British Society for Middle Eastern Studies

Rumi: Past and Present East and West-The Life Teachings and Poetry of Jalal Al-Din Rumi by Franklin D. Lewis Review by: Nile Green British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Nov., 2005), pp. 287-289 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: . Accessed: 24/08/2013 21:24
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an Iranianexile playfully reworkedthe famous opening lines of the Masnavi of 287 This content downloaded from 131. which should stronglybe recommendedafter their inclusion. The second part includes twelve excerpts taken from the Peshitta and various historical works.19 on Sat.THELIFE PASTANDPRESENT FRANKLIN D. Muraoka. The addendaandcorrigendasuggestedfor futureeditionswill no doubtimprove the book. It had been preceded by a number of similar works. THACKSTON. Hence. IBEX Publishers. In a recent issue of the London based Persian satirical magazine.RUMI: TEACHINGSAND POETRY OF JALAL AL-DIN RUMI. only to the preliminarydrills. Davidson. Asghar Agha.considered one of the most importantSemitic languages in which mainly liturgical and historical books have been composed. generally speaking.but it shouldnot come at the expense of the Syriac vocalization system. RETIREDFROMLEEDS UNIVERSITY AVIHAI SHIVTIEL EASTANDWEST. The importanceof these points cannot be over-emphasized. Oxford. LEWIS. Yet its contribution is. Syriac .Syriac vocabulary.Classical Syriacfor Hebraists(1987). Syriac vocalization is not used at all. Robinson. theology and religious studies as well as Semitic philology and other related areas considerably benefit from their reading ability of texts writtenin this language. INTRODUCTION Bethesda. Althoughthe book is undoubtedlya good text-bookfor beginnersit suffersfrom a numberof serious shortcomings:a. Moreover.clearly set and illustrated. ISBN 1851682147 (Hardcover). 24 Aug 2013 21:24:26 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . TO SYRIAC. Thackston's book is not the first Syriac text-book in English. The book includes a preface which provides a bird's eye view of the history of the languageandliterature.REVIEWS:LANGUAGEAND CULTURE WHEELER M. followed by an introduction to the phoneticsystem and of and with a chart the Semitic consonants.d.211. Maryland. Oneworld Publications. states of the noun and verbs with enclictic its methodology. 1999.Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Grammar (1915) andT.ISBN 936347-98-8.I am not convinced that the tables in the Appendixes should only appearin transliteration. therefore. Syriac. c.followed by a vocabularyand exercises.since the beginner student does not have sufficient knowledge of the language and lacks the sensitivity that would enable them to draw the right conclusions concerning sentence structure or to check whether their answers are correct. The book does not offer any discussion of syntax and word order. such as B. which is one of the daughtersof the Aramaic 'sub-family' has always been associated with the ChristianChurch and is. There are three appendixes which include verbal inflections.English vocabulary and an Index of the grammaticalterms discussed conclude the book. Each unit consists of a discussion of a topic or topics in grammar. 2000. Also. It does not provide answersto all exercises.H. There is no English .208. students of divinity. Syriac Reading Lessons (No date).The orthography ending comparative lessons devoted to the are following twenty Syriac morphologicalsystem. T. the transliteration providedin all the lessons may be helpful. b.

poet and mystic and the ways in which his poetic and other legacies have been received. drawing on Muhammad'Ali Movahhed's edition and study of Shams'sMaqalat. includinghis often neglected collection of letters and the Maqalat of Shams-e-Tabrizi. Divided into five parts. bringingShams out from the shadows cast by the effulgence of Rumi's devotion to emerge as an interestingreligious thinkerin his own right. thoughhis determination to draw history out of hagiography can at times appear overly optimistic.Properly positioned as his father'sson.208. Lewis furtherpresents (and agrees with) Movahhed's evidence that Shams died and was buried in Khuy in western Iran. While Iranians continue to enjoy and reassess their literary heritage in such ways. multi-layered and indeed developing personality.legend) of Shams's murderas told by Aflaki andthence Jamiandhis modem heirs.Lewis's accountof the life of Shams himself. Lewis's account of Rumi's heirs and their successors is a similarly careful blending of original researchandthe fruitsof others'scholarship. such as the cost of Shams's weekly rentin Aleppo in 1246. Rumi himself takes shapein the following chapters. Lewis also drawsextensively on the large body of primary evidence on Rumi's life.An earlychapterre-examines the biography of Rumi's father. As Lewis readily confesses in the introduction to his voluminous study. Lewis carefullyreconstructs a chronologyof the family's travelsthatquestionsthe traditional accountof Rumi's family fleeing beforethe Mongol invasions. both in Islamic world and in the West. before moving on to sift throughthe considerable body of hagiographicaland other sources on Rumi's circle in an attemptto reachthe historicalmanbehindthe poetry. this is really several books in one. Bahram Behizad has recently questioned the authenticityof the 288 This content downloaded from 131. providing convincing evidence againstthe rumour(or better. 24 Aug 2013 21:24:26 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . By comparing the different sources on Rumi's life. Baha al-din Valad.REVIEWS:LANGUAGEAND CULTURE Jalal al-din Rumi to demand readers forget flutes and listen to him if they wished to hear of the sorrows of exile and the woes of those uprooted from their cultural riverbeds. Lewis sets out to redresslong-standingmisconceptionsthat have emerged from others' less critical reliance on single sources. Lewis begins his study with a solid and helpful positioning of Rumi in his intellectual.211. discussion of the texts and their teachings. the volume comprises the biographiesof Rumi and his family: an account of Rumi's successors. and a survey of the rise of Rumi in the West. new generations of Europeans and Americans purchase books introducing them to a 'mystic' Rumi devoid of any specific heritage at all.19 on Sat. a history of the Mevlevis and other Muslim followers of Rumi. As Lewis himself notes.What emerges is a more humanistic and three dimensionalaccountof Rumithanhas oftenbeen the case in earlierworkstendingto emphasizethe enraptured mystic over otheraspectsof whatwas clearly a complex. While drawing on the earlier work of Fritz Meier.whatemerges from the author'sconsiderablelaboursis convincing. East and West aims in part to redress the balance in the modem publishing phenomenon that is Maulana Rumi by providing a weighty but readable account of Rumi as Muslim.Forthe most part. While makingjudicioususe of the fruitsof modem Iranian andTurkishscholarship on Rumi andhis circle.These accountsarefull of the kind of fascinatingdetails thatsummonthe past to life. carefully balancing hagiographicalclaims to the fame of this provincialscholar from Vakhsh (rather than the more commonly believed Balkh) against the evidence of biographical dictionariesfrom the in itself a valuablecontribution to scholarship. religious and political context. Rumi: Past and Present.

