University of Rochester

Professor's Book Offers Translations of Major Islamic Poems

August 24, 2001

Th. Emil Homerin, professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester, has published a book translating and discussing two classic poems of Islamic mystical literature.

In his book, Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verse, Saintly Life, Homerin makes available "The Wine Ode" and "The Poem of the Sufi Way." The poems were written by Umar Ibn al-Farid, a 13th century Egyptian considered the most important Arab poet in the Islamic mystical tradition.

Besides the translations, Homerin provides commentary and analysis based on his decade-long research on Ibn al-Farid. He has also included the "Adorned Proem," a reverential account of Ibn al-Farid's life by his grandson.

"The Wine Poem" expresses Ibn al-Farid's ideas on spiritual love in metaphors of wine and romantic love, and can also be seen as a meditation on the presence of divine love in the universe. "The Poem of the Sufi Way," one of the longest poems ever composed in Arabic, begins as a love poem and then explores a number of concerns confronting the seeker on the mystical path of the Sufi tradition.

Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verse, Saintly Life was published by Paulist Press as part of its critically acclaimed "Classics of Western Spirituality" series, which provides translations by internationally recognized scholars and spiritual leaders of selected writings in the Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Islamic traditions.

Homerin teaches classes in Islamic religion, culture, and history. He is the author of From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint: Ibn al-Farid, His Verse, and His Shrine, and has had his articles published in numerous journals and books.