Shams Tabrizi – A sage in disguise.

By  Naeem Asgher Tarar

By profession Shams Tabrizi was a weaver of baskets, and this was the sole source to earn him bread and butter for living. It would be very accurate if we call him not just a weaver of baskets but some philosophical lessons, which aided generations to come after him to understand the myth of life. He was a sage in guise of Sufi poet, and preached message of God, in such an easy way that it entered into the hearts of educated and uneducated alike.


Born in the year 1185, he blessed the land of Iran with his presence and started a journey of life, which was less beneficial for himself and much more for the people around him. Later in his life, he spiritually tutored Mualana Rumi and made him what he is remembered by.


Shams Tabrizi gave many lessons which are on many different topics, covering our lives. The basic teachings include religion, accepting life the way it is, embracing simplicity, spreading peace and love and how to ascertain the most right path which leads to the heavens.

Bust of Shams-i Tabrizi
Bust of Shams-i Tabrizi

He disregarded hate and malicious intentions which we have in hearts for the others. According to him, a pure heart is one who never brings something in it which is associated with intention to hurt anyone.


“The real dirt is not outside,
but inside, in our hearts.
We can wash all stains with water.
The only one we can’t remove is the grudge
and the bad intentions sticking to our hearts.”


Like every Sufi Saint, he advises that there is not just one path which is final to reach God, but there are many of them, with different schemes, leading to one God. His philosophy of religion is relied upon the intention, if it is pure and true, then no hurdle can keep one away from reaching to the divine light of heavens.


“Don’t judge the way other people connect to God;
to each his own way and his own prayer.
God does not take us at our word. He looks deep into our hearts.
It is not the ceremonies or rituals that make a difference,
but whether our hearts are sufficiently pure or not.”


Shams Tabrizi was of opinion, that if you do good you have good, if you think it is dark then it is, albeit you are standing under the bright light. So that is, what you think. Evil is if you think of it, but if you think of goodness and loftiness then no wonder you will find it around you like a web. His following adage very simply gives us the gist of whole philosophy of goodness and badness.

“This world is like a mountain.
Your echo depends on you.
If you scream good things,
the world will give it back.
If you scream bad things,
the world will give it back.
Even if someone says badly about you,
speak well about him.
Change your heart to change the world.”


According to this legendary sage, the change always comes from the inside. It is very easy to complain about the evils prevailing in the world, but when it comes to get rid of them in person, the real battle starts. If you want to change yourself then it is better to look into the heart and rectify what troubles you from inside. If everyone starts practicing this, then soon world will be a garden with blooms of kindness and peace.


“The summary of the advice of all prophets is this;
Find yourself a mirror.”


He has also written for the search of Utopia, which Thomas Moore also projected in his famous novel, but the one presented by Shams Tabrizi is more easy and have almost no complications, it has the prophecy of brotherhood and living with love. He says;


“Hell and heaven are not to be found in future,

for they are now, present.

When we love each other selflessly,

it is real heaven,

and when we are at war with each other and spread hatred that is the real hell.”


These are but few teachings which Shams Tabrizi imparted through his poetry, he was a marvel of his times and one of the most praised Muslim philosopher. To read his teachings and poetry, you can refer to the book,  ‘Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz’, it is written and translated by Refik Algan.


The writer is a lawyer, a student of Philosophy and interested in culture, history and literature.

  • Muhammad Waqas Nawaz

    Such a fine piece of writing. Very simple and self explanatory. 🙂