Layla and Majnun
Layla and Majnun (English: Possessed by madness for Layla; Persian: لیلی و مجنون عامری (Leyli o Majnun); Arabic: مجنون لیلی (Majnun Layla)) is a love story that originated as a short, anecdotal poem in ancient Arabia, later significantly expanded and popularized in a literary adaptation by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi who also wrote "Khosrow and Shirin". It is the third of his five long narrative poems, Khamsa (the Quintet).
Qays and Layla fall in love with each other when they are young, but when they grow up Layla’s father doesn't allow them to be together. Qays becomes obsessed with her, and the community gives him the epithet Majnun (مجنون, lit. "possessed"), 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 Arabic akhbar. The early anecdotes and oral reports about Majnun are documented in Kitab al-Aghani and Ibn Qutaybah's al-Shi'r wal-Shu'ara'. The anecdotes are mostly very short, only loosely connected, and show little or no plot development.
Many imitations have been contrived of Nizami's work, several of which are original literary works in their own right, including Amir Khusrow Dehlavi's Majnun o Leyli (completed in 1299), and Jami's version, completed in 1484, amounts to 3,860 couplets. Two other notable imitations are by Maktabi Shirazi and Hatefi (d. 1520), which became popular in Ottoman Turkey and India. Sir William Jones published Hatefi's romance in Calcutta in 1788. The popularity of the romance following Nizami's version is also evident from the references to it in lyrical poetry and mystical mathnavis—before the appearance of Nizami's romance, there are just some allusions to Leyli 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. Nizami's work has been translated into many languages.
Qays fell in love with Layla. He soon began composing poems about his love for her, mentioning her name often. His unselfconscious efforts to woo the girl caused some locals to call him "Majnun" (madman). When he asked for her hand in marriage, her father refused because it would be a scandal for Layla to marry someone considered mentally unbalanced. Soon after, Layla was married to another man.
When Majnun heard of her marriage, he fled the tribal camp and began wandering the surrounding desert. His family eventually gave up hope for his return and left food for him in the wilderness. He could sometimes be seen reciting poetry to himself or writing in the sand with a stick.
Layla is generally depicted as having moved to a place in Northern Arabia with her husband, where she became ill and eventually died. In some versions, Layla dies of heartbreak from not being able to see her would-be lover. Majnun was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 AD, near Layla’s grave. He had carved three verses of poetry on a rock near the grave, which are the last three verses attributed to him.
Many other minor incidents happened between his madness and his death. Most of his recorded poetry was composed before his descent into madness.
|“||I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the walls that has enraptured my heart
But of the One who dwells within them
It is a tragic story of undying love much like the later Romeo and Juliet. This type of love is known as "virgin love", because the lovers never marry or consummate their passion. Other famous virgin love stories set in Arabia (present day Saudi Arabia) are the stories of "Qays and Lubna", "Kuthair and Azza", "Marwa and Al Majnoun Al Faransi", "Antara and Abla", and "Irfan and Zoobi". This literary motif is common throughout the world, notably in the Muslim literature of South Asia, such as Urdu ghazals.
History and influence
Persian adaptation, Persian literature
Although the story was somewhat popular in Persian literature in the 12th century, it was the Persian masterpiece of Nizami Ganjavi that popularized it dramatically in Persian literature. 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. By collecting information from both secular and mystical sources about Majnun, Nizami portrayed such a vivid picture of this legendary lover that all subsequent poets were inspired by him, many of them imitated him and wrote their own versions of the romance. Nizami uses various characteristics deriving from 'Udhrite love poetry and weaves them into his own Persian culture. He Persianised the poem by adding techniques borrowed from the Persian epic tradition, such as "the portrayal of characters, the relationship between characters, description of time and setting, etc.".
In his adaptation, the young lovers become acquainted at school and fell desperately in love. However, they could not see each other due to a family feud, and Layla's family arranged for her to marry another man. According to Dr. Rudolf Gelpke: Many later poets have imitated Nizami's work, even if they could not equal and certainly not surpass it; Persians, Turks, Indians, to name only the most important ones. The Persian scholar Hekmat has listed not less than forty Persians and thirteen Turkish versions of Layli and Majnun. According to Vahid Dastgerdi, If one would search all existing libraries, one would probably find more than 1000 versions of Layli and Majnun.
In his statistical survey of famous Persian romances, Ḥasan Ḏulfaqāri enumerates 59 ‘imitations’ (naẓira s) of Leyli o Majnun as the most popular romance in the Iranian world, followed by 51 versions of Ḵosrow o Širin, 22 variants of Yusuf o Zuleikha and 16 versions of Vāmeq oʿAḏrāʾ.
