I’ll serve the Qur’an evermore,

I’m the dirt of Muhammad’s door.

If one claims I said any more,

both him and his words, I abhor!

Mawlana Rumi, Quatrain 1330, translation by Muhammad Ali Mojaradi

Rumi was a Muslim, after all, his name was “Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad.” He wore the turban of Islamic knowledge (ʿilm) like his father and grandfather before him. Despite this, many modern readers—especially those from non-Muslim societies—have come to know Rumi as many thingsa sage, a poet, a wise manbut not often a Muslim. How did this come to be? The story of Rumi’s divorce from Islam is not very old, but in a short time, this phenomenon has done great damage to the public perception of Rumi.

If you have just encountered Rumi, and wanting to learn more, Google his name, you’re often greeted with with the following:

There he is, the 13th century poet, or is it?

That’s alright, it’s just a mistake by Google - but what if you wanted to read Rumi’s work? 

You click on the ‘books’ tab in the search bar:

Or you check Amazon:

Or you search eBay:

All three searches yield books by the same author: Coleman Barks.

The ‘Rumi’ that most English speakers know is a product of his imagination. 

By his admission, Barks does not know Persian...

...but that didn’t stop him from publishing over a dozen ‘translations’:

Despite his lack of qualifications, Barks managed to establish himself as a ‘scholar’ of Rumi’s poetry, and he’s described as the foremost ‘expert’ and ‘translator’ of Rumi’s works.

These books are largely responsible for the prevalence of quotes falsely attributed to Rumi all over social media:

Coleman’s ‘Rumi quotes’ have become part of American pop culture, take this one from ‘The Essential Rumi’ (page 36):

Ivanka Trump tweeted it after her fathers administration failed attempt to make peace in Afghanistan (ironically, her father wouldnt let Rumi into the United States if he were alive today):

Brad Pitt even got it tattooed (right by his pit):

We were able to track down the source of the quote Barks ‘translated.’ 

Here is the original Persian and a more literal English translation by Muhammad Ali Mojaradi:

Compare Barks’ ‘translation’ with one by Muhammad Ali Mojaradi:

@sharghzadeh translation:

Beyond heresy and faith, there’s another place,

we yearn for what’s in the midst of that desert plain.

When the gnostic arrives there, he prostrates his face,

there’s no heresy, faith, or place in that domain.

Coleman Barks translation:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense.

Barks version has erased the Islamic context and secularized the poem, reducing it to a vague new-age platitude.

Take this second example, a quote we found online:

We traced it back to Open Secret: Versions of Rumi’ by Coleman Barks.

We were able to track down the poem Barks has rendered:

Compare the translation by Muhammad Ali Mojaradi with Barks rendering:

If you don’t have a partner (yār) why not seek one?

And if you reach your partner (yār), why not have fun (arab)?

And if the friend (rafīq) is not content to do so, why don’t you become him?

And if the lute (rubāb) doesnt cry, why not discipline it?

And if an Abū Jahal becomes a veil (ḥijāb) for you,

why not mourn Abū Jahal and Abū Lahab?

Barks has transformed the gender-neutral yār (which could be interpreted as the Beloved, a friend, a partner in mysticism or romance, and more) into woman,’ thereby precluding a spiritual reading of this poem. He has also added ‘lives with you’, sexualizing the spiritual metaphor, while erasing references to Abū Jahl and Abū Lahab.

Barks has admitted that his renderings are hypersexualized:

This mistranslation and de-contextualization has done immeasurable harm to the common understanding of Rumi. 

Anyone who reads these translations would wonder if Rumi was Muslim at all.

Perhaps they may go to Google, where find this answer:

Thousands have seen this answer, how many were mislead, and sent astray? 

How many Muslims will never look into Rumi again, after being presented with distorted and outright false translations of his work?

This is what Rumi had to say about his religion:

I’ll serve the Qur’an evermore,

I’m the dirt of Muhammad’s door.

If one claims I said any more,

both him and his words, I abhor!

But you wont find that in anything written by Coleman Barks.

Please share this website to spread awareness about this issue.