When Jalal al-Din Rumi left his home, as a boy, and migrated westward to Anatolia, he would have encountered a world in which it was customary to welcome strangers with song, dance, and forms of religious devotion. Although studies on Rumi place an emphasis on his later encounter with Shams al-Din Tabrizi, a peripatetic mystic who became Rumi’s spiritual guide, this chapter reconstructs the ways in which medieval Anatolia shaped Rumi’s poetic sensibilities. It particularly examines a metaphor employed by Rumi—amikhtan, or ‘to mix’—that simultaneously describes his own ‘mixing’ with the peoples of Rum, as well as illuminates his adaptive practice of ‘mixing’ together disparate literary styles, themes, tropes, and sources in the creation of something new. This chapter establishes a pattern of omnivorous adaptation that is revisited throughout the book.
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