Jalal al Din Rumi (12071273) was born in the Persian province of Khorassan (modern day Afghanistan). A disciple of the Sufi tradition, he was the figurehead of the Whirling Dervishes. Of his prolific career as both poet and scholar, his poetry is what he is best remembered for: the Masnavi, a narrative poem of 25,000 verses in six volumes, is widely considered to be the greatest spiritual masterpiece ever written.
Franklin D. Lewis is an associate professor in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is a specialist in Persian literature and author of Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, also published by Oneworld.