SHAYKH SALAH AL-DIN OF KONYA, THE ZARQUBI OR GOLDSMITH
Salah al-Din Faridun was born in a village near Konya. His father's name was Yagi Hasan. Since their village was at the shore of Lake Beys, ehir, the family made its living by fishing. Salah al-Din had come to Konya, learned the trade of goldsmith, opened a shop, and was making a living there. Salah al-Din who was a religious and virtuous person had devoted himself to Rumi's father's dear friend and deputy, Sayyid Burhan al-Din and had advanced considerably on the path of Sufism with his manners, sincerity, and devotion to worship until he reached the position of shaykh by becoming a deputy of his Shaykh Sayyid Burhan al-Din. His shaykh used to love this pure person, this lover of God very much. According to Aflaki's account, Sayyid Burhan al-Din said this about Salah al-Din Zarqubi: "I attained two great things from my shaykh, Sultan al-Ulama. One of them is articulate speaking, and the other is beautiful spiritual states. I gave articulate speaking to Mevlana Jalal al-Din because his spiritual states are very beautiful. I gave my spiritual states to Shaykh Salah al-Din because he has no spiritual states. “As a matter of tact, Salah al-Din was an illiterate but very pious devout, and luminous believer. He had given his heart to Jivine love and attained many spiritual states.
When his shaykh Sayyid Burhan al-Din went to Kayseri, Salah al-Din went back to his village, got married there, and had children. He came to Konya on a Friday to perform his Friday prayer at the Abu'l-Pazl Mosque. After the prayer, Rumi began to deliver his sermon, speaking very ardently and very beautifully. In that day's sermon Rumi talked about spiritual states, virtues, and the divine love of his shaykh Sayyid Burhan al-Din. As Salah al-Din, the goldsmith, listened carefully to Rumi, suddenly he saw his shaykh Sayyid Burhan al-Din in Rumi's person. It was as if Rumi had gone and Sayyid Burhan al-Din had come in his place, sat down, and was uttering these ardent, beautiful words. Salah al-Din could not control himself; he stood up and started screaming and running toward Rumi. He came under the place where Rumi was preaching and fell to Rumi's feet. This event happened after the passing away of Sayyid Burhan al-Din in 1239, and before Shams' coming to Konya in 1244.
Salah al-Din Zarqubi loved Rumi very much. He had a deep respect for him because both had received blessings from the same shaykh, Burhan al-Din Tirmidhi. Both were in the same Kubrawiyyah order. Both had effaced their selves in God. Rumi also loved shaykh Salah al-Din very much and used to do favors for him. But since Rumi was occupied with a stronger friend of heart, at first he did not show much interest in him. When he gave up hope of finding Shams, he turned to Salah al-Din with all his heart and attention. He chose him as his deputy and called on his friends and disciples to follow him. Since Rumi never confined himself to the terms and methods of other great Sufis in explaining the truth or in matters like educating the disciples, discipleship, and mastership, he also did not follow a strict set of rules. He said: "I don't know much. I am intoxicated with the glass of divine love. “Overwhelmed by divine love and ecstasy, he had no rime to concern himself with "this and that.”
Rumi did not occupy himself with people who wanted to join his order. After meeting Shams, he gave this duty to a mature shaykh from among his selected friends. When he gave the duty of spiritual leadership to Salah al-Din, he was doing the same thing. In this new friend of heart, the goldsmith shaykh, ` he saw the divine light of Shams and began viewing him as Shams. Sultan Valad tells us of Rimi's making Salah al-Din his friend of heart and companion as follows: "When he found the holy light and reflection of Shams in Salah al-Din, he said to his friends: 'From now on I have nothing to do with anybody anymore. I do not feel like being a shaykh anymore. From now on your shaykh is Salah al-Din. You all seek his pleasure and follow him. ' He called me and said to me: 'Behold Salah al-Din's face, he is Shams himself. Now you follow him, too. '" After writing these accounts in his Ibtidaname, Sultan Valad continued: "I accepted my father's order eagerly, and I followed Salah al-Din.” After seeing Shams' holy light in this old illiterate goldsmith, Rumi was very much attached to him. As Aflaki writes, Rumi used to say to those who loved him: "Don't talk of Shams in Salah al-Din's presence and don't talk of Salah al-Din in Husam al-Din's presence. There is no difference between them, but this is against good manners. Saints have Divine Jealousy. "
Salah al-Din's attachment to Rumi was also infinite. One day he told Rumi: "There were springs of light in me, and I wasn't aware of that. You discovered them and brought them flowing fiercely" As Sipehsalar writes, one day when Rumi was walking in front of Salah al-Din's goldsmith shop, from his regular and harmonic hammer strokes he became ecstatic and began whirling there. When Salah al-Din saw this he kept on hitting die gold without thinking that the gold under the hammer would be wasted. This encounter that Sipehsalar writes about, Aflaki relates with more detail: When Salah al-Din saw Rumi coming to his shop; he left the work to his apprentices and came out of the shop. When Rumi saw him, he embraced and kissed him and they started whirling together. But the old goldsmith Salah al-Din who was weakened by asceticism noticed that he couldn't whirl with Rumi. He excused himself and Rumi did not insist. Upon returning to his shop, Salah al-Din ordered his helpers to hit the gold not thinking of what is going to happen with the gold. This way Rumi whirled from noon until close to evening and while whirling he recited an ode beginning with the following couplet:
A treasure of meaning appeared to me in this goldsmith shop. What a luminous motive,
What a pleasant meaning, what beauty what beauty!
