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Thus Spake the Dervish

Sufism, Language, and the Religious Margins in Central Asia, 1400-1900

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Alexandre Papas

Thus Spake the Dervish explores the unfamiliar history of marginal Sufis, known as dervishes, in early modern and modern Central Asia over a period of 500 years. It draws on various sources (Persian chronicles and treatises, Turkic literature, Russian and French ethnography, the author’s fieldwork) to examine five successive cases, each of which corresponds to a time period, a specific socially marginal space, and a particular use of mystical language. Including an extensive selection of writings by dervishes, this book demonstrates the diversity and tenacity of Central Asian Sufism over a long period. Here translated into a Western language for the first time, the extracts from primary texts by marginal Sufis allow a rare insight into their world.

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Tawfiq Daʿadli

In Esoteric Images: Decoding the Late Herat School of Painting Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the pictorial language which flourished in the city of Herat, modern Afghanistan, under the rule of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r.1469-1506). This study focuses on one illustrated manuscript of a poem entitled Khamsa by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, kept in the British Library under code Or.6810. Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the paintings, reveals the syntax behind them and thus deciphers the message of the whole manuscript. The book combines scholarly efforts to interpret theological-political lessons embedded in one of the foremost Persian schools of art against the background of the court dynamic of an influential medieval power in its final years.

La littérature transculturelle franco-persane

Une évolution littéraire depuis les années 80

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Esfaindyar Daneshvar

Après la révolution iranienne (1979), l’islamisme règne. Dès les années 80 les écrivains s’exilent dans le monde et en France. Malgré les écueils de l’intégration beaucoup ont continué à écrire péniblement en France dans une condition que Jacques Derrida a définie comme le « monolinguisme de l’autre ». Dans ce livre, Esfaindyar Daneshvar considère pour la première fois la genèse et l’évolution de la littérature franco-persane. Il analyse l’œuvre d’une dizaine d’auteurs et révèle les particularités de ces écrits dans le contexte d'une société multiculturelle, puis traite le processus d’une hybridation littéraire et identitaire qui confronte les vestiges d’un traditionalisme islamique à la modernité, discutant enfin la notion du transculturalisme des textes analysés.

The Adventures of Shāh Esmāʿil

A Seventeenth-Century Persian Popular Romance

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Barry Wood

The Adventures of Shāh Esmāʿil recounts the dramatic formative years of the Safavid empire (1501–1722), as preserved in Iranian popular memory by coffeehouse storytellers and written down in manuscripts starting in the late seventeenth century. Beginning with the Safavids’ saintly ancestors in Ardabil, the story goes on to relate the conquests of Shāh Esmāʿil (r. 1501–1524) and his devoted Qezelbāsh followers as they battle Torkmāns, Uzbeks, Ottomans, and even Georgians and Ethiopians in their quest to establish a Twelver Shiʿi realm. Barry Wood’s translation brings out the verve and popular tone of the Persian text. A heady mixture of history and legend, The Adventures of Shāh Esmāʿil sheds important light on the historical self-awareness of late Safavid Iran.

The Persianate World

Rethinking a Shared Sphere

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Edited by Abbas Amanat and Assef Ashraf

The Persianate World: Rethinking a Shared Sphere is among the first books to explore the pre-modern and early modern historical ties among such diverse regions as Anatolia, the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Western Xinjiang, the Indian subcontinent, and southeast Asia, as well as the circumstances that reoriented these regions and helped break up the Persianate ecumene in modern times. Essays explore the modalities of Persianate culture, the defining features of the Persianate cosmopolis, religious practice and networks, the diffusion of literature across space, subaltern social groups, and the impact of technological advances on language. Taken together, the essays reflect the current scholarship in Persianate studies, and offer pathways for future research.

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Edited by Reza Pourjavady

During its Qajar period (1210–1344/1795–1925), Iran witnessed some lively and significant philosophical discourse. Yet apart from studies devoted to individual figures such as Mullā Hādī Sabzawārī and Shaykh Aḥmad Aḥsāʾī, modern scholarship has paid little attention to the animated discussions and vibrant traditions of philosophy that continued in Iran during this period. The articles assembled in this book present an account of the life, works and philosophical challenges taken up by seven major philosophers of the Qajar period. As a collection, the articles convey the range and diversity of Qajar philosophical thinking. Besides indigenous thoughts, the book also deals with the reception of European philosophy in Iran at the time.

Tafsir as Mystical Experience: Intimacy and Ecstasy in Quran Commentary

Tafsīr sūrat al-baqara by Sayyid ʿAlī Muḥammad Shīrāzī, The Báb (1819-1850)

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Todd Lawson

In Tafsir as Mystical Experience, Todd Lawson shows how the Quran may be engaged with for meaning and understanding, the usual goal of mystical exegesis, and also how it may be engaged with through tafsīr in a quest for spiritual or mystical experience. In this earliest of the Báb’s extended works, written before his public claim to be the return of the hidden Imam, the act of reading is shown to be something akin to holy communion in which the sacred text is both entrance upon and destination of the mystic quest. The Quran here is a door to an “abode of glory” and an abiding spiritual encounter with the divine through the prophet, his daughter Fāṭima and the twelve Imams of Ithna-ʿasharī Shiʿism who inhabit the letters, words, verses and suras of the Book.

Cover calligraphy by Burhan Zahrai of Quran 53:11

Encyclopaedia Iranica

Volume XVI Fascicule 4

Edited by Elton L. Daniel

The Encyclopædia Iranica is dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. It also includes scholarly articles related to the reciprocal influences between Persia and its neighbors, extending from pre-history to the present. The disciplines represented include: anthropology, archaeology, geography, art history, ethnology, sociology, economics, history of religion, philosophy, mysticism, history of science and medicine, Islamic history, botany, zoology, folklore, development of agriculture and industry, political science, international relations, and diplomatic history. Fascicule 4 of Volume XVI (pp. 337-448) starts with the article on the Kešaʾi Dialect and ends with the entry on the Khavaran-nama.

Jāmī in Regional Contexts

The Reception of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World, ca. 9th/15th-14th/20th Century

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Edited by Thibaut d'Hubert and Alexandre Papas

Jāmī in Regional Contexts: The Reception of ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World is the first attempt to present in a comprehensive manner how ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 898/1492), a most influential figure in the Persian-speaking world, reshaped the canons of Islamic mysticism, literature and poetry and how, in turn, this new canon prompted the formation of regional traditions. As a result, a renewed geography of intellectual practices emerges as well as questions surrounding authorship and authority in the making of vernacular cultures. Specialists of Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Georgian, Malay, Pashto, Sanskrit, Urdu, Turkish, and Bengali thus provide a unique connected account of the conception and reception of Jāmī’s works throughout the Eurasian continent and maritime Southeast Asia.