Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi

Aspects of the Secret Language in Medieval Persian Mysticism

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It is known that the mystical Persian poetry in the classical age (10th-15th century) is characterized by the extreme richness of its symbolic lexicon: the lexicons of eroticism, the beauties of nature, drinking, debauchery, immorality, etc. The present study does not concern this technicality which has been abundantly studied, but rather an unknown layer, hidden beneath these lexicons and having to do with ascetic practices and spiritual exercises. Thanks to scattered allusions in mystical prose literature (Hamadānī, Aḥmad Ghazālī, Gīsū Dirāz) and symbolic philosophical fables (Suhrawardī, Najm Rāzī, ’Aṭṭār), one discovers hermeneutic grids where “the morning breezeµ can mean morning breathing exercises, The “dewµ could mean the ascetic’s perspiration, the “rose petalµ, the cheeks fluched by effort, or the “scarlet of the wineµ or the “blood of the heartµ of the saddened lover can refer to colourful lights that the mystic perceives during his contemplations. In this way, in the great Ḥāfiẓ, for example, a lyrical description of nature or the lament of heartbreak can signify, in addition to their obsequious meanings expressed in sublime poetic language, mystical practices and inner experiences. It would also be interesting to examine the reasons for these inherently esoteric processes.


  • Persian Poetry
  • Sufism
  • Symbolic Lexicon
  • Spiritual Exercices
  • ā
  • fiẓ


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