RUMI: The Philosopher Of Love!

“What I once thought of as God I met today as a human being!” 

RUMI: The Philosopher Of Love!

written by Fred Van Lente drawn by Ryan Dunlavey colored by Adam Guzowski

Original transcript of ACTION PHILOSOPHERS: RUMI

Written by Fred Van Lente


Panel 1: Big establishing shot of RUMI, pre-revelation, making his way through a 13th century Turkish market in Konya on a donkey. (Reconstruction of ancient Konya.)

CAPTION: Look closely at Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Rumi! At the moment he is merely a 37 year-old preacher and teacher of theology at a local madrassa, an Islamic religious school, in Konya, Turkey!  

CAPTION: But you are now witness to the final moment of this phase of his existence! For the date is November 15, 1244! Within moments he will be transformed into ACTION PHILOSOPHER #TK, known in the West simply as… 


CREDITS: Fred Van Lente is not your Shams. He is the writer.
Ryan Dunlavey is not your Shams. He is the artist. 

Panel 2: Suddenly, Rumi is approached from the crowd by SHAMS, a wild-eyed looking wandering dervish monk – except instead of his HEAD, floating over his neck stump is a BLAZING SUN! He steps out of a doorway and seizes the donkey’s bridle. 

CAPTION: Suddenly, a figure lunged at him from a doorway, startling him with the question: 

SHAMS: Who is greater, Muhammad or Bestami? 

CAPTION: The comparison was between the legendary prophet who founded Islam (570-632) and the famed 9th century mystic Bayazid al-Bestami (d. 874). 

Panel 3: BESTAMI, an old man Sufi mystic with a flowing beard, uses a ball peen hammer to chip away at his outer covering – revealing GOD beneath! 

CAPTION: Bestami was an adherent of Sufism, the Muslim mystic tradition which teaches one can draw closer to God in this life by striving to achieve what the Qur’an calls fitra

CAPTION: --a “pure state” of original human nature in which all of one’s actions are motivated solely by a love for God – destroying one’s self in order to unify one’s will with the Divine Presence! 

“True Human Being”


Panel 1: Bestami, dressed in baby clothes, sucking a pacifier looks up at his MOM, who looks down on him while wearing a burqa. 

CAPTION: When asked how old he was, Bestami would reply “four”, because:

BESTAMI: “I have been veiled from God by this world for seventy years, but I have seen Him during the last four years;

BESTAMI: “The period in which one is veiled does not belong to one’s life!” 

Panel 2: Stat previous panel … except it’s GOD in the toddler clothes! 

CAPTION: In fact, Bestami went so far as to claim in his ecstatic state he became one with God, crying out: 


CAPTION: Nevertheless, it bordered on blasphemy to place one above Muhammad, “the anointed one,” so when challenged, Rumi replied in the expected manner: 

Panel 3: Two-shot, Rumi on donkey with Shams. 

RUMI: Muhammad, of course! 

SHAMS: But Bestami said, “I am the Glory!” Muhammad said, “I cannot praise you enough!” 

CAPTION: The distinction, of course, was that a prophet, no matter how great, is still a messenger – as opposed to receiving the message instantly, without mediation! 

Panel 4: A thunderbolt flies from the sky, striking Rumi, blowing up a LIGHT BULB over his head, and knocking him unconscious! He falls from his donkey—who looks shocked! Shams watches. 

CAPTION: At soon as Rumi received this message he fell unconscious from his horse! 

SFX: Q.E.D.! 

CAPTION: Later, he would say, “What I once thought of as God I met today as a human being!” 

Panel 5: Shams leans over Rumi as he lies on his back on the ground. 

RUMI: Bestami took one swallow of knowledge and thought that that was all… 

RUMI: …but for Muhammad the majesty was continually unfolding! 

SHAMS: Yes, yesYou are the one I am looking for! 

CAPTION: The enigmatic dervish, or wandering Sufi holy man, was an Iranian named Shams-e Tabrizi (“Shams” means “sun” in Arabic). 


Panel 1: Some pissed off Muslims boot Shams out of a medieval mosque. 

CAPTION: Shams’ religious bluntness did not endear him to those he met on his travels. His nickname was “The Bird” because he never stayed in one place for too long. Legend has it he finally prayed in despair: 

SHAMS: Where O where may I find one who can endure my company?

GOD (OFF): What will you give in return? 

SHAMS: Why, my very head! 

GOD (OFF): Then the one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya! 

SHAMS: Great!  

SHAMS (SMALL): You got a street address, or…? 

Panel 2: Rumi’s madrassa students look through his window jealously as Rumi and Shams sit together in meditation on the floor. 

CAPTION: Shams became Rumi’s teacher and Rumi became the inseparable friend Shams had long sought. They spent months-long retreats in solitude together, meditating and discussing theology. 

STUDENT: They’re so totally talking about us in there, I just know it! 

CAPTION: Rumi’s own students became intensely jealous, becoming convinced their teacher had fallen under the spell of a madman and a charlatan. 

Panel 3: The students, bearing scimitar, late one night, lure Shams out the back door. 

CAPTION: Finally, on the night of December 5, 1247… 

STUDENT: Hey! They’re handing out free carpets out here! 

SHAMS: Seriously? Where?!  

CAPTION: …Shams vanished through the back door of the home he shared with Rumi, never to be seen again. 

Panel 4: The students chop Sham’s head off with a scimitar! 

CAPTION: Most scholars believe he was murdered by Rumi’s own disciples to free their master from his influence. 