Azerbaijani adaptation and Azerbaijani literature
The Story of Layla and Majnun passed into Azerbaijani literature. The Azerbaijani language adaptation of the story, Dâstân-ı Leylî vü Mecnûn (داستان ليلى و مجنون; "The Epic of Layla and Majnun") was written in the 16th century by Fuzûlî and Hagiri Tabrizi. Fuzûlî's version was borrowed by the renowned Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov, who used the material to create what became the Middle East's first opera. It premiered in Baku on 25 January 1908. The story had previously been brought to the stage in the late 19th century, when Ahmed Shawqi wrote a poetic play about the tragedy, now considered one of the best in modern Arab poetry. Majnun lines from the play are sometimes confused with his actual poems.
The enduring popularity of the legend has influenced Middle Eastern literature, especially Sufi writers, in whose literature the name Layla refers to their concept of the Beloved. The original story is featured in Bahá'u'lláh's mystical writings, the Seven Valleys. In Arabic language, Layla name means "night," and is thought to mean "one who works by night." This is an apparent allusion to the fact that the romance of the star-crossed lovers was hidden and kept secret. In the Arabic language, the word Majnun means "A crazy person." In addition to this creative use of language, the tale has also made at least one linguistic contribution, inspiring a Turkish colloquialism: to "feel like Mecnun" is to feel completely possessed, as might be expected of a person who is literally madly in love.
In India it is believed that Layla and Majnun found refuge in a village in Rajasthan before they died. The 'graves' of Layla and Majnun are believed to be located in the Bijnore village near Anupgarh in the Sriganganagar district. According to rural legend there, Layla and Majnun escaped to these parts and died there. Hundreds of newlyweds and lovers from India and Pakistan, despite there being no facilities for an overnight stay, attend the two-day fair in June.
Another variation on the tale tells of Layla and Majnun meeting in school. Majnun fell in love with Layla and was captivated by her. The school master would beat Majnun for paying attention to Layla instead of his school work. However, upon some sort of magic, whenever Majnun was beaten, Layla would bleed for his wounds. Word reached their households and their families feuded. Separated at childhood, Layla and Majnun met again in their youth. Layla's brother, Tabrez, would not let Layla shame the family name by marrying Majnun. Tabrez and Majnun quarreled; stricken with madness over Layla, Majnun murdered Tabrez. Word reached the village and Majnun was arrested. He was sentenced to be stoned to death by the villagers. Layla could not bear it and agreed to marry another man if Majnun would be kept safe from harm in exile. Layla got married but her heart longed for Majnun. Hearing this, Layla's husband rode with his men to the desert towards Majnun. He challenged Majnun to the death. It is said that the instant Layla's husband's sword pierced Majnun's heart, Layla collapsed in her home. Layla and Majnun were said to be buried next to each other as her husband and their fathers prayed to their afterlife. Myth has it, Layla and Majnun met again in heaven, where they loved forever.
- The tale and the name "Layla" served as Eric Clapton's inspiration for the title of Derek and the Dominos' famous album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and its title track in 1971. The song "I Am Yours" is a direct quote from a passage in Layla and Majnun.
- The tale served as the inspiration for Halim El-Dabh's early electronic tape music composition called Leiyla and the Poet in 1959.
- The tale of Layla and Majnun has been the subject of various films produced by the Indian film industry beginning in the 1920s. A list may be found here: http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/article419176.ece. One, Laila Majnu, was produced in 1976. In 2007, the story was enacted as both a framing story and as a dance-within-a-movie in the film Aaja Nachle. Also, in pre-independence India, the first Pashto-language film was an adaptation of this story.
- The term Layla-Majnun is often used for lovers, also Majnun is commonly used to address a person madly in love.
- Orhan Pamuk makes frequent reference to Leyla and Majnun in his novels, The Museum of Innocence and My Name is Red.
- One of the panels in the Alisher Navoi metro station in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Nizami Gəncəvi metro station in Baku (Azerbaijan) represents the epic on blue green tiles.
- In the book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, Rasheed often refers to Laila and Tariq as Layla and Majnun.
- On Gaia Online, a recent monthly collectible released an item under the names Majnun and Layla loosely based on the story.
- Layla and Majnun — poem of Alisher Navoi.
- Layla and Majnun — poem of Jami.
- Layla and Majnun — poem of Nizami Ganjavi.
- Layla and Majnun — poem of Fuzûlî.