Those who were deprived of divine love, those who could not defeat their corporeal desires with worship and asceticism now envied Salah al-Din, the goldsmith, just as they had envied Shams because after Shams' disappearance, Rumi had selected this goldsmith as his companion and friend of God and asked them to recognize Salah al-Din as shaykh and to obey him. No book other than Sultan Valad's Ibtidaname could explain this situation better. Sultan Valad writes that the people of Konya who could not see his faith, divine love, and spiritual superiority decided to get rid of this virtuous goldsmith, Salah al-Din: "They all gathered in one place. They decided to eliminate Salah al-Din. They said: 'Let us prove our valiance. Let him not live. ‘They vowed for this and said: 'Whoever changes his word has no religion. '" One of them left their ranks with tricks. He brought the news to Rumi of what had happened and the decision that was reached. This news reached the ear of Salah al-Din, the light and lamp of the eye of all those who see the path of truth. When he heard this decision, he smiled meaningfully and said: "Those blind, those faithless, those rough people do not know anything of truth that even a piece of hay will not move without God's command. Who can attempt to kill me, shed my blood without God's permission?"
Just as Rumi was very much devoted to this friend of God and mirror of heart, his true disciples and sons also took him as a spiritual father, following him on the path to knowledge of God. As Sipehsalar writes, during a discourse when Rumi pro-nounced the word "khom" which means jug in Persian, as "khomb" one of the people present tried to correct Rumi. Rumi said: "Yes, I know that the correct form of this word is 'khom.’
But since Salah al-Din always pronounces this word as 'khomb, ' I also pronounce it like that, “silencing this pedant person.
Although Salah al-Din the goldsmith was an illiterate person who had never attended school, he was a great gnostic and a great saint. In fact, any person whom such a great lover of God as Rumi loves and makes his companion is definitely a great saint and a perfect human being. Every friend to whom he gives a place in his heart is also holy and perfect. To think of them otherwise and seek their mistakes are nothing but sheer blindness and injustice. Unfortunately, the people of Konya did not understand these friends of God. While Shaykh Salah al-Din was illiterate, he had taken blessings from Burhan al-Din Tirmidhi. Shams-i Tabrizi had also loved him. Sometimes one can find people to whom God grants the knowledge of beyond without having to read stacks of books or to study in schools for years. Sometimes knowledge, books, gnosis, and talents can give one arrogance and selfishness. Salah al-Din, the goldsmith, who never studied in a school but enjoyed the company of gnostics, was blessed with God's grace. From his humble shop a spiritual treasure appeared to Rumi, and from his heart that was not kneaded with scholastic knowledge sprung the source of the knowledge of the beyond. With God's help he became the shaykh of shaykhs, as Rumi addresses him in one of his letters: "Salah al-Din, shaykh of shaykhs, sultan of shaykhs, saint of God on earth, God's light among human beings, Sayyid Burhan al-Din's son of spirit and heart, the only deputy of Sayyid, the spirit of gnostics, blessed with the holy light of God, possessor of heart and people of heart, pole of the two worlds, safety of truth and religion. "
Shaykh Salah al-Din was a very soft spoken and cautious person. He was devoted whole-heartedly to worship and asceticism and was known as a person who would suppress and weaken himself. The fact that he received calmly the news that people wanted to kill him and was never afraid or anxious shows how worship and asceticism strengthened his will-power. Sultan Valad describes his caution and talent in guidance as follows: "Rumi's ardor calmed down with him. His guidance was of a different kind. His effect was more than anybody's. What was attained by saints in years was attained by him in a moment, in a breath. He would reveal secrets without tongue or lips. One would benefit from him without hearing a word or a sound as if he was talking to one's heart. His words would travel from heart to heart silently. "
When those who could not understand the spiritual greatness and state of Salah al-Din Zarqubi saw the love and respect Rumi showed the goldsmith at every occasion, they were ashamed of the gossip they were spreading and regretted their envy. Furthermore, since these adversaries were not attending the gatherings, they were already in despair. Finally they no longer could bear this burden, and they again reached a unanimous decision. Together they went to Shaykh Salah al-Din and Rumi and expressed their sorrow and regrets. They cried, pleaded, repented, and then they were forgiven. From that point onward, the gossip ceased and unrest ended. Now whirling ceremonies were arranged, and time was spent in love and joy Around this time Rumi arranged the marriage of his son, Sultan Valad, and Salah al-Din's daughter, Fatima Khatun. On the wedding day, Rumi was very happy. He whirled, reciting this poem:
May our wedding be blessed in the world. God has arranged this wedding and marriage for us in the most appropriate fashion. The spouses suit each other very well. Because of this wedding, with the favors of our Lord, hearts rejoiced, two souls became a couple, they got married.
