On a disputed question in a story by Mawlana Jalaladdin al-Rumi
On a disputed question in a story by Mawlana Jalaladdin al-Rumi
In Mesnevi, the famous work of Mawlana Jalaladdin al–Rumi (d. 1273) there are pages of Koran, maxims, anecdotes of Enbiya, legends of Saints also some stories and short articles all of which are shared materials of classic East literature. Mawlana touches lots of points in these stories and motives. Sometimes he explains his theosophical, religious, philosophical, moral, pedagogical views, and opinions symbolically with a story by itself and sometimes with allegories making use of allusions which are one or a few versed motives and with allegories about resemblances and man-animal, internal-external relations.1 In addition, some stories in Mesnevi are about Jesus Christ and Christians.
The first story of Mawlana about Christians is the story of Jewish Emperor who killed Christians for fanaticism. This story is Mesnevi”s third story of the first volume. This story between 321-739 verses is shortly like that:
Once, there was a cruel Jewish emperor who was killing the Christians and torturing them. Whatever this Jewish emperor did, how many did he kill, he could not intervene the Christianity”s spreading over. Thereupon, the trickster vizier of this emperor told him that he could not get rid of this religion by killing the Christians, but by corrupting their faith. Then they made a plan about how the corruption would occur. According to this plan, the emperor would both torture the vizier and let cut his hands and feet. Just at the time of hanging him, he would forgive the vizier and exile him to a distant region. When the vizier was exiled, he would tell that the reason of these torture was his being Christian, so he would gain the Christians” trust. The plan was applied, the vizier was sent to a distant region hands and arms cut.
The Christians began to visit the vizier who was sermoning about their religion. When the vizier properly gains their trust after six years, he stayed in a private room which is a sign of practicing religious seclusions for forty days. He invited, in turn, the misters of the Christians who were divided into twelve tribes after these forty days. The vizier told each one that the leader of the Christians would be him, but they should not appear before his death. Then they gave each mister a roll. The information in each roll was just the opposite of the other. It was said “to fast” in one of them and in another one “not to fast”. After some time the vizier killed himself, then the misters of the Christians began to fight. During these fights their religion differentiates from each other. In this way, the emperor could not get rid of the Christianity but he succeeded to corrupt it.
1- Who is the vizier according to Mesnevi commentaries?
Mesnevi has been translated and commented on so many times from the period it was written.2 In these commentaries, while some does not comment on the vizier”s identity, some does. The first translators and commentators of Mesnevi, Mûini (d. 1436)3, Sarı Abdullah Efendi (d. 1661)4, Ankaravi İsmail Efendi (d. 1631)5, Şifai Mehmed Dede (d. 1671)6, Şeyh Murad-i Buhari (d. 1848)7, Tahirü”l- Mevlevi (d. 1951)8 and Mehmed Muhlis Koner (d. 1957)9 do not make any comment about the vizier”s identity. Abdulmecid-i Sivasî (d. 1639)10, Abidin Paşa (d. 1848)11, and Kenan Rifai (d. 1950)12 are contented with saying that the vizier is a trickster, receptive and double faced one. They do not comment on the identity of him, yet they wanted the readers to think about him as the most trickster and swindler one that they have ever seen.
In his detailed commentary named Mesnevi-i Şerif Şerhi (Sacred Commentary of Mesnevi) Ahmet Avni Konuk (d. 1938) indicates that; the Emperor should be Celil who is one of the Jewish king Herold”s son and the “knave Jewish vizier” should be then his vizier. He points out that this issue is a detail and that is why it is not given importance by the historians.13 He includes two paragraphs of data taken from Ahmet Mithat Efendi”s work named “Mudafaa” without any comment whether Pavlus is the vizier in the story or not.14
Three commentators make explanation about the vizier”s identity. Yet, these commentators are not definitive in their explanations. They content with saying that the vizier is Pavlus. These commentators are; Mustafa Şemsi Dede (d. 1596)15, İsmail Hakkı Bursevi (d. 1726)16 and Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı (d. 1982)17. The most detailed information among them is present in the commentary of Gölpınarlı. For him, Polos (Pavlus) the main character of this story was born in the second year of the Christian Era. Pavlus whose original name was Saul rooted from Israelites. At first he was the biggest enemy of Christianity, and then he pretended this religion to own so tried to spread it over Anatolia, Cyprus and Greece. Pavlus went to Rome in A. D. 62-A. D. 63 and he was executed in A. D. 66. Mawlana studied Bible and he commented on this story according to it. He used this story in a way that he had planned.18
2- Is the Pavlus an envoy according to the commentaries on Koran?
