"...The point I want to make, then, is that once we look deeply into Rumi’s teachings and get beyond the sentimentalities that are too often presented in his name, we will see that he has a rather harsh message for modern man. He is saying that not only the general public, but also the experts, scientists, specialists, and scholars, who are supposed to know what they are talking about, are in fact happily singing the song, khar biraft u khar biraft u khar biraft. The donkeys of all of us have been sold, and we are being entertained by the proceeds. We revel in our taqlīd, singing songs that we don’t understand. We imagine that we know so much more than our benighted ancestors. We no longer grasp the significance of our own embodiment. We live in bāṭil. Not only do we fail to see the ḥaqq of the world and our own souls, but we even deny that anything at all can have a ḥaqq. We are satisfied with the information fed to us by schools, governments, and the media. We accept all our knowledge on the basis of hearsay, faith, and blind imitation. Our only attempt at taḥqīq is to prefer some sources over other sources (let’s say, the The Guardian over the tabloids). We are completely unaware that we are muqallids—not imitators of the prophets and saints, but of other imitators like ourselves. It is only a matter of time before we wake up and begin to lament, daw sad la‘nat bar īn taqlīd bād—“two hundred curses on that imitation!”

The goal of Rumi’s path of realization is to know the ḥaqq of one’s own selfhood and thereby to know the ḥaqq of God, society, and the world. It is to know these with a certainty that bubbles up from the source of all knowledge, the God-given intelligence that lies at the root of the soul.

I conclude with two quotations that suggest the nature of the path of taḥqīq. The first is from Rumi’s Fīhi mī fīhi. He is talking about the knowledge of the experts.

The worthy scholars of the time split hairs in the sciences. They have gained utmost knowledge and total comprehension of things that have nothing to do with them. What is important and closer to them than anything else is their own selfhood, but this they do not know.[iii]

The second quotation is from the Maqālāt or “sayings” of Rumi’s companion, Shams i Tabrīzī.

These people study in the madrasahs because, they think, “We’ll become teachers, we’ll run madrasahs.” They say, “You must do good deeds.” They talk of such things in these assemblies so that they can gain positions.

Why do you study knowledge for the sake of worldly mouthfuls? This rope is for you to come out of the well, not for you to come out of this well and go into some other well.

You must dedicate yourself to knowing this: Who am I? What substance am I? Why have I come? Where am I going? From whence is my root? At this moment what am I doing? Toward what have I turned my face."

William C. Chittick