Sorrows and pain have left the hearts. O beautiful girl who beautifies our city. In the name of God you are going as a beautiful bride. You, too, are about to become a groom to a beautiful lady. How nice is your departure from our village. How nice is your coming to us. How nicely you are flowing and streaming to our river. O our river, O friend looking for us.
Dance in the happiness of that king of the world, that king of ours who increases our livelihoods. O gnostics, O Sufis, whirl.
Some people are enraptured in joy like the sea, some pros-trate like the waves. Some fight like the swords, drinking the blood of all our limbs. Be quiet, be quiet, because tonight the kitchen of our beautiful and blessed king is opened. How amazing, our Beloved who is as sweet as a dessert is cooking us dessert.
Rumi was very happy to have his son married to the daughter of his companion and deputy, Salah al-Din. Sultan Valad writes that his father and Shaykh Salah al-Din lived in joy and happiness for ten years. The people of Konya benefited from both of them, but after ten years Shaykh Salah al-Din became ill and passed away on December 29, 1258.
Rumi was very much saddened by the physical death of his dear friend. He said farewell at his funeral along with all the notables of Konya. Rumi expressed his pain of separation:
O Beloved with whose separation the heavens and the earth are crying, my heart is breaking with your departure, the mind and the spirit are crying. There is nobody who could take your place. It is for this reason that this world as well as the other world are mourning for you.
The wings of Gabriel and other angels are blue and all prophets and saints are shedding tears for your passing away. In this mourning I came to a point where 1 can't utter any more words. Otherwise I would have shown the world how to cry. I would set an example in crying and wailing.
When you left the house of this world, the roof of happiness collapsed. Even happiness started to cry for those tested with separation and death. O great being in reality, you were hundreds of universes appearing as one person. Last night I saw that this universe and the other universes were crying for you.
When you fell out of sight, the eye followed you and went after you. This way the spirit became without eye and began to spill blood.
If you wanted me to cry, I would pour tears like rain. But it is better for my heart to cry secretly, spilling blood. One should not cry for you, but one should shed sacks of tears over your separation, melt with blood at every moment, wail at every breath. What a pity, what a pity that these eyes are crying for those eyes that were seeing everything clearly with holy light and faith.
O Shah Salah al-Din! O fast flying bird of happiness! You left just as the arrow leaves the bow. Now the bow, too, is crying for you.
Nobody can cry enough for a superior personality as Salah al-Din. Only one who knows how to cry for human beings knows what that crying is. How would everybody know that crying?
My dear readers please pay attention to these feelings bursting with deep meaning, to this pain and this subtleness coming from a holy heart filled with love and faith. Can you feel the burning in this sincere wail coming from seven centuries before our time? In this elegy, under each word, we find Rumi's tears and hear his laments. When Salah al-Din felt that the time of his passing was nearing, as his last request, he said, "Don't ever cry for me. That day is my happiest day, because that day I am being reunited with my Beloved. Carry my coffin in a joyful manner, playing drums, tambourines, and clapping your hands. Take me to my grave whirling. "37 Therefore, Rumi says in the above elegy: "If you wanted me to cry, I would pour tears like rain. But it is better for my heart to cry secretly by spilling blood. " He recited these words and did not cry openly, but for his dear friend, he made the heavens cry, he made the earth cry, he made the worlds cry, and he made angels, prophets, and saints cry.
