Shams was like a tramp, or mendicant, rolling around the lanes of Konya, today located in central Turkey.
This mad dervish, clothed in rags, with knotted hair and beard, was one of the five Perfect Masters of the time.
Rumi, by contrast, was a man of great intellectual learning and ran a madrasa of repute. He was held in high regard by the local community, with his sermons in the mosque transcribed and distributed for general consumption.
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However he started to become dissatisfied with the intellectual, and drift towards a more mystical approach.
One winter’s evening in 1244 his world became a little more unhinged. Shams grabbed the reins to Rumi’s horse, and then set about roasting his intellectual understanding.
Rumi’s heart knew what was truly being offered and he embraced the opportunity. He spent more and more time in the PM’s presence, imbibing his spiritual fire.
Rumi’s students and friends became worried and jealous of this new development, felt threatened, and tried to have Shams bumped off on several occasions.
Rumi even turned his back on Shams at one time, leading to Shams leaving.
All of this unwittingly led to the creation of the whirling dervishes, without which any modern day spiritual fair would be lacking.
Shams came back to Konya a year later, only to be disposed of by Rumi’s students and family once again.
Mevlana Djalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273)