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The Fedeli d’Amore of Persia and of the West: A Comparative Study Open Access

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There is not doubt that there exist both similarities and contrasts in the history and teachings of Christian and Islamic mysticism. One of the most fascinating periods in the history of the two religions and the mystical schools that appeared in them is the 12th and 13th centuries in which so many great Christians and Muslims mystics lived. In the 13th Century there appeared in Italy the well-known secret organization with its mystical and esoteric teachings called the Fedeli d’amore to which Dante belonged. This organization was not only devoted to esoteric matters but also had a political and social dimension. Nevertheless, mystical and esoteric teachings were at the heart of its concerns and it is history identified with hidden esoteric ideas and doctrines. A century earlier there appeared within the Sufi tradition in Persia a particular school of love mysticism that the famous French scholar of Islamic thought, Henry Corbin, has called “the Fedeli d’amore of Persia”. Among the latter groups Rūzbihān Baqlī Shīrāzī is one of the most celebrated and is considered as one of the most significant figures in the history of Sufism as a whole. As for Europe, among the Western Fedeli d’amore it is of course the figure of Dante that stands out above all others. In our present study we have analyzed the ‘Abhar al-‘āshinqīn of Rūzbihān Baqlī on the one hand and the works of Dante, especially the Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova, on the other and have then compared and contrasted the thought and style of these two colossal figures. Our goal has been to study and to reveal both the similarities and differences of the manifestation and treatment of Love on different levels in the teachings the Christian and Islamic traditions as crystallized in and associated with the Fedeli d’amore of Italy and of Persia. Some attention has also been paid to the influence of Islamic thought upon the medieval West especially in the domain of symbolism, and our study may therefore said to be both morphological and historical.

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