Rumi carried out the last will and testament of his friend of heart and companion completely. Drums, tambourines, and beautiful voices singing hymns accompanied the funeral procession of Shaykh Salah al-Din. As the coffin was being carried with great joy, Rumi whirled with his head uncovered. Shaykh Salah al-Din was buried next to Sultan al-Ulama. It was the first day of the month of Muharram of the Hegira year 657, which corresponds to 1258.
That drums were played, hymns sung, and people whirled at a gnostic shaykh's funeral, one who was very devoted to asceticism, ate little, slept little, prayed all night until the morning, and who followed the sunna very closely, and according to his very own will, once again surprised the people of Konya. They did not approve of Rumi's whirling while the coffin was carried. Those who were devoted excessively to law were very angry and critical about this. Those who understood Islamic law as more than mere compliance with its tangible aspects did not think that either Rumi or Shaykh Salah al-Din were not deviating from the law even as much as a hair's thickness. They knew that Salah al-Din the goldsmith was very ascetic, taking utmost care to follow the most subtle aspects of the law. In fact, during a very cold win-ter in Konya, Salah al-Din's only robe had been washed and spread on the roof to dry. The robe not only failed to dry but it also froze. At that moment, the call to the Friday prayer was made. Without hesitation, his holiness put on the wet robe and went to the Friday prayer. Some people from the congregation who noticed this situation asked him, "O Shaykh, wouldn't you get sick by wearing this robe?" Shaykh Salah al-Din replied to them, "To carry out God's commandment is more important than my getting sick.”
Rumi continued to show his devotion to the goldsmith, both during his life and afterward. He not only took care of him but also his family. In fact, Salah al-Din's daughter, Fatima Khatun, learned how to read, write, and recite the Qur'an. When some occasional arguments and fights typical of all families occurred between Fatima Khatun and her husband Sultan Valad, Rumi would console Fatima Kharun and tell his son not to hurt his wife and to be nice to her. Rumi also shows his devotion to his second dear friend through his poetry; seventy-one odes in the name of Salah al-Din the goldsmith can be found in the Divan-i Kabir. Rumi used to visit Shaykh Salah al-Din everyday during his long illness, and he would lift his spirit. Shaykh Salah al-Din had grown tired of this long illness, wanted to reunite with God, and requested Rumi's permission and prayers for his departuret Upon this, Rumi did not go to visit him for the next three days. However, he could not help but write this letter to the beloved Salah al-Din:
Possessor of heart, possessor of possessors of hearts, blessed and superior man in this world and the Hereafter, Shaykh Salah al-Din, with this letter I declare that I never forgot you and I always remember you. May God give you health and welfare. Because the health and welfare of all believers depend on your health.
O walking cypress! May the autumn wind not touch you. O pupil of the world! May an evil eye not target you. O holy being, the spirit of the earth and the heavens! May nothing but the mercy and comfort of God reach you.
Please turn your attention to the feelings, love, respect, and wishes in this letter and prayer for an ill person.
Before ending this section I would like to add this: In his nature, Shaykh Salah al-Din was a patient and quiet person who appreciated silence rather than to talk. Therefore, Rumi found a certain amount of peace in his spiritual friendship with him. The fireplace of love that was burning with divine love did not go out but was covered with ashes. Skin formed over the wound caused by the separation from Shams. This was a transient state and a temporary calm because Rumi was by nature not the kind of person to stay in a place or remain in a state for too long. He always was in need of advancing, always ascending, always burning, and always being burned in the love of God. In fact, he separated neither from father nor from Sayyid Burhan al-Din nor from Salah al-Din. For a limited time he was burnt with their love and took from them what he was to take, and then finding them in him, his blessed heart, he continued his journey with them. All of these great personalities remained as a stage of education, training, manners, morals, love, and faith in Rumi's life. It was as if God had created all these distinguished people for Rumi to grow spiritually because if Rumi had not honored these famous people, he would not be so eminent himself.
Rumi continued to progress on the path of God, the path of truth, with the beloved that he put in his heart as a servant of the Qur'an and a lover of Muhammad Mukhtar and he did not remain at any place. His ultimate purpose was not mortal friends. His aim was to be with true friends who loved God, in order to attain the True Friend, Friend of Friends. This great saint whose heart was filled with the love of friend, love of humanity, and love of God has been a torch of faith, a torch of love, not only for the faithful in his day but for all believers and people who love God in the many, many centuries to come.