SHAMS: No fair! False advertising! 

CAPTION: And thus the prophecy was fulfilled. 


Panel 1: Rumi goes through the town, sobbing and looking under benches for Shams. In the background, we see innocent-looking students whistling and looking around, blocking a well from which Shams’ feet stick out of from view. 

CAPTION: Rumi was inconsolable over his friend’s disappearance. 

RUMI: Shaaaaams? Where aaaaaaaare you? 

CAPTION: He traveled across the Middle East looking for him, until, in Damascus, he reached his second great realization: 

Panel 2: Like Page One, panel 3, Rumi chips away his outer exterior to reveal Shams beneath! 

RUMI: I never lost Shams at all! He’s inside me through his teachings! 

SHAMS: Uh… could you let me out, then? It’s stuffy in here… 

CAPTION: From Rumi’s pen began to flow poetry that immortalized their friendship… and explicated their religious teachings!  

Panel 3: ADAM and GOD lounge together on a couch in the Garden of Eden. 

CAPTION: Rumi’s verse urges us to get beyond our own selfish human egos to the time before the Fall from Paradise, when man’s mind and God’s mind were one! 

GOD: I’m thinking of a number between one and one billion

ADAM: 585,463,930?

GOD: Duuuude! We are, like, so in sync! 

Panel 4: Rumi at “Date-A-God” looks at a computer screen of God’s face. (Poem: Shiva 194) Hearts fill Rumi’s eyes and hearts bubble out of his chest. God’s preferences are: 




Thy Neighbor


Graven images

False idols

Fat chicks

CAPTION: To evoke the intensely personal and passionate nature of religious experience, Rumi proclaims this conduit between selfish isolation and Divine Unity to be love! 

RUMI: “I am in love with love and love is in love with me…” 


Panel 1: Rumi lies down under a keg with a heart on it as God turns on the spigot and fills his mouth. All around him, frat boys cheer him on! (Poem: Shiva 41)

CAPTION: And the ecstatic ego-less state of religious rapture Rumi refers to as “drunkenness” – a daring metaphor in Islam, which bans alcohol! 


CAPTION: “I drank that wine of which the soul is its vessel,” he writes. “Its ecstasy has stolen my intellect away.”  

Panel 2: Shams FLOATS out of the well where the students hid him! The students flee in terror, their eyes jammed shut! Rumi is overwhelmed with joy to see his friend again. (Shiva 104)

CAPTION: And for Rumi, the narrator of the poems, it is his love for Shams – “the sun” – that shines through! 

RUMI: “Who says that the immortal one has died? / Who says that the Sun of hope has died?

SHAMS: “Look, it is the enemy of the Sun who has come to the rooftop! / Closing both eyes shut, crying:”

STUDENT: “O, the Sun has died!!” 

Panel 3: Rumi like Elvis, crooning to screaming teeny-boppers hurling bras and such at him. 

CAPTION: Rumi’s work is more passionate and sensual than any pop song. 

RUMI: “Oh God / Let all lovers be content / Give them happy endings / Let their lives be celebrations

RUMI: “Let their hearts dance in the fire of your love!” 


Panel 4: Rumi lies in PIECES on the ground! (Shiva 102)

CAPTION: “Until a disciple annihilates himself completely,
Union will not be revealed to him.
Union cannot be penetrated. It is your own destruction.
Otherwise, every worthless person would become the truth.”

CAPTION: It is also intensely mystical


Panel 1: “It’s A Small World” shot of drunken stereotype kids holding hands with love-marked beer bottles, smashed out of their minds, puking, wearing lampshades on their heads, etc. 

CAPTION: And, most importantly, it is also fiercely universal. Though proudly Muslim, Rumi’s poetry speaks the language of God and love so plainly it has been embraced by people all around the world! 

IT’S A SMALL WORLD: “Today it’s time for samaa, for samaa, for samaa! / Today is bright and illuminating, illuminating, illuminating!”

IT’S A SMALL WORLD: “This love is unifying, unifying, unifying! / And it’s bidding the intellect farewell, farewell, farewell!” 

Panel 2: A WHIRLING DERVISH spins around and around as a thought bubble comes out of head filled with the scene from Page Four and Adam and God on the couch. (Shiva 54)

CAPTION: “Samaa” refers to the spinning dance of the most famous of Rumi’s followers, the whirling dervishes! 

DERVISH: “The lover like the atoms will turn…” 

CAPTION: The whirling of the dervishes symbolizes not just to the thought-less-ness of religious ecstasy – a form of dkhir, or remembrance of God – 

Panel 3: Now the Dervish spins next to a spinning PLANET EARTH and spinning SUN, hands outstretched, against a black star background. 

CAPTION: -- but unity with the universe! After all, the planets – the stars – our galaxy itself is in a constant state of revolution! 

EARTH: “…when the spring breeze of love begins to swirl…” 

CAPTION: The dervishes, or the Mevlevi Order, were founded by Rumi’s followers not long after his death in 1273. 

CAPTION: He left behind two voluminous works of poetry, Spiritual Couplets and The Complete Works of Shams of Tabriz. 

Panel 4: Now it’s UNCLE SAM spinning the dervish dance as, in the foreground, a modern-day NEW AGE HIPPIE buys a pile of Rumi books at a cash register! 

CAPTION: For the last ten years or more, Rumi has been the most popular poet in the United States, selling well over a half a million copies! 

UNCLE SAM: “…any branch that is not dead will dance!

END BIT: You hear us, varmit? We said dance!