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Tafsir as Mystical Experience: Intimacy and Ecstasy in Quran Commentary

Tafsīr sūrat al-baqara of 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
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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.
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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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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.
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La littérature transculturelle franco-persane

Une évolution littéraire depuis les années 80

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Esfaindyar Daneshvar

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Edited by Gabrielle van den Berg and Charles Melville