The Masnavi by Jalal al-Din Rumi


An illustrated 16th-century copy of the Mas̱navī-ʼi maʻnavī by Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī (d. 1273)

The Mas̱navī-ʼi maʻnavī

Rumi's Mas̱navī-‘i Maʻnavī (‘Spiritual Masnavi’) was composed in the 13th century and is a monumental work of poetry in the Sufi tradition of Islamic mysticism. Divided into six books, it has served as an inspiration for Sufis and others worldwide and is today perhaps the best known work of Persian literature.

This manuscript

This manuscript was created around 1530 in Safavid Iran. Whereas the majority of Mas̱navī manuscripts are unillustrated, this one contains nineteen paintings in addition to an exquisitely illuminated opening (ff. 2v–3r, digitised image 3) and headings to each of the six books. Folio 1v (digitised image 1) illustrates dervishes in a state of samāʻ (‘listening’) and on the facing page (f. 2r, digitised image 2) we see a poet with his companions.

Full title:
Mas̱navī-ʼi maʻnavī by Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī
c. 1530, Iran
Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add MS 27263

Related articles

Prayer in Islam

Article by:
Amjad M Hussain
Devotional texts, Islam

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.


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.

Related collection items