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The story of Layla and Majnun is one of the best-known legends of the Orient, both a touching love story and a profound spiritual allegory. The two lovers of this classic tale are remembered to this day in the poems and songs from the Caucasus to the interior of Africa, and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. The Persian poet Nizami collected a number of folk versions and shaped them into a single narrative poem of some 4000 stanzas near the end of the twelfth century. Compared for its beauty and genius to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the Sufis consider Nizami's Layla and Majnun an important parable of religious experience. Majnun, through his great love for Layla, is able to transcend individual identity and becomes the Beloved. This translation was previously published by Shambhala in 1978.