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Nargis Virani, “I am the Nightingale of the Merciful” (Rumi's Use of Quran and Hadith) - Part 2

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[1] It is clear that once the orthodox creed of the uncreatedness of the Quran ("kalam Allah ghayr makhluq"), first proclaimed by Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) gained strong ground through the well-formulated and well-articulated doctrines of al-Ashari (d. 935), the status of the Quran and, with it that of the purity of the Arabic language, gained uncontested supremacy.

[2] Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, (d. 923) authored the first complete “traditionist” (tradition-based) tafsir still extant, entitled, "Jami al-Bayan an Tawil ay al-Quran", ed. Mahmud M. Shakir and Ahmad M. Shakir, vol. 8, Cairo: "Dar al-Maarif", 1972.
All the other later exegetes relied heavily on al-Tabari’s tafsir as the prototype for the genre and imitated it, to a great degree, in form, and to varying degrees, in content.

[3] In my doctoral dissertation I studied, through the multi-lingual poems of Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207 - 1273 C.E.), the phenomenon of multilingual compositions in Western and Islamic literary traditions
I also discussed the terms and usage of “macaronic” and "mulammaat" historically and in contemporary times.
I demonstrated through examples that the 2 terms cannot be treated synonymously.
Nargis Virani, “'I am the Nightingale of the Merciful' - Macaronic or Upside-Down?: The Mulammaat of Jalaluddin Rumi.” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1999).

For the purpose of this article, though, I do treat “macaronic” and "mulammaat" as near synonyms, meaning multilingual combinations of various types because that is how the term and the phenomenon are understood in most contemporary writings.
However, it is important to note here that the Arabic and the Persian literary traditions, particularly the poetic traditions had, early on, developed various devices,
through which poetic and prose compositions incorporated quotations and insertions that were sometimes in a different language.

Foremost in the category of the rhetorical devices, which - at times - allow a combination of 2 or more languages,
are the group of devices, that enabled writers and poets to insert direct quotes from the Quran, Hadith, poetry of previous poets, proverbs, etc.
Tadmin, quotations or insertions from religious, ethical and general secular literature inclusive of poetry from previous poets is the general designation of this category, to which belong:
- iqtibas, the insertion of verses or fragments of verses from the Quran;
- irsal-i mithal (mathal) or tamthil, insertion of proverbs; and
- talmih, allusions, rather than direct quotes or insertions.

[4] For a discussion of the term and its usage, see Virani, “I am the Nightingale of the Merciful”, chap. 3.
Translations of all the poems quoted in this chapter and elsewhere are mine.
For ease of reference and in order to give the reader a full flavor of complete poems, I have included portions of the English translations with the relevant section of the poems in the original, with their metrical analyses in transliterated form.
Space does not permit me to include transliterations and translations of entire poems here.
Therefore, I apologize to readers who may have wished to see the entire poems in the original.
Translations of the entire corpus of Rumi’s macaronic poems will appear in my forthcoming work, "The Macaronic Rumi: Jalaluddin Rumi’s Multilingual Experiment."

[5] All references to Quranic quotations will henceforth be indicated as:
(chapter : verse), as they occur in standard editions of the Quran.
References to Rumi's poems also follow a similar format.
Thus, poem 1974 refers to the number of the poem in the Diwan:
Rumi, "Kulliyyat-i Shams, ya Diwan-i Kabir", ed. Badiuzzaman Furuzanfar, 10 vols., Tehran: "Danishgah", 1336-46.
For example, 1011-4: 2 refers to poem 1011, verse 4, hemistich 2, to be coordinated with my tables of metrical analyses.

[6] Quotes from multilingual poems adopt the following format:
1. Persian: regular font;
2. Arabic: italicized;
- Quranic quotations in Arabic: italicized and underlined.
Different fonts are used for:
3. Greek,
4. Turkish,
5. Armenian,
will be indicated as and when they occur in the course of the article.
- Bold font indicates metrical violations, as well as coalescence between different languages.

[7] Originally a Sanskrit word, it is now an accepted linguistic term referring to the coalescence of sounds in a language.
In Rumi's mulammaat, the coalescence of sounds also occurs across different languages.

