Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ثنم - The Sufi Poet's Object of Devotion

I was just saying, on the Urdu-ke-naam blog, that the word (or trope, or concept) of Sanam (ثنم) is often used in Urdu and Persian poetry and is some times translated to "idol". In the humble opinion of this فقیر (Faqeer, if you will), just by itself and with no elaboration, that is a rather basic translation of the concept.

"Object of complete and utter devotion and allegiance" comes much closer. The poetry of Sufism, of course, in its inimitably paradigm-subverting way, keeps the question of whether the Sanam being addressed is made of flesh, stone, or is a Higher Being open--and often fluidly shifting in the mind of the reader/listener. If you keep that in your mind (that the Sanam could be the Ultimate Cosmic Force, or an idol of stone, or your ... fleshy...beloved) you start to scratch the surface of the worlds Sufi poetry opens up to your mind...

PS: I have also posted a translation or two from Urdu poetry there. Take a look.

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