The poet Rumi, also known as the Maulana, provided the world with timelessly inspiring images and words of hope, peace and tolerance. Many of his poems reference trees, gardens and flowers. ARCH envisions a worldwide collection of Rumi Gardens, which we believe can be anywhere: in a quiet meditative corner of a college campus, in a hospital garden to encourage recovery, as a guerrilla garden in a run-down urban landscape, and even on the blast walls of embattled cities. Help us plant, paint, and imagine gardens wherever people need a moment of beauty and peace.
ARCH’s first Rumi Gardens are in Afghanistan, where the poet was born. Our Kabul Campus garden, incorporating rock elements from the country’s trademark stone lapis lazuli as well as murals of flowers and words that “bloom” all year around in paint and mosaic, will be a peaceful retreat with educational features. Cost: TBA.
Meanwhile the second installation will bring moments of reflection to the volatile, dusty streets of Kabul, through Rumi poems and flowers spray-painted on blast walls in the city. For this we are collaborating with the amazing street artists of Kabul, ArtLords This project will include the creation of spraypaint templates that can be used by other groups in other cities. Cost for material and labor: $3,600
ARCH has launched a worldwide call for Rumi Gardens. Let the flowers bloom! We’ve developed a set of innovative garden concepts, inspired by the writings of the timeless 13th century poet and philosopher Rumi.
We want to launch in Afghanistan, the country of the poet’s birth – and arguably, a country in desperate need of his messages of hope, peace and reconciliation. We have an agreement with Kabul University, but security concerns and the unstable political situation have complicated the matter somewhat – we’re on it though.
Everywhere! The ideas work for large formal gardens, small guerrilla gardens, and your window sill or backyard. (For the latter, see our Shop for some tools to get you started.)
Next event: a fundraiser at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington D.C., to raise the money for ArtLords to bring some encouragement to the streets of Kabul.
Share the idea with everyone you know who loves Rumi, to help us build a group of Rumi enthusiasts. Send us your favorite Rumi verses and personal stories about how his words uplifted you. Artists, please consider donating one of your works for our fundraising auction. Everyone: this is not an expensive project, and your modest donation can make it happen.
We’re relying on you to make this project happen! This budget is for materials and local labor only – no travel costs, no administrative costs. If we can obtain sufficient funding, we would love to add a teahouse – a place to hold poetry readings and recital competitions, Sufi performances and seminars to the Rumi Garden. Once constructed, such a teahouse will be self-sustaining and can even help support the upkeep of the (very low-maintenance) garden.
Jalaluddin Rumi, also known as the Maulana (the teacher or master), was born at the beginning of the 13th century in Balkh, Afghanistan. Today, Rumi is famous around the world, admired and loved for the beautiful images conjured by his words and for the advanced spiritual values his writing espouses. His message of tolerance, of overcoming the boundaries of geography and culture and sectarian division and religion, was ahead of its time and is sorely needed today.
From Afghans and other Central Asians to Iranians to Turks, this “native son” is a great source of pride and inspiration. At the same time his books, amazingly, centuries later and continents away, sell more copies in the United States than those of any other single poet, making him into a genuine cultural bridge.
Our Rumi Gardens follow the tradition of poetry gardens elsewhere, such as the Shakespeare Gardens in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and elsewhere, the Garden of Monet at Giverny near Paris or the Musalla Gardens in Shiraz. A Rumi Garden will feature the flowers and trees celebrated in his poetry – pomegranate flowers, cypress trees, sugarcane, and of course roses (and their thorns!) His verses, on plaques and benches, will invite the visitor to reflect on his message.
The prototype garden is slated to be established on the campus of Kabul University, commencing next spring. We hope to raise enough funds to include a teahouse that can serve as a venue for educational lectures and events, and as an information center for visitors. We envision a steady stream of visits by school children, and will provide materials for teachers who bring their class.
This follows the tradition of poetry gardens elsewhere, such as the Shakespeare Garden in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden or the Garden of Monet at Giverny near Paris. A Rumi Garden will feature the flowers and trees celebrated in Rumi’s poetry – pomegranate flowers, cypress trees, sugarcane, and of course roses (and their thorns!) His verses, on plaques and benches, will invite the visitor to reflect on his words and images.
A prototype garden is slated to be established on the campus of Kabul University, commencing next spring. We hope to raise enough funds to include a teahouse that can serve as a venue for educational lectures and events, and as an information center for visitors. We envision a steady stream of visits by school children, and will provide materials for teachers who bring their class.
The words that make the rose bloom were also said to me.
The words told to the cypress to make it grow strong and straight,
The instructions whispered to the jasmine,
And whatever was said to the sugarcane to make it sweet,
And to the pomegranate flowers to make them blush,
The same thing is being said to me.
The primrose gazed at me sadly
Amazed, I saw that she was weeping
If her eyes had been painted
The tears would have left tracks down her cheeks.
When the nightingale comes to the garden, the crow stays away
Light of my eyes, let’s go to that garden
Like the lilies, like the roses, we will blossom there.
Nightingales are kept in cages because their songs delight us
Who would ever think of caging a crow?
My dear, if you insist on sitting in that patch of thorns
Instead of picking the flowers of the garden
What can I do? His face lights up the world with its radiance
But if you won’t see it, what can I do?
I’ve never seen a greener tree than you
I’ve never seen a brighter moon than you
I’ve never seen the dawn rise as grandly from the night
Or tasted sweetness filled with more delight than you
We plant our seeds and wait
Winter blocks the road
Flowers are being held prisoner underground
But then green justice sends up a first spear
Be like melting snow and wash yourself of yourself
If you are irritated by every rub, how will you become polished
Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in the winter.
it is silent, but the roots below are riotous.
Keen knocking. The joy inside will eventually open the window and look out to see who’s there
Let the stormy waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in yourself
Water the fruit trees, don’t water the thorns
هجر سرد چون زمستان راهها را بسته بود
در زمین محبوس بود اشکوفههای بوستان
چونک راه ایمن شد از داد بهاران آمدند
سبزه را تیغ برهنه غنچه را در کف سنان
(دیوان شمس، غزل شمارهٔ 1940)
چون برف گدازان شو خود را تو زخود می شو
(دیوان شمس، غزل شمارهٔ ۲۱۷۲)
تا نگویی در زمستان باغ را مستی نماند
مدتی پنهان شدست از دیده مکار مست
(دیوان شمس، غزل شمارهٔ ۳۹۰)
The irretrievable loss of something fabulous and unique is, sadly, no exception in the world of cultural heritage preservation. But this one manages to really shock us: while Rumi’s final resting place in Konya, Tu
rkey, is beautifully developed, excellently maintained and visited by streams of pilgrims and tourists, his birthplace in Balkh, Afghanistan is a crumbling ruin. And no one is doing a thing about it. And we’re talking about a modest set of adobe structures that could be shored up, repaired and restored at very little cost.
WHY is it, instead, being allowed to deteriorate, soon to vanish altogether in a pile of rubble? The Afghan Ministry of Culture says that the Turkish government, ten years ago, promised to restore this site. Therefore they signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) granting them custody of the site. But since then, Turkey has done nothing and the structure is falling apart, being washed away by rain and wind.
We think it should be an Afghan project to restore the birthplace of Afghanistan’s native son.