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Sufi poet, Rumi. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
  • Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī popularly known as “Rumi” was a Persian poet of the 13th
  • Turkey and Iran continue to fight for the honour of being the birthplace of Rumi
  • UNESCO had emphasised on the fact that Rumi is a gift to the world and confining him within the boundaries would be disrespectful towards him

Tehran and Ankara have requested UNESCO to name the collection of Rumi’s works previously archived as “Memory of the World” as their joint property. But the Afghan government refused to heed their claim regarding the 25,600 verses of the Sufi poet which are the most influential works of Persian literature. According to them, they should have the first rights over the works of Rumi.


Rumi’s most influential work in Persian.Image Courtesy : en.wikipedia.org


As Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan continue to bicker over the issue of Rumi’s place of origin, scholars believe that Rumi was born in Balkh, Afghanistan and then had fled to Turkey when Genghis Khan and his troops had attacked Afghanistan. “He is considered an important part of the culture and identity of Afghanistan,” writer and poet Sadiq Usyan, a professor at the Balkh university in nearby provincial capital Mazar-i-Sharif, told AFP. To accede to it without mentioning Afghanistan would be unacceptable, said the director of Balkh’s provincial cultural department, Salih Mohammad Khaleeq to The Hindu.

Recently, there were rumours about Hollywood wanting to film a biopic on Rumi and that Leonardo Di Caprio was going to play him. This outraged the world and there were crude comments on the topic of “whitewashing” tendency of Hollywood. Twitter users were enraged beyond belief and the hashtag “RumiWasntWhite” was rapidly trending.


The remains of Rumi’s ancestral house in Balkh, Afghanistan. Image Courtesy : www.thepeninsulaqatar.com

However, Khaleeq opined that the film would provide them with an opportunity to appeal to the tourists and urge them to visit the birthplace of Rumi. The portrait of Rumi stands widely visible in Balkh. But his ancestral house has been the prey for numerous weather hazards and is barely standing.

President Ashraf Ghani, who in mid-June hosted Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, has been carefully diplomatic, with a statement saying Rumi is “a shared pride of the two countries”, as The Hindu mentioned in their issue of 30 June, 2016.

A statue of Rumi in Turkey. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

In spite of their tiff, the three countries of Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran, came forward to commemorate the 800th birth anniversary of Rumi in an event organised by UNESCO in 2007.


A portrait of Rumi overlooking the street in Afghanistan. Image Courtesy : www.thehindu.com

If Rumi could see the world fighting over him, he would have said:

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing
and right-doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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