Selected Anecdotes

Legends of the Sufis is a collection of anecdotes taken from MENĀQIBU ‘L ‘ĀRIFĪN (Acts of the Adepts) written by the historian Shemsu-‘D-Din Ahmed, El Eflaki in A.D. 1353. It is a book that will prove to be of interest to those readers wishing to know more about the life and family background of the great Persian sage and teacher Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). These stories and legends of events in the lives of Rumi and other Sufi figures associated with the Mevlevi Order are profound and often miraculous. They contain also much practical wisdom and in this respect they are timeless. The tales within this collection can be taken at many levels depending upon the reader’s receptivity. Herein lie the sources from which Rumi constructed some of his finest poetry, and which remains some of the most beautiful poetry in the world today.

El Eflaki was a dervish in the order of the Mevlevi, and disciple of Chelebi Emis Erif, grandson of Rumi.

This newly published version by Azafran Books includes a specially written preface by the scholar Solomon James

Publisher: Azafran

THERE is little argument regarding Jalaluddin Rumi - often referred to as Maulana or Mevlana meaing ‘Our Master’ – as being one of the very greatest saints and mystics of all peoples. He was also a Master of the Way, in Sufic terminology. This book is a selection of anecdotes about the teachings of Rumi as well as his associates, family, and associates. It is an important document in the life and teachings of the Mevlevi School, as is one of the five source books generally regarded as accepted material on this tradition: the others are the Mathnavi, The Divan of Shamsi-i-Tabriz, the Letters of Rumi, and Fihi ma Fihi.


This collection of anecdotes often comes under the title of Acts of the Adepts, as was its original title in English (translated by James Redhouse). However, similar to many works of antiquity, there is no one authoritative version of this collection. Various compilations of Eflaki’s work exist, in a range of languages. The book is in effect what we would call in modern parlance a hagiography. Under such circumstances there are stories, tales, and anecdotes that may seem ‘unbelievable’ or ‘exaggerated’ to a modern mind. Perhaps the reader of today should consider that such a collection functions upon several levels, and one of these may be as form of teaching material. It is well documented that Sufic materials often lend themselves as a means to test the mind and reaction of the hearer. Stories and tales taken at face value, and processed by a literal mind, may create their own obstacles in the reading. It is likely then, we must consider, that some of the contents of this collection also fare upon such levels above and beyond the literal. Other anecdotes were included, no doubt, because they were genuinely perceived to be reports of Rumi and his associates after the death of the great Master. It is a facet of human nature that tales and stories of saints and mystics are often eulogized and worshiped as ‘gospel.’ The reader of today should be mindful of this character flaw.

In recent years Rumi’s life and work has undergone a popular revival in the western world. His work is now among the best-selling poetry of today, aided by translations that place his verse and meaning within modern verse styles. As is common among Sufic materials there is a pattern that renders them amenable to present-day terms, and which buffers them against becoming crystallized or succumbing to dogmatism. As in all human systems, there are those that are traditionalists and those that are innovators.

Legends of the Sufis, as the title suggests, contains miraculous or apparently supernatural events that appear frequently throughout. Yet the reader should bear in mind that they are not there merely to impress upon the gullible witness or to incite an emotional response. They have their purpose and function within the context of such literature. That this book, and its content, adheres to Sufic materials is without doubt. As such, it addresses a psychological aspect of the reader that many books lack. The information herewith has been available to potential readers for more than seven hundred years; still, there are those who seek to imitate its practices, such as the famous whirling dance. I can only suggest that the reader consider processing the material that they hold in their hands rather than imitating the actions of a bygone era.

Legends of the Sufis may contain everything or nothing for the modern person. As in all things, one must leave the distinction clearly at the feet of the honourable reader.

Solomon James, September 2017


Bahā’u-’d-Dīn, Veled, Sultānu-’l-’Ulemā (The Beauty of the Religion of Islam, Son, Sultan of the Doctors of the Law).


The king of Khurāsān, (1) ’Alā’u-’d-Dīn Muhammed, Khurrem-Shāh, uncle of Jelālu-’d-Dīn Muhammed Kh’ārezm-Shāh, and the proudest, as he was the most handsome man of his time, gave his daughter, Melika’i-Jihān (Queen of the World), as to the only man worthy of her, to Jelālu-’d-Dīn Huseyn, el Khatībī, of the race of Abū-Bekr.

An ancestor of his was one of the original Muslim conquerors of Khurāsān. He was himself very virtuous and learned, surrounded with numerous disciples. He had not married until then; which gave him many an anxious and self-accusing thought.

He himself, the king, the king’s daughter, and the king’s Vazīr were all four warned in a dream by the Prince of the Apostles of God (Muhammed) that he should wed the princess; which was done. He was then thirty years old. In due course, nine months afterwards, a son was born to him, and was named Bahā’u-’d-Dīn Muhammed. He is commonly mentioned as Bahā’u-’d-Dīn Veled.

When adolescent, this latter was so extremely learned that the family of his mother wished to raise him to the throne as king; but this he utterly rejected.

By the divine command, as conveyed in the selfsame night, and in an identical dream, to three hundred of the most learned men of the city of Balkh, (2) the capital of the kingdom, where he dwelt, those sage doctors unanimously conferred upon him the honorific title of Sultānu-’l-’Ulemā, and they all became his disciples.

Such are the names and titles by which he is more commonly mentioned; but he is also styled Mevlānāyi Buzurg (the Greater or Elder Master). Many miracles and prodigies were attributed to him; and some men were found who conceived a jealousy at his growing reputation and influence.


In a.h. 605 (a.d. 1208) he, Bahā’u-’d-Dīn Veled, began to preach against the innovations of the king and sundry of his courtiers, declaiming against the philosophers and rationalists, while he pressed all his hearers to study and practise the precepts of Islām. Those courtiers maligned him with the king, calling him an intriguer who had designs on the throne. The king sent and made him an offer of the sovereignty, promising to retire elsewhere himself. Bahā answered that he had no concern with earthly greatness, being a poor recluse; and that he would willingly leave the country, so as to remove from the king’s mind all misgivings on his score.

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