Abstracts Paris

“Jami in Indo-Muslim World, c. Sixteenth-Nineteenth Centuries”

Muzaffar Alam (University of Chicago)

Jami figures as an integral part of the world of the Indo-Muslim culture. Jamali Dihlawi (d.1536), a noted poet and the author of Siyar al-Arifin does not simply mention him. He makes special effort to emphasize his close relations with him. Jami was a legend in India already in his lifetime, he was invited to visit the country too. His poetry and writings figure in almost all the Great Mughals’ accounts. Babur remembers him as ‘the most outstanding poet’. The beauty of Jami’s poetry intoxicates Jahangir, from whose personal library we also have a most precious and elegant copy of his Yusuf Zulaikha. Verses from Jami’s poems were selected to set the composition of the poems for the Mughal poetic symposia. Even the ‘illiterate’ Akbar’s Hindavi verses are reported having been inspired by Jami’s poetry. And, this influence was not confined to the portals of the royal court alone. Jami’s writings form a significant part of the Mughal Indian scholarly practices as well. It is difficult to think of any Mughal Indian Sufi tazkira without a reference to Jami’s Nafahat al-Uns, for instance, while in several scholarly discussions Jami’s writings are noted and cited to buttress and illustrate the legitimacy and strength of one or the other preferred literary and religious positions. His poetry and writings constituted the critical parts of the prescribed and recommended texts for the madrasas and the Sufi centers. In the formation of the Indo-Muslim intellectual world, thus, both Jami the poet and Jami the sufi-scholar commanded a notable position.

My paper discusses in brief Jami’s connections with and the impact of his writings on the Indo-Muslim literary and religious cultures. I focus here on Mughal India, in particular. The paper asks if the fact of his association with the Naqshbandi silsila had a role in his prominent presence in Mughal India. How as a wujudi saint was he received by the shuhudi Mujaddidis, who were then the most powerful spokesmen of the Naqshbandi order? How did his ghazals and na‘ts begin to occupy a significant place together with the ones of Amir Khusrau at the Chishti sama‘ gatherings in course of time? The paper concludes with an examination of Jami’s reception in later Mughal and early modern Urdu writings, illustrating in particular with examples from some early Urdu translations of Yusuf Zulaikha.


“Teimuraz I’s Iosebzilixiani and Georgian-Persianate Literary Culture”

Rebecca Gould (Yale-NUS College)

The Bagratid Georgian king Teimuraz I (1589–1663) was arguably the most talented among the many Georgian kings to engage with Persianate culture. Particularly notable among his literary achievements is the hamsa (quintet) that Teimuraz composed in imitation of Nizami Ganjevi and Amir Khusrow, which also incorporated original compositions not included in the Persian masnavi (romance) repertoire. This presentation examines one of the three masnavis that Teimuraz did derive from the Persian repertoire, Iosebzilixiani, modeled after Jami’s Yusuf and Zuleykha. I examine Teimuraz’s compositional choices and revisionist strategies with respect to Jami’s text from the point of view of a deposed king who had directly suffered from politics machinations at the Safavid court, and whose relation to Persian literary culture was therefore necessarily ambivalent.


“Foundational Mahabbat-nāmas: The Reception of Jāmī’s Yūsuf u Zulaikhā in Bengal (16th-19th c. A.D.) (part 2)”

Thibaut d’Hubert (University of Chicago/Zukunftsphilologie, Berlin)

In the first paper I presented in the framework of the project I mapped the literary tradition in which Jami’s Yusuf u Zulaikha was received in Bengal. I highlighted the shift between Jami’s Sufi poetical idiom and the complex hermeneutics of the Bengali Muslim tradition. For the second paper, I will focus on the later versions of the poem composed by Shah Garibullah in the 18th century and Munshi Sadik Ali in the 19th century. Both represent new trends of Bengali Muslim literature and frame the narrative in distinctive ways: Garibullah puts forward local pir cult and the Quranic origin of the story, whereas Sadik Ali, who was a Hindu who converted to Islam, highlights the role of ‘Maulana Jami’ in the transmission of the story. After an analysis of the structure and style of both versions I will assess the role of Jami’s text in shaping those new poetical idioms. Then I will turn to the agenda behind the composition of those two texts at a time of intense religious reform in the countryside of Bengal. Finally, those poems represent fascinating examples of the circulation of texts from west to east Bengal, surprisingly from print back to the manuscript tradition, and of the usage of Bengali, Arabic and Sylhet Nagari scripts in the 19th century to transcribe the vernacular literary idioms.


