Divine Madness in "Leyli o Majnun". Considering the Nizāmī Romance Version

Term Paper, 2018

28 Pages


Divine Madness in Leyli o Majnun tale

Considering Nizam! romance version


The Leyli oMajnün tale, is popular in the Arabic and Persian literature as Romeo and Juliet for the West, but this tale has been repeatedly rewritten by Arab and Persian authors even until today.1

Majnün's story is well known for a variety of reasons. But perhaps the direct reference of this story to the word madman is a parallel reference to a mystical phase that frenzies madness. Understanding this madness and passing through it maybe is one of the toughest gates to cross. The madness in love in a well-known story which explores how a disciple fools out of madness and using that emotion and level in the right direction can be striking. How a disciple should face craziness, take advantage of it and cross it. Madness for the artist is natural, and sometimes the insanity in the artist's work can reveal a superficial world. Lover in the ancient stories passes the stage of madness that teaches the basic foundations of mysticism in the language of the higher worlds.

The Leyli oMajnün romance is the story of passion and desire of love: desire which never filled in the real world. Its source of inspiration comes from an old Arabian tale, and of the story’s many versions in Arabic, Persian or Turkish. In lyric poetry, by the reference to the names ofMajnün (madman) ofLeyli, immediately invokes paradox in the madness of desire. Among the various lovers as the hero in Persian literature, Majnun has become the model of the lover and Leyli for beloved. Undoubtedly, the desire for love is an uncounted and untarnished appetite. What Majnun by making poem and song for his beloved in the desert, tries to fill the hollow of his loss and his distance from beloved, by transforming this gap into a union of spirits.2

The tale of Leyli oMajnün is famous as a love story about a lover and beloved who fall in love when they are young. When they grow up, their passion of love rises, but they are held apart by the alterations of fortune and the disapproval of beloved family. They are stopped from being together and their love grows, until the young man becomes increasingly mad and leaves his life to the desert ruins, singing poetry for his beloved. The beloved is kept apart from him in her family, and her desire for her lover is as high as his love for her beloved. The lover lives by the wild animals in the desert, which are harmless with him and protect him. Just by excepting several meetings, Leyli and Majnün’s desire of love can never be satisfied, and they die heartbroken by love in a tragedy love tale.

The LeylioMajnün's tale provides the idea that Nizämi had considered Ghazäli’s text which have inspired the creation ofhis tale. Ghazäli’s basic and sensual image of transcending passion is imitated in Nizämi’s work but in a further detailed and fictional practice. In Ghazäli’s work, to display exceeding love in a sensual language became a standard literary form for romance. In Nizämi’s work, the textual union of mystical and suggestive motifs is in the way of its development. Ghazäli cites two tales linked to Majnün as the model of the lover, many connections may be formed between his concepts on the different platforms and methods of love's desire and Majnün’sjourney on the way of love in Nizämi’s version.3

Majnün's tale Roots

The old versions ofMajnün's tale are unverified narrative myths, carrying social historical information. The old Arabic tales are much simpler. The significant difference is how Majnün gathers with Leyli. There is a version which assumes that Majnün and Leyli grew up together in at-Tawbäd. Another version explains that Majnün meets Leyli unexpectedly when they are adult. In both versions, Majnün falls in love with and attempts to marry her, but her family refuses Majnün and she marries another man. In exploring the medieval roots of this tale, it seems there was an Arab poet did who composed this tale in the late seventh century AD. Refering to a statement in a collection in Arabic literature in tenth-century, the primary wirter was a young man from Umayyad, applying the anonym ofMajnün, wrote this tale to explain his pathetic love love for his cousin. But there is no supporting proof for such an unknown author.

However, some texts related to Nawfal ibn Musähiq who was a historical character and administrator in Medina in 83/702, firmly implies that the original version has been written in the same period. This tale surely is written in the late seventh and early eighth century in Basra and Küfa. It seems that Majnün myth produced from the struggle among the northern and southern Arabs in the beginning oflslam in Arab lands. Also, the southern part owned the specific type of romance poetry called “Udhri' for writing poets about love. The common popular version of this tale was the text of Jamil al'Udhri (d. 82/701), who had been torched with love for Bathna, but her father rejected him and she married someone else. In reply to this famous poet, the northern Arabs, designed by the family of ‘Amir ibn §a'§a'a, have cmposed the also the famous version of Majnün ibn al-Mulawwah, who was even more miserable than Jamil's version in his love story. Even if this struggle between northern and southern Arabs were not important, there was a strong Arabian belief of 'refined love' into which the story ofMajnün easily suits.4

The discursive characteristics of the story were basically due to the oral legend of Arabic verse. The primitive existing transcription of the story is a compilation oflbn Qutayba (d. AD 889), who settled the texts of main Arab writers. His version shows that Majnün's story affected different grades in the poetry discourse by story-tellers. They were apparently engaged with the tale's advancement, propagation, and termination. While Majnün has regularly been portrayed as the supreme lover, the perfect mystic, or even as an advanced heroic figure for a lover, it is his capacity as a perfect poet who is supreme. Eventually, the lover's poems and songs were more important than its object.5

