Iblis (Satan) Leads Umar

Iblīs (Satan) Leads Umar, the Second Caliph, into a Mosque Containing One Man at Prayer, the Other Sleeping, Saying He Would Destroy the Man Who Prays Because He is in the Ecstasy of the love of God while the Sleeping Man is Only In Oblivion

Tarjuma-i Thawāqib-i manāqib (A Translation of Stars of the Legend), in Turkish
The translation was ordered in 1590 by Sultan Murād III (r. 1574–95) from the Persian abridgement of Aflākī.

Iraq, Baghdad
230 x 140 mm

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911

MS M.466, fols. 137r
Item description: 

Iblīs (Satan), shown with gold flaming eyes, has taken ˓Umar to visit a mosque. ˓Umar (d. 644), called Fārūq (discriminator) because he could discriminate between right and wrong, was the second caliph (meaning "successor"/"follower") or leader of the Islamic community after the death of Muḥammad in 632. At the mosque they see a standing man, his hands folded, in deep prayer. Beneath the tall minbar (a raised pulpit from which the imam, or prayer leader, delivers his sermon) another man is asleep, his closed books to his side. Iblīs then explains that he would destroy the man that prays, for he is in the ecstasy of the love of God. For Rūmī, the story is an allegory of the power of love, for it is the love of God that will bring about the destruction of Iblīs.

This miniature is part of a sixteenth-century manuscript account of the life and miracles of the Persian poet and mystic known as Rūmī. It is a Turkish translation of an abridged version of the original fourteenth-century Persian account by the dervish known as Aflākī.

Exhibition section: 

Rūmī, Persian Mystic And Poet
The sixteenth-century miniatures presented here concern the life and miracles of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, called Mē vlāna (Our Master), the most famous member of the Mevlevī order and Persia's greatest Sufi mystic and poet. He was born in Balkh in 1207, but his family emigrated after his father foresaw the Mongol conquest. They eventually resettled in Konya, Turkey, then the capital of Anatolian Rūm (thus Rūmī), where the poet died on 17 December 1273.

Several Persian accounts of Rūmī's life have been written, the first by his son, Sultan Walad. The third, laden with moralizing miracle stories, was ordered by Rūmī's grandson Ulu ˓Ārif Chelebi. It was written by the dervish Shams al-Dīn Aḥmad, called Aflākī (d. 1360). Aflākī also incorporated verses from Rūmī's works, notably his six-volume Masnavī (a poetical form of rhyming couplets) and the Dīvān-i-Shams al-Dīn Tabrīzī, named after Shams of Tabriz, the mystic who changed Rūmī's life and transformed him into a poet when they met in 1244.

In 1590—three and a half centuries after Aflākī wrote his life of Rūmī—the Ottoman sultan Mūrad III ordered a Turkish translation of a 1540 abridged version of Aflākī's text entitled Tarjuma-i Thawāqib-i manāqib (Stars of the Legend). The translator was Darvīsh Mahmud Mesnevī Khān of Konya. Two illustrated copies of the Murād translation, both made in Baghdad, survive. One, dated 1599, is held by Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, and has twenty-two miniatures. The other, richer manuscript is held by the Morgan. It dates to the 1590s and includes twenty-nine miniatures. They are all featured here, along with two folios from other collections that are believed to have once been part of the Morgan manuscript.