Laila & Majnu

Posted by: Adhika | Posted on: June 4th, 2012 | No Comments

Love as they say is a phenomenon all to its own. It ignites and consumes it’s own very emotions and catalyzes two separate unique individuals into one. Such powerful legends of love have stood the test of time. One such story which has been immortalized is none other that Laila Majanu.

Layla and Majnun, translated as Madman and Layla – is also known as lailā majanū in Urdu and Hindi,  in Arabic (Majnun and Layla) or (Qays and Layla), in Persia:  (Leyli o Majnun), Leyli və Məcnun in Azeri, Leyla ile Mecnun in Turkish. It is a classical Arabian story, popularized by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi’s masterpiece, Layli o Majnun. It is based on the real story of a young man called Qays ibn al-Mulawwah from Najd (the central region of modern-day Saudi Arabia) during the Umayyad era in the 7th century when Arabs defeated the Byzantines and Persians, and Syria and Iraq were conquered. In one version, he spent his youth together with Layla, tending their flocks. In another version, upon seeing Layla he fell passionately in love with her. In both versions, however, he went mad when her father prevented him from marrying her; for that reason he came to be called Majnun meaning “madman.”

Qays was a Bedouin poet. He fell in love with Layla bint Mahdi ibn Sa’d (better known as Layla Al-Aamiriya) from the same tribe. He soon began composing poems about his love for her, mentioning her name often. His conscious efforts to woo the girl caused some locals to call him Majnun (madman). When he asked for her hand in marriage, her father refused as it would be a scandal for Layla to marry someone considered mentally unbalanced. Soon after, Layla was married to another man.

When Majnun heard of her marriage, he fled the tribe camp and began wandering the surrounding desert. His family eventually gave up hope for his return and left food for him in the wilderness. He could sometimes be seen reciting poetry to himself or writing in the sand with a stick.

Layla moved to present-day Iraq with her husband, where she became ill and eventually died. In some versions, Layla dies of heartbreak from not being able to see her would-be lover. Qays was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 AD, near an unknown woman’s grave. He had carved three verses of poetry on a rock near the grave, which are the last three verses attributed to him.

Many other minor incidents happened between his madness and his death. Most of his recorded poetry was composed before his descent into madness.

Among the poems attributed to Qays ibn al-Mulawwah, regarding Layla:

I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla

And I kiss this wall and that wall

It’s not Love of the houses that has taken my heart

But of the One who dwells in those houses

It is a tragic story of undying love much like the later Romeo and Juliet. This type of love is known as “Virgin Love”, because the lovers never married or made love. Other famous Virgin Love stories are the stories of “Qays and Lubna”, “Kuthair and Azza”, “Marwa and Al Majnoun Al Faransi” and “Antara and Abla”. The literary motif itself is common throughout the world, notably in the Muslim literature of South Asia, such as Urdu ghazals.

Bollywood has portrayed this timeless classic on numerous occasions with the latest version being released back in 2007 in the movie “Aaja Nachle,” starring Maduri Dixit. The play that Dia (Maduri Dixit) stages to save the Ajanta theatre is based on an adaption of Laila-Majnu! The cast comes life to intrigue the audience with soulful rendition of Laila & Majanu plight.

Here is a scene of the play from the Aaja Nachle – featuring Laila Majanu:

Special thanks to Wikipedia for complete background on the history of Laila and Majanu. For more insights into this story – feel free to join us on facebook by joining our group: Prem United!!

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