A deluxe copy of the Majālis al-ʻushshāq (‘Assemblies of lovers’), a collection of seventy-six biographies of Sufi saints and others by Kamāl al-Dīn Gāzurgāhī.
The Majālis al-ʻushshāq was completed in 908 (1502/3) by Kamāl al-Dīn Gāzurgāhī who was writing in Herat during the rule of the Timurid Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r. 1469–1506) – to whom this work has sometimes been attributed. Written at a time when Sufi ideas were prevalent, it describes love as typified by the story of Yusuf and Zulaykha, followed by the lives of seventy-six famous mystics, poets and rulers. The overlying message is that true spiritual love cannot be reached without having first understood earthly longing.
Around the middle of the 16th century illustrated copies of the Majālis al-ʻushshāq began to be produced, like this one, in Shiraz under the Safavids. This copy contains a beautifully illuminated opening (f. 1v, digitised image 1) in addition to forty-nine paintings. Several illustrate the life of the prophet Yusuf – his prophetic status emphasised by the flames around his head – as in the example shown here (f. 26v, digitised image 2) which shows him being sold at market as a slave. Other paintings depict the Kaʻbah in Mecca, surrounded by worshippers (f. 29r, digitised image 3); Layla and Majnun at school (f. 189r, digitised image 7) and the literary giants Hāfiẓ (f. 108r, digitised image 4), Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (f. 113r, digitised image 5) and Jāmī (f. 174v, digitised image 6).
This copy was probably produced as a diplomatic gift for export to India as an inscription on the flyleaf mentions that it belonged to the royal library of Ibrahim ʻAdil Shah II who ruled Bijapur from 1580 to 1627.
- Full title:
- The Majālis al-ʻushshāq (‘Assemblies of lovers’) by Kamāl al-Dīn Gāzurgāhī
- 16th century, Iran
- Kamāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn Gāzurgāhī
- Usage terms
Public Domain. Please consider cultural, religious & ethical sensitivities when re-using this material.
- Held by
- British Library
- IO Islamic 1138
- Article by:
- Alessandro Cancian
Dr Alessandro Cancian explores Sufism, Islamic mysticism. He charts its development as a historical phenomenon, its terminology and literature, as well as delving into the aim of the Sufi spiritual path and the importance of spiritual masters and the Qur’an.
- Article by:
- Walid A. Saleh
Muhammad is the Prophet of Islam. Professor Walid Saleh explains the role of prophecy in Islam, discussing the primacy of the Prophet Muhammad and his life, as well as exploring other biblical and Arabian prophets present in the Qur’an, and the tradition of literature about them.
- Article by:
- Amjad M Hussain
- Islam, Devotional texts
Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam. This article by Dr Amjad Hussain explains common features of Islamic prayer, such as the call to prayer, daily timings and the direction of prayer. He also explores the linguistic, geographic and sectarian diversity of prayer in Islam.