RELIGIOUS STUDIES 881, fall 2009

Islamic Thought

Topic: Persian Mystical and Philosophical Texts

Suhrawardi       Hafiz

Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m.- 12:50 p.m.
FedEx Global Education Center 3024

Instructor: Carl W. Ernst
UNC-Chapel Hill


This course involves close and careful study of selected Persian texts on mysticism and philosophy. Each week students prepare selected passages, read them aloud with correct vocalization, and translate orally into English.
This is designed to be advanced training in reading Persian literary texts, with considerable emphasis on Sufi themes and terminology.

Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m., 3024 FedEx Global Education Center


Advanced knowledge of Persian and Arabic, and permission of instructor.


The basic goals of the course are:

Gaining linguistic skill in reading and translating classical Persian literary and religious texts.

Understanding problems related to the study of Islamic culture, and methods of the study of classical Persian and Arabic texts.

Developing analytical skills through a research paper on a subject of one's choice related to mysticism and philosophy.

Developing translation skills, including English translation of significant Persian passages relating to one's research.


A research paper on some aspect of Islamic culture related to the major text we are reading (15 pages plus bibliography), accompanied by translations of Persian or Arabic texts that provide the basis for the paper (4-5 pages of original language text). 70% of grade.

Participation in weekly seminars with preparation. 30% of grade.



`Abd Allah Ansari, Munajat namah. Full text available here. Begin text on p. 5. Also study the title page of an old lithograph edition.

Majmu`a-yi musannafat-i Shaykh-i Ishraq, ed. Sayyid Husain Nasr. Full text available here.

Mobad Shah [Kaykhusraw Isfandiyar, attr.]. Dabistan-i madhahib, ed. Rahim Riza-Zadah Malik. Tehran: Tuhuri, 1362. Selections available here.

`Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dihlawi al-Bukhari. Akhbar al-akhyar fi asrar al-abrar, ed. `Alim Ashraf Khan. Tehran:  Anjuman-i Athar o Mafakhar-i Farhangi, 1383. Selections available here.

General Reference:

Dihkhoda, `Ali Akbar, ed. Lughat-nama. Online searchable version here.

Steingass, Francis Joseph. A Comprehensive Persian-English dictionary, including the Arabic words and phrases to be met with in Persian literature. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1892 (frequently reprinted). Online version available here.

 Poems online

Aug. 26. Ansari, Munajat

Sept. 2. Ansari, Munajat

Sept. 9. Shahram Nazeri singing andak andak, ghazal 819 by Rumi; lyrics here. Suhrawardi, Avaz-i parr-i Jibril.

Sept. 16. Rumi, Divan-i Shams, ghazal 1272 ("Hudhud") sung by Jalal Zulfonoon; lyrics here (pick out the ones that are sung). Suhrawardi, Avaz-i parr-i Jibril.
Additional verse from ghazal 1271:

ساقی اگر بایدت تا کنم اینرا تمام      بادۀ گویا بنه بر لب جانان خویش

Sept. 23. Hafiz, no. 170, sung by Husamuddin Siraj. Suhrawardi, Avaz-i parr-i Jibril.

Sept. 30. Hafiz, no. 46, sung by Humayun Shajarian. Suhrawardi, Avaz-i parr-i Jibril.

Oct. 7. Nashenas singing a ghazal of Bedil; lyrics here. Suhrawardi, Avaz-i parr-i Jibril.

Oct. 14. Hafiz, no. 184. Akhbar al-Akhyar, biography of Qutb al-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki.
Also examine this painting representing a verse from Hafiz.

Oct. 21. `Iraqi, no. 98. Akhbar al-Akhyar, biography of Amir Khusraw.

Oct. 28. Hafiz, no. 143. Akhbar al-Akhyar, biography of Amir Khusraw and following biographies (Abu Bakr Muy-Tab, Shihab al-Din Haqq-Gu, Siraj-i Sukhtah).

Nov. 4. Hafiz, no. 26. Akhbar al-Akhyar, biography of  Badi` al-din Shah Madar, Sayyid Yad Allah, `Abd Allah Shattari, Husam al-Din Manikpuri.

Nov. 11. Akhbar al-Akhyar, biography of Mas`ud Bakk plus biographies of Bibi Zulaykha and Bibi Awliya.

Nov. 18. Sa`di, Golistan, introduction. Dabistan, pp. 157 ff. (on yoga)

Nov. 25. Thanksgiving holiday - no class

Dec. 2. Sa`di, Golistan, introduction. Dabistan, pp. 158 ff. (on yoga)

Dec. 7, 6 pm. Research presentations