In his most recent work Rumi in India, Khaled Muhammad Abduh takes his interest in the life and works of Mevlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi (1207-1273) to a new level by studying the influence the latter had on Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. Immersed in Rumi’s world, Abduh uncovers layer after layer aspects of the great Muslim mystic that are unknown to the Arab reader. In fact, Abduh’s work constitutes one more milestone in Arabic scholarship on Rumi.
His two previous books On the Meaning of Being a Sufi, and Rumi between the East and West have established Abduh as a promising Egyptian scholar of Rumiology. In his works, Abduh defies the established academic notion of a limited Arabic scholarship on Rumi by documenting its history and development throughout the Arab world.
Rumi in India not only unravels ways Muslim Indians received Rumi’s works, but it describes how they transformed the life and modes of thought of influential Muslim Indian thinkers, such as Shibli al-Nu’mani (1857-1914), Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) and Abul-Hasan Ali al-Nadwi (1914-1999).
Abduh analyzes how Shibli al-Nu’mani introduced Rumi’s Mathnawi as a backbone of ‘ilm al-kalam or Islamic scholastic theology. By delving into the moral messages of the Mathnawi, Al-Nu’mani unearthed a non-esoteric reading of the extensive poem that Rumi described as “the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion of Islam in regard to unveiling the secrets of obtaining connection with God and spiritual certainty of the Truth”.
Abduh then tracks the spiritual guidance Muhammad Iqbal received from Rumi’s Mathnawi. Considering him as the “prince of the caravan of drunken Lovers”, Iqbal conveyed messages of Rumi in his own poetry.
Lastly, Abduh focuses on Abul-Hasan Ali al-Nadwi who views Rumi as a new mutakallim or a scholar of dialectical theology. Abduh wittily tracks how the orthodox al-Nadwi got inspired by Rumi as a mystic who revolutionized ‘ilm al-kalam. Al-Nadwi’s books on Rumi highlighted the aim of the Sufi path in Rumi’s experience as man’s sovereignty and realization by spiritual transcendence.
Rumi in India walks the reader through extracts from Al-Nadwi’s major works on Rumi. These extracts are of great importance as they represent an unexplored sample of how an orthodox Islamic scholar and leader of a revivalist movement interpreted the spiritual significance of a mystic master such as Rumi. This addition will definitely provide a new insight to Arab readers, which untangles the tensed relation between Sufism and orthodox Islam