“When ʿIshq Met Prema: Jāmī’s Yūsuf va Zulaykhā in Early Modern Bengal”

Ayesha A. Irani (Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga)

When Saiyad Sultān wrote an Islamic universal history, the Nabīvaṃśa, in Bangla in the first half of the seventeenth-century, he excluded the tale-cycle of the Prophet Iusuph (Pers. Yūsuf) from the prophetic tales leading up to the biography of the Prophet Muhammad. Although his was the first major text to explain Islamic doctrine in Bangla, the pīr-author provides as the explicit reason for his neglect of Iusuph the fact that his story was already well-known to the people of Bengal. This paper, then, investigates the early popularity of the tale of the Prophet Iusuph in Islamic East Bengal through an examination of Shāh Muhammad Sagīr’s Iusuph-Jolekhā—the first versified version of Jāmī’s Yūsuf va Zulaykhā in Bangla. Sagīr’s rendition inaugurates the Sufi romance genre in this language, and is also the first composition on the Prophet Yūsuf to circulate in vernacular writing in Bengal, more specifically in sixteenth-century Chittagong.

Sagīr takes Jāmī’s classic and makes it Bengali. Such creative engagement is dictated by the act of translation itself, whose very nature it is to make the unknown “other” familiar to the target audience through various linguistic and literary acts of cultural localization. Beyond this basic principle, however, this paper investigates what transpires when Jāmī’s Akbarian philosophy of love encounters the South Asian aesthetic tradition of rasa. In studying precisely what Sagīr chose to translate and how, I assess the impact this distinctive aesthetics and its imaginaire has on the representation of Jāmī’s protagonists—Zulaykhā and Yūsuf—and his ethical and mystical teachings. Special attention is here paid to the raising of prema (Skt. love) as the supreme rasa in the related intertextual contexts of Sufi romance literature in Awadhi and the Vaiṣṇava devotional literature of Bengal.


“’Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī in the Context of Sufi Missionary Work in Ming China”

Ralph Kauz (Universität Bonn)

As can be judged from the prominence of Sufi works in the Hui “holy canon”, the shisan benjing 十三本经, Sufis had a rather large impact on the creation of Chinese Islam. Furthermore, Sufi works by Najm ad-Din Razi, ‘Aziz ad-Din Nasafi, and ‘Abd ar-Rahman Jami were, according to Sachiko Murata, the most important translations into Chinese. And finally, a high percentage of Chinese Muslims nowadays still adheres to the Sufi path.

As Jami, for example, lived only in the 15th century, when contacts between China and Central Asia experienced a rapid decline, the ways of transmission of these texts constitute certain problems. Especially during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) travelling to China was allowed only in the framework of the restrictive “tribute system”, and the Chinese Muslims had successively rely on themselves, as they lost the direct contacts to their homelands. This fact prompted Donald Leslie to speak of “Muslims in China” turning into “Chinese Muslims”.

In this paper the following basic (and simple) question shall be posed: How and by whom did the Sufi paths and the works of Sufi masters reached the way to China in the course of the 15th to 17th centuries? The methods for answering this question are rather complicated, as the travels of Sufi masters were obviously not officially recorded. On the basis of the previous studies of Joseph Fletcher and Françoise Aubin a preliminary way to an answer, however, may be depicted, by using basically the “Veritable Records” of the Ming dynasty (Ming shilu 明实录) and additionally the Jingxuexi zhuanpu 经学系传谱 written by Zhao Can 赵灿.


