The Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, and Frederick II were contemporaries.
Rumi (1207 - 1273)
Frederick II (1194 - 1250)
"Rumi was born in Afghanistan to a family of learned Persian theologians.
Escaping the Mongol invasion, Rumi and his family travelled extensively in the
Muslim lands, performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in Konya,
Anatolia (Turkey), where he succeeded his father in 1231 as professor in
In 7 books, and 24,660 couplets, in Farsi and some Arabic, Masnavi is Rumi's
most famous work . This work is also commonly referred to as the Persian
"For now Prince Rupert's tears of glass
Make saffron sabbath eyelids bleed"
As discussed in Chapter Five, for Prince Rupert (Frederick II) to have "saffron sabbath eyelids", means that his perceptions are limited by both the Islamic (Eastern) and Christian (Western) perspectives. But saffron is, more specifically, related to Sufism.
". . .traditional Kashmiri legends state that saffron first arrived sometime during the 11th and 12th centuries AD, when two foreign and itinerant Sufi ascetics, Khwaja Masood Wali and Hazrat Sheikh Shariffudin, wandered into Kashmir. The foreigners, having fallen sick, beseeched a cure for illness from a local tribal chieftain. When the chieftain obliged, the two holy men reputedly gave them a saffron crocus bulb as payment and thanks. To this day, grateful prayers are offered to the two saints during the saffron harvesting season in late autumn. The saints, indeed, have a golden-domed shrine and tomb dedicated to them in the saffron-trading village of Pampore, India."
"Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (1142-1236), founder of the Chishti Order, was a Persian from Khorasan, but settled among the Hindus of Rajasthan. His followers adopted the saffron color of the robes of the Hindu sages for their own coarse robes, and generally interchanged ideas and rituals with and even adopted the habits of the Hindu sadhus (mendicants)."
"The "Sufis were the ecstatic mystics who defied the authoritarian,
theologians of the Islamic Church. It began around 800 AD with a group that
formed around a woman called
Rabi'a, a poet and ascetic and Bayazid of Bastami who started the "Baghdad
"Prophets chained for burning masks"
"By around 922 AD. the
Sufis were seen by the establishment as heretical and more importantly a
serious threat to the political
stability of the region. As a result many Sufis went on to martyrdom by being
executed for their beliefs. At the
centre of Sufi philosophy is the idea of "Tawhid" which means literally "making
"The second great sufi, disciple of the first and also of Basra, was a woman - Rabia al-Adawiyyah (d. 801), whose teachings emphasized the power of love. The idea of a woman as spiritual leader was itself an affront to the ulema, and to make matters worse, she was a former slave. Dhul Nunal-Misri (d. 861) was arraigned before Caliph Mutawakkil for espousing the doctrine of irfan - direct knowledge of the divine, usually translated as 'gnosis." Hussain b. Mansur, better known as al-Hallaj, a wool-carder, was accused of heresy and beheaded for his veneration of Jesus and his declaration "I am the truth." His followers thereafter disavowed - and often defied - all worldly authority. The noted sufi theoretician Yahaya Suhrawardi was executed on the orders of the great Saladin for of his refusal to adhere to orthodoxy. In the face of such repression, some sufis, such as Nuri (d. 907), preached renunciation from the world.
Ghazali himself was forced to flee Baghdad following a political upset and wandered as far west as Egypt."
Frederick II corresponded with the Sufi Illuminist, Ibn Sabin.
"The teachings available to the astute European thinker
included such works as Ibn Sabin's Secrets of Illuministic
Wisdom and Suhrawardi's Wisdom of Illumination.
Frederick II von Hohenstaufen, ruler of Sicily,
corresponded with Ibn Sabin, Roger Bacon cites
Ibn Sabin in his own writings, and Suhrawardi's ideas
provided the foundation for Dante's works.
Illuminist teachers distinguish between
ordinary knowledge and a higher form of knowledge called
gnosis, direct knowledge, unveiling, witnessing, and
"The Illuminist Tradition has taken many names over the
centuries such as Hermeticism, Philosophia, Neo-Platonism,
Alchemy, Cabala, Magic, Gnosticism, Esotericism, Sufism.
This Perennial Tradition has been the single stream of
initiatory teaching flowing through all the great schools of
The Illuminist Lineage
"The Illuminist "secret teachings" were passed from
generation to generation through the Illuminist line of
Semitic and Persian sources.
Isaiah (8th century B.C.E.)
Zoroaster (6th century B.C.E.)
Gautama, the Buddha (563-483 B.C.E.)
Jesus (4-29 C.E.)
Dionysius the Areopagite (1st
Marcion (85-144 C.E)
Valentinus (second century C.E.)
Clement (150-220 C.E.)
Origen (185-252 C.E.)
Plotinus (205-270 C.E.)
Augustine (354-430 C.E.)
Geber (721-766 C.E.)
Ibn Massarah (died 921 C.E.)
Gerbert d'Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II) (born 940 C.E.)
Hujwiri (died 1063 A.D) The Revelation of the Veiled
El-Ghazali (1059-1111 C.E.)
(1145-1235) Gifts of Deep
The Wisdom of Illuminism
"Let us take the very beautiful tales-simultaneously visionary tales and tales of spiritual initiation-composed in
Persian by Sohravardi, the young shaykh who, in the twelfth century, was the "reviver of the theosophy of ancient
Persia" in Islamic Iran. These tales
essentially illustrate the experience of the gnostic, lived as the personal history of the Stranger, the captive
who aspires to return home.
