• “When a Lion is Chided by an Ant”: Everyday Saints and the Making of Sufi Kings in ʿAttār’s Elāhi-nāma

    Ghazzal Dabiri (see profile)
    Sufism, Persian literature, Hagiography, Ethics, Medieval poetry
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    This paper addresses Farid al-Din ʿAttār’s views on social and kingly ethics as espoused in the Elāhināma. It offers a holistic reading of its stories, which are suffused with the tenets of Sufism, to illustrate the myriad ways that the Elāhināma adopts and adapts the characteristics and tropes of practical ethics and Sufi hagiographies to advance its views. Indeed, the Elāhināma promotes the ideal Sufi king and society by encouraging its members—saints, kings, and common folk—to be responsible, as individuals, for nurturing their souls, each other, and a love for the divine. It accomplishes this through a number of tale types, such as the saint or ruler who stumbles his or her way into self-awareness, the Sufi master or ruler who falters and is in need of guidance, or the hagiographical portraits of kings-as-Sufi lovers. In order to provide the appropriate context for the arguments herein, the paper explores several prominent themes and tropes from practical ethics and hagiographies and discusses Ebn ʿArabi’s al-Tadbirāt al-elāhiyya fi eslāh al-mamlaka al-ensāniyya for current notions on the responsibility of individuals and kings.
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    2 years ago
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