In despair at having no son to succeed him, the King of Turkey leaves his palace to live in seclusion. Soon after, however, he encounters four wandering dervishes - three princes and a rich merchant from Persia, Yemen and China - who have been guided to Turkey by a supernatural force that prophesied their meeting. The five men sit together in the dead of night, each in turn telling the tale of lost love that led him to renounce the world. As their stories within stories unfold, a magnificent landscape is revealed of courtly intrigue and romance, fairies and djinn, oriental gardens and lavish feasts, adventures and mishaps. A Tale of Four Dervishes (1803) is an exquisite example of Urdu fiction that provides a fascinating glimpse into the customs, beliefs and people of the time.
Mohammed Zakir's simple and elegant translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing the Tale's origins from its composition in the fourteenth century to Mir Amman's popular Urdu retelling, aspects of romance and fantasy, and the Indo-Muslim world it depicts.
Mir Amman translated Bagh-o-Bahar in 1803 and Husain Waiz Kashifi A’s celebrated book on good manners, Akhalq-e-Muhsini, which was published much later under the title Ganj-e-Khoobi (Treasure House of Virtue).
Mohammedzakir is working on a book for English readers on N. M. Rashed, a major Urdu poet. He lives in Delhi, where he has been teaching Urdu language and literature at the Jamia Millia Islamia for over three decades.
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