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8. Soufisme

Bo Utas (éd.). The Lantern of Spirits (Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ) by Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî

Gabrielle van den Berg
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Bo Utas (éd.). The Lantern of Spirits (Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ) by Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî. Introduction and critical edition by Bo Utas. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2019, 160 p.

Texte intégral

1Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ or The Lantern of Spirits is a Sufi didactic poem written by the 12th century sheikh Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî, who, according to the information given in the preface, may have been a Saljuq prince of Kirman. Bo Utas prepared a new edition, partial translation and description of Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ, on which he has been working intermittently for a very long time. Results of his research into the contents and the manuscript tradition of Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ have been published in two articles dating back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. These articles are included in Manuscript, Text and Literature (Wiesbaden, 2008), a collection of Utas’ essays on Middle and New Persian texts.

2The present work offers a discussion of the text, its manuscript tradition and issues surrounding its authorship. For a longtime this work has been attributed to another, better known Sufi sheikh, Auhad ud-dîn Kirmânî (d. Baghdad, 635/1238). It is believed that Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî lived somewhat earlier, and that he was active in one of the Sufi lodges in Herat (the khānaqāh-i sulṭān). A number of poems is known by the title of Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ, which has given rise to some confusion and incorrect ascriptions to other poets.

3The Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ by Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî counts 1100 baits; an edition of this work by the famous scholar and editor of Sufi texts Badîʿ uz-Zamân Furûzânfar was published in 1970. However, Furûzânfar based his edition on relatively new manuscripts, while Utas had access to several early manuscripts, which he describes in “Principles of the Edition.” Utas indicates here that the Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ is preserved in some twenty manuscripts, the earliest dating from 677/1278. Utas’ edition of the text is based on ten manuscripts and the 1970 printed edition.

4He describes the text as “a typical Sufi composition of its time” (p. 10), on the basis of its style and contents – the poem is part of a Sufi tradition in which the khānaqāh, the pīr and the ṭarīqah were fully established phenomena. The poem is written from the point of view of the narrator, a traveler on the Sufi path, who asks questions of his pīr. The pīr’s answers to these questions form a large part of the poem and offer an insight into the Sufi ideas on creation and the world at that time. The pīr accompanies the narrator on part of his journey along the Sufi path, via a number of stages represented by various kinds of the nafs (soul or self), in accordance with the genre. Utas also refers to the connection between the Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ and Dante’s Divina Commedia, for which the Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ may have been a source of inspiration (p. 12).

5In “Contents of the Poem” (pp. 18-40) Utas presents a rich outline of the text of the poem, structured on the basis of the subheadings (69 sections) in the manuscripts. He provides summaries of each section in which he constantly refers back to the Persian text and comments upon certain aspects; he also includes a translation of a substantial number of baits. In this way, the reader is presented with a complete overview and a helpful discussion of the contents of the poem. The index of Persian and Arabic terms (pp. 58-60) is a valuable addition to this. A concordance of verses and headings (pp. 41-55) follows the chapter on the contents of the poem.

6Utas devoted 60 pages to the introduction and description of the poem and its manuscript tradition; this is followed by a critical edition of the Persian text, which counts 99 pages. This meticulous edition of the Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ is a very welcome publication of an important Sufi text; Utas’ discussion of the text forms an ideal frame for better understanding the Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ and its historical and philological context.

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Référence électronique

Gabrielle van den Berg, « Bo Utas (éd.). The Lantern of Spirits (Miṣbāḥ ul-arvāḥ) by Shams ud-dîn Muhammad b. Îl-Tughân Bardasîrî Kirmânî »Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 42-43 | 2021, document 3, mis en ligne le 30 décembre 2021, consulté le 25 juillet 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Gabrielle van den Berg

Leiden University

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-SA 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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