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Masnavi i Manavi by E. H. Whinfield

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Masnavi i Maulana Rumi | Translated and Abridged by E. H. Whinfield

 

The Masnavi, or Masnavi-i Ma'navi (Persian: مثنوی معنوی‎‎), also written Mesnevi, Mathnawi, or Mathnavi, is an extensive poem written in Persian by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi also known as Rumi, the celebrated Persian Sufi poet. It is one of the best known and most influential works of Sufism. The Masnavi is a series of six books of poetry that together amount to around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. It is a spiritual text that teaches Sufis how to reach their goal of being truly in love with God.

The title Masnavi-i Ma'navi (Persian: مثنوی معنوی‎‎) means "The Spiritual Couplets". The Masnavi is a poetic collection of anecdotes and stories derived from the Quran, hadith sources, and everyday tales. Stories are told to illustrate a point and each moral is discussed in detail. It incorporates a variety of Islamic wisdom but primarily focuses on emphasizing inward personal Sufi interpretation. In contrast to Rumi's Diwan, the Masnavi is a relatively "sober" text. It explains the various dimensions of spiritual life and practice to Sufi disciples and anyone who wishes to ponder the meaning of life.

The Masnavi was started by the Rumi during the final years of his life. He began dictating the first book around the age of 54 around the year 1258 and continued composing verses until his death in 1273. The sixth and final book would remain incomplete.
It is documented that Rumi began dictating the verses of the Masnavi at the request of his favourite disciple, Husam al-Din Chalabi, who observed that many of Rumi’s followers dutifully read the works of Sana’i and ‘Attar. Thus, Rumi began creating a work in the didactic style of Sana’i and ‘Attar to complement his other poetry. These men are said to have met regularly in meetings where Rumi would deliver the verses and Chalabi would write them down and recite them back to him.
Each book consists of about 4,000 verses and contains its own prose introduction and prologue. Some scholars suggest that in addition to the incomplete Book 6, there might have been a seventh volume.


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Masnavi i Manavi by E. H. Whinfield

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