Sunday, November 17, 2013

Divine Beauty

The spot of your mole cannot be stamped on vision's tablet
unless from the pupil of the eye we seek black ink.

With all its soul the heart desired a loving sign from your sweet lips.
With a smile of sugar your lips replied,  "It's a higher bid we're looking for."*

"Persian culture combines a sense of great refinement in almost everything with a sensuality that is at the same time spiritual.  This wedding between the sensual and the spiritual is usually not well understood in the modern West, where the two have become dichotimized into opposing categories and people cannot understand how someone can talk of the beautiful ruby lips of women, but be talking at the same time about the Divine Qualities..."

-Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "In Search of the Sacred"

*excerpt from Poem CCCLXI, "The Collected Lyrics of Hafiz of Shiraz" translated by Peter Avery.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Fertile Ashes Of The 13th Century

"Strangely enough this period of the most terrible political disaster was, at the same time, a period of highest religious and mystical activity.  It seems as though the complete darkness on the worldly plane was counteracted by a hitherto unknown brightness on the spiritual plane.

The names of poets, scholars, calligraphers could be enumerated, but it is mainly the mystics who dominate this century.

The supreme figure is the Spanish-born Ibn 'Arabi; he developed a most consistent theosophical system, which was to be adopted by most of the later mystics of Islam.  His contemporary in Egypt, Ibn al-Farad sang highly refined poems to praise eternal spiritual love...Faridoddin 'Attar, who died in 1220, left a rich spiritual heritage of poetry and prose; in the same year the Mongols killed Najmoddin Kobra, the founder of an extremely interesting mystical order in Khwarezm. His disciple Najmoddin Daya Razi, like so many other scholars and saints, including Jalaloddin Rumi's family, fled to Anatolia where he composed his mystical work Mirsad ol-'ebad under the Seljuks. 

In India, Mo'inoddin Chishti introduced the Chishhtiyya order; from the long list of Chishti saints in 13th century India we may mention Faridoddin Ganj-e Shakar, Nezamoddin Owlya of Delhi and his faithful disciple and biographer Amir Hasan as well as his poet-friend Amir Khosrow.

Boha'oddin Zakariya founded a branch of the Sohrawardiyya in Multa, and in his presence Fakhroddin 'Eraqi, the mystical minstrel of overbounding love, spent twenty-five years of his life before his return to Anatolia.  There he found Sadroddin Quanavi, Ibn 'Arabi's foremost interpreter in Konya; a little while earlier Owhadoddin Kermani had died, a poet who had sung about the love of beautiful human beings and had written a mystical mathnavi jam-e jam

Anotolia was filled with groups of mystics striving for social and political changes.  Many of them had migrated from Eastern lands, fleeing from the Mongol threat...In short, in almost every corner of the Islamic world were found great saints, poets, and mystical leaders, who, in the darkness of political and economical catastrophes, guide the people towards a world which was unhurt by change, telling them the secret of suffering love, and taught that God's inscrutable will and His Love may reveal itself in affliction even better than happiness."

-Annemarie Schimmel, "The Triumphal Sun"