[8] Quran 48:1
[9] Quran 94:1
[10] A sustained discussion of the thematic insertions of these verses follows in the final section of this article.
[11] The variant “If you continue” preferred for the translation rather than “if you lengthen.”
[12] Quran 75:11
[13] Quran 54:1
[14] Prophetic Hadith:
"la darar wa la dirar fi-l Islam, -
“There shall be no harming, injuring, or hurting (of one person by another),
in the first instance, nor in return, or requital, in Islam.”

[15] For a discussion of the possible ways, in which the multilingual poems may have come together, see:
Virani, “I am the Nightingale of the Merciful”, chap. 4.

[16] This reminds one of Moses' experience on Mount Sinai when, according to Quran 7:143, on viewing but a part of God's grandeur, he fell to the ground unconscious.

[17] "Aqd - solidification [of prose], as opposed to hall - dissolution [of poetry]."
See W. Heinrichs, "Prosimetrical Genres in Classical Arabic Literature," in Joseph Harris and Karl Reichl, eds., "Prosimetrum: Crosscultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose and Verse", Cambridge: "D.S. Brewer", 1997, 270.

[18] Quran 74:6, “Give not, thinking to gain greater”

[19] The original subject-case ending of the Quranic quote must be modified - to reflect the elision of "anta", which then converts the conjunction "waw" into a "waw-al maiyah."
I am grateful to W. Heinrichs for drawing my attention to the editor's mistake in this case.
The dual imperative qatila is also wrongly vocalized as qatilan in the printed text.

[20] Quran 5:27 “They said: ‘O Moses! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter, to the end of time. Go thou, and thy Lord, and fight ye two, while we sit here”

[21] Prophetic hadith often quoted in Sufi handbooks.

[22] In the word shaniyaka, the writing of "ya" for "’a" is the Persian editor's reading, which does not affect the meter either way.
However, the agreed-upon rules of Quranic orthography should prevail for Quranic quotations over such Persianisms.
All such occurrences are therefore emended.

[23] Quran 108:3, “Truly the one who hates you, he will be the one without issue”

[24] For general works on the Quran and its interpretations see relevant articles in H.A.R. Gibb et al, eds.,
- "The Encyclopaedia of Islam", 2nd Edition, (Leiden: Brill, 1954-2002);
- Jame Dammen McAuliffe, ed., "Encyclopaedia of the Quran" (Leiden: Brill, 2001-),
- Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey, eds., "Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature", London: Routledge, 1998.

[25] G.J.H. Van Gelder, "Iqtibas" in "The Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature", 397.

[26] For a general discussion of this topic please refer to the articles on the "Mutazilites", and the "Asharites", in H.A.R. Gibb et al, eds., "The Encyclopaedia of Islam", 2nd Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1954-2002), vols. 1, 695-696; 7, 783-793.

[27] For a catalog of various kinds of mixed-language compositions in Islamic literatures see: Virani, “I am the Nightingale of the Merciful”, chap. 2.

[28] Gelder, "Iqtibas,", 397. The particular verse from the Quran is misquoted as:
"hammalnakum ala-l jariyah"
in this article. For further examples of the use of the Quran in a light-hearted, sometimes facetious manner see Ulrich Marzolph, “The Quoran and Jocular Literature" in "Arabica", Leiden: Brill 2000, vol. 47, 478-487.

[29] Wadad al-Qadi, "The Impact of the Quran on the Epistolography of Abd al-Hamid", in Approaches to the Quran, eds.: G.R. Hawting and Abdul-Kader A. Shareef, London: Routledge, 1993, 285-313;
Wadad al-Qadi, "The Limitations of Quranic Usage in Early Arabic Poetry: The Example of a Kharijite Poem," in Wagner Festschrift, 2: 162-81; and
A.M. Zubaidi, "The Impact of the Quran and Hadith on Medieval Arabic Literature," in A.F.L. Beeston et al, eds., "Cambridge History of Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period", Cambridge: "Cambridge University Press", 1983, 322-43.

[30] See Annemarie Schimmel, "The Triumphal Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalaloddin Rumi", Persian Studies Series, 8, London: "Fine Books", 1978. Reprinted, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1993, 37 ff.

