The Cathedral of St. John the Divine welcomed Brad Gooch, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Smash Cut, Flannery, and City Poet and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to discuss Gooch’s new biography, Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Harper, 2017) at 7:00pm on Wednesday, January 31, 2017.
Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, born over eight centuries ago, has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and to Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom. Yet his life has long remained the stuff of legend rather than intimate knowledge. The map of Rumi’s life stretched over 2,500 miles. Gooch traces this epic journey from Central Asia, where Rumi was born in 1207, traveling with his family, displaced by Mongol terror, to settle in Konya, Turkey. Pivotal was the disruptive appearance of Shams of Tabriz, who taught him to whirl and transformed him from a respectable Muslim preacher into a poet and mystic. Their vital connection as teacher and pupil, friend and beloved, is one of the world’s greatest spiritual love stories. When Shams disappeared, Rumi coped with the pain of separation by composing joyous poems of reunion, both human and divine.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Founder and President, Cordoba House, which has a purpose to establish a compassionate forward thinking and pluralistic American Muslim identity. Through many initiatives he has been dedicated to improving Muslim-West relations. Imam Feisal has engaged in outreach to moderates of all faith traditions, engaging in interfaith dialogue and forging connections of trust and mutual support. He is also the author of several books, including Defining Islamic Statehood: Measuring and Indexing Contemporary Muslim States (Palgrave); Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America (Free Press) and What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America (HarperCollins).
As part of the evening, Rana Gorgani, Persian dance master, presented mystical and traditional sufi dancing popularly known as “whirling dervishes.” Ms. Gorgani, a member of The International Dance Council CID, Paris [UNESCO] lives in France. She leads workshops in Afghan and Iranian dance throughout the world. The Cathedral also welcomed Amir Alan Vahab, one of New York’s most celebrated and distinguished composer / vocalists of mystical music of the of the Middle East including Persian, Turkish, Azeri and beyond. Both Rana Gorgani and Amir Vahab were accompanied by their ensembles. Other performances were by Mehdi Darvishi and Hedayat Shafaee.
About Gooch’s newest book, acclaimed biographer, novelist Fernanda Eberstadt says, “Brad Gooch is the foremost biographer of flamingly original artists who preach the gospel of love, whether fleshly or divine…Deftly situating Rumi in the crosscurrents of Persian, Arab, Turkic, and Mongol history, Gooch gives us an indelible portrait of this mystic so crucial to Christians, Muslims, Jews, and modern-day searchers after meaning.”