"I didn't grow up religious, but the philosophy of Rumi -- which is a humanitarian aspect of Islam about tolerance -- was always in the background," Ünel explains. "The play is about the two aspects of any religion, really -- the very personal, private aspect about love, tolerance and acceptance, and what happens when it becomes social and political, with violence and intolerance."
Ünel was inspired to start work on this piece in 2004 by something he read in The New York Times. "I'd been thinking about writing a historical play about Rumi's life when I ran into an article about a young Turkish journalist who'd been abducted in Iraq with a Canadian colleague," he says. "In the play, the two stories evolve at the same time. By putting them on stage together, there is an interaction between these two aspects of a religion. How it is in some ways essential, and in other ways so destructive."