- Layla and Majnun — poem of Hagiri Tabrizi.
- Layla and Majnun — drama in verse of Mirza Hadi Ruswa.
- Layla and Majnun — novel of Necati.
- Layla and Majnun — the first Muslim and the Azerbaijani opera of Uzeyir Hajibeyov.
- «Layla and Majnun» — symphonic poem of Gara Garayev (1947)
- Symphony № 24 ("Majnun"), Op. 273 (1973), for tenor solo, trumpet, choir and strings – Alan Hovhaness.
- Layla and Majnun — ballet, staged by K. Goleizovsky (1964) © on music SA Balasanyan.
- «The Song of Majnun» — opera of Bright Sheng (1992)
- Laila Majnu — Indian Hindi silent film in 1922.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Hindi silent film in 1927.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Hindi film in 1931.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Hindi film in 1931.
- Layla and Majnun — Iranian film in 1936.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Telugu film in 1949.
- Layla and Majnun — Tajik Soviet film-ballet of 1960.
- Layla and Majnun — Soviet Azerbaijani film of 1961.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Malayalam film in 1962.
- Laila Majnu — Indian Hindi film in 1976.
- Leyla ile Mecnun — Music album of Orhan Gencebay in 1981.
- Leyla ile Mecnun — Turkish drama film in 1982.
- Love And God (1986) — Indian Hindi film directed by K. Asif
- Layla and Majnun — Azerbaijani film-opera of 1996.
- Aaja Nachle— a 2007 Indian film has a 15 minute musical play on life of Layla and Majnun.
- Majnoon Layla a 2010 song by Syrian-American hip-hop artist and peace activist Omar Offendum.
- Leyla ile Mecnun — is a Turkish television comedy series in 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Layla and Majnun.|
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- Seyed-Gohrab, A. A. (15 July 2009). "LEYLI O MAJNUN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Chelkowski, P. "Nezami's Iskandarnameh:"in Colloquio sul poeta persiano Nizami e la leggenda iranica di Alessandro magno, Roma,1977). pg 17: "In the case of previous romances of Khosraw and Bahram, Nizami dealt with national Iranian heroes, though from pre-Islamic times. In the tale of Layla and Majnun, the Persian nationality of the lover is of no importance since the story is based on a simple Persian folktale which was later absorbed and embellished by India, Turks and Arabs".
- •Zanjani, Barat. "Layla va Majnun-I Nizami Ganjavi: matn-I Ilmi va intiqadi az ru-yi qadimtari nuskha-hayi khatti-I qarn-I hashtum ba zikr-i ikhtilaf-i nusakh va ma’ani lughat va tarikbat va kashf al-bayat", Tehran, Mu’assasah-I Chap va Intisharat-I Danishgah Tehran, 1369 Rudaki: مشوش است دلم از کرشمهی سلمی چنان که خاطره ی مجنون ز طره ی لیلی
- A. A. Seyed-Gohrab, "LEYLI O MAJNUN" in Encyclopedia Iranica
- Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing, Dr. Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literature, Jun 2003, ISBN 90-04-12942-1. excerpt:Although Majnun was to some extent a popular figure before Nizami’s time, his popularity increased dramatically after the appearance of Nizami’s romance. By collecting information from both secular and mystical sources about Majnun, Nizami portrayed such a vivid picture of this legendary lover that all subsequent poets were inspired by him, many of them imitated him and wrote their own versions of the romance. As we shall see in the following chapters, the poet uses various characteristics deriving from ‘Udhrite love poetry and weaves them into his own Persian culture>. In other words, Nizami Persianises the poem by adding several techniques borrowed from the Persian epic tradition, such as the portrayal of characters, the relationship between characters, description of time and setting, etc.
- ArtArena: "Layli and Madjnun in Persian Literature"
- The Story of Layla and Majnun, by Nizami. Translated Dr. Rudolf. Gelpke in collaboration with E. Mattin and G. Hill, Omega Publications, 1966, ISBN 0-930872-52-5.
- Central Bank of Azerbaijan. Commemorative coins. Coins produced within 1992–2010: Gold and silver coins dedicated to memory of Mahammad Fuzuli. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
- Nizami, The Story of Layla & Majpoonun, ISBN 0-930872-52-5
- Nizami and Colin Turner, Layla and Majnun, ISBN 1-85782-161-0
- LEYLI O MAJNUN in Encyclopædia Iranica A. A. Seyed-Gohrab  (accessed September 2010 – periodically check link)
- Laila and Majnun at School: Page from a manuscript of the Laila and Majnun of Nizami