Reviews

This monumental volume, published unfortunately at a very small run (two hundred copies only), is a Cyrillic-script edition of the Ma‘dan al-hal [معدن الحال] diwan by Afghan-born Persian-language gnostic poet Sayyid Qalandar Shah b. Shah Sahib, alias Mawlawi Jununi (c. 1216/1800 – 1295/1877). After his father’s move from Qandahar to Deh-i naw (in present-day Uzbekistan) and then to the Hisar area (in the centre of present-day Tajikistan) Mawlawi Jununi developed a famous gnostic teaching, and authored an abundant work in verse. If this work has remained for long out of sight of Tajik academic research (and as a consequence has been ignored by the international scholarship), it has been often commented and imitated in the learned circles of vernacular Naqshbandi masters, during a century and a half since their author’s death ― for instance in the famous hujra of Ishan Sayyid ‘Abd al-Rahman-Jan (1920-91), in the Fayzabad district at the entrance of the Qarategin (now Rasht) Upper Valley. A short foreword is given by Naqshbandi master Ishan Mahmud-Jan Turajanzada, based on the autobiographical data scattered in the text of the Ma‘dan al-hal itself, as well as on scarce testimonies by prominent contemporary Sufi masters of central Tajikistan (notably by the foreword writer’s father, Ishan Tura-Jan Ramiti; the edition of the volume itself is an adaptation of its Persian publication in Tehran by another son of Ishan Tura-Jan’s, Ishan Akbar-Jan Turajanzada, the Qazi of Tajikistan in 1988-92 and a historical figure of the Tajik United Opposition in the 1990s). Reminding the prominence given by Mawlawi Jununi to the Qadiriyya mystical path, Ishan Mahmud-Jan Turajanzada also mentions the poet’s eulogy of the Naqshbandiyya to which he had initially belonged, and of the latter’s eponymous founder Baha al-Din ― a significant gesture in the Hisar region, where present-day relations between these two Sufi traditions are not always devoid of animosity. Called by their author a diwan, the collection of poems gathered in the Ma‘dan al-hal show conspicuous by its formal variety, from mathnawi to ghazal, even if the prevailing themes are all linked with the culture of sanctity in Islam (through mentions of the miracles of great Muslim saints, the lives of prominent Sufi shaykhs of the past, etc.). In all, despite its very uncritical character and problematic utilisation ― no mention is even made of the manuscripts out of which the Persian text has been initially established by Ishan Akbar-Jan Turajanzada ―, this edition provides us with an invaluable document for the history of the Persian-language Islamic gnostic traditions in wider Central Asia during the nineteenth century, as well as on their transmission ― through literary circles associated with private libraries of manuscripts and lithographs ― through the Soviet period.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.D-408