Event Honoring Rumi, Poet of Peace

News Story: October 4, 2007

A 13th century Persian poet, whose simple yet deep words continue to have relevance in the modern world, will be honored at Sacred Heart University on November 13th through literature, music and Sufi-dance. The event, An Evening with Rumi: Poet of Peace, will pay tribute to the poet, jurist and theologian.  The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts and is open to the public, free of charge. For tickets, call 203-371-7908.

The event will feature the University Choir singing Rumi poems, Columbia University Professor Hossein Kamali lecturing on Rumi and Islam, Allen Godlas, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia, lecturing on Rumi and Sufism , poetry readings in Persian and English, and musical performances by Hossein Behroozinia and Pejman Hadadi  members of Dastan Ensemble, a world-renowned group of classical Persian musicians. Sufi dances will be presented by Khadija Julia Goforth and her group of Whirling Dervishes.

Mowlana Jalal al-Din Mohammad Balkhi Rumi was born in 1207 in the ancient city of Balkh, in present day Afghanistan and in 1273 passed away in the city of Ghoonieh, in present day Turkey. Rumi after Shakespeare, is considered the most popular poet in the world. Sales of his poetry books are second only to the Christian Bible. He is the universal voice, said event director, Cima Sedigh, associate professor of Education.

After Rumi's death, his followers founded a religious order of Sufis referred to as the Whirling Dervishes. While entertaining, their form of dance is not intended for performance but rather for spiritual enlightenment, a physical means to try to attain religious ecstasy.  They are true practitioners of Sufism, a mystical Islamic tradition, Sedigh said.

Sedigh said she decided to organize the tribute to Rumi because 2007 marks the 800th anniversary of his birth, but more importantly because she wants his voice to be heard over the din of violence throughout the world.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of violence that I hear and that I see on the news. From the perspective of an educator, it is vital to educate students on peaceful options that we have to invest in and explore. We have to become skillful at solving conflicts through non-violent techniques and at how to promote peace, said Sedigh, who is of Persian descent.

Theres a sense that violence is a justifiable response even to violence when, in fact, the teaching in my tradition is that you answer violence with love; you love your enemies, you turn the other cheek,” said June-Ann Greeley, head of SHUs Middle Eastern Studies program.

Rumi is just this amazing voice of love and unity and tolerance and going beyond our differences. He has this wonderful line in one of his poems that says basically, I am not a Jew, I am not a Muslim, I am not a Christian, I ssm not a this, I am not a that, I am every man, I am a child of God. It's just this amazing language that is very simple and yet very deep, Greeley said.

Robin McAllister, associate professor of English said, Rumi's poetry is about the search for love in all its dimensions, human and divine.  It is both contemplative and passionate, something to think about, something to act out in our hearts.

Sedigh said the Rumi event will serve as an introduction to an Education for Peace unit and a course she will teach at SHU on peace education.