The Letters

This is a collection of one hundred and fifty of Rumi's letters, "Maktubât," known as his "Letters." They reveal his active involvement with disciples and family members, who looked to him to intercede on their behalf with God, as well as with government leaders.1

Persian Editions

The best edition was made by Tôfîq Sobhânî (1992), based on the oldest manuscript (in Konya, Turkey, dated 1352).

English Translations

The entire book of Letters is still not translated in full. William Chittick translated 12 short excerpts (generally one or two paragraphs in length),2 plus 2 long excerpts (one page and two pages in length).3

English Versions John Moyne has made translations, together with Coleman Barks of parts of 17 of the letters.*4 Barks' influence can occasionally be seen in the form of some inauthentic-sounding words and phrases.*5 Moyne's translation is sloppy and inaccurate.*6 These are not scholarly translations, as can be readily seen when compared to the excellent translations by William Chittick into very readable American English.* 7


1. see "Rumi-- Past and Present, East and West: The Life, Teachings and Poetry of Jalâl al-Din Rumi," by Franklin D. Lewis, 2001, pp. 294-95.

2. William C. Chittick, "The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi," 1985. Short excerpts: from Letters (using Sobhânîs numbering): 1, 2, 8, 19, 21, 48, 60, 69, 97, 100 (see "Index of Sources, p. 380). He made one citation error (in Letter no. 97/95, p. 152, the verse is Qur'an 15:28-29, not 38: 72-73-- two very similar, but not identical, verses).

3. Chittick, "The Sufi Path of Love." Long excerpts: from Letter (using Sobhânîs numbering) 39 (p. 77) and Letter s 49-50 (pp. 133-5).

4. Barks, with Moyne, "This Longing: Versions of Rumi," 1988. Excerpts from Letters (using Sobhânîs numbering) 24, 56, 69, 64, 150 39, 49, 83, 85, 100, 118, 81, 82, 20, 69, 70, 19.

5. For example: "When jealously reduces someone to salesmanship" (p. 106); "Peace be with you and glory" (p. 82); "May you stay in your infinity" (p. 100)

6. For example: "Someone in grief can talk about it/ and let the grief go by saying it." (p. 92) Correct translation: "The one who is grieving, but able to talk, is able to sweep [roft] the sorrow from his heart by talking." The rhyme does not allow the word to be read as "to go" [raft]. Another example: "May God light your head..." (p. 106) Correct translation: "May God illuminate this secret [sirr] for you." The word is not "head" [sar], which is spelled the same.

7. For example, where Rumi describes the Divinely caused miracle of the human body from sperm inside the womb, Chittick accurately translated: "Then He coagulated and congealed that blood and, in that private house, made it into new flesh without head or organ. He opened the door of the mouth, the eyes, and the ears. He provided a tongue and then, behind the mouth, the treasury of the breast. Within it He placed the heart, which is both a drop and a world, a pearl and an ocean, a servant and a king." (p. 77)

The Moyne-Barks version: "In that most lonely place with no tool and no hands God carved the head with its delicate ears and mouth and the amazing openings for the eyes. The complicated tongue was put inside. And the cage of the chest was constructed, and in that, the heart, the love-center which is at once a tasty morsel and a whole world, a pearl and an ocean, a slave and a King." (pp. 88-89) Compare also Moyne, pp. 91-2 with Chittick, pp. 133-35; Moyne, p. 95 with Chittick, p. 209; Moyne, p. 101 with Chittick, p.124; Moyne, p. 105 with Chittick, pp. 153-54.