“Jāmi’s Statement on Authorship of the Anis al-Tālibin”

Alexey A. Khismatulin (The Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, St. Petersburg)

The paper deals with a comparison of two versions (commonly known as the longer and the shorter ones) of Bahā’ al-Din Naqshband’s famous hagiography entitled the Anis al-tālibin wa ‘uddat al-sālikin and an identification of its authorship with the help of a rare introduction composed in the rhymed prose (saj‘) by ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmi to one of these versions. In addition to his statement in the introduction, the results of textual comparison show that both versions were compiled by one person that is by a prominent deputy of Naqshband and the first Sufi shaykh of Jāmi—Muhammad Pārsā al-Bukhāri (d. 822 AH/1420 AD). The textual history of these versions also sheds light on the issue of Naqshband’s successor and hidden agendas related to it, answering the question why Pārsā had intentionally kept his primary shorter version unauthorized and attributed the longer version, revised and edited by him, to a nomen appellativum, namely, to a certain Salāh b. Mubārak al-Bukhāri—an abstract figure absolutely unknown in the famous Naqshbandi hagiographies.


“Sour Honey: Jâmî’s Recasting of Philosophical Poetics”

Justine Landau (Institut für Iranistik, Vienna)

If Jāmī’s poetics can be described, in Losensky’s words, as “a largely conservative project that might be best characterized as neo-classical” (EI), its most telling illustration has to be the Bahārestān (1487). Composed in mixed prose and verse, it is rightly considered a blazing tribute, in form and intend, to Sa‘dī’s Golestān (1258). At once a work of literature and a piece of scholarship, however, Jāmī’s prosimetron also drew on a number of other sources. Thus the seventh section of the book, devoted to the lives of poets, echoes early instances of literary theory. The section opens on a striking statement about the nature of poetry: “According to the ancient Sages,” Jāmī writes, “poetry is a discourse based on imaginary premises.” But this claim, we are told, has lost momentum among the “modern Sages.” As a result, the general public holds poetry to amount to no more than “meter and rhyme.” The debate can be traced back to the Avicennian account of poetry (Kitāb al-šifā’: fann al-ši‘r), and to its most prominent upholder in the Persian language, the 13th century philosopher and polymath Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī. The sole author to give a full rendition of the theory of taṣdīq and taxyīl in Persian, his theoretical works on poetry include a treatise on prosody (Me‘yār al-aš‘ār) and a chapter from his compendium on logic (Ketāb asās al-eqtebās). There is no doubt as to Jāmī’s reference in this case. Yet anyone familiar with the philosophical account of poetry will note that, narrativized as it is, the debate displayed in the Bahārestān is widely fictitious. Staging a quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns certainly enabled Jāmī to address the crucial question of the essence of poetry. But what does it tell us about the author’s views on the matter? In fact, as he reframed the discussion, Jāmī also displaced it fundamentally. This paper hopes to shed some light on – and raise more questions about – Jāmī’s rereading of the Avicennian account of poetry, and the implications thereof. Reference will be made to Jāmī’s own technical writings on prosody and rhyme (Resāle-ye qāfiya; Resāle-ye ʿaruḍ) as well as to the reception of the falāsifa in Timurid times.


“To Round and Rondeau the Canon: Jâmi and Fâni’s Reception of the Persian Lyrical Tradition”

Franklin Lewis (University of Chicago)

The pre-modern reception history of Jâmi in the Dār al-Islām and beyond was shaped principally by his emulators, competitors, translators and illustrators; while critics and biographers played a confirmatory role, his popularity with creative artists is the most persuasive and concrete evidence of his influence. That influence was, however, felt beyond his role as a producer of literary artifacts; his role in defining, some might say fixing or closing, a “classical” canon of Persian poetry may be more subtle, but no less significant. As a transmitter and arbiter of literary taste, Jâmi’s most direct influence may have been on his patron at Herat, ‛Ali-Šēr Navâ’i (himself an arbiter of taste and leading figure in shaping a literary tradition in Chagatay). But the neo-classicist Persian critics of the 18th and 19th century dubbed Jâmi “the Seal of the Poets” (xâtam al-šo‛arâ), seeing him as the last pillar in the colonnade of “Old World” Persian poetry, before the landscape opened on to the nuovo stil (or a variety of stili nuovi), styles which the neo-classicists wanted mostly to forget. Given the impact of this neo-classical revival (bâz-gašt) on 20th-century critical tastes and the school curriculum, Jâmi’s literary predilections continued to figure prominently in shaping the modern literary canon.

