Who was Shams -al- Tabrizi?
Well, if you search the NET to find information on Shams you will be disappointed because there isn’t much information available on him neither is there a Wikipedia page on him. His entire existence is encapsulated in being once the teacher and companion of Rumi, the famous Sufi mystic and poet.
Below, you can read about him in terms of his relationship with Rumi.
There are many legends describing the meeting of Shams al Tabrizi and Rumi in Konya.
Rumi’s meeting with Shams-al Tabrizi turned him literally upside down , after the mystical shock he experienced in his first encounter with a man gifted with such extraordinary esoteric powers
Shams was the spark that ignited the fire of divine longing within Rumi, awakening the passion of the soul, such that Rumi said of his life “I burnt, and burnt and burnt.” His time with Shams transformed him, and the love that was awakened still speaks to us now, so many centuries later.
It is known that though Rumi attained an excellent and honourable position among his peers, there was within him a sense of disquiet, of unfulfillment, of incompleteness, a thirst, a craving, a yearning, a desperate longing for the unknown domain of the Most High. He knew he could not do it alone. He was in need of a spiritual Guide who can guide him .As a result, we read that when Rumi and Shams first met, they were so enthralled with each other that they spent several months secluded together in the prayer-retreat cell.
In this particular Sufi path, the disciple tends to cultivate a kind of love for the spiritual Master within the heart, visualizes the Master in the heart or crave to be in his presence frequently. This practice is said to lead to very deep mystical experiences.
Rumi seems indeed to have been in this type of “passing away in the spiritual presence of the Master (fana fil-shaykh). He wrote thousands of verses expressing his spiritual love for Shams in his Divan. It is also said that in this path that if this closeness with the spiritual master (Shaykh) continues for too long, it becomes a barrier to “annihilation in God” (fanâ fî ‘llâh) And Shams suggested to Rumi that he might have to go away in order for him to progress further. After Shams disappeared permanently, and after Rumi recovered from his loss, it is said that Rumi found Shams in his own heart. And in his last years, Rumi composed thousands of couplets (The Mathnawi) in which he describes many unitive mystical experiences.
This is very much like “annihilation in God” after “annihilation in the Spiritual Guide.” The “death” of the ego is central to the mystical path, this “death” reveals the essential union of lover and Beloved.
It would be necessary to understand here that in Sufi poetry, the word “lover” means being “ a lover of God “and in Sufism the mystic seeker is considered as the lover and God as the Beloved.
Fana is ” annihilation “ The sufis say that you need a spiritual guide on the mystical path. The guide or master is someone who is surrendered to God and is able to help the wayfarer make the transition from the ego to the Self. In surrendering to the teacher, fana fi Shaikh, the disciple learns to surrender to God.
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If you want to learn more about Shams, there is a wonderful autobiographical book called Me and Rumi by Wiliam C. Chittick – see more here (click)