Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Religion of love

Got to sit in on a class by one of my colleagues today. The subject was a novela by Sudanese writer Tayeb Saleh, which my colleague explained was replete with references to Islamic literary traditions. One was the the archetypal love story of Layla and Majnun, beloved of Sufis, which was introduced through images. Two of these were so striking I asked for the links. In the Timmurid illustration above the young lovers meet while studying the Quran in a mosque the viewer enters piously through the door at lower left; they are placed visually in the niqab, a sign that their love is a divine thing. In the Persian miniature below, Majnun in orange at top right spies on his love in the tent below, while life goes on around them in a riot of oblivious color. Divine love is like this, too.
In a time of growing ignorance and islamophobia I'm so glad our students have a chance to encounter Islamic civilization in this way.

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