Rūmī and the Hermeneutics of Eroticism


This is the first systematic examination of the esoteric significance of the bawdy tales and explicit sexual passages present in Rūmī’s (d. 1273) Mathnawī, a masterpiece of medieval Perso-Islamic mystical literature and theosophic teachings. Using the relevant features of postmodern theories as strategic conceptual tools, and drawing on the recent interpretations of medieval kabbalistic texts, it is a fascinating examination of the link between the dynamics of eroticism and esotericism operative in Rūmī’s Mathnawī. In some of these bawdy tales, the phallus is used as an esoteric symbol. The book concludes that these tales are used primarily to communicate esoteric secrets, particularly when this communication is contemplated along gender lines, mediated through erotic imagery, or expressed in sexual terms.


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Biographical Note

Mahdi Tourage, Ph.D. (2005), University of Toronto, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Islam at Colgate University, NY. His scholarly work has appeared in Iranian Studies and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.


All those interested in the issues of gender, body, eroticism, and secrecy in Sufism, particularly in its medieval Persianate expressions, Persian mystical literature, and especially the mysticism of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī


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