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Hafez

From Academic Kids

For other meanings of "hafiz", see Hafiz disambiguation page.

Missing image
Hafez-tomb.jpg
The tomb of Hafez in Shiraz.
Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi (also spelled Hafiz) (خواجه شمس‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی in Persian) was an Persian mystic and poet. He was born sometime between the years 1310-1337 in Shiraz (Persia), Iran, son of a certain Baha-ud-Din.

His lyrical poems, ghazals, are noted for their beauty and bring to fruition the love, mystical, and early Sufist themes that had long pervaded Persian poetry. His work is also notable for making frequent reference to astrology and displaying a knowledge of astronomy and the zodiac.

Contents

Life

Very little credible information is know about Hafez's life, particularly its early part - there is a great deal of more or less mythical anecdote. Judging from his poetry, he must have had a good education, or else found the means to educate himself. Scholars generally agree on the following:

His father Baha-ud-Din is said to have been a coal merchant who died when Hafez was a child, leaving him and his mother in debt.

It seems probable that he met with Attar of Shiraz, a somewhat disreputable scholar, and became his disciple.

He is said to have later become a poet in the court of Abu Ishak, and so gained fame and influence in his hometown. It is possible that Hafez gained a position as teacher in a Qur'anic school at this time.

In his early 30's Mubariz Muzaffar captured Shiraz and seems to have ousted Hafez from his position. Hafez apparently regained his position for a brief span of time after Shah Shuja took his father Mubariz Muzaffar prisoner. But shortly after, Hafez was forced into self-imposed exile when rivals and religious characters he had criticized began slandering about him. Another possible cause of his disgrace can be seen in a love affair he had with a beautiful Turkish woman, Shakh-e Nabat. Hafez fled from Shiraz to Isfahan and Yazd for his own safety.

At the age of 52 Hafez once again regained his position at court, and possibly received a personal invitation from Shah Shuja, who pleaded with him to return. He obtained a more solid position after Shah Shuja's death, when Shah Shuja al-Din Muzaffar ascended the throne for a brief period, before being defeated and killed by Tamerlane.

When an old man, he apparently met Tamerlane to defend his poetry against charges of blasphemy.

It is generally believed that Hafez died at the age of 69. His tomb is located in the Musalla Gardens of Shiraz (referred to as Hafezieh).

Hafez folk tales

Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hafez after this death. Three examples are:-

  • It is said that, by listening to his father's recitations, Hafez had accomplished the task of memorizing the Qur'an at an early age. At the same time Hafez is said to have memorized the works of Mevlana (Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi), Sa'di, Attar, and Nezami.
  • According to one tradition, before meeting Attar, Hafez had been working in a local bakery. Hafez delivered bread to a wealthy quarter of the town where he saw Shakh-e Nabat, allegedly a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed.
  • At age 60 he is said to have begun a 40 day and night vigil by sitting in a circle which he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day he once again met with Attar on what is known to be their 40th anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained 'Cosmic Consciousness'.

After death; collected works

There is no definitive version of his collected works (or diwan); editions vary from 573 to 994 poems. In Iran, his collected works have come to be used as an aid to popular divination.

Only since the 1940s has a sustained scholarly attempt - by Mas'ud Farzad, Qasim Ghani and others in Iran - been made to authenticate his work, and remove errors introduced by later copyists and censors. However, the reliability of such work has been questioned (Michael Hillmann in 'Rahnema-ye Ketab' No. 13 (1971), "Kusheshha-ye Jadid dar Shenakht-e Divan-e Sahih-e Hafez"), and in the words of Hafez scholar Iraj Bashiri.... "there remains little hope from there (i.e.: Iran) for an authenticated diwan".

After death; influence

Not much acclaimed in his own day and often exposed to the reproaches of orthodoxy, he greatly influenced subsequent Persian poets, and left his mark on such important Western writers as Goethe. His work was first translated into English in 1771 by William Jones. Few English translations of Hafiz have been truly successful. His work was written in what is now a dialect presenting archaic acceptations of some words, and teasing out the original meaning needs some care and scholarship in order to assign to each word a literal or symbolic meaning. Indeed, Hafiz often uses images, metaphores & allusions that imply the reader must have a very good cultural base.

See also: Persian literature

Hafez in popular contemporary Persian (Iranian) culture

Hafez's poems and works are today commonly used as an oracle to determine personal decisions, business transactions etc.

Common ways of using Hafez's poems in this way include a caged bird picking up small bits of paper with verses or chosing with closed eyes a random verse on a random page.

Poem

I

Have

Learned

So much from God

That I can no longer

Call

Myself


A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,

A Buddhist, a Jew.


The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With me

That I can no longer call myself

A man, a woman, an angel,

Or even pure

Soul.


Love has

Befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash

And freed

Me


Of every concept and image

My mind has ever known.

Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

External links

  • Hafiz, Shams al-Din Muhammad (http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Poets/Hafiz.html) A Biography by Prof. Iraj Bashiri, University of Minnesota
  • Hafiz Poems  (http://www.poetseers.org/the_poetseers/hafiz/h_p/)- Translated G.Bell
  • Hafiz Poems  (http://www.poetseers.org/the_poetseers/hafiz/gift/) - Translated D.Ladinsky
  • Hafiz's Tomb in Shiraz (http://viennaphoto.at/gallery/shiraz-hafiz)

eo:Hafizo fr:Hafiz pl:Hafez

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