It looks that the figure ofMajnün’s madness within the Arabic legend, that is found largely within the akhbar, or story introductions to his poetry, may be trusty as a result of the main points ofMajnün’s madness were simply those points which were not provide gloss to the poet. Moreover, the poetry mostly retains the anomaly and uncertainty concerning what madness is, particularly love madness. It seems that the authors of the Arabic versions of the story were forced to believe, significantly in its phase, on simply recognisable characteristics of madness and normally shared attitudes toward the madness. By providing the story with some conventional parts of mad behaviors, the physical descriptions reinforce the mimetic and realistic aspect of the narrative and produce it nearer to the popular imagination. Moreover, the healthiness ofMajnün becomes his characteristic mark as an incarnation of the love-mad author, and in distinction to different heroes of the identical kind of romance.6

Majnün got lost on the way oflove, not in his expression ofhis passion for beloved but in his proclaiming it to society. His error was the outcome ofhis reasoning confusion; IfMajnün's sensual obsession were a symbol of a developing subconscious disorder, his insanity would achieve a more and relevant result. The common view is that his insanity was a result of his faithful love. But Majnün's representations about Leyli in society assumed the regular Arab cultural morality. Majnün's free demonstration ofhis love broke appreciated Arab culture. It earned disgrace and scandal for Leyli. Besides, his growing insanity carried disgrace for himself and his family as well.7

Nizämiversion of Majnün’s tale

Nizämi attached the episodes of Leyli and Majnün and made a single narrative poem in 548/1188. Nizämi composed this Mathnawi for his purchaser Shirwän-Shäh Akhsitän; this tale is the third part Khamsa which is a set of five long poems, hollowing the essential elements considering the edge of the story, Nizämi engaged the leading and notable parts and combined various inventiveness. Necessarily, Nizämi changed the form and content of the legend and his retelling of the story is a mystical version of this legend; because interestingly, the Arabic version was not associated with mysticism.8

Collectively, Nizämi provides a tragic and convincing account of Majnün's figure as a madman. Thin, irony fee, the black burned skin colour, and darkness had admittedly unfortunate implications.9

In Nizämi's version, other potential conditions are proposed, both explicitly or essentially. Majnün's passion goes to desire in the beginning, the renewal of sensual concerns until the madness. For Nizämi, madness is predestined for man; which is different from the Arabic version which brings the idea of madness with the domination ofjinn or demons on humans. Indeed, several of the characteristics of Majnün in Nizämi was expected to be recognizedjust as inessential symptoms ofMajnün's position in love. The mysteries oflove, life, and madness which he regularly postured relied on a strong sensation ofhuman quality and common facts.10

Nizämi carries the motif of emptiness in different levels. He has considered his work as a picture of the tragic desire of love; ajourney towards emptiness which is the requirement for the appearance of true love. As Nizämi was hired by a local prince to write a Persian verse version of the Arabian tale, at the beginning of the tale he complains of composing a poem dealing with such a slight design which takes place only in the desert, with no possibility to express glory and feasts in gardens or to present his highly purified ability of poetry. The poet complains about the story and its environment which are flat and dry which does not have the ability of inspiration for poet.11

Therefore, Nizämi advances the love story in its mystical layer. Majnün's madness was eventually harmful. Nizämi's version exposes the negative aspects of love's ability and models basic ethical issues relating to the lover's behavior ofhisjourney and his interpretation of its purpose; Majnün's desire attempts to ruin with no limits and it is beyond control.12

Nizämi develops the motifs such as asceticism and destiny, life's emptiness and destruction. He also applies multiple characteristics and figures which appearance in love. Nizämi gives much more consideration to for Layli comparing to the Arabic version, but generally the Majnün is in the core of the story. Despite our interest in the madness ofMajnün, Nizämi emphasises on Majnün's exceptional love where gives him a grand field for his lyrical skills. Nizämi's version follows much more the Persian culture scope. Also, the following writers hired his versions and its motifs profoundly without much difference. For example, in Jami's version (889/1484), the poet tries to develop the mystical layers applying much detailed verses. Comparing the Arab versions, the madman's motifs in twelfth-century Nizämi's tale come differently. Nizämi developed and modified some of the pieces such as Leyli and Majnün at school; or Nawfal is an Iranian royalty; and Persian gardens preferably than the Arabian desert. People expected Nizämi to adapt a design of bedouin world in the early Islamic era which had been admired in Islamic culture. Nizämi's evolution of the Arabic pieces of the story has the benefit of staying compatible with the primary versions in parallel of holding a much specific and detailed version of tale applying his ability in imagery. Nizämi illustrates the tolerant atrophy of lover, in the paralel of his progress in his actions.13

Majnün, was a refusal in Arab family identity; a good man was supposed to make a healthy family to attend a life fully united with society. But Majnün's departure was an interpretation of his denial of community and his human part. But in mystical version, Majnün's purpose goes to parallel with a mystical self-annihilation in the love.14

