Jalal al-Din Mohammad ibn Mohammad ibn Mohammad ibn Husain al-Rumi was born in 604 A.H. (1207/8 A.D.) at Balkh (now Afghanistan). His father Baha al-Din was a renowned religious scholar. Under his patronage, Rumi received his early education from Syed Burhan-al-Din.
When his age was about 18 years, the family (after several migrations) finally settled at Konya and at the age of 25, Rumi was sent to Aleppo for advanced education and later to Damascus. Rumi continued with his education till he was 40 years old, although on his father's death Rumi succeeded him as a professor in the famous Madrasah at Konya at the age of about 24 years. He received his mystical training first at the hands of Syed Burhan al-Din and later he was trained by Shams al-Din Tabriz. He became famous for his mystical insight, his religious knowledge and as a Persian poet. He used to teach a large number of pupils at his Madrasah and also founded the famous Maulvi Order in Tasawwuf. He died in 672 A.H. (1273 A.D.) at Konya, which subsequently became a sacred place for dancing derveshes of the Maulvi Order.
His major contribution lies in Islamic philosophy and Tasawwuf. This was embodied largely in poetry, especially through his famous Mathnawi. This book, the largest mystical exposition in verse, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, etc. Fundamentally, the Mathnawi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship with the worldly life.
For this, Rumi draws on a variety of subjects and derives numerous examples from everyday life. His main subject is the relationship between man and God on the one hand, and between man and man, on the other. He apparently believed in Pantheism and portrayed the various stages of man's evolution in his journey towards the Ultimate.
Apart from the Mathnawi, he also wrote his Diwan (collection of poems) and Fihi-Ma-Fih (a collection of mystical sayings). However, it is the Mathnawi itself that has largely transmitted Rumi's message. Soon after its completion, other scholars started writing detailed commentaries on it, in order to interpret its rich propositions on Tasawwuf, metaphysics and ethics. Several commentaries in different languages have been written since then.
His impact on philosophy, literature, mysticism and culture, has been so deep throughout Central Asia and most Islamic countries that almost all religious scholars, mystics, philosophers, sociologists and others have referred to his verses during all these centuries since his death. Most difficult problems in these areas seem to get simplified in the light of his references.
His message seems to have inspired most of the intellectuals in Central Asia and adjoining areas since his time, and scholars like Iqbal have further developed Rumi's concepts. The Mathnawi became known as the interpretation of the Qur'an in the Pahlavi language. He is one of the few intellectuals and mystics whose views have so profoundly affected the world-view in its higher perspective in large parts of the Islamic World.