Fiction and the Formation of Romantic Love: The Afterlife of Nizami Ganjavi’s Khusru u Shirin in Hindustan


Aqsa Ijaz


January 27, 2023


Nizāmī Ganjavi’s Persian love poem, Khusrau u Shīrīn is one of the most widely circulated romances in the Islamic world. Yet, modern scholars have surprisingly ignored its wide reception in premodern North India. So why did this particular romance persist through the ages? What makes Nizāmī’s story still relevant, such that it exists in the most revered spaces of material culture on the Indian subcontinent? This talk examines the poetic principles that Nizāmī employed to generate a timeless resonance on the theme of love and the ways he radically challenged the medieval Islamic articulations of passionate love (‘ishq).



Aqsa Ijaz specializes in classical Persian poetry and studies its reception in medieval and early modern North India. Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Aqsa is trained in Indian classical music and specializes in the vocal forms of thumri and ghazal. As a scholar of Persian, Urdu, and Punjabi, Aqsa’s doctoral research focuses on the reception of the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. It examines the formative role of Nizami’s poetry in shaping the language of romantic love in premodern North India. Besides her scholarly work, Aqsa is an essayist and a translator and writes for various international publications such as The World Literature Today, The Herald, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. In addition, Aqsa is committed to sharing academic research in the field of South Asian Humanities with audiences across the globe, for which she serves on the editorial board of The Marginalia Review of Books in Los Angeles. Currently, she teaches Urdu at the Department of Language Studies and is co-manager of The Global Past Research Initiative at the University of Toronto Mississauga.