At the beginning of the tale that Sohravardi entitles "The Crimson Archangel," the captive, who has just escaped
the surveillance of his jailers, that is, has temporarily left the world of sensory experience, finds himself in
the desert in the presence of a being whom he asks, since he sees in him all the charms of adolescence, "0 Youth!
where do you come from?" He receives this reply: "What? I am the first-born of the children of the Creator [in
gnostic terms, the Protoktistos, the First-Created] and you call me a youth?" There, in this origin, is the
mystery of the crimson color that clothes his appearance: that of a being of pure Light whose splendor the sensory
world reduces to the crimson of twilight. "I come from beyond the mountain of Qaf... It is there that you were
yourself at the beginning, and it is there that you will return when you are finally rid of your bonds."
In the tale entitled "The Rustling of Gabriel's Wings," the figure again appears who, in the works of Avicenna, is
named Hayy ibn Yaqzan ("the Living, son of the Watchman") and who, just now, was designated as the Crimson
In light of all the "spinning", "revolving" and "turning" found in
it is also interesting to note that in 1231 Rumi founded the Sufi order known
as the Whirling Dervishes, a sect which sought to find the knowledge which lies
beyond Thinking and Feeling.
"...the people who attain to truth are those who know how to connect themselves
with the reality which lies
beyond both these forms of knowledge. These are the real Sufis, the Dervishes
who have Attained."
- Ibn al Arabi
The attainment of this truth was achieved by arresting the psychological
function of Sensation, "the greatest obstacle to Intuition".
"Of the available techniques which may have been used to
to open and facilitate the inner journey, one was similar
to what is known today as "sensory deprivation", another was
an induced trance akin to the Mesmeric Trance. The Whirling
Dervishes dissolved the surface consciousness by a technique
whereby they whirled around and around while doing an intense
mental concentration, a counting exercise which maintained their
point of awareness, while the surface consciousness was dissolved."
"Sensory deprivation IS effective, and for those who can will themselves into a
state of such intense meditation as will exclude incoming signals from the
environment, the computer model provides a simple analogy. The brain is always
working, but as these outside signals cease coming through, the brain begins
processing peripheral data, memories from the past, sense impressions of such
subtlety that they are normally bypassed in favor of more vivid input signals
which affect survival and so on."
In the doctrine espoused by Frederick II (the doctrine of Emanations or
Averroism) the ego is known as the passive intellect and God, the Self, is
manifested as the Active Reason.
"In every man Averroes perceived the existence of a passive intellect or
reason, in relation to which the other Heavenly Intelligence, or Divine Wisdom,
presented itself to him as the Active Reason : that in whose motions Thought
was always accompanied by Power. The one was Impersonal and Eternal the other
individual and perishable, yet Averroes taught that a close relation subsisted
between them, and a consequent sympathy and attraction, in which the passive
intelligence strove to unite itself with the active and thus achieve eternity
This union was known as the
: the supreme object of the wise man's desire. Gazzali boldly declared that
was only to be reached by an intellectual and spiritual confusion attained in
, or the whirling dance of the Dervishes."
- Enquiry into the Life and Legend of Michael Scot
by Rev. J. Wood Brown
As they are closely associated with the art of
, or marbling as it is known in English, the Dervishes bring us back to the
album's inner sleeve design.
In Europe marbled designs were once known as "turkish paper" because they were
primarily imported from Turkish sources (Rumi's Dervish Order was founded in
Turkey) and, in the Islamic world, marbling was commonly associated with
"The art of marbling had a significant importance in Islamic art.
Turks adopted Islam with great faith. As it was the case, they tried to express
the DIVINE beauties in all
branches of art. We see them looking after mystical beauty in architecture,
music and ornamental art. At the time
(XIV-XIX centuries) many theological scollos (dervish orders) became a kind of
"Art Workshops" bringing up
students by the master to apprentice method. Even no signature has been set at
the foot of many works of art
because of modesty coming from dervish precepts."
Considering that, in Turkey, Marbling was considered a form of abstract art,
the swirling marble pattern found on the album's inner sleeve might not be just
a design. It might represent the "whirling" technique by which the Dervishes
"dissolved the surface consciousness".
"Turks envisaged marbling primarily as a WORK OF ART. The
concept of color paper used in bookbinding was accessory. Within this scope,
marbling was, since old times,
framed and nailed to the wall like oil paintings.
...marbling was quite close to the contemporary concept of "Abstact Art"
"The Sufi movement also saw the rise of a distinctive style of architecture,
and painting where swirling
"arabesque" linear decoration played an important part. This ...introduced a
viable alternative to what Islam essentially considered
as primitive idolatrous representations of the wholly pure and divine image of
God. Illuminated manuscripts
featured elaborate scripts and detailed miniatures in bright colours displaying
to the barbarian world that
Islam had matured into one of the worlds' highest and influential
"The oldest illuminated manuscripts in Islam date only
from the thirteenth century. Together with copies of the Koran, admirably
illuminated with purely geometrical figures radiating symmetrically around a
central motif like the design of a carpet, there is found especially in Persia,
fruitful school of painters which did not fear to depict the human face.
more picturesque than the varied scenes intended to illustrate the books of
chronicles, legends, etc. Besides fantastic scenes ("Apocalypse of Mohomet",
Paris, Bib. Nat., supp. Turk., 190) are found contemporary reproductions of
scenes from real life which take us into the streets of Bagdad in the thirteenth
century or permit us to follow an army or a caravan on the march ("Maqâmât" of
Hariri, Bib. Nat., Paris, supp. Arab., 1618). Eastern artists, whether
Muslim, frequently portray their subjects on backgrounds of gold"