23 november 2007





In het Cultureel Supplement van de NRC van heden wordt Rumi over twee paginaas besproken door Ahmet Olgun, met voorop een tekening van Rembrandt, wellicht met Rumi.

Laat ik mezelf eens citeren, uit Books - Special:


I am not a religious person, and I found the Koran in translation boring reading, though I am willing to believe it is very fine Arabic. Even so, between 700 and 1200 (Christian dating) Islamic countries were more civilized in many respects than Christian ones, and most Islamic philosophy (theology) builts on Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, just as in the Christian and Western traditions since the Middle Ages.

Although I have read a little Islamic philosophy (in translation, since I don't know Arabic), what interests me most in it is Sufism, which is a collection of related but not identical teachings about mystical experience in the Islamic tradition, and possibly also of teachings which were not allowed by the Islamic political and theological orthodoxy, which always tended to be authoritarian and forbidding.

The Sufi traditions produced some of the greatest poetry written in Persian and Arabic, notably by Omar Khayyam, who must have been a great mind, who was a Sufi, a poet and a mathematician, among other things. It should be remarked that like Zen in the West, Sufism in the West seems also to be a field cultivated by religious frauds, and that I personally regard "Sufism" by Idries Shah fraudulent.

Rumi: Masnavi I Ma'navi. This is a classic very long poem. The edition I know is an English translation and abridgment by E.H. Whinfield M.A. Here are some lines from it (p. 31 of my edition):

   Where are "We" and "I?". There where our Beloved Is!
   O Thou, who art exempt from "Us" and "Me" -
   Who pervadest the spirits of all men and women;
   When man and woman become one, Thou art that One!   

Omar Khayyam: Rhubiyat, as translated by Edward Fitzgerald. Omar Khayyam was a mystic, a poet and a mathematician, and it seems that the term "algebra" derives from a translation of his mathematical work. He also wrote great poetry, which was - freely, I am told - translated in the 19th C by the Englishman Fitzgerald.

Olgun geeft geen boekreferenties, dus ik zal dat wel doen:

Een vrije vertaling op basis van onder andere de bovenstaande versie van de Masnavi "The Essential Rumi", translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Penguin Books, 1995.

En een grondig, geleerd en dik - 496 paginaas - boek over Soefi's en Soefisme is "The Darvishes" by Brown edited by Rose, Oxford University Press, 1927. Dit staat kennelijk op name van Rose (in ieder geval op de band).

Het eerste zou nog betrekkelijk makkelijk te krijgen behoren te zijn.

Maarten Maartensz


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