Anand Khrisna, Jun 10, 2008 | Jakarta Post
The`Tribute to Rumi: The Poet of Mystic, Love and Tolerance’ took place last Sunday in the beautiful garden complex of the Arma Museum in Ubud. This was one of many community programs that were offered by the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival this year.
This event marked the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth: a renowned Sufi Moslem poet during the 13th century. Rumi was also a jurist and a theologian whose message of love and tolerance is considered to have widespread influence across many ethnic borders and religions.
The event opened with a prayer from a Hindu priest, followed by an introduction to Rumi by Dr. Nasir Tamara, a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and organizer of the event.
“Rumi’s message to the world of love, tolerance and peace and the capacity of human beings to have empathy is still as relevant today as it was 800 years ago,” said Dr. Nasir Tamara.
Syed Farid Alatas, PhD, a Moslem scholar and Head of Department of Malay Studies at National University of Singapore read from Rumi’s most important work, Mastnawi, which was written in Farsi. Mastnawi is a lyrical poem which conveys powerful messages about life and love.
Iman Mersal, an accomplished poet from Egypt who is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, read two of her poems: Like This and An Egypt That Doesn’t Exist.
An interfaith dialogue ensued with other attendees such as fashion designer Poppy Darsono, Anand Krishna, a well-known spiritual leader in Indonesia, Bapak Merta, Head of the Bali Usada Meditasi Centre and the Ambassador of Singapore, K Kesavapany who gave an inspirational speech about Rumi saying:
“Rumi is so important in these troubled times, because his vision of human love and unity, his understanding of religion as a force that makes people trust in and work for peace, is a tremendous source of hope at a time when religious hatred, bigotry and intolerance have taken violent forms. Voices of love and tolerance such as Rumi’s help us fight intolerance and extremism.”
According to the Ambassador, Singapore is planning a conference next year called “Sufism and the anecdote to terrorism”.
Bapak Merta spoke about loving kindness saying:
“We talk about love, but if someone does something small to anger us, we forget our love. We have to train the muscle of our mind so we can make our love stronger.”
Irina Dunn, Executive Director of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre and author, read the English translation of Mastnawiwhich was followed by more discussion of Rumi’s approach to religion, which is through the heart.
“Out of all Rumi’s work, only 50 percent are known by the public,” said Nasir Tamara.
This is due to the fact that only 50 percent of Rumi’s works have been translated into European languages.
UNESCO has proclaimed 2007 as the `Year of Rumi’.
Jakarta Post – Sunday, October 07, 2007
Michele Cempaka, Ubud, Bali