Shams Tabrizi

spiritual instructor of Mewlānā Rumi

Shams-i Tabrīzī (Persian: شمس تبریزی) (1185–1248) was a Persian[1] poet,[2] who is the spiritual instructor of Rumi. He is mentioned and respected highly in Rumi's poetry collection, especially in Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrizi.

According to some accounts, Shams Tabrizi was the son of Imam Ala al-Din and received his education in Tabriz under Baba Kamal al-Din Jumdi. Before meeting Rumi, Shams traveled from place to place selling girdles and weaving baskets, earning him an epithet called "the embroiderer." However, some scholars have questioned the reliability of these biographical accounts.

Shams first encountered Rumi in Konya in 1244. Rumi was reading when Shams asked him what he was doing. Rumi replied that it was something that Shams couldn't understand, and Shams threw Rumi's books into a nearby pool of water. To Rumi's surprise, the books were dry when he rescued them. Shams then challenged Rumi with two questions about the saints Bayazid and Muhammad, and Rumi's answers led Shams to realize that Rumi was the object of his longing. Shams left Konya and settled in Khoy, but Rumi continued to attribute his own poetry to Shams as a sign of love and respect for his departed friend and master. In Rumi's poetry, Shams became a guide of Allah's love for mankind, dispelling darkness and shining the Light of Sun as a guide for the right path on earth. The source of Shams' teachings was the knowledge of Ali ibn Abu Talib, who is also called the father of sufism.

In the Sufi tradition, Shams Tabrizi's disappearance is a mystery. Some believe he was killed by Rumi's jealous disciples, while others say he left Konya and died in Khoy where he was buried. Rumi's son, Sultan Walad, mentions in his writing that Shams disappeared without giving more details. Shams' tomb in Khoy has been nominated as a World Cultural Heritage Center by UNESCO.


  1. * Murtaz̤avī, pizhūhish va nigārish-i Manūchihr (2004). Zabān-i dīrīn-i Āz̲arbāyijān (Chāp-i 2. ed.). Tihrān: Bunyād-i Mawqūfāt-i Duktur Maḥmūd Afshār. p. 49. ISBN 964-6053-61-0.
    • Jones-Williams, transl. from the French by J. (1968). Pre-Ottoman Turkey : a general survey of the material and spiritual culture and history c. 1071-1330 (1. publ. ed.). London: Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 258. ISBN 9780283352546. He may also have met the great Persian mystic Shams al-Din Tabrizi there, but it was only later that the full influence of this latter was to be exerted on him.
    • Jenkins, Everett (1998). The diaspora : a comprehensive reference to the spread of Islam in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, Vol 1. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-7864-0431-5. The Persian mystic Shams al-Din Tabrizi arrived in Konya (Asia Minor)
    • Arakelova, Victoria; A. Doostzadeh; S. Lornejad (2012). On the modern politicization of the Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi. Yerevan: Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies. p. 162. ISBN 978-99930-69-74-4. In a poem from Rumi, the word buri is mentioned from the mouth of Shams Tabrizi by Rumi. Rumi translates the word in standard Persian as biyā (the imperative "come"). This word is also a native word of the Tabrizi Iranian dialect which is mentioned by Persian Sufi, Hafez Karbalaie in his work Rawdat al-Jenān. In the poem of Baba Taher, the word has come down as bura (come) and in the NW Iranian Tati dialects (also called Azari but should not be confused with the Turkish language of the same name) of Azerbaijan, in Harzandi Tati it is biri and in Karingani Tati it is bura (Kiya 1976). Shams Tabrizi was an Iranian Shafi'ite like the bulk of the Iranian population of Azerbaijan during the pre-Mongol and post-Mongol era.
  2. Ibrahim Gamard, Rumi and Islam: Selections from his stories and poems, Pg Introduction xix