Mevlana Celareddin-i Rumi, one of the greatest philosophers and poets in the Islamic world, was born in the city of Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan. Although his birthdate is usually given as 30 September 1207, recent research seems to point to a date of at least seven or eight years earlier. He was born the second son of Bahaeddin Veled, a scholar renowned in the region during the beginning of the 13th century. He received his earliest instruction from his father, whose scholarship and fame as a mystic had led to his being awarded the title 'lord of scholars' -Sultan'ul Ulema-and to his being in considerable demand as a teacher in the madrasas of Balkh, and extremely popular as a preacher in the mosques of the region.

According to the accounts of two dervishes of the period, Sipehsalar and Eflaki, who became Mevlana’s adepts, a disagreement arose between the scholar Bahaeddin and the learned men of Balkh. In the two separate accounts of these dervishes -the Menakibname -we read that the lord of scholars, disturbed by the divergence of opinions in Balkh, determined to migrate eastwards with his family, away from the city of Mevlana’s birth. In actual facts, his migration undoubtedly had much to do with the Mongol threat over Balkh and the region. The Mongos had by then reached the outskirts of the city, and the inhabitants scattered, along with other townspeople and village folk from the region, seeking refuge in Iran, Iraq, and Anatolia -‘ Diyar-i Rum’ (the Roman provinces). Bahaeddrn, taking into account the general attitude of the notables and even the Harzemshahs of Balkh, left the city under threat and joined a caravan for Nishapur.

One of the leading theosophists and poets of the day, Ferideddin Attar was, at the time, living in Nishapur, and it is said that Bahaeddin stayed with him for a few days, during which time, the Nishapuri scholar was impressed by the intelligence and knowledge of the child Mevlana, and presented him with a copy of his work, the Esrarname. From Nishapur, Veled and his family traveled to Baghdad, where he remained for a short time at the madrasa of the renowned Sufi, Seyh Sehabeddin Suhreverdi. He next traveled towards Kufa, intending to go from there to Mecca.

But when asked from where and to where he was traveling, the scholar wanted to reply: ”Whence and whither? We came from God, it is to God we return. Who has the power to divert us from this eternal, never-ending road? We come from a sphere without form or place, and it is to this sphere that we return…” Veled and his family finally arrived in Mecca, where they carried out the ritual’s attendant on the pilgrimage to the Kaaba and Holy Places, and traveled on to Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, and finally Aleppo. it was at this point in their wanderings that Veled is reputed to have said: ”God has inspired us to go to Anatolia. That country draws our caravan towards it …” and so saying, he arrived in Anatolia, stayed briefly at Malatya and Erzincan, went on to Sivas, Kayseri, and Nigde, arriving finally at Larende (Karaman). Bahaeddin Veled is thought to have arrived in Karaman in 1221, at the height of Anatolian Seljuk rule. The Seljuk state was ruled by Alaeddin Keykubad who, on the one hand, was engaged in extending the Seljuk territories westwards against Byzantion, and on the other in re-building the cities of Anatolia. On his arrival at Karaman, the local governor, Emir Musa, the renown of the scholar of Balkh, received him with all honors, establishing him in the madrasa he himself had built at Larende. Here, Veled remained for seven years and attracted a wide circle of students to his madrasa. In 1225, Mevlana married the daughter of his father’s adherent, Serafeddin Lala, Gevher Hatun, who bore him two children, first Sultan Veled and later Alaeddin Celebi. Meanwhile Mevlana’s mother, Mumine Hatun then his elder brother Muhammed Alaeddin died and were buried at Larende.


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