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As Through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam Paperback – 1 Jul 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 2 edition (1 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851682740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851682744
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,673,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


This text presents the complicated story of how a poetic tradition evolved in a number of different languages over a period of twelvehundred years. It involves the history of Sufism, the tensions between mysticism and orthodoxy in Islamic thought and the problem of interpreting a poetic language which is both sensual and sacred. The first three chapters consider initially the development of mystical poetry in Arabic from the 9th century, including the work of Hallaj, and then move on to discuss Persian poetry in a similar manner, with particular focus on the work of Rumi. The diffusion of Arabic and Persian literary influence in the many other languages spoken in the vast area affected by Islam is the subject of the final two chapters, which cover firstly folk poetry and, subsequently, poetry in praise of the Prophet.

From the Back Cover

Originally published in 1982, this is an updated and revised edition of a book containing five lectures delivered by the late renowned academic and Sufi expert, Annemarie Schimmel. Drawing on an enormous range of sources, some ancient and others modern, this classic text covers in great detail the development of Islamic mystical poetry, the literary tradition that gave birth to the profound and beautiful writings of Jalal al-Din Rumi. Clear and authoritative, this volume goes beyond a simple survey of mystical literature to cover such intriguing topics as the difficulty of interpreting poetry that is both sensual and sacred, and the effect of this body of work on later writings. With other areas featured including the delightful vagaries of cryptic and nonsense verse, this is an insightful and passionate account of some of the most exquisite literature ever penned.

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