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  • 5/15/2005

Reynold Alleyne Nicholson


English Orientalist, lecturer in Persian and professor of Arabic at Cambridge university, Reynold Alleyne Nicholson was a foremost scholar in the field of Islamic literature and mysticism. He was the greatest Rumi scholar in the English language and a renowned author and recognized authority on Islam.
Reynold was born at Keighley,Yorkshire and educated atEdinburgh, Aberdeen, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read for the Classical Tripos and the Indian Language Tripos, being elected to a fellowship in 1893. In 1901 he was appointed Professor of Persian at University College, London, but two years later returned to Cambridge as lecturer in Persian. He succeeded E.G. Browne in 1926 as Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic, and retired in 1933.

HisLiterary History of the Arabs (1907) remains a standard work on the subject in English, while his many text editions and translations of Sufi writings, culminating in his eight-volume Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, advanced the study of Muslim mystics to an eminent degree. He combined exact scholarship with notable literary gifts; some of his versions of Arabic and Persian poetry qualify him as a poet himself.

His book,The Mystics of Islam, first published in l914, has long been recognized as a classic and definitive introduction to the message of Sufism. In this short but comprehensive work, R.A. Nicholson provides the general reader with an easy approach to the study of Islamic mysticism. He gives a broad outline of Sufism and describes the key principles, methods and characteristic features of the inner life as it has been lived by Muslims of every class and condition from the 8th century onwards.

His monumental achievement was his work onRumi'sMasnavi(done in eight volumes, published between 1925-1940). He produced the first critical Persian edition of Rumi's Masnavi, the first full translation of it into English, and the first commentary on the entire work in English. This work has been highly influential in the field of Rumi studies, world-wide. His critical Persian text has been re-printed many times in Iran and his commentary has been
so highly respected there, that it has been translated into Persian.

In addition, Nicholson published the first information about Rumi's "Discourses" (Fî-hi Mâ Fî-hi) in the English language (in a 1924 article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society).

Some of his works:

The Mystics of Islam
A Literary History of the Arabs
Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi
Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz

The Secrets of the Self: Asrar-I-Khudi (by Iqbal Muhammad Sir., Reynold A. Nicholson)
Rumir: Poet and Mystic (1207-1273: Selections from His Writings Translated from the Persian With Introduction and Notes)
Kashf Al-Mahjub of Al-Hujwiri: "The Revelation of the Veiled" : An Early Persian Treatise on Sufism
Tales of Mystic Meaning: Selections from the Mathnawi of Jalal-Ud-Din Rumi (Mystical Classics of the World)

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