saint John and Roma Downey as Mary, amongst others, the film is a retelling of the Biblical Story of Jesus, from his birthright until his crucifixion and ascended into Heaven.

Beyond Bofors: Beyond Bofors: An Untold Story Of India’s First Family

The story itself is seen through the eyes of an elderly John, one of Jesus’ most faithful followers, who is living in exile after being the sole survivor of the group. While the film does contain some recycled scenes from the miniseries (probably because they are produced by the same person, Mark Burnett, or simply due to budget constraints), Son of God stands on its own and is worth a view even if you have already seen the TV show. DiogoMorgado deserves special praise for his stellar acting, which is arguably one of the best interpretations of Jesus Christ after Jim Caviezel’s performance in The Passion of the Christ.

Conclusion

Many people tend to avoid watching Christian movies believing that they are either poor quality or too preachy. But in reality, only a small fraction of them are like this – most of them are quite balanced and made in such a way that even people who are not particularly religious can enjoy them. The movies that we have showcased in this write up, with their good casts and direction, appeal both to Christians, and people who enjoy good historical dramas. If you are looking for Christian movies but are unsure what to choose, do not hesitate to give these titles a try.