Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi was a Persian poet and mystic, born in Balkh, in Central Asia. He moved to Konya (in modern Turkey) in 1227. There he founded a sect who became to be known as Whirling Dervishes.
He wrote a comprehensive epic on Sufi mysticism - the Masnavi. It comprises some 26,000 verses and is a complete encyclopeadia of all the mystical thought known in the 13th century. It is regarded by the Persian Sufis as second in importance only to the Koran.
Although Rumi's works were written in Persian, Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as the literature of the Urdu, Bengali, Arabic and Turkish languages. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages.
His two masterpieces are The Wine Ode, a beautiful meditation on the 'wine' of divine bliss, and The Poem of the Sufi Way, a profound exploration of spiritual experience along the Sufi Path and perhaps the longest mystical poem composed in Arabic.