An authentic exploration of the real Rumi
As one of the world's most loved poets, Rumi's poems are celebrated for their message of love and their beauty, but too often they are stripped of their mystical and spiritual meanings. The Gift of Rumi offers a new reading of Rumi, contextualizing his work against the broader backdrop of Islamic mysticism and adding a richness and authenticity that is lacking in many Westernized conceptions of his work. Author Emily Jane O'Dell has studied Sufism both academically, in her work and research at Harvard, Columbia, and the American University of Beirut, and in practice, learning from a Mevlevi master and his whirling dervishes in Istanbul. She weaves this expertise throughout The Gift of Rumi, sharing a new vision of Rumi’s classic work.
At the heart of Rumi’s mystical poetry is the “religion of love” which transcends all religions. Through his majestic verses of ecstasy and longing, Rumi invites us into the religion of the heart and guides us to our own loving inner essence. The Gift of Rumi gives us a key to experiencing this profound and powerful invitation, allowing readers to meet the master in a new way.
About the Author
Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell is an Associate Professor at Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in China. She has served as the Whittlesey Chair of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut, an Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at Yale Law School, and an editor for Harvard Law School's SHARIASource. Stateside she has taught at Columbia, Brown, and Harvard, where she received a teaching excellence award. Her research can be found in the Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of Iranian Studies, Journal of Africana Religions, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Disability & Society, and SHARIASource. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Louisville Review, Al Jazeera, NPR, CounterPunch, Salon, TRT World, The Christian Science Monitor, and Huffington Post.
"A transcendent love, adorned with poetry and music, and embellished with the transformative power of sorrow: this is the gift of Rumi, which O’Dell surmises as ‘a map for living virtuously and loving fiercely in the midst of suffering.’ . . . It is this same gift, with hands stretched out generously, that Rumi deigns to offer us; we would be wise to accept it."
—Sydney Review of Books
"In the crowded shelf of books about Rumi, there are a few books about Rumi's life, and an increasing number that are or purport to be translations from the original Persian. E.J. O'Dell's The Gift of Rumi is both: It gives the right amount of context for people new to the study of Rumi, combined with original and fresh translations. The Gift of Rumi is indeed a gift, and recommended to all lovers of Rumi!"
—Omid Safi, Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University; Founder of Illuminated Courses and Tours
"Emily Jane O’Dell meets Rumi on his own terms, placing his compelling verses of ecstasy and of longing for the heart’s greater intimacy with the divine within the contexts of historical Islamic mysticism, while at the same time testifying to their enduring value “as a map for living virtuously and loving fiercely.” This book is far more than another collection of Rumi’s poems in translation; it explores the tenets underlying these poems while at the same time opening fascinating vistas onto two remarkable lives – those of Rumi and of the author."
—John Emigh, Professor Emeritus, Brown University
"This is an astonishing book. It tips rigorous scholarship, benevolent sympathy, and personal experience into the cauldron of Rumi's poetry for the reader to then gradually withdraw a silken brew of spiritual compassion, guidance, and understanding. It gives us in the West intriguing new translations, but also a usable pathway toward adopting Rumi as a mentor for living in today's world."
—Harold Augenbraum, Co-Founder, Yale Translation Initiative
"Personal, inspiring, and transporting, The Gift of Rumi is one part memoir, one part introduction to a great poet sage, and itself a gift."
—Gish Jen, author of Thank You, Mr. Nixon
"[A] sharp debut...The author’s personal anecdotes usefully illustrate what Rumi’s spirituality looks like in contemporary practice, and the historical context opens up fresh ways of looking at the poet’s works. This makes for an excellent primer on Rumi." —Publisher's Weekly
"[A] fully realized introduction to the Sufi way that Rumi actually taught, and, and this is so wonderful, what we can access today. Through his writings. And through his spiritual heirs....Do yourself a favor. Buy it. Do yourself another favor. Read it." — Patheos