In the early thirteenth century, in the Central Asian province of Balkh, Baha al-din Valad, the father of the poet we now call Rumi, is said to have delivered a sermon in which he confronted the ruling Khwarezmshah, ‘Ala al-Din Mohammad bin Takesh.1 As a throng of people listened to him preach, Baha al-din addressed the shah in the following manner: “Oh king of this transient realm, know and be aware—though you do not know and are not aware—that you are a sultan and I am a sultan. They call you Sultan of the Commanders and they call me Sultan of the Religious Scholars, and you are my disciple.”2 Baha al-din then warns the Khwarezmshah about the impending arrival of the Tatar armies and withdraws his family from Balkh to go to the capital of the Abbasid caliphate,...

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