Sahar Esfandiari / Reclaiming Rumi: How Islam was erased from the Persian poet’s work

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Founded by researchers and translators Sharghzadeh and Zirrar, the Rumi Was Muslim platform seeks to rectify inaccurately translated and wrongfully attributed work relating to the 13th-century Persian poet Mowlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi.

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In recent years, Rumi has become a household name in the West, and work attributed to his name has received unparalleled recognition in popular culture. Rumi was even named the best-selling poet in the US in 2014.

Work attributed to the 13th-century Muslim scholar and poet is frequently quoted in the media by celebrities and public figures, such as Ivanka Trump. Even Drake is thought to be a big fan, while Beyonce named one of her daughters after him.

The issue with the mainstream circulation of the quotes attributed to Rumi is that they are often inaccurately translated from Persian and interpreted in a way which removes any trace of Rumi’s Islamic faith, as well as any cultural references to the Muslim world. 

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Sharghzadeh, a Detroit-based graduate of The University of Michigan and co-founder of Rumi Was Muslim told The New Arab that “many of Rumi’s most famous works have been translated from Western scholars to remove any mention of Islam, and often embedded with orientalist tropes.” 

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