The story about envoys sent to the people of a town takes place in Yasin Sura (13-30 verses) of Holly Koran is one of the distracter issues that makes difficult to make a definite comment if Pavlus is the trickster vizier or not.19 Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır (d. 1942)20, Süleyman Ateş21, Hasan Basri Çantay (d. 1964)22, Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen (d. 1971)23 are among the commentors who say that Pavlus is within these envoys. In his work of “Peygamberler Tarihi” (The History of Prophets), M. Asım Köksal (d. 1998) points out that Jesus Christ sends envoys to twelve places. The one sent to Antiochia with Butrus was Bulus, and he was among the apostles.24 The agreed points in commentaries are; the name of Simun or Sem”un, the name of Antiochia the place where the event takes place and the reality that the envoys sent by Jesus Christ.
3- Who is Pavlus called as vizier?
The basic source of the information about Pavlus is New Testament. No any first-hand information about Pavlus in other sources except Christian literature.25 For there is not any explicit statement about his birthday in first hand sources, the nationality and birthday of Pavlus are doubtful. It is accepted that he was born in Tarsus A. D. 10.26 his preceding name was Seul and that was before his coupling with Jesus Christ. He is the son of a rich and well-known family that is conferred (the right of) citizenship of Rome. Pavlus was first educated in Tarsus then went on in Jerusalem. While he was a member of Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, he was sent to control Syria Jewess. There he witnessed an incident then he changed a lot. It was narrated in Bible like this:
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? 5 who are you Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting?” he replied. 6 “Now, get u and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts, 9).
After this incident, Saul served Jesus Christ to the end of his life. He had three main missions traveling for the sake of this. According to Traditional Christian mentality, Pavlus was killed by the emperor Nera in A. D. 67 with the fear that his power could be damaged.
Pavlus is so important for Christians that; it is not possible to talk about the Catholic Church, Hellenic or Latin patriarchal theology, or the Christian–Hellenistic culture without him.27 Besides, in one respect Pavlus is a man that has been argued with his views and thoughts he asserted for nearly two thousand years, in another respect he is a philosopher whose role in history is accepted by almost everyone, a missionary, a theolog and a religion founder. For some, he is an epileptic who sees illusions or a hysteric, yet for some he is a creative philosopher and a theological revolutionist. Common believers appropriated the doctrines of Pavlus think that he was an envoy chosen by God for carrying the messages of Jesus Christ the Messiah.28 In his letters he was the one charged with sermoning the messages of Jesus Christ died for being crucified and again came back to life. (Galatians, 1/1-2, 2/7, I. Kor. 11/23, First Thessalonians)
Lots of investigators are in agreement about the one who deteriorated the message of Jesus Christ by changing it, is Pavlus.29 Pavlus was accused of betraying the faith of Jesus Christ, destroying the simple doctrines of him. And bringing the religion known as Christianity into existence. Christianity gained a form in the hands of Pavlus as a secret religion. He saved Christianity from Jewishness and formed it as an adaptation of paganist secret religions.
4– The resemblances and differences between the vizier and Pavlus
We can arrange the resemblances between the vizier of the Jewish emperor and Pavlus according to the brief story above like that;
a- The resemblances between the vizier and Pavlus
1- Both are Jewish.
2- Both practiced at sorcery. Pavlus suppressed sorcerer Elimas in Cyprus in the presence of the Governor of Cyprus (Acts, 13/6-11)
3- They indicated themselves as a religion nation.
4- They called people to the Christianity and Christians gathered around them.
5- They deteriorated the faith of Christians.
6- They claim that Jesus became visible and they are the caliph of him. Also it is stated in New Testament that he has performed lots of miracles.
7- The Christians who had wisdom did not believe them.
8- Christians were prosecuted for their beliefs and killed in the times they both lived.
9- The vizier wrote scrolls and Pavlus wrote letters.
10- Both said that Jesus Christ spoke with them.
11- Christians grieved after their death.
b- The differences between the vizier and Pavlus
1- Pavlus did not have the rank of a vizier, he did not communicate with Emperors.
2- Pavlus was tortured then fallen into jail but he was not exiled with ear, nose, hand and feet cut.
3- In history, Christians were not divided into twelve tribes.
4- While the vizier taught the rules of Bible to the misters in a way that contradict with each other, Pavlus said similar things according to people”s conditions wherever he went. Yet, especially while discussing with Jews in Jerusalem, he said different things from the ones that he said the Moslems in Anatolia.
5- Pavlus did not appoint people as a caliph after him.
6- There is not any information about that Pavlus stayed in a private room for forty days.
7- While the vizier committing suicide, Pavlus was being killed by the emperor in Rome.
In commentaries, there is not any common contentment about the vizier”s identity in the story narrated in Mesnevi. Both Mawlana and the commentators except three of them did not assert any idea about the vizier”s identity. According to the ones who mentioned about his identity, it may be said that he is Pavlus but it is not definitive.
