Jall al-Dn Rm, also known as Mauln (our master), was born on or near September 30, 1207, in the city of Balkh (in modern northern Afghanistan). When he was five years old and shortly before the onset of the Mongol invasion, his father, who was a religious scholar of renown, left his native land in the company of his family and, traveling westward, finally settled in Konya, a city of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). After his father’s death, Rm succeeded him as a religious leader and scholar and soon gathered a large following.
The arrival in Konya of the wandering dervish Shams al-Dn of Tabrz was an event of radical consequence in Rm’s life. The details of the meeting between the two are rather sketchy and at times contradictory. The account that seems to be more reliable than others belongs to the chronicler Dowlatshhi and can be summarized as follows. One day, the peripatetic Shams—who, in search of a kindred soul, had arrived in Konya and had taken lodgings in the Caravansarai of Sugar Merchants—saw a man riding on a mule while his disciples followed him on foot. The man was Rm, who after the death of his father had become Konya’s most distinguished religious scholar, enjoying a large following. Walking up to him, Shams said, “Tell me, what is the purpose of all the discipline and study of books and recitation of knowledge?” “To know the religious laws and precepts, of course,” the scholar answered. “That is too superficial,” the Sage of Tabrz countered. Taken...
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