Masnavi: Teachings of Rumi Paperback – 1 Jul 1994
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Paperback, 1 Jul 1994
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This is a one-volume version of Rumi's great classic, which has been styled by some as "the Koran in Persian".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
On the whole, though, for the general reader the work doesn't suffer much from these two possible shortcomings. Rumi's unique, teasing genius comes through on almost every page, challenging the reader to look at everyday things from a different viewpoint. Whinfield's notes are sufficient without being intrusive.
I read this version several years ago, and as I find that Rumi is best appreciated in small portions, I still like to keep the book handy as bedside reading. Whatever your opinion on Rumi, whether skeptical or reverent, you will enjoy this book.
As such it is a "must read" for anyone interested in better understanding why we are here and what our purpose in life is.
Rumi (1207-1273 CE) was born in Balkh in modern day Afghanistan. His family fled the Mongol invasion to Konya in Turkey, where he later founded the Mevlevi Sufi Order (commonly known in the West as the "whirling dervishes") as an outgrowth of his encounter with a wandering Sufi - Shams.
The Masnavi is collection of stories and poems dealing with the central issue of life. Readers familiar with mystic strands in other religions will find much resonance here - common threads, common themes and common conclusions which reinforce the view that man's different religions are construct of man rather than of the Divine.
EH Whinfield was born in England in 1835 and died in 1922. Educated at Rugby (an English "public" school -- a private school in US terminology), he received an MA from Magdalen College at Oxford (1859). He was also in the Bengali Civil Service (1859(?)-1879(?)) which no doubt gave him the opportunity and perhaps introduction to Rumi. Also a barrister -admitted to Middle Temple 1872.
He also translated several other important Sufi works, Khayyam's 'Rubaiyat', Shabistani's 'Gulshan i Raz', and Jami's 'Lawa'ih'.
It's not clear from this edition when the translation dates from (my guess is 1880's -1890s). The language is a bit dated, but still the power of Rumi's thought comes through. Whinfield has provided explanatory footnotes, including Quranic and Hadith references as well as to his other translations. These are quite valuable in helping the reader place the Masnavi in an Islamic focus.
All commentary I have seen suggests that Whinfield was a pretty faithful translator of Rumi - rather than recasting the work in his own words.
One further note for those who buy the book. A "Gueber" is a Parsee (Zoroastrian) - one of the religions recognized by Islam as Divinely inspired, e.g. "people of the book".