The Illumination of Rumi

Program 186 • 29 mins


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To the astonishment of publishers, Jalaluddin Rumi has become the best-selling poet in America. Rumi’s sensational popularity is notable not only because of its content—an intoxicated, rapturous love letter to the divine—but also because his mystical poems were written in Persian in the 13th century.

In this program, we hear Michael Green, a gifted artist and author (his images adorn this page), whose work has illustrated such best-selling books (with Coleman Barks) as The Illuminated Rumi and The Illuminated Prayer. Rumi was inspired by his encounter with Shams-e Tabrizi, a Sufi—a person of mystical presence who lived in communion with the essential source from which all religions take their inspiration. Rumi’s life was forever changed by the example and guidance of his teacher Shams and gave rise to some of the most stirring poetry ever written.

In 2019, Michael Green, Sally Green and collaborators published a new work on related themes, The Illuminated Hafiz: Love Poems for the Journey to Light.

Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Bawa Muhaiyadeen

Michael Green comes to Rumi through his own encounter with a 20th century Sufi, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a remarkable spiritual teacher who taught throughout the United States until his passing in 1986. Together with his son Kabir, a guitarist, and other musicians, Michael formed the Illumination Band, whose uplifting songs, based on Rumi poems, are also heard in this program.

The Illumination of Rumi with Michael GreenIf Rumi is who he appears to be, he’s in deep, deep contact with godhead, Great Mystery, being, knowledge, bliss, father, son, and the holy ghost—whatever. He’s up to his neck in grace. But longing is an important, crucial path for our time. You know, if you can’t meditate, if you can’t go to church, if you can’t go to prayers, at least you can long for it.”

—Michael Green, artist, “The Illuminated Rumi” and “The Illuminated Prayer”

Through Love all that is bitter will be sweet.
Through Love all this is copper will be gold.
Through Love all dregs will turn to purest wine.
Through Love all pain will turn to medicine.
Through Love the dead will all become alive.
Through Love the king will turn into a slave!”

—Jalaluddin Rumi, translated by Annemarie Schimmel


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