ʿAlāʾ al-Dawla al-Simnānī between Spiritual Authority and Political Power: A Persian Lord and Intellectual in the Heart of the Ilkhanate, Giovanni Maria Martini investigates the personality of a major figure in the socio-political and cultural landscape of Mongol Iran. In pursuing this objective, the author follows parallel paths: Chapter 1 provides the most updated reconstruction of Simnānī’s (d. 736/1336) biography, which, thanks to its unique features, emerges as a cross-section of Iranian society and as a microhistory of the complex relationships between a Sufi master, Persian elites and Mongol rulers during the Ilkhanid period; Chapter 2 contains a study on the phenomenon of Arabic-Persian diglossia in Simnānī’s written work, arguing for its socio-religious function; in Chapters 3 to 6 the critical editions of two important, interrelated treatises by Simnānī are presented; finally, Chapter 7 offers the first full-length annotated translation of a long work by Simnānī ever to appear in a Western language.
Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi’s introduction and annotated scholarly translation of
Ayatollah Khomeini’sThe Mystery of Prayer brings to light a rarely studied dimension of an author better known for his revolutionary politics.
Writing forty years before the Islamic revolution, Khomeini shows a formidable level of insight into the spiritual aspects of Islamic prayer. Through discussions on topics such as spiritual purity, the presence of the heart before God, and the stations of the spiritual wayfarer, Khomeini elucidates upon the nature of reality as the countenance of the divine. Drawing upon scriptural sources and the Shīʿah intellectual and mystical tradition, the subtlety of the work has led to it being appreciated as one of Khomeini’s most original works in the field of gnosis.