Born: Amritsar, India


Layla and Majnun (لیلی و مجنون) (مجنون ليلى) is a love story between Qais ibn Al-Mulawah and Layla that took place in the 7th century Arabia. The Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi also wrote a popular poem praising their love story in the 12th century who also wrote Khosrow and Shirin. It is the third of his five long narrative poems, Panj Ganj (Persian: پنج گنج) (The Five Treasures). Lord Byron called it “the Romeo and Juliet of the East.”Qays and Layla fall in love with each other when they are young, but when they grow up Layla’s father doesnt allow them to be together. Qays becomes obsessed with her, and the community gives him the epithet Majnun (مجنون, lit. crazy), the same epithet given to the semi-historical character Qays ibn al-Mulawwah of the Banu Amir tribe. Long before Nizami, the legend circulated in anecdotal forms in Iranian akhbar. The early anecdotes and oral reports about Majnun are documented in Kitab al-Aghani and Ibn Qutaybahs al-Shir wal-Shuara. The anecdotes are mostly very short, only loosely connected, and show little or no plot development. Nizami collected both secular and mystical sources about Majnun and portrayed a vivid picture of the famous lovers. Subsequently, many other Persian poets imitated him and wrote their own versions of the romance. Nizami drew influence from Udhrite love poetry, which is characterized by erotic abandon and attraction to the beloved, often by means of an unfulfillable longing.Many imitations have been contrived of Nizamis work, several of which are original literary works in their own right, including Amir Khusrow Dehlavis Majnun o Leyli (completed in 1299), and Jamis version, completed in 1484, amounts to 3,860 couplets. Other notable reworkings are by Maktabi Shirazi, Hatefi (d. 1520), and Fuzûlî (d.1556), which became popular in Ottoman Turkey and India. Sir William Jones published Hatefis romance in Calcutta in 1788. The popularity of the romance following Nizamis version is also evident from the references to it in lyrical poetry and mystical mathnavis—before the appearance of Nizamis romance, there are just some allusions to Layla and Majnun in divans. The number and variety of anecdotes about the lovers also increased considerably from the twelfth century onwards. Mystics contrived many stories about Majnun to illustrate technical mystical concepts such as fanaa (annihilation), divānagi (love-madness), self-sacrifice, etc. Nizamis work has been translated into many languages.

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