Rumi on Tolerance: A Philosophical Analysis

This paper propounds a basic difference of interpretation of religions between the jurists (foqahâ) and the sages (hokamâ), including the gnostics in the Islamic tradition (‛âref).  The article then argues that Rumi rejected the epistemological foundation of the claim that one can know the absolute Truth through feqh, or any other means, thus opening  the path for the relativity of knowledge and understanding of religious truth.   The article shows how the Masnavi and Divan-e Shams criticize the epistemological reliability of the senses, as well as the notion that truth can be known by authority, or by pure reason and philosophy (though he does not thereby reject rationalism). 
Rumi seems to privilege the intuition and spiritual attainment as more morally reliable modes of knowing than philosophy, theology, nor law – though even this remains limited.  The logical conclusion of these epistemological limitations is that only the Absolute knows the Absolute absolutely, and individual human beings possess only a relative understanding of the Absolute Truth, and must therefore exercise tolerance, respect, understanding, inclusiveness and epistemological humility.

مهدی امین رضوی
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