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Martin Lings  


Martin Lings was born in Lancashire in 1909. After a classical education he read English at Oxford where he was a pupil and later a close friend of C. S. Lewis. In 1935 he went to Lithuania where he lectured on Anglo-Saxon and Middle English and subsequently he went to Egypt and and lectured mainly on Shakespeare at Cairo University. In 1952 he returned to England and took a degree in Arabic and in 1955 he joined the staff of the British Museum where from 1970–73 he was Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts. For the following year he held the same post in the newly founded British Library. In addition to writing many books he is also the author of the chapter ‘Mystical Poetry’ in Abbasid Belles-Lettres, which is Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, and the chapter on ‘The Nature and Origin of Sufism’ in Vol.19 of World Spirituality, as well as articles for Studies in Comparative Religion, Sophia, The New Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Shems Friedlander

Shems Friedlander is a senior lecturer at the American University in Cairo and the author of Rumi: The Hidden Treasure (Archetype), Ninety-Nine Names of Allah, and Submission: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. He has had several photography and painting exhibitions and received more than 30 awards, including the Silver Award of the New York Art Directors' Club annual exhibition of graphic design. He has also directed and produced a short film entitled, Rumi: The Wings of Love (Archetype).

Shems Friedlander, writer, artist and photographer, has firsthand knowledge of the Mevlevi Order and is a world expert on the subject. Among his other books are The Whirling Dervishes and When you hear Hoofbeats think of a Zebra.

James W. Morris

James W. Morris holds the Sharjah Chair of Islamic Studies and is director of graduate studies in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He has previously taught Islamic and comparative religious studies at Princeton, Temple, Oberlin, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies in Paris and London. Professor Morris has published widely on many areas of Islamic religious thought and practice, including the Qur'an, Islamic philosophy, spirituality, Sufism and popular devotional life, Shi'i thought, Islam in the West, and spiritual pedagogy. He frequently lectures and gives workshops on those subjects throughout Europe, America, and the Islamic world. His recent books, in addition to Orientations, include The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn 'ArabÏ's 'Meccan Illuminations'; The Master and the Disciple: An Early Islamic Spiritual Dialogue; Knowing the Spirit; and Ibn 'ArabÏ: The Meccan Revelations.

Robert Abdul Hayy Darr

Robert Abdul Hayy Darr has for thirty-five years been a student of classical Islamic culture. In the 1970s he studied North Indian classical music at The Ali Akbar Khan School of Music in California and by the early 1980s he was studying Persian poetry. In 1987 he met Afghanistan's poet laureate in exile, Ustad Khalilullah Khalili and this friendship led to Darr's English translation of the poet's quatrains in 1988. In 1989 he began the study of Persian miniature painting with Ustad Homayon Etemadi, Afghanistan's last court painter and royal librarian, who was also his tutor of Persian literature.

For the last fifteen years, Darr has continued his studies of mystical poetry with the Afghan Sufi poet, Raz Mohammad Zaray.

Peter Avery


Peter Avery, OBE (1923-2008) was born in Derby, England, and devoted his life to Persian literature and history. As a child he was introduced to Fitzgerald's paraphrase of Omar Khayyam's quatrains which lead to a lifelong interest in Persian poetry. He began to learn Persian during the Second World War when he was stationed in India because he wanted to be able to read Hafiz in the original. Having taken a degree at the London School of Oriental and African studies, after living in Iran and the Middle East until 1957, he became Lecturer in Persian Studies in the University of Cambridge, where he continued to teach, even after retirement, until the end of his life.


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