As it has been seen there is not any common name about this matter among the commentaries. In addition to this, it is not possible to think that Mawlana as a professor of theology does not know this verse and its commentary. We estimate that Mawlana was aware of the commentaries of the verse and also the rumors about the vizier was Pavlus. So it a big assertion that Mawlana accused someone who was mentioned as a real envoy in some commentaries of being a liar and behaving as a spoil spot.
Also it is evident that there are resemblances between the vizier story and the life of Pavlus. It is difficult to say the vizier is Pavlus according to these resemblances. The differences between them are serious and there is disagreement in chronicles. In addition to this, in the letters of Pavlus there is not any expression contradict with each other, but there are parts contradict with Jesus Christ.
Another issue drawing attention in the story is that there is not any comment about who is the Jewish Emperor in the commentaries. Also it is interesting that only three of the commentators who believe the vizier is Pavlus give his name and only one of them is detailed. The Mesnevis” who grown up listening the Mesnevi and his commentaries in the convent of the whirling not commenting on this issue makes us think that in traditional sense the identity of the vizier is not important.30
As a conclusion, it is a weak possibility that Pavlus is the vizier in the story. The story is remarkable in the sense that Muslims think the religion came with Jesus Christ but changed and deteriorated by one the ones came after him. Pavlus being thought as the deteriorator of the Christianity by some theologians has the possibility of being the vizier in the story. Together with that, this issue will be more clear when the mentality of Jesus Christ and Pavlus in the period Mawlana lived and in the Mesnevi sources was found out.
Abdülmecid Sivâsî: Şerh-i Mesnevî, Beyazıt Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin Efendi 1651.
Abidin Paşa : Tercüme ve Şerh-i Mesnevî-i Şerif, 3. bs. İstanbul, 1305.
Ateş, Süleyman : Yüce Kuran”ın Çağdaş Tefsiri 7, İstanbul: Yeni Ufuklar Neşriyat t.y.
Baykal, Özgür : “Mevlana”nın Mesnevî”sinde hayvan ve hikaye motifleri” Şarkiyat Mecmuası, V/25 (1964), pp. 23-27.
Bilmen, Ömer Nasuhî: Kuran-ı Kerimin Türkçe Meâl-i Alisi ve Tefsiri 6, İstanbul: Bilmen Yayınevi 1965.
Çantay, Hasan Basri : Kuran-ı Hakim ve Meâl-i Kerim II, İstanbul: Çantay Yaınevi, 1984.
Gölpınarlı, Abdülbaki: Mesnevî Şerhi I, 3. bs., Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 2000.
Güleç, İsmail : “Türk edebiyatında Mesnevî tercüme ve şerhleri”, Journal of Turkish Studies
Türklük Bilgisi Araştırmaları, yay. haz. Zehra Toksa, Harvard: 2003, 27/II, p. 161-176.
Gündüz, Şinasi : Pavlus Hristiyanlığın Mimarı, Ankara: Ankara Okulu, 2001.
İsmail Ankaravî : Şerh-i Mesnevî I, İstanbul: Matbaa-ı Amire, 1289.
İsmail Hakkı Bursevî: Rûhü”l-Mesnevî II, İstanbul, Matbaa-ı Amire, 1287.
Kenan Rıfaî : Şerhli Mesnevî-i Şerîf, İstanbul: Kubbealtı Yayınevi, 2000.
Koner, M. Muhlis : Mesnevî”nin Özü, Konya: Konya Belediyesi, 1961.
Konuk, Ahmet Avni: Mesnevi-i Şerif Şerhi I, preparing for publishing, Selçuk Eraydın, Mustafa Tahralı, İstanbul: Gelenek Yayınları, 2004.
Köksal, M. Asım : Peygamberler Tarihi II, Ankara: TDV, 1995.
Küng, H. : Christianity: Its Essence and History, tr. J. Bowden, London: SCM Press, 1995.
Musrafa Şemî Dede: Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Halet Efendi 334.
Olgun, Tahirü”l-Mevlevî: Şerh-i Mesnevî, 2. bs., İstanbul: Şamil Yayınevi, t.y.
Sarı Abdullah Efendi : Cevâhir-i Bevâhir-i Mesnevî I, İstanbul: Matbaa-ı Amire, 1287.
Şeyh Mehmed Buhârî: Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, M. Arif-M. Murad 112/1.
Şifaî Mehmed Dede : Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Dârü”l-Mesnevî, 209.
Yavuz, Kemal : Mûinî”nin Mesnevî-i Murâdî”si II. cilt Metin, İstanbul Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, (unpublished doctarete thesis) 1976.
Yazır, Elmalılı Hamdi: Hak Dini Kuran Dili 5, İstanbul: Bedir Yayınevi, 1993.
Central Eureasia Studies Society Conference- Boston – 2005
* Dr. İsmail Güleç Istanbul University, The Institute of Turcology Studies, email@example.com
1 Özgür Baykal, “Mevlana”nın Mesnevî”sinde hayvan ve hikaye motifleri” Şarkiyat Mecmuası, V/25 (1964), p. 23.
