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Quiz about Rumi in the words of Coleman Barks
Quiz about Rumi in the words of Coleman Barks

Rumi (in the words of Coleman Barks) Quiz


One of the best-selling poets in the United States is the 13th century poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, popularly known as Rumi. This quiz is about Rumi's poetry as paraphrased by Coleman Barks.

A multiple-choice quiz by skylarb. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
skylarb
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
400,097
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
10 / 15
Plays
156
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
- -
Question 1 of 15
1. Three of these aphorisms are from Rumi, but one is not. Which is the odd line out? Hint


Question 2 of 15
2. Rumi developed such a close friendship with a particular whirling dervish that he named his collection of odes and quatrains "The Works of _____". What name is missing from this title? Hint


Question 3 of 15
3. "Not Christian or Jew or _____, not Hindu, / Buddhist, sufi, or zen." What word is missing from this line of Rumi's? Hint


Question 4 of 15
4. Rumi writes that what instrument, ever since it was taken from its natural source, has made a crying sound? Hint


Question 5 of 15
5. What kind of thirsty animal does the poet Rumi have in him "that can never find enough of what it is thirsty for"? Hint


Question 6 of 15
6. Rumi advises his readers to be like what Biblical character and "start a huge, foolish project"? Hint


Question 7 of 15
7. "To an ____, the Nile looks bloody. / To an Israelite, clear." What word is missing from this blank? Hint


Question 8 of 15
8. "The same wind that ____ the trees / makes the grasses shine." What word is missing from this line? Hint


Question 9 of 15
9. "____ is the language of God, / all else is poor translation." What is the language of God? Hint


Question 10 of 15
10. A poem by Rumi tells of some Hindus walking into a dark room. One by one, they feel an animal, but they each describe it very differently. What is the animal? Hint


Question 11 of 15
11. Which of these aphorisms is NOT from Rumi? Hint


Question 12 of 15
12. In a poem by Rumi, what wise Biblical figure do the gnats appear before to issue a complaint against the wind? Hint


Question 13 of 15
13. According to a poem by Rumi, what, "more than anything," "blocks the workmanship"? Hint


Question 14 of 15
14. Three of these sayings are from Rumi, but which is, instead, from the Book of Proverbs? Hint


Question 15 of 15
15. Three of these sayings were generated by InspiroBot. Only one comes from the pen of Rumi. Which one? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Three of these aphorisms are from Rumi, but one is not. Which is the odd line out?

Answer: Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.

"Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind" is an aphorism of William Shakespeare's, spoken by Gloucester in "King Henry VI".

These days, Rumi's aphorisms often circulate as quotes or memes on the Internet. Most of the quotes one encounters in this way come from Coleman Barks, who has compiled several books of poetic paraphrases of Rumi's work based on available English translations. The quotes in this quiz, including the quotes in the answers to this question, come from his compilations "The Essential Rumi" and "The Soul of Rumi". He has also written "A Year With Rumi", "Rumi: Bridge to the Soul", and several volumes of his own original poetry.

Because Barks does not speak or read Persian himself, his collections of Rumi's works are sometimes criticized for being mere rewrites or for reducing Rumi's poetry for a Western New Age market, but his means of presenting the poet's works have captured the popular imagination.
2. Rumi developed such a close friendship with a particular whirling dervish that he named his collection of odes and quatrains "The Works of _____". What name is missing from this title?

Answer: Shams of Tabrizi

Shams-i-Tabrīzī, (also known as Shams al-Din Mohammad) was himself a Persian poet and a spiritual instructor and friend of Rumi. At some point, Shams married a young girl brought up in Rumi's family and stayed at the poet's house. One day, he simply vanished, never to return. Some suggested he was murdered by jealous disciples of Rumi, while others claim he simply left for Khoy.

Rumi made the claim that Shams was, in essence, speaking through his poetry:

"The truth is, you are speaking, not me.
I am Sinai, and you are Moses walking there.
This poetry is an echo of what you say."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)
3. "Not Christian or Jew or _____, not Hindu, / Buddhist, sufi, or zen." What word is missing from this line of Rumi's?

Answer: Muslim

These verses suggest a universalism on Rumi's part:

"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West..."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)

Elsewhere, Rumi reiterates this theme of universalism: "All religions, all this singing, one song" (from "Soul of Rumi" by Coleman Barks).

Jawid Mojaddedi, a scholar of early Sufism at Rutgers, is quoted in "The New Yorker" as saying, "The universality that many revere in Rumi today comes from his Muslim context." Rumi himself practiced Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din for nine years. A mystical Islamic belief, Sufism is a practice in which people seek to discover divine knowledge via a direct personal experience of God. Sufis have typically belonged to different orders ("ṭuruq"), which are groups formed around a "wali" (grand master) who traces a direct chain of teachers back to Muhammad.
4. Rumi writes that what instrument, ever since it was taken from its natural source, has made a crying sound?

Answer: The reed flute

The "reed flute" tells a story "of being separated":

"Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.
....Anyone pulled from the source
longs to go back."

Another poem by Rumi makes this metaphor clearer and suggests that man is the reed, and God is the source:

"A craftsman pulled a reed from the reedbed,
cut holes in it, and called it a human being.
Since then, it's been wailing a tender agony
of parting..."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)
5. What kind of thirsty animal does the poet Rumi have in him "that can never find enough of what it is thirsty for"?

Answer: Fish

"I have a thirsty fish in me
that can never find enough
of what it is thirsty for!
Show me the way to the ocean!
Break these half-measures
these small containers."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)

Here, the fish desires to return to the ocean, to the source of the water, much as the reed flute desired to return to its own source, the reed bed, in "The Reed Flute's Song." Many of Rumi's poems express a desire to return to the source, to become one with the divine.
6. Rumi advises his readers to be like what Biblical character and "start a huge, foolish project"?

