Layla and Majnun. Images from the Heritage Museum. From my early youth I have been intrigued by the love story of Majnun and Layla, two young lovers from Bedouin Arabia. I remember very well that during long, cold winter nights in Kabul, in the s, my mother would tell us the remarkable story of these two lovers, their intense, splendid romance, and their endless plights leading to their heartrending deaths. Years later, as a student of literature, I read the Persian romance of Laili and Majnun by Nezami Ganjawi CE and then came across several reworkings of this amazing romance.
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Layla and Majnun. Images from the Heritage Museum. From my early youth I have been intrigued by the love story of Majnun and Layla, two young lovers from Bedouin Arabia.
I remember very well that during long, cold winter nights in Kabul, in the s, my mother would tell us the remarkable story of these two lovers, their intense, splendid romance, and their endless plights leading to their heartrending deaths. Years later, as a student of literature, I read the Persian romance of Laili and Majnun by Nezami Ganjawi CE and then came across several reworkings of this amazing romance.
As the two grow older, the intensity of their love increases. The marriage never consummates as Layla insists on preserving her chastity. She remains faithful to her true love, Majnun, until Ibn Salam dies of rejection, disillusionment, and grief.
A number of times, Majnun is offered the chance to visit his beloved, to speak with her in person. Towards the end of the story, when Layla, through the inter-mediation of a young, faithful devotee of Majnun, appears to him, he still refuses to have physical or sexual contact with her. Accordingly, his excessive devotion to Layla represents his unique and steadfast devotion to Ideal Love, the Divine—which explains why, in spite of his incessant yearning for his beloved Layla, he is incapable of physical intimacy with her.
It is with the idealized image of the beloved—in the person of Layla—that Majnun is infatuated. When Layla falls mortally ill and passes away, Majnun, too, loses his one and only purpose in life, his sole means towards the realization of True Love. When he learns about the death of his beloved, he at once seeks her gravesite. Weeping and moaning, he presses himself against her gravestone and breaths his final gasps, and dies. The lovers ultimately unite, but only in death.
While a Sufi mystical reading of it is plausible, one can justifiably read it as a conventional, yet immensely rich and enthralling, love-story. Despite the abundance of mystical motifs and metaphors, the profane dimensions of the poem cannot be overlooked. Other notable renderings of the story are by Maktabi Shirazi, Hatefi, and, more notably, Fuzuli. The latter became considerably influential in Ottoman Turkey.
The romance of Layla and Majnun has also been made into several popular films and movies in Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. Wali Ahmadi is an associate professor of Persian literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently working on the cultural politics of modern Persian poetics and aesthetics. By UMS. September 23, Love great music, theater, and dance? Sign me up!
Epic love stories of history: Layla and Majnun
So sang Eric Clapton. Here are just some of the artworks it has inspired:. Various versions exist, but at the core of each is a love that cannot be. A young man named Qais ibn Al-Mulawah known as Qays fell in love with a young lady named Layla: deeply, irrevocably, hopelessly in love.
Layla and Majnun
Layla and Majnun is a classic story of love most notably expressed by the great poets Nizami Ganjavi and Muhammad Fuzuli. It has been presented in many Middle Eastern and sub-continental cultures; Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, and secular. Layla and Qays, are in love from childhood but are not allowed to unite. Layla is married off to another and Majnun becomes a hermit, devoting himself to writing verses about his profound love of Layla. Although they attempt to meet, they die without ever realizing a relationship.
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