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Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond


The mystic Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi was born in 1207 in Balkh, a town in eastern Persian territory that is now part of modern-day Afghanistan. His family fled Mongol invaders, settling in Konya in Anatolia, now part of the Republic of Turkey.

In this cosmopolitan, multilingual and multifaith community, Rumi became a conventional Islamic preacher, until in midlife he met a wandering dervish, Shams al-Tabrizi. Thereafter, Rumi became a mystic Sufi and a writer known to Persians as Maulana ('our Lord').

In the years after his meeting with Shams of Tabriz he wrote the lyrical Divan-i Kabir, a major compilation of more than 30,000 verses of ecstatic love poetry.

Towards the end of his life Rumi also wrote his masterwork, a six-volume didactic work known as the Masnavi. The verses in this monumental work range from mystic religious poetry and interpretations of the Qurʾan to folklore and earthy stories that acted as parables of the ultimate mystery of union with the Divine.

After his death, his followers founded the Mevlevi order of dervishes, whose ecstatic devotional movements gained them the name 'whirling dervishes' in the West.

Rumi died in Konya in 1273.

Love & devotion in the UK

The Bodleian Libraries is showing its own presentation of the Love and devotion exhibition at the Exhibition Room, Bodleian Library, in Oxford, England, between 29 November 2012 and 28 April 2013.

Learn more about how you can visit this exhibition on the Bodleian Libraries website.


Love and devotion: Persian Cultural Crossroads

This two-day conference held in April 2012 featured distinguished international guests and Australian specialists exploring cultural convergences in literature, the arts and architecture, history and philosophy within Persia's cultural sphere and Europe, from the 11th century to the present day.

For information on keynote speakers & topics discussed, visit our conference page

Visit the exhibition

The Love and devotion exhibition took place from 9 March to 1 July 2012. In-depth information about the exhibits and themes can be found on this website.

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