Nizämi and the spicific motif of“water of live”: In the beginning when the poet accepted the local prince’s order to rewrite the tale in Persian, as the tragic and dry motifs of this tale did not directly affect Nizämi, he chose to apply a sensitive love story set in the dry deserts of Arabia into an “origin and root” of the tale's inspiration. The certain theme of the tale is love, but love held as eternal desire in parallel to the manner of inspiration. The poet applies the water, as the basic metaphor for his tale's inspiration, which is frequently utilised by the lovers, as the metaphor oflove. The lovers also are related to plants and Leyli declaims ofMajnün as her Khizr who leads her to the Water ofLife in the darkness. Majnün definitely comes as the model both of the absolute lover and of the poet of love. Searching for love appears as a ground to the true wisdom, to the pure knowledge which can be transmitted through the words of poetry. The parallel between Majnün’s situation and that of the narrator concerns the background that provides such importance to the image of“water”. In the story-line, the poet emphasizes the point of need to dig in order to find water in the desert. As to Majnün, it is necessary that he digs out his own heart (or desert which is thirty of water) and produce both layers of perfect love in story­line and perfect poetry in his discourse. The “pearl” metaphor extends the themes related to water of life because pearls refer to the representation of water as a heavenly alteration of a drop of water to a diamond. This idea connects the artistic scene in grand force the Arabian desert and the abundance of the garden in Persian literature. But finally, Nizämi shows his ability to use of the desert's motifs as the only perfect potential framework for such an intense love story. The desert becomes a symbol of the absence of the beloved from the lover. The height of this lack comes when the lover falls out in the appearance of the beloved. This absence of "the real beloved" for lover which is an action to confirm the idea that Nizämi’s tale is a long complaint of love which cannot be achieved in this real world because of its "real" nature. The barrenness of actions in a paradoxical field applies the real dynamic of action which comes in the root and definition of "desire" in words in the literary layer. Both lovers are reduced to the emptiness which enables them to find an entrance to a higher level of existence.15

Nizämi version thematic review

In this part, we go deeper in Nizämi’s text, trying to explore different thematic mystical motifs in his version ofMajnün’s tale. All the verses come from the Nizämi poem ofMajnün’s tale.16

“Lover” definition and specification (ethical elegance):

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

“Majnun (the true lover) is the king of early-risers’s throne (also metaphor of sun). He is also the leaser of tearfuls’ army (lovers who cry). Who is concealed on the way of friend’s passion, and who is captured by the chain on the way of friend’s mount (or house). With a hidden magic and a visible giant, like Harut for anxious lovelorn maniacs. A king without a throne and crown, who makes many poor people feeling happy. Lonely Majnun with a broken heart, like a boiling ocean.”

Connection with Nature and Motifs of paradise (Saba, Desert):

Lover characteristics related to Ethical Elegance (kindness); Majnun talks with the wind “Sabä”:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

“(O Saba) Send a breath from your source my beloved, and give her your (magical dust from paradise). But be careful to not making her cold when you pass.”

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


1 Michael W. Dois, Majnün: the madman in medieval Islamicsociety, éd. Diana E. Immisch, Oxford, Clarendon press, 1992, p. 320.

2 J. Christoph Bürgel et Christine van Ruymbeke, A Key to the Treasure ofthe Hakim: Artistic and HumanisticAspects ofNizamiGanjavi's Khamsa, Leiden University Press, 2011, 306 p., p. 53-4.

3 Ibidem, p. 59-60.

4 Michael W. Dois, op. cit., p. 320-3.

5 Andre Miquel, Percy Kemp et Ali ibn al-Husayn Abu al-Farag al-lsbahani, Majnün et Laylâ : L'amourfou, Paris, Sindbad, 1984, p. 166-74, 182-4.

6 Michael W. Dois, op. cit., p. 328-9.

7 Ibidem, p. 332.

8 FuzülT, Leylä and Mejnün, trad. Sofi Huri, Allen and Unwin, 1970, 350 p., p. 60-3.

9 Bernard Lewis, Race and color in Islam, Harper & Row, 1971, 136 p., p. 9.

10 Michael W. Dois, op. cit., p. 339.

11 J. Christoph Bürgel et Christinevan Ruymbeke, op. cit., p. 53-4.

12 Julie Scott Meisami, Medieval Persian Court Poetry, Princeton University Press, 1987, 346 p., p. 158-60.

13 Michael W. Dois, op. cit., p. 323-32.

14 Julie Scott Meisami, op. cit., p. 171-3.

15 J. Christoph Bürgel et Christinevan Ruymbeke, op. cit., p. 53-7.

16 Ilyas Ibn-Yüsuf NizämT GangawT, LeylTo Mejnün, éd. NTrü STrüs, Nashr-i Rüzgär, 2015, 325 p.

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Divine Madness in "Leyli o Majnun". Considering the Nizāmī Romance Version
Persian Literature
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Divine Madness
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Meghdad Shamsolvaezin (Author), 2018, Divine Madness in "Leyli o Majnun". Considering the Nizāmī Romance Version, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1126432


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