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Editorial (Issue 47)
Apr 1, 2004

For years his poetry has been at the top of the bestsellers list. His audience span now covers not only North America, but also the entire world. Special groups of his admirers have formed for poetry readings, séances of Sufi practices, and gatherings where participants engage in a spiritual search for the truth.

Rumi, as he is most commonly known in the West, or “Mevlana” in the East, is the spiritual guide for seekers of the truth, even after seven centuries; in fact his work is more illuminating now as he is better known by modern society.

Is he truly understood, though; do his admirers really know enough about him? Is it only the phrases “intoxication” or “burning with love,” used metaphorically by Rumi, that are extracted from his poetry, or is his exceptional and mysterious character understood by those who read him? Whatever the answer, Rumi’s message is for everyone; it reaches down through the centuries.

We have dedicated the current issue to Rumi, whom, we think, is not well enough known or appreciated, either in the West or in the East. Today, whirling dervishes perform the sema, the ceremony of the Mevlevi order, in different states and countries, creating a marvelous spiritual atmosphere. For some Rumi is a spiritual guru and the founder of this order. For others he is a prolific poet addressing their innermost feelings. So, who was Rumi? Who is Rumi? How does his message still enlighten minds, and how do hearts find comfort through his words? Where did he acquire this inspiration?

Rumi’s understanding of love for God and all creation is represented today by many individuals. Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance is the most recent book by one of those representatives, M. Fethullah Gulen, a leading Islamic scholar and spiritual guide. In our book review section, the foreword written for this book by Thomas Michel, the interfaith dialogue secretary for the Vatican, describes the mission of the book through his encounters with the admirers of Gulen. The book is a comprehensive chronicle that enables us to attain a first-hand perception about Gulen and his outstanding thoughts on issues like love and mercy, Sufism, jihad, terrorism, human rights, and education.

Rumi, Gulen, and many others take the divine revelation and the example of the prophets as the basis of their thoughts. The twentieth century, however, championed the human mind over everything else and simply overlooked the importance of the revelation. Does the revelation exclude the human mind, or is it a dogmatic web of religious teachings and practices? Do the solutions that the human mind has offered solve all our problems and make us happier? This extremely important topic is also examined in this month’s issue.

As modern day people, the more we tend to work the more we internalize. We are becoming lonelier while we grow much less integrated with all the others around us. The world has now become smaller; it is an “online” world. Time and distances have become shorter. We seem to be together, yet somehow we are alone and separated. Under these circumstances, “the other” constitutes the greatest danger for us all; not only individuals, but also nations, and even continents become divided into “us” and “the other.” Human beings are afraid of what they do not know. Isn’t it time to start getting to know one other better? Now is the time to do this; we have every means God has given us through technology. This is how we will eliminate enmity and hatred in the world. In the article “The Question of Lifestyle in Interfaith Relationships” the first steps in this direction have been examined; we hope that the progress made in this area will continue.