LO V E OR D E V OTION ? FRO M P E RSIA OR TH E B E YOND ? ­ A P E RSIAN S U FI P E RS P E C TI V E Rafal Stepien – TAASA Review March 2012


This article was originally found in the March 2012 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 21, Issue 1, Page 11).

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L ove and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond ­ such is the title of the exhibition of Persian and other manuscripts at the State Library of Victoria to which this issue of TAASA Review is devoted.

Surely this sounds innocent enough? And yet, in what follows, I would like to consider the oppositions that such a title implicitly calls into play, and the questions these raise for our informed appreciation of the works from the Bodleian Libraries, on display in Melbourne.

I will do so from the perspective of a Persian Sufi poet universally acknowledged as one of the greatest exemplars of the art: Shaykh Farid alDin Attar, as it were, to tell us what he would make of love and devotion, of passion for one’s homeland (in this case Persia) and the lure of all that lies beyond it...