Arabic and Persian Poetry: Ibn al-Faríd, Rúmí, and Bahá’u’lláh

Frank Lewis standing in a bright garden

A Weekend Study Retreat with Frank Lewis

Retreat Address: 1999 Ridge Rd, North San Juan, CA 95960
 Contact Kaathlyn Connor at (530) 777 8275,
 Arrive: Friday evening, the 19th of June for dinner and orientation
 Depart: Monday morning, the 22nd of June after dawn-prayers and breakfast

statue of rumi

Franklin D. Lewis will be presenting on poetry from Arabic and Persian poets. Frank is an Associate Professor of Persian Language and Literature, and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago with affiliations to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. He teaches classes on Persian language and literature, Islamic thought, Sufism, Baha'i Studies, translation studies, and Middle Eastern cinema.

And of divine wisdom and heavenly counsel, [Rúmí says]:

Each moon, O my beloved, for three days I go mad; Today’s the first of these — ’Tis why thou seest me glad.

Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys”

From “Wikipedia”:

Rumi's father was Bahā ud-Dīn Walad, a theologian, jurist and a mystic from Balkh, who was also known by the followers of Rumi as Sultan al-Ulama or "Sultan of the Scholars". The popular hagiographical assertions that have claimed the family's descent from the Caliph Abu Bakr does not hold on closer examination and is rejected by modern scholars. The claim of maternal descent from the Khwarazmshah for Rumi or his father is also seen as a non-historical hagiographical tradition designed to connect the family with royalty, but this claim is rejected for chronological and historical reasons. The most complete genealogy offered for the family stretches back to six or seven generations to famous Hanafi jurists.

From “The Universal Tree”

In Rūmī’s poetry, for example, the crow is considered an ugly and predacious bird, a consumer of carrion and dung. By extension, it is a symbol of those attracted by the material world. It also has a reputation for sharp-sightedness, caution, and pride.

Ibn ʿArabi, “The Universal Tree and the Four Birds (Mystical Treatises)”

school front

Where will this be held?

In the mountains of Northern California, just East of Sacramento, our friends have a beautiful boarding-school facility with a gymnasium and comfortable classrooms. If you are not within driving distance, you can fly into the Sacramento Airport (SMF) or take a train to the Sacramento Amtrak train station. Our community volunteers will pick you up and shuttle you to the school. The school has various accommodation options, so families will usually be able to stay together.

farid by gibran

Who should attend? (ages 15+)

Given the pace and difficulty of material, only adults and youth 15 or older. Minors will need to be accompanied by a parent or a designated guardian. We will not be splitting out into groups so all participants should be mature enough to sustain a solid day of reading together.

What to Bring? (books, light clothes, shampoo)

Every student should bring their tablet or laptop computer. Materials, pencils, notepads, bedding, towels, food etc. are supplied. We have plenty of laundry facilities as well. You may want to bring a swimsuit for occasional outings to the nearby river.


How much? ($110)

We’re working hard to keep costs as low as possible — and so far that seems to come to about $30 per day for room, board and materials. This program includes three nights lodging and eight meals. As well as transportation to and from the airport, if you are arriving by plane.

Our costs are reduced because of the generosity of the community and some very dedicated volunteers. If you need any help getting here, just let us know. We’ll do whatever we can to find a way. If you’re driving and have extra room for a ride share, let us know.