AL-BUKHALA').Among fifty-one pages of discussionof such some readersmay find the accountsof recentrenderingsof Rumi into translations. Having read the original book in Arabic.thoughgiven the compositional spontaneous of fluency many pre-modernpoets this may strike some as quaint. 24 Aug 2013 21:24:26 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Western Rumi 'translators'and other enthusiasts Later sections on modemrn seems unnecessarilycomprehensive.both this and the ensuing twenty-seven page section on the multimedia Rumi at times falls into the danger of becoming a list of Rumi merchandise. his descriptions of the work of Iranian and Turkish researchersis to be applaudedin performinga valuable scholarly service. (KITAB The Kegan Paul ArabiaLibrary. GreekandCzech less thancompelling. However.Lewis makes his opinion clear that the sheer volume of Rumi's output is proof of the natureof the Masnavi's composition. such questionablesections (and editorialdecisions) aside. ISBN 0710306458 (Hardcover).In the absenceof a criticaldiscussionof the of Rumi into 'orientalmystic' and then capitalist meanings of the transformation venture. 1899) is perhaps a surprisingomission here. Lewis's discussion of the commentarial traditionon the Masnavi similarlyhelps assess the often overlooked afterlifeandreceptionof classical texts throughto the changinginformationorder of nineteenthcenturyprintingand the subsequentemergence of nationalisticand otherpolitical claims to the poet.1999.Jahiz as masterof the Arabic language and also famous 289 This content downloaded from 131. this remains an indispensable work of innovative and careful scholarship that is able to maintaina laudable lightness of touch over some six hundredand eighty pages. Given debates over the compositionalhistory of Rumi's poems. East and Westdeserves a place on the shelves of anyone interestedseriously in Islam or Iran.the authortracesthe anthologycontainingfifty of Lewis's translations influenceof Rumi in later Muslim traditionthat rangesbetween Yunus Emre and 'Abd al-KarimSorush. some discussion of the theoryproposedby JulianBaldick of Rumi as more literarycraftsmanthan rhapsodicbardmay have helped settle an importantquestion. Lewis presentsreaderswith an uncommonlyengagingaccountof Rumi scholarshipin both Europeanandoriental languages.19 on Sat.Translatedfrom the Arabic by JIM AND THEAVARICIOUS AVARICE COLVILLE. Colville's translationis a readableand an accurate work of Abu Uthman al-Jahiz Avarice and the Avaricious. Many Arabliteraticonsider al. Such are the perennial dangers of making men out of saints. LADY MARGARETHALL. His selective account of Rumi's tremendousinfluence is. Once again. Specialists on Persian literaturemay find Lewis's briefer critical accounts of Rumi's poetry less interesting.JAHIZ. After an from Rumi. London. OXFORD NILE GREEN ABU 'UTHMAN'AMR IBN BAHR AL.208. generally a well-judged and helpful positioning of a poet within his own legacy.For his part.211. Rumi:Past and Present. In later sections.REVIEWS:LANGUAGEAND CULTURE 'early' account of Rumi's life by Faridun Sepahsalar that furnishes a considerablepart of his evidence.The absence of the nineteenthcenturyIraniansufi Safi Ali Shah (d. however. though there are still moments of great insight.

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