Listen: Commentary on the Spiritual Couplets of Mevlana Rumi
Rumi’s six-volume Masnavi is recognized as a classic of the mystical epic, which employs narratives in verse form to convey the terms of spiritual experience. Due to its complexity and the layers of symbolism, the Masnavi has typically been read through the medium of a commentary.
In this commentary of the Masnavi, Kenan Rifai (1867-1950) clarifies the narrative line, comments on symbolic implications, and connects Rumi’s verse to passages from the Quran, the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, and the sayings and poems of Sufi masters in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. It is this rich multilingual texture that gives Kenan Rifai’s commentary its particular flavor. His explanation conveys the multiple levels of reference and allusion that were typically brought to bear in study circles where Rumi’s verses were recited and discussed. There is a certain informality in the style of Kenan Rifai’s commentary that distinguishes it from the more scholastic approach of its predecessors.