04. The Prophet and the Poet: Reciting God


Regardless of sectarian differences, for all followers of Islam – 23 percent of the world’s population in 2012 – the Qur’an is primary and central, its words considered a direct recitation by God to the prophet Muhammed. And yet, to non-Muslims its contents are on the whole little known. One of the traditions that grew out of the teachings of the Qur’an was the Sufi sect, whose major exponent was the 13th-century Iranian poet, Rumi. Rumi’s greatest work, the Ma’navi, is sometimes called the Qur’an in Persian. A rich collection of stories and lessons in verse, Rumi’s recitations, dictated to his followers, are considered by many Muslims to be divinely inspired.

We will read and discuss large portions of both the Qur’an and the Ma’navi to gain a better sense of the words from which Muslims draw their view of the world and to dispel our unfamiliarity with some of the writings that motivate so many people in the world we all share today



“If spiritual explanation were enough
Creation of the world were all in vain.”



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Donald 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.

Participants are required to obtain the specified edition in order to facilitate the group’s ability to find and cite portions of the text during discussion.

The Qur’an
(Oxford University Press, 2008)
ISBN-13 978-0199535958

The Masnavi, Book One
(Oxford World's Classics) (Bk. 1),

by Jalal al-Din Rumi,
translated by Jawid Mojaddedi,
Oxford University Press
(October, 2008)
ISBN 10: 0199552312
ISBN 13: 978-0199552313

Available on both amazon.com and amazon.ca.

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