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Zeniths and Nadirs: The Theme of the Miʿrāj in Bēdil’s Ghazals
The Prophet Muhammad’s heavenly journey or miʿrāj, as Michael Sells notes, “was paradigmatic for Sufi understandings of their own mystical journeys.” Drawing on Sufi appropriations of the miʿrāj narrative, the Indo-Persian poet Mīrzā ʿAbd al-Qādir Bēdil (1644-1720) predominantly deploys the word miʿrāj – and etymologically and semantically related words – to refer to the spiritual ascension of the seeker. Rather than elaborating on the various stations and stages of the journey, however, in his ghazals he is mainly concerned with the idea that the ‘upward’ movement of ascension is inseparable from the ‘downward’ movement of transcending the ego-self in submission. Within the compact space of the semantically and grammatically independent couplets of the ghazal, the paradox is conveyed through a masterful juxtaposition of contrasting images, often unusual or even far-fetched. This paper examines Bēdil’s multifaceted use of the theme of the miʿrāj in his ghazals against the backdrop of his larger oeuvre.
Religious Studies/Theology
Geographic Area
Central Asia
Islamic World
Sub Area