بخش 67

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بخش 67

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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The Zealot

KONYA, FEBRUARY 1246

“Batten down the hatches! Sheikh Yassin! Sheikh Yassin! Did you hear the scandal?” Abdullah, the father of one of my students, exclaimed as he approached me on the street. “Rumi was seen in a tavern in the Jewish quarter yesterday!” “Yes, I heard about that,” I said, “but I wasn’t surprised. The man has a Christian wife, and his best friend is a heretic. What did you expect?”

Abdullah nodded gravely. “I guess you are right. We should have seen it coming.”

A number of passersby gathered around us, overhearing our conversation. Somebody suggested that Rumi should not be allowed to preach in the Great Mosque anymore. Not until he apologized publicly. I agreed. Being late for my class in the madrassa, I then left them to their talk and hurried off.

I had always suspected that Rumi had a dark side ready to float up to the surface someday. But even I hadn’t expected him to take to the bottle. It was utterly disgusting. People say Shams is the primary reason for the downfall of Rumi, and if he weren’t around, Rumi would go back to normal. But I hold a different view. Not that I doubt that Shams is an evil man—he is—or that he doesn’t have a bad influence on Rumi—he does—but the question is, why can’t Shams lead other scholars astray, such as me? At the end of the day, those two are alike in more ways than people are willing to recognize.

There are people who heard Shams remark, “A scholar lives on the marks of a pen. A Sufi loves and lives on footprints!” Now, what does that mean? Apparently Shams thinks scholars talk the talk and Sufis walk the walk. But Rumi, too, is a scholar, isn’t he? Or does he not consider himself one of us anymore?

Should Shams enter my classroom, I would chase him away like a fly, never giving him the opportunity to sputter gibberish in my presence. Why can’t Rumi do the same? There must be something wrong with him. The man has a Christian wife, for starters. I don’t care if she has converted to Islam. It is in her blood and in the blood of her child. Unfortunately, the townspeople don’t take the threat of Christianity as seriously as they should, and they assume that we can live side by side. To those who are naïve enough to believe that, I always say, “Can water and oil ever mix? That is the extent to which Muslims and Christians can!” Having a Christian for a wife and being notoriously soft toward minorities, Rumi was already an undependable man in my eyes, but when Shams of Tabriz started living under his roof, he totally deviated from the right path. As I tell my students every day, one needs to be alert against Sheitan. And Shams is the devil incarnate. I am sure it was his idea to send Rumi to the tavern. God knows how he convinced him. But isn’t beguiling righteous people into sacrilege what Sheitan excels at?

I understood Shams’s evil side right from the start. How dare he compare the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, with that irreligious Sufi Bistami? Wasn’t it Bistami who pronounced, “Look at me! How great is my glory!” Wasn’t it he who then said, “I saw the Kaaba walking around me”? The man went as far as stating, “I am the smith of my own self.” If this is not blasphemy, then what is? Such is the level of the man Shams quotes with respect. For just like Bistami, he, too, is a heretic.

The only good news is that the townspeople are waking up to the truth. Finally! Shams’s critics increase with each passing day. And the things they say! Even I am appalled sometimes. In the bathhouses and teahouses, in the wheat fields and orchards, people tear him apart.

I reached the madrassa later than usual, my mind heavy with these thoughts. As soon as I opened the door to my classroom, I sensed there was something unusual. My students were sitting in a perfect line, pale and oddly silent, as if they had all seen a ghost.

Then I understood why. Sitting there by the open window with his back resting against the wall, his hairless face lit with an arrogant smile, was none other than Shams of Tabriz.

“Selamun aleykum, Sheikh Yassin,” he said, staring hard at me across the room.

I hesitated, not knowing whether to greet him, and decided not to. Instead I turned to my students and inquired, “What is this man doing here? Why did you let him in?”

Dazed and uneasy, none of the students dared to answer. It was Shams himself who shattered the silence.

His tone insolent, his gaze unwavering, he said to me, “Don’t scold them, Sheikh Yassin. It was my idea. You see, I was in the neighborhood and said to myself, ‘Why don’t I stop by the madrassa and visit the one person in this town who hates me most?’ ”

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