2 For more information about this issue, look. İsmail Güleç, “Türk edebiyatında Mesnevî tercüme ve şerhleri”, Journal of Turkish Studies Türklük Bilgisi Araştırmaları, yay. haz. Zehra Toksa, Harvard: 2003, 27/II, p. 161-176.
3 Kemal Yavuz, Mûinî”nin Mesnevî-i Murâdî”si II. cilt Metin, İstanbul Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, (unpublished doctarete thesis) İstanbul: 1976, p. 137.
4 Sarı Abdullah Efendi, Cevâhir-i Bevâhir-i Mesnevî I, İstanbul: 1287, p. 307.
5 İsmail Ankaravî, Şerh-i Mesnevî I, İstanbul: Matbaa-ı Amire, 1289, p. 108.
6 Şifaî Mehmed Dede, Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Dârü”l-Mesnevî, 209, 22b-23a
7 Şeyh Mehmed Buhârî, Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, M. Arif-M. Murad 112/1, 32a.
8 Tahirü”l-Mevlevî Olgun, Şerh-i Mesnevî, 2nd. ed., İstanbul: Şamil Yayınevi, t.y., p. 244.
9 M. Muhlis Koner, Mesnevî”nin Özü, Konya: Konya Belediyesi, 1961, p. 25.
10 Abdülmecid Sivâsî, Şerh-i Mesnevî, Beyazıt Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin Efendi 1651, v. 70b.
11 Abidin Paşa, Tercüme ve Şerh-i Mesnevî-i Şerif, 3th. ed. İstanbul: 1305, p. 249.
12 Kenan Rıfaî, Şerhli Mesnevî-i Şerîf, İstanbul: Kubbealtı Yayınevi, 2000, p. 84.
13 Ahmet Avni Konuk, Mesnevi-i Şerif Şerhi I, preparing for publishing, Selçuk Eraydın, Mustafa Tahralı, İstanbul: Gelenek Yayınları, 2004, p. 178.
14 Ibid, p. 179.
15 Musrafa Şemî Dede, Şerh-i Mesnevî, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Halet Efendi 334, v. 30a.
16 İsmail Hakkı Bursevî, Rûhü”l-Mesnevî II, İstanbul: Matbaa-ı Amire, 1287, p. 23.
17 Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı, Mesnevî Şerhi I, 3. bs., Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 2000, p. 166.
18 Ibid., p. 170.
19 The story in the verses is like that: two envoys were sent to a city, the people of the city did not leave them and denied them. Then another envoy was sent to this city. Again the people did not leave him, upon this event one man who lived faraway told people to listen and believe them since they were real envoys. Again people did not listen to and killed him. (Yasin 36/13-30)
20 Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kuran Dili 5, İstanbul: Bedir Yayınevi, 1993, p. 4016.
21 Süleyman Ateş, Yüce Kuran”ın Çağdaş Tefsiri 7, İstanbul: Yeni Ufuklar Neşriyat, t.y., p. 342-343.
22 Hasan Basri Çantay, Kuran-ı Hakim ve Meâl-i Kerim II, İstanbul: Çantay 1984, p. 781.
23 Ömer Nasuhî Bilmen, Kuran-ı Kerimin Türkçe Meâl-i Alisi ve Tefsiri 6, İstanbul: Bilmen Yayınevi, 1965, p. 2925.
24 M. Asım Köksal, Peygamberler Tarihi II, Ankara: TDV, 1995, p. 328.
25 Şinasi Gündüz, Pavlus Hristiyanlığın Mimarı, Ankara: Ankara Okulu, 2001, p. 22.
26 Ibid., p. 32.
27 From Şinasi Gündüz; H. Küng, Christianity: Its Essence and History, tr. J. Bowden, London, SCM Press, 1995, p. 144.
28 Şinasi Gündüz, ibid, p. 12.
29 In the film called “Last call for the Sin” which was adapted to cinema from the novel having the same name, there was a scene which Pavlus and Jesus Christ met. In that scene, Pavlus scolded at Isa like that: “I did not tell these, you are lying”, and Pavlus replied: “People believe in Jesus Christ I described, not in you”. This rejoinder summarizes this kind of approaches very succesfully.
30 When I asked about that issue to Pr. Dr. Kemal Yavuz, with a different view, he stated that Mawlana drew attention to that intriguity and defeatism are not good, that Mawlana called out according to his period and stated the harms of seperateness, while that the period after Mawlana was unity period and also Aşık Paşa and Gülşehri discussed the same idea. Shortly, Mawlana talked about and advised the harms of seperateness and Gülşehri talked about the benefits of unity. Both two writers mentioned about their period. Thanks to my teacher for sharing his precious ideas.