The Masnavi - Masnavi-I Ma'navi

12.02.09 | Xurshid


<b>The Masnavi - Masnavi-I Ma'navi</b>
Author: Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
Format / Quality: Pdf
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Masnavi, an calligraphic specimen from 1490
Mevl&#226;na mausoleum, Konya, Turkey

The Masnavi or Masnavi-I Ma'navi (Persian: &#1605;&#1579;&#1606;&#1608;&#1740; &#1605;&#1593;&#1606;&#1608;&#1740;), also written Mathnawi or Mesnevi, written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, the celebrated Persian Sufi saint and poet, is one of the best known and most influential works of both Sufism and Persian literature. Comprising six books of poems that amount to more than 50,000 lines, it pursues its way through 424 stories that illustrate man's predicament in his search for God.


In his travelogue, the medieval globetrotter Ibn Battuta relates an anecdotal tale pertaining to the Masnavi's composition. In his youth, Rumi served as an instructor in a religious school. One day while he was lecturing to his students, he noticed a sweetmeats vendor pass by. After calling the man in and sampling his wares, Rumi went off with him. When his students subsequently tried to locate their absent instructor, they discovered that he had completely vanished from the neighborhood. Some years later, Rumi reappeared, uttering nothing but rhymed Persian couplets. His students redacted this poetry into the Masnavi.

The title Masnavi-I Ma'navi means "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning." It is considered by some to be the most important work of Muslim literature other than the Qur'an. In fact, the Masnavi has often been referred to as the 'Quran-e Farsee i.e., "The Persian Qur'an". Rumi himself referred to the Masnavi as "the roots of the roots of the roots of the (Islamic) Religion." Although the original is still extant, many different versions of the Masnavi are published in Iran, India, and Pakistan. Parts of the Masnavi were first translated into English by Sir James Redhouse in 1881. Many passages were translated into Latin, as the passages would have been deemed scandalous by his Victorian contemporaries due to the seemingly salacious nature of some of the verses - a common practice in the writing of many Muslim and Christian mystics who employed such allusions to describe their love of God. The first complete translation of the Masnavi into English was published by Reynold A. Nicholson between 1925 and 1940.

English translations

* The Mesnevi of Mevl&#257;n&#257; Jel&#257;lu'd-d&#299;n er-R&#363;m&#299;. Book first, together with some account of the life and acts of the Author, of his ancestors, and of his descendants, illustrated by a selection of characteristic anedocts, as collected by their historian, Mevl&#257;n&#257; Shemsu'd-d&#299;n Ahmed el-Efl&#257;k&#299; el-'Arif&#299;, translated and the poetry versified by James W. Redhouse, London: 1881. Contains the translation of the first book only.
* Masnav&#237;-i Ma'nav&#237;, the Spiritual Couplets of Maul&#225;n&#225; Jal&#225;lu'd-din Muhammad R&#250;m&#237;, translated and abridged by E. H. Whinfield, London: 1887; 1989. Abridged version from the complete poem. On-line editions at Sacred Texts and on wkisource.
* The Masnav&#299; by Jal&#257;lu'd-din R&#363;m&#299;. Book II, translated for the first time from the Persian into prose, with a Commentary, by C.E. Wilson, London: 1910.
* The Mathnaw&#237; of Jal&#225;lu'dd&#237;n R&#250;m&#237;, edited from the oldest manuscripts available, with critical notes, translation and commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson, in 8 volumes, London: Messrs Luzac & Co., 1925-1940. Contains the text in Persian. First complete English translation of the Mathnaw&#237;.
* The Masnavi: Book One, translated by Jawid Mojaddedi, Oxford World's Classics Series, Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-280438-3. Translated for the first time from the Persian edition prepared by Mohammad Estelami, with an introduction and explanatory notes. Awarded the 2004 Lois Roth Prize for excellence in translation of Persian literature by the American Institute of Iranian Studies.
* Rumi, Spiritual Verses, The First Book of the Masnavi-ye Ma'navi, newly translated from the latest Persian edition of M. Este'lami, with an Introduction on a reader's approach to Rumi's writing, and with explanatory Notes, by Alan Williams, London and New York, Penguin Classics, Penguin, xxxv + 422 pp. 2006 ISBN 0-14-044791-1.
* The Masnavi: Book Two, translated by Jawid Mojaddedi, Oxford World's Classics Series, Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-921259-0. The first ever verse translation of the unabridged text of Book Two, with an introduction and explanatory notes.

Paraphrases of English translations

* The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996 ISBN 0-06-250959-4; Edison (NJ) and New York: Castle Books, 1997 ISBN 0-7858-0871-X. Selections.
* The Illuminated Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, Michael Green contributor, New York: Broadway Books, 1997 ISBN 0-7679-0002-2.

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