With the documentary film "Rumi-Poetry of Islam", I would like to present an oft undepicted and fully unknown side of Islamic culture. The work of the 13th century poet and mystic Rumi is one of the most important sources of inspiration for theology, poetry and philosophy in the entire cultural circle of the Islamic world, including the Arabic nations, North Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Northern India, Turkey, all the way to Bosnia.
Therefore, I have made Rumi, his life and his work, the focus of this film.
Far beyond the popular clichés about Islam, there exists in this religion a tradition of absolute tolerance and a philosophy in which unselfish love, dance and music are celebrated as a way to worship God. Scientists have identified the source of this world of thought not only in Islam, but also in neo-platonic, shamanistic, Christian, Buddhist, pantheistic and Zoroastrian ideas.
Of course I do not wish to ignore the other, political side of Islam, that which is imprinted upon the religion by the media, rather, I would also like to pose critical questions.
In the course of researching this project, I got to know two people, Vahid Catic and Nariman Hodjaty, both with a completely different approach in searching for the more poetic side of their cultural heritage.
The film begins among Bosnian emigrants; Bosnia, because it is the most western "outpost" of Islam in Europe.
Vahid, a Bosnian, only has traces of Islamic culture in himself, and he can’t bring these into harmony with his self-perception. He believes he can overcome this feeling of inner conflict if he can find the proper and compatible approach to his family and ancestor’s beliefs.
In contrast, Nariman has fled from theocratic Iran, and has a conflicting relationship with Islam for very different reasons. He stands, on one hand, for the artistic and above all intellectual approach to Rumi´s philosophy, yet on the other hand, Rumi, like other Sufis (mystics in Islamic culture) and dervishes, is for him a rebel against the spiritual and worldly rulers of the East.
Both men have come to the conclusion to travel to Konya in Anatolia, where thousands find their way every year to commemorate the anniversary of Rumi´s death with ecstatic dancing, music, readings and discussions. They have both agreed that we may accompany them with a camera on their trip.
Together, they investigate the vestiges of the poet in the city and in the people. While Nariman, who is writing a book on Rumi, researches critically, Vahid tries to find an intuitive approach; as the Sufis say, to "taste" Sufism - to experience with the heart.
In the course of their stay, Nariman tries to explain the depth of Sufistic thought to Vahid; both converse with spiritual masters and simple believers, with Turks, for whom Rumi is the national poet (as he also is for Persians and Afghanis), with western searchers, even with the followers of different gurus.
An interaction between the old mystical love, the atmosphere in Konya and the reaction of these two modern, real people with their questions should yield an exciting journey into an unknown world, in no way a scientific treatise. Precisely the subjectivity of the experiences made by Nariman and Vahid should bring the viewer closer to the strength and depth of the "poetry of Islam".
The protagonists are not actors; rather, they are real people, not speaking a dialogue, but living the real conversations and situations that we want to document. To some extent, conversations that had already taken place in the past were improvised here.
The images in the film should not only document facts, but should also make the sometimes ecstatic felling of Sufism more tangible. While the "plot" is told in a direct and linear manner, the images are sometimes associative.
Houchang Allahyari (German original)