Masnavi, The (Mathnawi, Mathnwi-iMa’nawi, Mesnevi) (couplets) Persian mystical poem in 27,000 couplets, divided into six books, written in the 13th century by Rumi, a Sufi mystic. It embodies fables, folklore, legends from the Koran, and religious and moral teaching. The Masnavi is considered Rumi’s major work, being one of the most important documents of the Sufis, a mystic order related to Islam that employs the language of the senses to express longing for reunion with God. Rumi’s text is an attempt to explain the doctrines of Sufism in popular form. Though the Persian poet Omar Khayyam is better known among Westerners because of the 19th-century translation by Edward Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald’s teacher, the Reverend Edward B. Cowell, hated the doubting Omar Khayyam but loved The Masnavi as one of the most brilliant religious poems in the world.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante