Politics, Poetry, and Sufism in Medieval Iran

New Perspectives on Jāmī’s Salāmān va Absāl


In Politics, Poetry, and Sufism in Medieval Iran Chad Lingwood offers new insights into the political significance of poetry and Sufism at the court of Sulṭān Ya‘qūb (d. 896/1490), leader of the Āq Qoyūnlū. The basis of the study is Salāmān va Absāl, a Persian allegorical romance ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 898/1492), the great Timurid belletrist and Naqshbandi Sufi, dedicated to Ya‘qūb. Lingwood demonstrates that Salāmān va Absāl, which modern critics have dismissed as ‘crude’ and ‘grotesque,’ is a sophisticated work of political and mystical advice for a Muslim ruler. In the process, he challenges received wisdom concerning Jāmī, the Āq Qoyūnlū, and Perso-Islamic advice literature. Significantly, the study illustrates the extent to which Jāmī’s compositions integrated the Timurid and Āq Qoyūnlū realms.
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Biographical Note

Chad G. Lingwood, Ph.D. (2009), Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto, is Assistant Professor of History at Grand Valley State University. He has published articles in Iranian Studies (2011) and Journal of Persianate Studies (2011).

Review Quote

"Lingwood’s study of Salāmān va Absāl represents a valuable and significant contribution to many areas of scholarly interest. In Politics, Poetry, and Sufism he develops the approach of Maria Eva Subtelny, whose studies of Kāšifī’s Aḫlāq-i Muḥsinī have similarly demonstrated a complex interplay of ethical-political, mystical and historical meanings. Indeed, Lingwood adds to the growing number of studies that demonstrate the specificity of mirrors for princes, notwithstanding the camouflage within which they often appear. By reference to contemporary and near-contemporary writings in various genres, he shows by the example of Salāmān va Absāl the precise meanings that mirrors carried for their audiences, regardless of the timeless and universal appearance of many of the materials deployed in their presentation. By means of a thorough, careful and thoughtful study of an important work of Persian poetry, Lingwood sheds light on numerous aspects of the milieu for which it was written." L. Marlow in Bulletin critique des Annales islamologiques 30, 2014.

Table of contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements Note on Transliteration and Style Epigraph Introduction Chapter One: APPROACHING JĀMĪ’S SALĀMĀN VA ABSĀL AS A PERSOISLAMIC BOOK OF ADVICE FOR RULERS The Narrative Context of Salāmān va Absāl The Provenance of the Salāmān and Absāl Allegory Ibn Sīnā’s Version of the Allegory Salāmān and Absāl in Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān Coded Speech: The Overall Power of Allegory Salāmān va Absāl, an Esoteric Mirror for Princes Salāmān va Absāl and the Masnavī of Rūmī The Historical Significance of Salāmān va Absāl Overview of the Primary Sources Salāmān va Absāl by Jāmī Other Persian Poetry Addressed to Ya‘qūb Official Court Chronicles and General Histories Hagiographies and Biographical Works Literary Anthologies Letters of Personal Correspondence Statement of Purpose Chapter Two: POLITICAL ADVICE FOR RULERS AND MYSTICAL GUIDANCE FOR SUFIS IN SALĀMĀN VA ABSĀL The Perso-Islamic Tradition of Advice and Advice Literature Political Advice for Muslim Rulers in Salāmān va Absāl Being the Shadow of God on Earth On Heeding the Prayers of the Sufis Implicit Spiritual Advice for Rulers and Sufi Mystics Advice on Illuminating the Intellect The Role of Repentance in Attaining Mystical Enlightenment Advice on Subduing the Carnal Soul Chapter Three: THE RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL INFLUENCES OF SUFIS AT THE ĀQ QOYŪNLŪ COURTS OF ŪZŪN ḤASAN AND YA‘QŪB Dervishes, Sufi Mystics, and the Political Legitimacy of Ūzūn Ḥasan The Role of the Akhlāq-i Jalālī Khalvatī Influence on Āq Qoyūnlū Affairs Shaikh Ībrāhīm Gulshanī at the Court of Ya‘qūb Naqshbandīs at the Āq Qoyūnlū Court, Tabriz, and Its Environs The Murder of Darvīsh Qāsim The Spiritual Relationship between Jāmī and Ya‘qūb Chapter Four: POETRY AT THE COURT OF YA‘QŪB AND ITS BACKGROUND IN ESTABLISHING AN HISTORICAL CONTEXT FOR SALĀMĀN VA ABSĀL Literary Activities in Āq Qoyūnlū Tabriz Jāmī, the “Āq Qoyūnlū Poet” The Hasht bihisht and Its Roster of “Lesser-known” Āq Qoyūnlū Poets Qāżī ‘Īsā Sāvajī: Reform-Minded Vazīr, Poet, and Ill-fated Lover Qāżī ‘Īsā’s Banishment from Court and His Tell-tale Poetry Glimpses of Ya‘qūb and His Troubles Brotherly Discord in the Āq Qoyūnlū Household Salāmān va Absāl as Art Imitating Life Chapter Five: A THEOSOPICAL INTERPRETATION OF SALĀMĀN VA ABSĀL AND ITS RELEVANCE TO ITS HISTORICAL SETTING Salāmān va Absāl and the Masnavī of Rūmī Love and the Imprint of the Theosophy of Ibn al-‘Arabī Aspects of the Visionary Experience in Salāmān va Absāl Salāmān va Absāl as an Historical Allegory Symbols of Ya‘qūb and His Court in Salāmān va Absāl Allusions to Naqshbandī Spiritual Techniques in Salāmān va Absāl The Date of Completion of Salāmān va Absāl Conclusion Appendix One. JĀMĪ’S EPISTOLARY REPLY TO YA‘QŪB Translation Appendix Two. JĀMĪ’S SALĀMĀN VA ABSĀL Translation Bibliography Index


All interested in late medieval and early modern Islamic history, especially anyone concerned with fifteenth-century Iran, classical Persian literature, Sufism, and Islamic political philosophy.