Nasreddin was thought to have lived in the 13th century, with many stories about him. He was thought to have been born in the Eskişehir Province in Seljuq controlled Anatolia. He is a satirical figure, being a Sufi wise man and the butt of many jokes. The famous story of Nasreddin and his donkey-
One day Nasreddin Hodja got on his donkey the wrong way, facing towards the back.
- “Hodja,” the people said, “You are sitting on your donkey backwards!”
- “No,” he replied. “It’s not that I am sitting on the donkey backwards, the donkey is facing the wrong way.”
Many stories have been amalgamated into stories of Juha, a 9th century Arabic trickster, so much that the names have been swapped around. There are many quotes attributed to Nasreddin on Wikiquote and there are many stories available to read retold by D. L. Ashliman.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales by Donald Haase. Via Google Books.
Tales of Juha:
classic Arab folk humor by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Matthew R. Sorenson, Faisal Khadra. I recommend borrowing this one from a library.
Tales of the Hoja by John Noonan. From Saudi Aramco World.
A Man of Many Names by Paul Lunde. From Saudi Aramco World.
Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya was born in the year 717 CE in Basra, Iraq under the Umayyad Caliphate. Born into a very poor house, she was the fourth daughter. Her name literally means “the fourth”. After a plague went through Basra, killing her family, she was on a caravan when it was attacked. She was captured and sold into slavery.
However hard her master worked her, she stayed awake all night praying and fasting throughout the day. One legend has it that the master woke up in the night, hearing her. He went to look upon her but was blinded by a halo of light around her head. She was freed the next morning.
Much of her life was written about much later, by Farīd ud-Dīn ‘Attār, in the 12th century. Many of her legends originate with his story of her life. After she was freed, she lived the life of an ascetic in a desert cave. She had many disciples, and offers of marriage (which she refused). She died in her mid-eighties, still an ascetic, in the year 801CE.
Rābiʻa was the first to put forth the idea of Divine Love, believing that you should love God for Himself, not out of fear of Hell or desire for Paradise. It was her idea of Divine Love that influenced Sufi Philosophy for centuries.
If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell!
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise,
Lock me out of Paradise.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone,
Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.
Her poetry is able to read on Poet Seers and Islamic Foundation.
Sidi Muhammad Press.
Rabia al Basri- Poet Seers.
Fifty Poems of Attar by Farid Al-Din Attar. Via Google Books.
Farid ad-Din ʻAttār’s Memorial of God’s friends: lives and sayings of Sufis by Farīd al-Dīn ʻAṭṭār, Paul Losensky. Via Google Books.
Religiosity and Love Spirituality of Rabi’ah al Adawiyah Literature by DR. Muhbib Abdul Wahhab.
This picture is from an album of poetry and pictures from the Safavid period, 1575 from Qazvin, Iran. Height: 30 cm, width: 19.8 cm. The writing in the upper right hand corner is poetry by Sa’di called Gulistan or the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden can be read and downloaded from MIT.
The page is currently in the Freer & Sackler Gallery.
This is a page from an early 16th century Persian copy of the Divan of Hafiz or Hafez. His full name was Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī but is known under his pen name of Hafez.
His works are still taught today and were an influence of Sufi mysticism since the 14th century. Some of his works can be seen on Poet Seers.com and Black Cat Poems. This picture is currently in the Freer and Sackler Gallery.
This is a song based on the Andalusian poetry of Abū ‘Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī, known simply as Ibn Arabi. This poem is called “My heart has become able”. The words translate as-
My heart has become able
To take on all forms.
It is a pasture for gazelles,
For monks an abbey.
It is a temple for idols
And for whoever circumnavigates it, the Kaaba.
It is the tablets of the Torah
And also the leaves of the Koran.
I believe in the religion
Whatever direction its caravans may take,
For love is my religion and my faith.
His other poetry is available to see on Poetry Chaikhana- Sacred poetry from around the world, Poet Seers, and on the Islamic Foundation pages. He is considered one of the most influential Sufi philosophers.
The Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society.