Jâmi’s status as imaginal terminus of the classical tradition has been challenged by the recent decades of scholarship as the periodization and stylistic categories identified by modern Persian literary histories began to fray at the edges, even unravel. This paper will attempt to isolate poems of Jâmi which can be characterized as imitations, emulations or adumbrations (esteqbâl, javâb– or naẓire-gu’i, tażmin, etc.) of the work of a particular predecessor poet. Which poets or periods of the established canon received the most attention from Jâmi, a voracious reader? Was Jâmi qua poet attracted to the distant past, to the detriment of the poets of one or two generations earlier, or his own contemporaries? Are there poets Jâmi particularly singles out for emulation, and if so, has he chosen them because they were already firmly established in the canon, or is he engaged in a project of culling, recovering or reviving authors who had fallen out of, or not yet made it into the pantheon? Do his choices indicate an affinity for specific stylistic, structural, thematic or linguistic tendencies? Or do his allegiances seem to center on particular individual poets? If Navâ’i organized Jâmi’s Divân by a tri-partite chronology shortly before Jâmi’s death, will it reveal any trace of evolution in Jâmi’s own tastes as he ages, or of the influence from his various patron(s) and guides (Sa‛d al-Din Kâšġari, Xwâja ‛Obayd Allâh Aḥrâr)? The paper will focus mainly on Jâmi’s ghazals and proceed in part by comparing them to the ghazals in Navâ’i / Fâni’s Persian Divân.


“Utterly Fluent, but Seldom Fresh: Jāmī’s Literary Reception among the Safavids”

Paul Losensky (Indiana University, Bloomington)

An outspoken Sunni with ties to the Timurid political establishment, the recently deceased Jāmī seemed to epitomize all the early Safavids opposed. Following the Uzbek flight from Herat, Jāmī’s tomb was burned down, and Shah Ismā’īl reportedly ordered the pointing of the letters of his name changed, to transform Jāmī into Khāmī, the Crude or Jejune. But this sectarian reaction does not tell the whole story of Jāmī’s complex literary reception among the Safavids. In the generation after Ismā‘īl, his son Sām Mīrzā, the sometime governor of Herat, lauded Jāmī’s literary accomplishments in the biographical compendium Tuḥfa-yi Sāmī. Ismā‘īl’s grand-daughter, Parī Khān Khānum, requested her master poet, Muḥtasham Kāshānī, to write responses to eighty of Jāmī’s ghazals. This anecdote provides the starting point for an examination of Jāmī’s reputation and influence among Safavid litterateurs. While the taẕkiras show an appreciation for Jāmī’s literary accomplishments, there are also suggestions that his poetry was seldom germane to contemporary poetic practice. For different reasons, the two major schools of Safavid poetics, the maktab-i vuqū‘ and the shiva-yi tāza, found little to emulate in Jāmī’s lyric poetry. The poets of the Realist School purposively turned away from the Sufi symbolism that was essential to Jāmī’s poetics, while the Fresh Style poets promoted an aesthetics of innovation that contrasted sharply with Jāmī’s neoclassicism. Though the absence of influence leaves few evidentiary traces, anthologies and reply poems to a few of Jāmī’s ghazals suggest the kinds of literary aims and norms that tended to discourage later Safavid poets from actively engaging with Jāmī’s literary legacy.


“Abdul Rahman Nuruddin al-Jami in Sufi Writings in Malay”

Mohamad Nasrin Nasir (University Sains Islam Malaysia)

This paper would identify further references to Jami in Malay Sufi sources of the 17th – 19th century. The paper would begin by utilizing recently found manuscripts ascribed to Shams al-Din al-Sumatra’i and Nur al-Din al-Raniri. It is found that a number of hitherto unknown manuscripts also contain references to Nur al-Din Abd al-Rahman al-Jami. These references tell us how utilization of Jami’s writings by the Malay Sufi scholars is used to justify their own teachings of Sufi metaphysics. They also tell us the richness of the library at the Achehnese court of Sultan Iskandar Muda (d.1636) and subsequently Sultan Iskandar Thani (d.1641). However most scholars of the 17th century tend to just incorporate Jami’s writings into their own Malay text instead of directly translating Jami’s own writings into Malay. Mainly based on unedited manuscripts of Jawi Malay, this paper will also further identify the many instances of direct quotations from Jami being incorporated into the writings of famous Malay Sufi scholars from the 17th to the 19th century. As we progress further into the 19th and early 20th century we find the quotations from Jami almost non-existent in the writings of Malay Sufis of this era. How are we to explain this state of affairs? Full direct translations from Jami are non-existent or are they? Utilizing a recently found manuscript titled Durrah al-Fakhirah it seems that Jami’s own writings have been translated into Jawi Malay making it accessible to not only the people of that particular era but also to the contemporary Malay world. Nuances, differences, similarities and Sufi ontology are the main elements in this paper on a brief review of Jami’s influence in the Malay world.


‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī’s Conception of Language

Ertuğrul Ökten (Sabanci University, Istanbul)

Understanding Jāmī (d. 1492) in his capacity as an intellectual is a challenge that has persisted for a long time. In this venture there are several paths to take. The main question this paper deals with is what language is according to Jāmī. I will try to answer this question based on his well-known grammar work, al-Fawā’id al-Ziyā’iyya.

Al-Fawā’id al-Ziyā’iyya, one of the late works of Jāmī, became a standard textbook in the instruction of Arabic grammar in madrasas throughout the entire Persophone world. It is a commentary on al-Kāfiya of Ibn al-Hājib (d. 1249), and a considerable commentary tradition has grown out of it. The reason conventionally mentioned for al-Fawā’id al-Ziyā’iyya’s popularity is the fact that Jāmī gives casual explanations for the rules of the language rather than simply conveying them as rules to be memorized as much as possible.

I approach the research question from the perspective of ‘ilm al-wad‘. According to the theory of wad‘, language is a mental, fixed relationship between two sets of independent entities, vocables and meanings (alfāz and ma‘ānī), which are attached to each other through the decision of a decision maker. In the opening pages of al-Fawā’id al-Ziyā’iyya Jāmī makes several references to ‘ilm al-wad‘ indicating that it plays a significant role in Jāmī’s conception of language. By examining Jāmī’s references to ‘ilm al-wad‘ I attempt to ascertain the nature and extent of this role.

Although the immediate purpose of this examination is to have a more advanced understanding of Jāmī’s conception / philosophy of language, this line of study is further relevant for two reasons. First, it situates Jāmī within a larger linguistic tradition that started with ‘Adūd al-Dīn al-Ījī (d. 1355), the famous theologian of the 14th century who promoted ‘ilm al-wad‘ into an independent scholarly field, and continued with Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (d. 1413), ‘Alī Qushji (d. 1472), ‘Abd al-Ghafūr Lārī (d. 1506), and ‘Isām al-dīn al-Isfaraynī (d. 1536). Second, through an examination of his philosophy of language it may be possible to suggest a new venue for evaluating Jāmī’s philosophy of existence.


“Creating a Śaiva Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā: Theology and Translation in Śrīvara’s Kathākautuka”

Luther Obrock (University of California, Berkeley)

In the spring of 1505, Pandit Śrīvara presented his Sanskrit translation of Jāmī’s famed masnavī, the Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā to the court of Moḥammad Shāh in Kashmir. More than a simple translation, Srivara’s Kathākautuka recasts and reimagines Jami’s aesthetically Persianate and religiously Sufi worldview into a specifically Kashmiri Śaiva telling. In this presentation I will concentrate on the theological aspects of Śrīvara’s translation of Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā, particularly on the ways in which he imagines a space for Śiva-centered religiosity in his adaptation of the Qur’ān-based tale. I focus on tales of conversion, prophethood, and love in the Sanskrit translation to examine the ways in which Persianate and Sufi ideas are transformed into a coherent Śaiva text. My presentation highlights Śrīvara’s reading of the Islamic elements in the story and his use of Sanskritic theological vocabulary (including rāga, bhakti,and avatāra) to frame his own telling. In this presentation I ask how translation is to be understood in this context of the Kathākautuka, especially in a text that is both blatantly transforming the theology of an Islamic text and also expressly directed toward a Muslim ruler. I frame Śrīvara’s Kathākautuka as an instance in textual production in which Persianate ideas are self-consciously and publicly adopted, subverted, and adapted, and Sanskritic forms are imagined in surprising new configurations.