[31] Based on my reading of Rumi's mulammaat, I hope to undertake an article-length study on the "macaronic" nature and style of his didacticism through the reinterpretation of a few stories from the Mathnawi.
This "macaronic" mode of argumentation has very little to do with the use of mixed-language.
Rather, it is the introduction of an entirely different perspective, an "upside-down" approach.
I hope to further show that what appears on the surface as didacticism contains a germ of "Menippean element", which questions the very foundations of long-held assumptions, beliefs, and tenets.
They force the audience/participants to reevaluate their fundamental positions.
Rumi establishes this approach in the course of what I would call "frequent authorial interlocutions."
Often, these "detours" from the main story argue in a fundamentally different mode and do not result in clear logical and rational conclusions; i.e. 2 plus 2 rarely, if ever, adds up to a 4.
Such interludes, then, play a subversive role and compel the readers/listeners, not only to retrace their steps to confirm who the speaker or the protagonist of the story is,
but they also serve to introduce the optimum amount of discomfort thus forcing a reappraisal of their own long-held, unquestioned assumptions.

[32] Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, "Mafatih al-Ghayb or Tafsir al-Kabir", Cairo: "Dar al-Tiba‘ah", n.d., 8 : 535-547.

[33] I have 3 reasons for choosing al-Razi's tafsir:
1. it is one of the more substantive and therefore more interesting of tafsirs, in my opinion.
2. the author was a near-contemporary of Rumi and an actual contemporary of his father.
3. Rumi and al-Razi were both theologically trained practicing preachers in their respective communities.

What I hope to illustrate through this brief comparison is the stark contrast in their approaches to the Quran as well as their teaching methodologies for the masses despite their common objectives.

[34] Quran 87:1, “Glorify the name of your Lord, most High”
[35] Quran 87:4
[36] Quran 87:7
[37] Quran 87:3
[38] Quran 87:6
[39] Following is a translation of the relevant verses from Surat al-Ala (87 : 1-7):
Glorify the name of your Lord, Most High
Who has created and given you proportion
Who has decreed and guided
And who brings forth the (green and luscious) pastures
And then made it (but) swarthy stubble
We shall make you recite
So you shall not forget
Except what God wishes
For it is He who knows
what is manifest and what is hidden.

[40] For a general discussion on the subject see John Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress", ed. Roger Sharrock (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1987); Evelyn Underhill, "Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness", (London: Methuen, 1977).
For Islamic mysticism see, Annemarie Schimmel, The Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978).

[41] This is perhaps one of the most blatant metrical violations.
However, it is hardly audible in oral recitation.
See note 74 for further explanation.

[42] Quran 51:47, “With power and skill did We construct the firmament
for it is We who create the vastness of space.”
[43] Quran 9:112
[44] Quran 70:3-4, “From God, Lord of the ways of ascent, the angels and the spirit ascend unto Him in a day, the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years.”
[45] Quran 21:93
[46] Quran 28:80
[47] Quran 26:44
[48] Quran 56:27
[49] Quran 56:10. Constant allusions to verses from Surah al-Waqia that speak of the final day when humankind will be divided into 3 groups:
- the companions of the right hand,
- the companions of the left hand,
- and those foremost.

The fate of each will be decided dependent on the category to which they belong.

[50] Quran 37:165.
[51] This is a Prophetic saying.
[52] Quran 8:65. Here Rumi puns on the common triliteral root (f q h) of the word for jurist faqih and those without understanding la yafqahuna.

[53] Quran 68:1, “Nun. By the Pen, and by what they write.”
[54] Reminiscent of the Quran 37:175, “And watch them and they shall soon see”
and also 68:5, “Soon you will see and they will see.”
[55] Quran 68:9.
[56] The Lotebush is generally depicted as being at the end of the universe beyond which none can pass (Quran 53:14).

[57] Quran 2:2
[58] Quran 52:30
[59] Quran 68:19
[60] For some inexplicable reason, the editor has changed yulaqqaha as it appears in the Quran to yulaqqiha.

