The Joy of Fasting – Rumi Poem

Written By TFF Team

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)

English version by Coleman Barks


There’s hidden sweetness

in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less.

If the soundbox
is stuffed full

of anything, no music.


If the brain and belly are burning

with fasting, every moment

a new song comes out of the fire.

The fog clears, and new energy makes

 run up the steps in front of you.


Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.

Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.

When you’re full of food and drink,

Satan sits
 where your spirit should,

an ugly metal statue 
in place of the Kaaba.


When you fast,
 good habits gather

like friends who want to help.

Fasting is Solomon’s ring.


Don’t give in
to some illusion and lose your power,

but even if you have,

if you’ve lost all will and control,

they come back when you fast,

like soldiers appearing
 out of the ground,

pennants flying above them.


A table descends to your tents,

Jesus’ table.

Expect to see it, when you fast,

this table 
spread with other food,

better than the broth of cabbages.”

― Rumi, The Illuminated Rumi


Photo from Khachik Simonian on Unsplash

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  1. leo p

    This is an interesting topic!

  2. Katherine D

    I love this poem. Rumi was so brilliant. If only we remembered all the things he knew back then. 🙂

  3. TFF T

    Thank you for all the comments! We’re a big fan of this poem too.


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