Minding Time: Reassessing the History of Rumi Scholarship


The pioneers of Persian language and literature—savants like Mohammad Qazvini, Badi`uzzaman Foruzanfar, Jalaleddin Homai-- have lighted our path and given us the primary intellectual tools for studying the literary heights of Persian culture. So have the contributions of great students of Iranian culture from other lands—Edward Browne, Reynolds Nicholson, Arthur Arberry,  Annemarie Schimmel—whose role in discovering and making known Iran’s literary and cultural accomplishments is just as noteworthy. With time, however, new discoveries bring new light to our understanding of classics, forcing us to revisit our knowledge and reevaluate our understanding. This is as it ought to be although, of course, it in no way diminishes the value and worth of the contributions made by the old masters.  

  In this article the author is engaged in a critique of Mawlana Jalaluddin’s published works, especially the Mathnavi. Over the years, research on Mathnavi has leaned on such treatises as those of Fereydun Sepahsalar and Aflaki’s Manaqib al`Arifin and later of Dowlatshah Samarqandi  and Jami who tended to embellish what they heard with the fruit of their imagination. Many of the students of the field have rarely taken into account the fact that the traditional writers of such treatises were not concerned with the quality of the method they used to gain facts or to make judgment. Only Foruzanfar has in his Risaleh dar ahvâl va Zebdegâni-e Jalaleddin Mohammad, Mashhur be Molavi (The Life and Times of Jalaluddin Mohammad, known as Mawlavi) and even more distinctly in his sokhan va sokhanvaran (Language and Writers) has focused on the shortcomings of these narratives and thus has lightened the way for subsequent scholars like Zabihollah Safa who produced perhaps the greatest compendium on Persian literature.  



محمد استعلامی
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