The Quatrains of Rumi: Ruba'iyat-e Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi

Translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Rawan Farahdi

San Rafael, California

Sufi Dari Books 2008

The Quatrains of Rumi is a ground-breaking work for several reasons: (1) it offers an English translation of nearly all of Rumi's quatrains (from the authentic Foruzan-far edition) together with their Persian scripts; (2) it provides English translations of Rumi's Arabic quatrains as well (note that Foruzan-far did not attempt to translate Rumi's Arabic poems into Persian); (3) explanatory notes given under each poem are very informative; (4) the English translations are literal and accurate rather than being interpretive, distorted or abridged; (5) the authors have painstakingly compiled a list of previously translated quatrains with cross-references to their new work; and (6) the Introduction and the Bibliography in the book are very useful for readers who do not know much about Rumi and for those who want to study more.

While in Persian editions, it is customary to arrange Rumi's poems alphabetically according to the last letter of their rhymes, this new English translation has categorized Rumi's quatrains into five thematic chapters: (1) some themes of Mawlana's life; (2) love of the human beloved; (3) metaphorical love becoming real love; (4) divine love; and (5) advice to the disciple and aspirant. Each chapter is further subdivided into smaller themes. This classification is, in its own way, very helpful to understand various themes expressed in Rumi's Rubaiyat.

Both Ibrahim Gamard (an American who converted to Sufism and knows Persian) and Rawan Farhadi (an Afghani scholar) are experienced scholars in the field of Rumi's poetry and Sufism. Dr. Gamard, who is a psychologist in California, maintains the website Dar al-Masnavi (www.dar-al-masnavi.org) and previously translated an anthology of Rumi's works, Rumi and Islam (SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2004). Dr. Rawan Farhadi studied with the famed scholar Louis Massignon in Paris, taught Persian Literature at the Sorbonne and Berkeley, and served as Afghan Ambassador to France and the United Nations.

This is an important publication that will serve Rumi's fans for generations to come. Given all its merits, I will not be surprised (rather will be delighted) if this book is re-translated into Persian.

---Rasoul Sorkhabi

Book Review, Sufi Journal (London), No. 78 (Winter 2009/Spring 2010), p. 52