Sufism and American Literary Masters (SUNY series in Islam)

Contributor note: ahead through Jacob Needleman

Explores the effect of Sufism on 19th- and early twentieth-century writers.

This ebook finds the wealthy, yet more often than not unknown, impact of Sufism on 19th- and early twentieth-century American literature. the interpretation of Persian poets akin to Hafiz and Sa’di into English and the continuing acclaim for Omar Khayyam provided fascinating new religious views to a few of the foremost American literary figures.

As editor Mehdi Aminrazavi notes, those Sufi impacts have frequently been subsumed right into a thought of “Eastern,” mainly Indian, proposal and never stated as having Islamic roots. This paintings will pay enormous realization to 2 giants of yank literature, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, who stumbled on a lot idea from the Sufi principles they encountered. different canonical figures also are mentioned, together with Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, besides literary contemporaries who're lesser identified at the present time, similar to Paschal Beverly Randolph, Thomas Lake Harris, and Lawrence Oliphant.

Mehdi Aminrazavi is Professor of Philosophy and faith on the collage of Mary Washington. he's the writer of The Wine of knowledge: The lifestyles, Poetry, and Philosophy of Omar Khayyam and the coeditor (with David Ambuel) of Philosophy, faith, and the query of Intolerance, additionally released through SUNY Press.

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The Universe is the externalisation of the soul,” said Emerson. ”79 The same idea we encounter in the Persian Sufi tradition. The world is but a single thought generated by the Universal Mind,80 as Rumi affirms. It is utter ignorance to consider the world to be “real” and our thoughts “unreal,” since any grandeur the former may possess ultimately derives from the wonder of the latter. If just a single thought comes in your consciousness A thousand different worlds fall head over heels. The Sultan’s bodily form is one in its outer show, And yet behind it squadrons and battalions go.

Since this theme is so profoundly native to classical Christian mysticism,82 it will be helpful to see how it was expressed by more explicitly pietistic poets of seventeenth century before exploring its appearance among the Romantics in the nineteenth century. The sentiments of the English Metaphysical poets are more often than not completely Sufiesque in their metaphors and imagery. Consider Richard Crashaw’s stanza in his poem “The Flaming Heart upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa”: By all of Him we have in Thee Leave nothing of my SELF in me.

Just as the Romantics shared a fascination with Platonic philosophy and Neoplatonic esoteric doctrines, so the Persian poets were steeped in Sufi mystical doctrine and symbolism; for this reason any comparative study of Romantic and Sufi poetry must take such forms of esoteric speculation seriously, not dismissing it to the realm of the fanciful and fantastic. Unfortunately, the common ground of the esoteric has been all but eradicated from the study of literature by what can only be described as the secular mind’s inherent distaste for metaphysical speculation.

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