Turkish Love Story: Leyla and Mechun

Turkish Love Story: Leyla and Mechun

Every culture has its tragic love stories mostly due to family and surrounding that prevents them. It is forbidden love, but the most strongest and tragical one.

In Turkey, the Turkish folk stories are known as aşık (bards). This story was supposedly told by Mevlana Rumi and it pulls its roots from Persian culture. Although it is a story about love, Mevlana told it in a way that he ascend the divine, gods love.

Now we will tell you a story of the Romeo and Juliet of the East; Layla and Majnun (Leyla and Mecnun).

Layla and Qays (Kays) fall in love with each other at first sight in their childhood. Qays is so sure of this love and begins to write love poems for his lover. His fondness for Layla causes people to hear about their love. As knowledge of their love spreads around the community, it becomes impossible to hide it from their parents. Upon this, Qays finds the courage to ask Layla’s father for her hand in marriage. However, the father refuses by informing the young man that his daughter cannot marry him.

With imponderable grief, Majnun disappears in the deserts by living an isolated life among wild animals. He is given the name “Mecnun,” which means being possessed by madness for love. Resigned to their son’s decision to retreat into nature, his family leaves Mecnun food, and he can occasionally be seen reciting poetry or writing in the sand with a stick.

In his time in the wilderness, Majnun replaces his material love for Leyla with divine love and becomes a hermit. Layla is also miserable and is forced to marry another guy. After her husband’s death some years later, Layla hopes to be with her only love again and goes to find Majnun. When she finds him, Majnun does not recognize her material being. It is then that Layla understands they will never meet again in this world.

Finally, she passes away with a broken heart. Hearing her knell, Mecnun comes to her grave and cries over it. Mecnun’s dead body is found soon after at the same site, having carved verses into a rock nearby that read:

I pass by this town, the town of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the town that has enraptured my heart
But of the One who dwells within this town

Mourning to God to take him as well, Majnun also dies soon after.

One of the loyal friends of Majnun sees the couple in his dream later on. In the dream, they are in the garden of heaven together, symbolizing that the duo reunited outside the confines of time and the material world.

The name Mecnun has since become somewhat taboo and is only used to infer that someone is going a bit mad; however, Leyla is prevalent as both a name or to mean to be intoxicated by love. 

Tragic love stories are much more present in culture that the ones with happy ending. In a way people like to suffer because it makes them feel something much more intense. There is no such a strong feeling like a pain from unhappy love. People died for love, so many stories, songs, books are written about that. It is the most common topic in traditions, culture and popular culture. But the most greatest songs, poems, stories are the one with the tragic ending.