Jalaluddin Rumi was born in 1207 C.E. ( i.e. Common Era aligned with A.D.) in Balkh. This city was then in the Persian province of Khorasan but is now in Afghanistan. Balkh was then a prominent city and his family had a tradition of service there in legal and religious offices. Despite this background he moved, in his youth and with his family about 1218 C.E., away from Balkh in order to avoid the warlike Mongols who were then conquering extensively under the leadership of their Khans.
The family travelled to Baghdad, to Mecca on pilgrimage, and to Damascus and eventually settled at Karaman near Konya in what is now western Turkey.
Following this move to Konya, then the capital of the western Seljuk Turks Jalaluddin's father was busy as an Islamic theologian, teacher and preacher. Jalaluddin followed in this tradition and, upon his father's demise in 1231 C.E. succeeded to his post as a prominent religious teacher.
This part of the world was then known to its inhabitants as Rum, a name derived from the Byzantine Roman Empire that had formerly held it. Jalaluddin's name in religion and literature - Rumi - is itself derived from Rum.
Rumi is today thought of being a Persian mystic and poet and is closely identified with Sufism and Sufi mysticism. This Sufism being a mysticism within Islam where devotees sought a mystical union with God.
From around 1232 C.E. and the arrival of one of his fathers former Balkh students in Konya Rumi was thoroughly familiarised with doctrines of Sufism that had emerged in Persia and in 1240 C.E. he was recognised as being a Shaykh in his own right.
In about 1244 C.E. Rumi befriended Shams ad-Din (Sun of Religion), a wandering dervish or Sufi devotee who was formerly from Tabrìz, who became his mentor. For over two years he and Shams ad-Din were very closely associated in a platonic friendship and living in the same house. Sufis had a tradition of such close platonic friendships based on a commonality of spiritual endeavours.
Rumi had previous to this all absorbing friendship been busy as a teacher and leader of a Mevlevi discipleship. His former pupils were most discomfited by the friendship with Shams and threatened violence.
Shams ad-Din disappeared unexplainedly in 1247 C.E. and Rumi subsequently composed approaching to 30,000 verses of poetry, the Lyrics of Shams of Tabrìz, expressing his feelings at the disappearance of his friend. He later formed other deep spiritual friendships that were not really welcomed by his disciples in the Mevlevi Order.
One of these friendships again inspired poetry, notably the epic poem Masnavi I Ma'navi (Spiritual Couplets), which has had an immense influence on Islamic literature and thought.
This friend, Husam ad-Din Chelebi, became leader of the Mevlevi Order upon Rumi's death in 1273 C.E.
Rumi had taught that "Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians should be viewed with the same eye" and it is said that people drawn from five faith backgrounds followed his funeral bier. His mausoleum, the Green Dome in Konya, is today a place of pilgrimage for many thousands.