GUEST POST — Getting Into the Spirit of the Qur’an by Don Whitfield

Dear Fellow Rumi-nators,

I hope that you have been able to get copies of the two books for our seminar this summer, The Prophet and the Poet: Reciting God.

Masnavi_i_Manavi_de_Jalal_al-Din_Rumi_India_1663.As I have started to prepare for the seminar, my focus has been on the Ma’navi of Rumi, the first book of which is the contents of the Penguin edition, titled Spiritual Verses. My recommendation is that you read the entire book – savor it, live with it, return to it often in the coming months. It consists of 17 stories and an introductory section by Rumi, and it is imbued with the spirit if not the letter of the Qur’an. During our week together, we will touch on many parts of it. The introduction by the translator, Alan William, is very fine and will help set the context for our discussions. William reminds us that “Rumi is both a poet and a mystic, but he is a teacher first, trying to communicate what he knows to his audience. Like all good teachers, he trusts that ultimately, when the means to go any further fail him and his voice falls silent, his students will have learnt to understand on their own.”

Sometime in the spring, I will send you the reading assignments for the Qur’an, which we will discuss in relation to Rumi’s work.

Please let me know, via Classical Pursuits, if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you in Toronto in July.

For more information on our Toronto Pursuits seminar, The Prophet and the Poet: Reciting God, click here.

Donald Whitfield

rsz_don-whitfield-149x300Donald Whitfield is Director of Great Books Discussions, the adult education division of the Great Books Foundation in Chicago. Starting from his love of the poetry of Rumi, he wants to explore the tradition of the Qur’an out of which it grew.

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