Answer: Noah

The poem is about those who try out different religions without settling on or committing to any one of them, like "spiritual windowshoppers." Rumi describes such people as "shadows with no capital." He advises, instead:

"Even if you don't know what
you want, buy something to be part of the general exchange.
Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah. It makes absolutely no difference what
people think of you."

(from "The Soul of Rumi" by Coleman Barks)

In the Bible, Noah was mocked by his neighbors for taking on the "huge, foolish project" of building the ark at God's command in expectation of the coming flood.
7. "To an ____, the Nile looks bloody. / To an Israelite, clear." What word is missing from this blank?

Answer: Egyptian

These verses are from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks. In Exodus, the first plague God sends the Egyptians when Pharaoh refuses to free the Israelites is to turn the water to blood. "The fish in the Nile shall die," God tells Moses, "and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile" (Exodus 7:18, ESV).

These verses of Rumi imply that a person's experiences inform his or her perception: "What is a highway to one is a disaster to the other."
8. "The same wind that ____ the trees / makes the grasses shine." What word is missing from this line?

Answer: uproots

The contrast here is intentional. The same force that does damage to one thing can do good to another, depending on the character of the subject in question. The poem continues:

"The lordly wind loves the weakness
and the lowness of grasses.
Never brag of being strong.
The axe doesn't worry how thick the branches are.
It cuts them to pieces. But not the leaves,
It leaves the leaves alone."

These verses suggest that the proud will be humbled, and, as Jesus said in the Beatitudes, "the meek shall inherit the earth."

(from "The Grasses" in "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)
9. "____ is the language of God, / all else is poor translation." What is the language of God?

Answer: Silence

This verse comes from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks. It suggests that God is too complex to be fully grasped and understood, that whatever interpretations we have of his revelations are but poor translations.

There is a similar concept in the Hebrew Bible, when God speaks to Elijah, suggesting that God's communications are not loud: "The LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice" (I Kings 19: 11-13, NKJV).
10. A poem by Rumi tells of some Hindus walking into a dark room. One by one, they feel an animal, but they each describe it very differently. What is the animal?

Answer: An elephant

This poem, typically referred to as "Elephant in the Dark," has become a popular parable of how people only grasp a concept partially, but if they would just put their minds together, they could see the picture fully. Another interpretation is that diverse religions have different interpretations of God and often quibble over who is right, whereas really they all have grasped only portions of who God is, and each has a part of the whole:

"Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole in that way
[. . . ]
If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)
11. Which of these aphorisms is NOT from Rumi?

Answer: If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything" is a witticism of American writer Mark Twain. It suggests that liars have to remember all the lies they have told and keep track of them so as not to trip themselves up, while truth tellers need not be bothered with such details of memory. All of the other quotes come from either "The Soul of Rumi" or "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks.

Rumi was born in Balkh in present-day Afghanistan on September 30, 1207. His family fled invading Mongol armies to Turkey around 1216. The name Rumi means "from Roman Anatdli."
12. In a poem by Rumi, what wise Biblical figure do the gnats appear before to issue a complaint against the wind?

Answer: Solomon

Solomon responds to the gnats complaint by summoning the East Wind to hear their complaint:

"...and the wind arrives almost immediately.
What happened to the gnat plaintiffs? Gone.
Such is the way of every seeker who comes to complain
at the High court."

(from "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)

Rumi has many poems that mention Solomon, and in fact he uses Solomon and Sheba as types of the courtship story in general. In the Bible, Solomon was given the gift of wisdom, and he often had people appear before his throne to settle their disputes. In one such case, two women were arguing over a child, and Solomon suggested splitting it in half, thus revealing the true mother, who would rather see it given to the other woman than see it injured. Solomon is similarly clever in Rumi's poem, as he appears to honor their complaint by summoning the wind, and yet he knows what will happen when he does.
13. According to a poem by Rumi, what, "more than anything," "blocks the workmanship"?

Answer: Self-complacency

"There is nothing worse
than thinking you are well enough.
More than anything, self-complacency
blocks the workmanship."

In this poem, Rumi goes on to advise the reader: "Trust your wound to a teacher's surgery." He also tells his listeners, "And don't believe for a moment / that you're healing yourself."

This poem is about not becoming too sure of one's self, but humbling oneself enough to admit one's weaknesses and needs; humility is required to accept and show gratitude for help.

(from "Childhood Friends" in "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks)
14. Three of these sayings are from Rumi, but which is, instead, from the Book of Proverbs?

Answer: Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (NIV). The other phrases all come from either "The Soul of Rumi" or "The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks.

Rumi's final resting place is in the mausoleum at the Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey. The Georgian Queen Gürcü Hatun, a close friend of Rumi's, sponsored the construction of his tomb.
15. Three of these sayings were generated by InspiroBot. Only one comes from the pen of Rumi. Which one?

Answer: What you seek is seeking you.

InspiroBot (https://inspirobot.me/) is a satirical website that generates inspirational quotes at the click of a button using artificial intelligence and then supplants those quotes onto random backgrounds to create often nonsensical, but sometimes hilarious, memes.

Rumi's major works include his six-volume collection of spiritual couplets the "Maṭnawīye Ma'nawī" and the "Dīwān-e Shams-e Tabrīzī" (The Works of Shams of Tabriz). He has also written prose works, including "Fihi Ma Fihi" (In It What's in It), and "Majāles-e Sab'a" (Seven Sessions). His letters to his disciples are collected in "Makatib" (The Letters).
Source: Author skylarb

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor looney_tunes before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
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