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Islamic Mystical Poetry 5

Key facts

Sorry, this course is currently unavailable. Please use the course enquiry form to be kept informed of future runs of this course.

TypeWeekly Classes
AddressRewley House
1 Wellington Square
DatesWed 22 Jan to Wed 19 Feb 2014
Day: Wednesday
Time of meeting: 7.00-9.00pm
Number of meetings: 5
Subject area(s)Religious Studies
CATS points5
FeesFrom £100.00
Application statusCourse ended
Course codeO13P769THW
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email ppweekly@conted.ox.ac.uk.


We’re developing next year’s programme, which you can view from June 1st 2014, when online enrolment will be available.

The poetic tradition of Islam expresses an aspect very different from theological/legal understandings, and is centred on love, yearning and ecstatic union with the divine. This course will focus on four poets from the later classical period (14th C).


Islamic mystical poetry is one of the world's great literary traditions, covering a period of 1400 years and encompassing a huge variety of cultures and languages - Arabic, Persian, Turkish etc. It is testament to the extraordinary depth and coherence of the vision of Islam. Very different from the theological and legal understandings, it speaks to all human beings of the inherent love and yearning for the divine, of devotion and the ecstatic experience of union with the divine.

In this fifth course, we will study the later 'classical' period (14th C), focusing on the work of four major Sufi poets from different areas of the Islamic world: Shabistari (d. 1340), Hajji Bayram (d. 1430), Amir Khusraw (d. 1325) and Hafez (d. 1389). All poems will be studied in English translation, and the focus will be on drawing out their meaning and universal relevance to the human condition. No previous knowledge or attendance of courses is required.

Programme details

week 1: Shabistari and the secret rose-garden
week 2: Hajji Bayram and the early Ottoman period
week 3: Amir Khusraw and the Indian tradition
week 4: Hafez: the greatest Persian poet? selections 1
week 5: Hafez: selections 2

Background reading:
Schimmel, Anne-Marie. As Through a Veil: mystical poetry in Islam.
de Bruijn. Persian Sufi Poetry.
Jamal, Mahmood. Islamic Mystical Poetry.
Darr, Robert. Garden of Mystery: the Gulshan-i Raz of Mahmud Shabistari.
Bly, Robert, and Leonard Lewisohn. The angels knocking on the tavern door: 30 poems of Hafez.


Mrs Jane Clark

Role: Speaker

Jane Clark and Stephen Hirtenstein are Senior Research Fellows of the Muhyddin Ibn 'Arabi Society in Oxford. They have studied Islamic mysticism for...more

Mr Stephen Hirtenstein

Role: Speaker

Jane Clark and Stephen Hirtenstein are Senior Research Fellows of the Muhyddin Ibn 'Arabi Society in Oxford. They have studied Islamic mysticism for...more

Course aims

Course Aims:
To provide a deeper understanding of Islamic mysticism and its rich poetic expression, to introduce some of the great poets who are otherwise little known in the West, and to investigate how such poems strike people in today's world.

Course Objectives:
1. To examine some of the major poets and poems of the later classical Islamic period (14th c)
2. To gain insight into the major ideas of Sufi tradition
3. To explore through group discussion the relevance of these works to ourselves

Assessment methods

commentary on and assessment of one poem or author

Teaching methods

Tutor-led seminar introduction followed by student reading of translated source texts and group discussion.

Teaching outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be expected to:

1. Have a grasp of the basic themes of Islamic mystical poetry
2. Have an understanding of some of the authors of the classical period
3. Be able to discuss the relevance of what they have learnt to contemporary issues


Reading List PDF document.

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue. For tips on using SOLO, see the Library website.


You may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees if you are in receipt of a state benefit e.g. Job Seekers’ Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance, (a full list is available on request) or your sole source of income is a DWP State Retirement Pension and Pension Credit. Concessionary fees are limited to 3, ten-weekly classes or their equivalent, per person per academic year, and documentary evidence of your status will be required.

Click here for an application form (Word, PDF)

If you do not qualify under any of the concessionary fee categories above, but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Click here for an application form (Word, PDF)

Fee options

Programme Fee
EU Fee: £100.00
Non-EU Fee: £100.00

Apply for this course

Sorry, this course is not currently accepting applications. If you have any questions about this course, please use the course enquiry form.