“Turkic Addenda to the Nafahāt al-Uns: Notes on Ottoman and Chaghatay Manuscripts”

Alexandre Papas (CNRS/CETOBAC, Paris)

A close comparison (see my abstract for the Chicago conference, Oct. 18-19,, 2012) between Jāmī’s Nafahāt al-Uns and Nawā’ī’s Nasā’im al-Mahabba as well as Lāmī‘ī çelebī’s Nefahāt al-Uns has shown that the successful reception of the Persian compendium in the Turkic-speaking world fostered the multiplication and diversification of saints’ biographies. It seems that such was not the case with, for instance, the Tadhkirat al-Awliyā’ of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Attār, despite the very large number of versions existing in various Turkic languages (see Hofman, Turkish Literature II, pp. 131-40). Authored by eminent polymaths, the Turkic versions of the Nafahāt were not simple translations but sophisticated adaptations to their respective readerships. Beyond their encyclopedic purpose, these Turkic Sufi tabaqāt seek to provide a vision of the Muslim world as a land of saints (awliyā’), this in accordance with both the Islamizing campaigns and the rise of Sufi saintly lineages in early modern Anatolia and Central Asia. In addition to these three relatively well-known texts, a number of neglected manuscripts remain to be discovered or rediscovered in Istanbul and Tashkent. The present paper will discuss four of them: 1) Nuruosmaniye 2293 by Hācī ‘Alī Efendī; 2) Hüsnü Paşa 579 by Köstendīllī Süleymān Şeyhī; 3) Institut Vostokovedeniia Akademii Nauk Uzbekistana 11466 by ‘Abd al-Rasūl b. Muhammad Amīn; 4) IVAN Uz 7286 by Rahmān Qulī al-Qārī. Written either in Ottoman or Chaghatay between the early sixteenth and the late nineteenth centuries by authors coming from different backgrounds, the Turkic addenda to the Nafahāt al-Uns appear not only as invaluable prosopographical sources accumulating biographical notices, but also as attempts to put the mystical vision of the world into everyone’s practice and closer to everyday life. If this evolution of the Nafahāt al-Uns seems to betray the original text’s selective, if not elitist, choice of Muslim holy men, it continues its efforts to Islamize frontier regions through names, words, dates, and narratives.


“The Vernacularization of Persian into Pashto and Jami’s Yusuf and Zulaikha

Ryan Perkins (Oxford University)

One of the most beloved and widely circulated of Jami’s works was the maṡnavī, Yusuf and Zulaiḳha (YZ). Examining the translation and circulation of this work in Pashto, this paper focuses on the translation produced by Abdul Qadir Khan (b. c. 1651-2), the son of one of Pashto’s most famous poets, Khushal Khan Khattak (1613-1689), and several early 19th century manuscripts from Kashmir. In addition to his translation of YZ, Qadir Khan composed a dīwān of poetry in Pashto and translated Sa‘di’s Gulistān. His translation of Jami’s work, completed in 1701-2 was thus one of his main literary accomplishments. The choice to translate Jami’s work into the vernacular of Pashto was one significant early chapter in the making of a Pashto literary tradition, yet Qadir Khan’s renown was eclipsed by the popularity of his father and Rahman Baba (1650-1715). In looking at the circulation of YZ in Pashto, I suggest a reevaluation of not only the impact of Jami in the Pashto poetical tradition, but of Qadir Khan’s role in helping to shape a literary tradition.

Over a hundred years after Qadir Khan’s translation, copies of the masnavi were still being produced, this time under the patronage of various Pashtun administrators, particularly in Kashmir. These manuscripts (c. 1804 and 1815), the latter beautifully illustrated, coincided with a time of great Pashto literary activity in Kandahar where Sardar Muhammad Azam Khan Barakzai’s (governor of Kashmir whose seal was found on the manuscript) brother, Sardar Mehrdil Khan ‘Mashriqi’ launched a literary circle, the Dabistan. In looking at the afterlife of Jami’s production of YZ and Qadir Khan’s translation this paper seeks to understand the vernacularization of Persian into Pashto and possible links between increased literary activity in Kandahar and the spread of Pashto copies of YZ throughout South Asia. Despite its Persian origins, Jami’s YZ became a foundational Pashto text. Pashto literary production was thus closely linked to Persian literary traditions, yet Pashto poets also sought to distance Pashto from Persian through the creation of a corpus of distinctive Pashto literature.


