According to Leslie Wines, a journalist with a background in Eastern religion and meditation, the thirteenth-century mystic and poet Jalalu'ddin Rumi is revered in the Islamic world "for his excellence as a poet; for his rare ability to empathize with humans, animals and plants; for his personal refinement; and above all else, for his flawless moral center and ability to direct others towards good conduct and union with Allah."
This brief biography is part of the "Lives and Legacies" series by Crossroad Books. Wines believes that the nomadic quality of Rumi's life from age five to twenty-two years enabled him to "cultivate his rich inner life as a defense against a volatile and heartless world." It also gave him a broad-minded cosmopolitan perspective that shines like a beacon through his poetry and certainly is one of the reasons why Rumi is so widely read in the West seven centuries after his death.
Wines also discusses the extraordinary impact of a brilliant and strange dervish, Shams al-Din of Tabriz, upon this Persian intellectual turned mystic. When Shams disappeared, a grief-stricken Rumi created some of his greatest poetry. Later, he had two other spiritual companions who inspired his work. Rumi once spoke of the formative impact of his three "peerless friends" by comparing them to the sun, the moon, and the stars.
When Rumi died, he was mourned by people of all backgrounds and religions Moslems, Christians, Jews, Greeks, and others. His cat, wishing to join him, refused to eat and died one week after him. Rumi's daughter buried the cat close to the man who celebrated animals in his stories and poetry and cared for them in his daily life.