International Conference: ‘A Boundless Ocean: Rumi’s Thought and Reception’

23 - 24 November 2023

Location: Sweelinckzaal (room 0.05), Drift 21, Utrecht University

The year 2023 marks the 750th anniversary of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī’s death (1207-1273), one of the mostly read authors in the Islamic world, and a best-selling poet in the United States, praised for his aesthetics, his wisdom, practical advice, and passionate love. Why is Rūmī so appealing to people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds? What is his timeless message that attracts both Muslims and non-Muslims alike? Is his modern appreciation merely to do with his non-conformist and transgressive ideas? How are his transgressive ideas used as a counter to the violent ideas of Islamist ideology, emphasizing a different Islam? Rūmī composed an impressive amount of works, his poetry consists of about 120.000 lines. His magnum opus, the Spiritual Poem (Masnavī-yi ma‘navī) is called the Koran in the Persian language as he comments on the Koran in an attractive fashion, adorning his message with metaphors and illustrative anecdotes. His opening lines about the complaint of a reed cut from the reedbed is a metaphor for the separated human soul, longing to return to the original home.

This conference brings together scholars who have worked or are working on various aspects of Rūmī as a mystic, a religious scholar, and a poet. We would like to invite scholars who are working on Rūmī to present a paper on any aspects of this medieval sage who has become a source of inspiration for many people around the world today. The conference is organized to encourage discussion on understudied aspects of Rūmī’s poetry, personality, legacy and his reception history. His oeuvre is unmatched. In Professor William’s words, “It is perhaps the single most influential piece of mystical writing ever conceived.” Therefore, we would like to analyse new aspects of Rūmī’s mystical philosophy.

To see the full programme click here.

You can attend the conference both on location and by livestream. In both cases registration is needed by sending an email to

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