“Teaching Jami between Kurdistan, Syria and the Haramayn”

Florian Schwarz (Institut für Iranistik, Vienna)



“Introduction and Brief Comparison of Jami’s Two Original Texts and their Chinese Translations”

Yiming Shen (SOAS, London)

Although the process of dissemination of Jami’s texts to China proper remains open to a number of questions, there is no doubt that manuscript copies of Jami’s Lavāyiḥ and Ashi‘at al-Lama‘āt had been brought to China proper and studied by Chinese Muslim intellectuals no later than the middle of the seventeenth century. In the late seventeenth century and during the early eighteenth century, Chinese translations of both Persian texts entitled as Zhaoyuan mijue 昭元秘訣 (Secret Key of exposing the Origin) (1680s) and Zhenjing zhaowei 真境昭微 (Enlightening the Concealment in the Real Realm) (early eighteenth century) had been finalized by She Qiling 舍起靈 (1638-1703) and Liu Zhi 劉智 (c. 1670- c. 1745) respectively.

In this paper, Jami’s two original texts and their translations will be discussed and a running cross-comparison of the two originals and their Chinese translations in terms of dissemination, availability, structure, content and language will be provided.

While the Lavāyiḥ is a treatise read by a wide audience of common people, Liu Zhi’s translation Zhenjing zhaowei is considered as a prose which is “too advanced and profound”. Compared with the Ashi‘at al-Lama‘āt a commentary written for the Sufi disciples, She Qiling’s translation Zhaoyuan mijue is viewed as a work that aims at “both scholars and laymen”.

Both written in the Chinese language of literati, the Zhaoyuan mijue refers more to the original texts than the Zhenjing zhaowei in terms of structure, composition and terminology. In order to highlight the legitimacy of the text to interpret the Islamic doctrine, however, She Qiling instructed his readers to read the Zhaoyuan mijue beyond the translation. For the interests of the readers who were familiar with Classical Chinese context but had no ability to read the original Islamic scriptures, Liu Zhi’s Zhenjing zhaowei stayed far away from the original and was close to the Classical Chinese context.

In the views of Jami and his Chinese translators, translating is not for the purpose of producing text in another language, but to interpret and disseminate the Islamic teachings by the means of text. Although the translators kept emphasizing their identity as transmitters, in fact every decision they made in the translation has disclosed their target readership, life experience and social status.


“Evaluating Jāmī’s Influence on Nawā’ī’s Poetry: the Case Studies of the Khiradnāmah-i iskandarī and the Sadd-i iskandarī (part 2)”

Marc Toutant (EHESS, Paris/Tashkent)

In order to understand the nature of the intellectual proximity between Jāmī and the famous Chaghatai poet ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī (1441-1501), we focused in the last conference on the chapters devoted to Alexander’s formation and death in both Jāmī’s Khiradnāmah-i iskandarī  (‘The Alexandrian Book of Wisdom’) and the Sadd-i iskandarī (‘The Alexandrian Wall’) completed a few months later by his Turkic-speaking fellow. We observed three features that helped understand how Nawā’ī was prone to use Jāmī’s text. First, the Chaghatai poet did not hesitate to repeat the Persian poet’s significant textual material. Secondly, Nawā’ī showed concern to reorganize his elder’s narrative and thoughts in order to establish a clearer link between Alexander’s life and lessons to be learned from his story. Eventually, these two practices did not prevent him from highlighting some of his own specific concerns, such as an emphasis put on the notion of hamdardlïq, which refers to ‘the state of being the companion of pain of someone’.

