This paper examines the anecdotes of ʿAttār’s Mosibat-nāmeh as temporal phenomena from the perspective of a reader moving progressively through the text; it is argued that that these anecdotes do not function primarily as carriers of dogmatic information, but as dynamic rhetorical performances designed to prod their audiences into recommitting to a pious mode of life. First, the article shows how the poem’s frame-tale influences a reader’s experience of the embedded anecdotes by encouraging a sequential mode of consumption and contextualizing the work’s pedagogical aims. Next, it is demonstrated that these anecdotes are bound together through formulae and lexical triggers, producing a paratactic structure reminiscent of oral homiletics. Individual anecdotes aim to unsettle readers’ ossified religious understandings, and together they offer a flexible set of heuristics for pious living. Finally, it is argued that ʿAttār’s intended readers were likely familiar with the mystical principles that underlie his poems; he therefore did not use narratives to provide completely new teachings, but rather to persuade his audience to more fully embody those pious principles to which they were already committed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory