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  • Monday, October 31, 2022 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

We will be welcoming Jamal J. Elias (Penn) for a talk entitled "Writing Commentaries on Non-existent Texts: The Mystery of Ismail Ankaravi’s Commentary on the 7th Volume of Rumi’s Masnavi." Jamal writes:

The six-volume
Masnavi by Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273) is a masterpiece of Persian literature that has circulated broadly in the original and in translation across the Islamic world and beyond. Among the many commentaries written on this long and complex poem, the one by Ismail Anqaravi (d. 1631) stands out for its importance in the development of Turkish religious literature and for Anqaravi's metaphysical interpretation of Rumi's writing. Mysteriously, Anqaravi commented on a seventh volume of what is most certainly a six volume work. Why did he do this, and what was the fate of that seventh volume? And what is the difference between a fake text and an imagined one?

Jamal J. Elias is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Penn, where he teaches about Islamic intellectual history and culture with a focus on Western and South Asia. He is the author of Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion, and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (University of California, 2018); Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Harvard, 2012); On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oneworld, 2011); and The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of ‘Ala’ al-Dawla Simnani (SUNY, 1995), among others. Most recently, he has co-edited (with Bilal Orfali of American University Beirut) a volume entitled Light Upon Light: Essays in Islamic Thought and History in Honor of Gerhard Bowering, forthcoming from E.J. Brill in October 2019. His current major project deals with the history of the Mevlevi Sufi Order from shortly after the death of its founder, Jalaluddin Rumi, in 1273 C.E. until the advent of modernity.