What is the meaning of the following quote from Rumi?

In the slaughterhouse of love, they kill only the best, none of the weak or deformed. Don't run away from this dying. Whoever's not killed for love is dead meat.

I think I get the gist of it but seems like something was lost in translation. Wouldn't anything killed in a slaughterhouse be dead meat, even metaphorically?

  • What is the source of this quote? Context may be helpful.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 19 '20 at 15:19
  • Unfortunately, I couldn't find the source. Everything I found refers this quote as the full poem.
    – Kamal
    Feb 19 '20 at 15:36
  • 1
    It might not even be a real Rumi quote. His poems are often so badly translated as to be unrecognisable. Still a valid question, of course.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 19 '20 at 15:46

در مسلخ عشق جز نکو را نکشند

In love slaughterhouse, they not kill except the good ones

روبه صفتان زشت خو را نکشند

They will not kill the ill-natured vulpines

گر عاشق صادقی ز کشتن مگریز

Do not run away from death if you are truthful in love

مردار بود هر آنکه او را نکشند

Anybody who is not killed in love slaughterhouse is a dead meat

In fact, the answer to your question is related to Rumi's mystical look. If we look at it in a superficial way when a man is killed, apparently only a dead meat remains of him.

Everyone will eventually die.

The one killed in the slaughterhouse of love will be different from the one killed in the usual way. The memory of the one who is killed in the way of love remains but The one who is killed in vain will not remain in remembrance and the one who doesn't stay in the memories is as dead meat.

You can watch a video (Puppet Opera Rumi) of this poem by Iranian singer Homayoun Shajarian here.

Watch the full video of this opera here

Also see something like this in Ghazal/Ode 636 from Rumi's Divan:

Go and die, go and die, In this Love, go and die. Once you've died in this Love, You'd receive the spirit.

Go and die, go and die, Don't fear death, go and die. Go and leave this dusty earth, Go fly up high into the sky. ...


I'd suggest that it's for the same reason that Yeats wrote in the first stanza of his Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

For Yeats, as for Rumi (as it was also true of Plato), it's so often that the best that get murdered, because they are doing what they are good at; whilst the worst, being worse, do what they are good at - being cunning, Machiavellian, full of venal and stupid desires and dressed up in a charade of politesse to make it all look right.

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