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One of the world’s earliest, most influential philosophers, Rumi, has often been called the “father of modern Islam.” However, Rumi did more than just live in the Islamic world. In his classic poem, “Ramadan to the North,” he uses his knowledge of the life of the Prophet of Islam to write his most profound thoughts about life in a modern, secular society.
In this essay, we will take the first few verses of “Ramadan to the North” and translate them into English. As you will see, they show the deep connection between the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet of Islam that is not often fully acknowledged.
In this commentary, we use Rumi’s poem to examine the meaning of life in a modern liberal society and how it differs from religion. For example, does religion have a more positive impact on life in a liberal society that can be seen in many social ills? We will also look at the paradoxical effects of religious practice and the impact of religion on politics and culture in modern society. In addition, we will discuss Rumi’s poem in our series, “Travelling the Middle East: The World of Islam and Literature.”
In a nutshell, “Ramadan to the North” takes us in the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad to the time after the death of the Prophet, the last member of the first generation of believers known as the Ansar (a tribe of Muslims).
In this poem, the Prophet Muhammad makes frequent references to a future “last times” and to his final will and testament. We will also examine how the Prophet of Islam’s own death shaped his thought on the subject of living an authentic Muslim life. We will look for the significance of life in that time period in the context of his “modern” life and society.
“Ramadan to the North” was originally written in his native Arabic. In the poem, Rumi uses the Islamic phrase “Rumian” or “Rumi of the North.” We will therefore translate the poem, “Tramayati, darab wa zari wa bishr hamida” or “Ramadan, we turn to the North” into English.
This poem expresses the Prophet’s concern for the future of Islam in a society that was far less tolerant than the
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