Rumi On Reason

(adapted from his Fihi Ma Fihi )

M. Shahid Alam

Man seeks to know God, not because he is knowable;
not reasonably, but by reasoning he knows him.

When man accepted the trust, it was reason
he acquired, to say yes to his Creator.

Man is a moth, God a candle. When his wings
wrap around the candle’s flame,
why should they not burn –
and he perish in its fire?

A moth that shuns the candle’s flame
is not a moth. A candle that does not
draw the moth, that will not
burn it to ashes – is not a candle.

Man is not man if he denies God,
if he eviscerates his urge to know him.

A god that man can know is not
God, he is man’s alter ago.

— M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston, and author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave: 2000). Visit his website – – and write to him at

6 thoughts on “Rumi On Reason”

  1. Astonishing, thank you Alam

    Persians and Afghanis call Rumi ”Jelaluddin Balkhi.” He was born September 30, 1207, in Balkh, Afghnistan, which was then part of Persian empires.


    There once a sneering wife
    Who ate all husband brought home
    And lied about it.

    One day it was some lamb for the guest
    Who was to come. He had worked two hundred days
    In order to buy that meat.

    When he was away, his wife cooked a Kabob
    And ate it all, with wine.

    The husband returns with the guest.
    “The cat has eaten the meat,” she says.
    “Buy more, if you have any money left!”

    He asked the servant to bring the scale,
    And the cat. The cat weights three pounds.
    “The meat was three pounds and on ounce.
    If this is the cat, where is the meat?
    If this is the meat, where is the cat?
    Start looking for one or the other!”

    If you have a body, where is the sprit?
    If you’re spirit, what is the body?

    This is not our problem to worry about.
    Both are both. Corn is corn grain and cornstalk.
    The divine butcher cuts us a piece from the thigh,
    And a piece from the neck.

    Invisible, visible, the world
    Does not work with out the both.

    If you throw a dust at someone’s head,
    Nothing will happen.

    If you throw water, nothing.
    But combined them into a lump.

    That marriage,
    Water and dirt cracks open the head,
    And afterword there are other marriages.

    By Rumi

      1. • “All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”
        By Rumi

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