[61] It is rather intriguing to note that this phrase in its original occurrence in the Quran is put in the mouths of the magicians of Pharaoh, who invoke their power before throwing their rods by saying: "By the might of Pharaoh, it is we, who will certainly win!"

[62] While Miraj typically refers to the Prophet's heavenly ascent during his “night-journey,” Rumi plays on its double meaning as "ladder" and juxtaposes it with the Persian nardi-ban also meaning "ladder."

[63] Al-faqru idha tamma fa huwa-llah "poverty when perfected is God," is a hadith often quoted by the Sufis.

[64] 3 of the 4 instances in the Quran, where sidrah, the lotebush, is mentioned, it symbolizes heavenly bliss, especially in 56:28 where the "companions of the Right Hand" will dwell among the lotebush without thorns.
This tree is also mentioned in connection with the Prophet's Miraj - heavenly ascent, when he is supposed to have seen Gabriel, the angel of revelation, near the lotebush (53:14).
The tree itself is shrouded [in mystery] (53:16). Rumi has already alluded, earlier in this poem, to Miraj and "the people of the right hand," thus; the appearance of the Sidrah is a natural progression.
However, there is one instance, Quran 34:16, where wild lotebushes, good for neither fruit nor shade, are mentioned in a negative light.

[65] The reference here is not to some lyrical poem, ghazal 55, but to chapter 55, surat al-Rahman, of the Quran!
Referring to a surah of the Quran by its number is unusual even today in Muslim circles.
It is probably for this reason that the learned editor did not recognize it as an allusion to the Quran.

[66] Quran 108:3, “Truly the one who hates you, he will be the one without issue.”
[67] Ibn Rashiq, the medieval literary critic treats repetition (takrar) as an effective form of the figure of speech.
He points to the repetitious refrain in surah 55 and states that this repetition belongs to the signs of ijaz, the miraculous inimitability, of the Quran.
See Ibn Rashiq, "al-umda fi mahasin al-shir wa-adabih wa naqdih", ed. M. M. Abdalhamid (Beirut, 1971), 2: 75,
also cited by Burgel, "'Speech is a Ship and Meaning the Sea': Some Formal Aspects of the Ghazal Poetry of Rumi," in "Poetry and Mysticism in Islam: The Heritage of Rumi", eds. Amin Banani, Richard Houannisian, and Georges Sabagh. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 57-58.

[68] Christoph Burgel is of the opinion that Rumi's frequent use of repetition is one of his less obvious responses to the Quranic impact that is so palpable in all his writings.

[69] Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, Mathnawi-i Manawi. Edited and translated by R. A. Nicholson, 8 vols (London: Luzac, 1925-40), I-1741.
[70] Quran 48:1, “Verily, We have granted thee a manifest victory.”
[71] Quran 94:1, “Have We not expanded thee thy breast.”
[72] Quran 21:107, “And, We did not send thee except as Mercy to the worlds.”
[73] The editor's vocalization hur-il-in is impossible according to Arabic grammatical rules and therefore has been emended here. All occurrences of this term in the Quran, e.g. 44:54, 52: 20, 55:72, 56:22, mention the two-noun combination in the indefinite.

[74] The printed text represents the three mysterious letters ayn, sin, and qaf as one word "asq" which under no circumstance can fit the meter. Therefore, they are emended according to the metrical requirements. However, both ayn and sin are overlong syllables not permitted in Arabic prosody. Technically, Persian prosody does not permit it either. Thus, it is a metrical violation in both traditions. However, this is a typical example of how the oral recitation undermines the written rules because these words, when recited orally, may conceivably either treat the "nun" end-sound as a nasal pronunciation not to be counted (as allowed by Persian prosodists) or hum the nun sound maintaining the rhythm of the poem instead of stumbling over the meter and revealing the violation.

[75] Quran 95:1: “By the fig and the olive….”
[76] Quran 44:54, 52:20, and 56:22.
[77] Quran 42:2.
[78] Quran 36:1.
[79] Quran 93:1.
[80] The Prophet is said to have counseled one of his companions, Abu Hurayrah, “Visit rarely, and you will be loved more.”
[81] Quran 1:4
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