What we would like to do in the present conference is to carry on our investigation by considering now the chapters devoted to the quest of the Macedonian conqueror. More precisely, the aim is to grasp the meaning and the significance both authors intended to give to the kosmokrator‘s expedition. Needless to say, that the evaluation of this warlike journey is an issue of great importance in works which were designed to serve as mirrors for prince. The point is that, although the figure of Alexander provides a model of ideal kingship and spiritual behaviour, his expression in both mathnawis of sincere regrets at the end of his quest proves that his expedition cannot be regarded as an exemplum for every king. The question of the Macedonian’s singular destiny is hence put forward, and by reading the Chaghataic poem one can infer that had Alexander had the choice he would not have acted as he did. Also in this case the Sadd-i iskandari is more explicit than its claimed model. But the matter is even more interesting since Nawā’ī does not refrain from invoking two well-known Naqshbandī mottos, safar dar watan (‘journeying within the homeland’) and khalwat dar anjuman (‘solitude within society’), in his warning against those who would be tempted to imitate Alexander’s conquest. Whereas Jāmī was reluctant to express the tarīqa‘s principles in such an explicit way throughout his poetry, it seems that it was not the case for his murīd. Bu to which extent Nawā’ī’s explicit formulations reflect Jāmī’s own ideas is what we intend to investigate in order to gain a deeper understanding of both Jāmī’s work and Nawā’ī’s literary uses of his pīr‘s conceptions.


“Selecting and Recreating Jamiʼs Ghazals for Qawwali Performance”

Mikko Viitamäki (University of Helsinki & Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris)

In the paper presented in the first part of the conference in Chicago in 2012, I argued that qawwali music of South Asia offers an excellent field to study the reception of ghazals written by Jami (or ghazals attributed to him). The entire musical genre and the mystical experiences sought through it revolve around poetry. Furthermore, the qawwals are free, even obliged, to select the performed items in accordance with the tastes and needs of the audience. Thus, qawwali repertoires serve as excellent indicators of popularity of individual poets. Among the countless poets whose texts the qawwals sing, Jami is among the perennial favourites.

In this second paper, I would like to undertake a more in-depth analysis of the contents of Jamiʼs ghazals included in qawwali repertoires as well as discuss the literary and performative techniques that Sufi poets and qawwals utilize in an attempt to render his ghazals relevant and accessible to 20th and 21st century audiences. My analysis focuses on two themes: first, I map the changes that have taken place in respect to the poetic motifs employed in Jamiʼs ghazals selected into the three collections of qawwali poetry, Naghmat-i Samaʿ (1935), the abridged Naghmat-i Samaʿ (1972) and Surud-i Ruhani (1998). It seems that poems praising the Prophet Muhammad have gained ground from ghazals employing the ambiguous or religiously suspect motifs like erotic love, drinking wine and vujudi metaphysics. This development can probably be attributed to the sanitization of religion as the consequence of reformist rhetorics and the conservatism of middle classes who have increasingly assumed a role as patrons of arts and religion in modern South Asia.

Second, I will analyse the ways Sufi poets and qawwals render the Persian poetry of Jami accessible to audiences unacquainted with this language. I will discuss examples of Urdu tazmins based on Jamiʼs Persian ghazals written by Sufi poets relevant to qawwali music (e.g. Shah Khamosh, d. 1871, and Bedam Shah Varisi, d. 1932) as well as specimens transcribed from qawwali performances. In addition, I will discuss the combining of verses by Jami with verses by other authors in actual performance occasions.


“The Recreation of Jami’s Works in the Malay World in the 16th and 17th Centuries”

Paul Wormser (INALCO, Paris)

In this presentation, we will analyze the different ways in which Jami’s works were used in the Malay world of the 16th and 17th century. The first Malay mystical poet, Hamza Fansuri (d. 1527), used Jami’s works to create a new poetic and theoretical idiom, introducing Jami’s original Arabic and Persian vocabulary and expressions into the Malay language. This later led to the development of kitab malay, a heavily arabicized form of written Malay used to this day in religious texts. We will see how Jami’s texts were not so much translated as recreated to foster the development of Malay as a literary language. This phenomenon will be placed in the context of the simultaneous emergence of new vernacular literary languages around the Bay of Bengal.

Conversely, we will see that many Malay authors of the period turned Jami into a figure of religious authority in order to legitimize their own agenda. Maulana Jami, as he is called, became a powerful master whose name could be invoked to defend very different views of Sufism. In these cases, there is almost nothing left of Jami except his name and short stereotyped quotations.

Through precise comparisons between Jami’s texts and their Malay counterparts, we will analyze how Jami inspired the birth and development of a new vernacular literary and mystical tradition.




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