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A Depiction of Hafez in an 18th Century Manuscript of his Divan
Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi (Persian: شمس‌ الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی), commonly known by his pen name Hafez (Persian: حافظ), is a major Persian poet of the 14th century, and remains one of the four most revered poets in the Persian-speaking world up to this date. His major works include his hundreds of Ghazals, now compiled into his Divan, which has been translated into most major world languages since the 19th century.

Like many of his contemporaries, Hafez wrote a poetry rich in images of wine, love, and spirituality. His verses are infused with such a degree of mystical love and philosophical depth that it has attracted more literary analysis and commentary than most other poets of his time. His work thus embodies an ideal of Persian classical poetry.

Hafez's poems still are used in different forms of art, not just in Iran but also in the rest of the Muslim world at large. We can find allusions to Hafez in both modern and traditional Persian music, miniatures, architecture, calligraphy, and even in underground Iranian rock music.


Life and Works

Hafez's Biography

The Ilkhanate Mongol Empire during Hafez's Time
Hafez was born as Shams al-Din Muhammad Shirazi sometime between the years 1310-1325 a.d. or 712-727 A.H. in Shiraz, in South-central Iran, which at the time was a major center of Islamic civilization. At the time of Hafez's birth, Persia in the process of being conquered by the Mongols, who were establishing the Ilkhanate Empire in the region.

He wrote under the pen name of Hafez, a title given to those who had memorized the Koran by heart as a child, which he had supposedly done in fourteen different ways. He also memorized many of the works of his hero Sa'adi, as well as the other great Persian poets Attar, Rumi and Nizami. Sa'adi, like Hafez, was from Shiraz, and since his youth Hafez had set himself the goal of rivaling his hero.[1]

In his twenties, he met Shakh-e Nabat, a young woman of incredible beauty. Although he married another woman in his twenties, he continued to love this lady, addressing many of his poems to her as a manifest symbol of the Creator’s Beauty. He later joined a mystical order, taking Attar of Shiraz as his spiritual master and becoming his disciple. This gave his poetry an extraordinary sense of spiritual richness, mysticism, and aesthetic perfection, making him one of the most revered poets of the Persian tradition.

Tomb of Hafez in modern-day Shiraz
He became a poet of the court of Abu Ishak, gaining much fame and influence in Shiraz. Although he was a Shi’ite, he was patronized by important Sunni nobles, to whom he dedicated some of his poems. However, having fallen out of grace with Shah Shuja, he went in a self-imposed exile to Esfahan, where he had a rich production of poems about his longing for Shiraz, for his beloved, and his spiritual Master. Four years later, he was re-invited to Shiraz, which was falling deeper and deeper into the hands of the Mongols.[2]

It is said that at age 60, he went to his master, who gave him a cup of wine, which upon drinking led him to attain Cosmic-Consciousness and God-Realization.[3] Upon his death, at age 69, he had composed about 500 Ghazals and 42 Rubaiyees, blending his own universal and philosophical preoccupations with a strong sense of mystical love. It is said that the Mongol conqueror Timur gave him sporadic favors until the end of his life.[4]

His Works

Modern day cover of a Divan by Hafez
Hafez is highly regarded for having perfected the form of the ghazal, the short lyrical poem, and his work is meant to comprise about 500 of them. However, it is believed that Hafez did not compile his work. Instead, his friend Golandam would have collected the poet’s works into a Divan, and is thought to have written its preface some 21-22 years after Hafez’s death. Another person who compiled Hafez's poetry was one of his young disciples Sayyid Kasim-e Anvar, who collected 569 ghazals attributed to him.

However, there are a lot of difficulties associated with the idenfication of his poems. To impress their buyers with larger editions, unscrupulous copyists would add by other poets to the Divan and attribute them to Hafiz. Moreover, in later decades some poets circulated their controversial odes under the name of Hafez in order to exploit his popularity and escape persecution. Thus, some editions of the Divan contain more than eight-hundred poems.

Another difficulty with the poems of Hafez is the insertion of obtrusive lines and the proliferation of verbal variants. Copyists may have added lines composed by other poets in order to expand the poems and thus increase the already huge popularity of Hafez’s Divan. Similarly, ignorance or a desire for novelty may have led a copyist to tamper with the text. The result was textual corruption of the Divan, and the existence of multiple versions of the same poems, with different phrases inserted.[5]

For reference, a ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. Originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse, and deriving from the Arabian panegyric qasida, it is one of the main poetic forms which the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world. A divan constitutes a collection of Persian or Arabic poems (usually by one author). The Divan of Hafez mainly comprised of Ghazals and some Rubaiyees.

Understanding Hafez's Poetry

Major Themes in Persian Poetry: The Problems of Interpretation

Divan-e Hafez, Painting of 1969
Hafez uses a whole series of imagery that may seem very unfamiliar to the Western reader, and that consequently requires some clarifications. First of all, by the 14th century, imagery had become pretty standardized in Persian poetry. There were a series of standard metaphors, comparisons and allegories that most poets had been repeatedly using for more than five centuries, and that the readers and listeners of the time were very familiar to. Stereotypical metaphors of the lover and the beloved included, for example, the moth and the candle, the nightingale and the rose, as well as allusions to characters from well known stories such as Leyla and Majnun or Farhad and Shirin. In contrast with the modern Western tradition, lyrical beauty in Medieval Persia was based upon the conservation of images and rules. The poet was expected to be familiar with the whole corpus of literature of the masters that preceded him before starting to compose their own poems, and were expected to build upon literary tradition not through innovation, but by conserving the refinement of highly valued conventions.[6]

The problem that rises from the use of such longstanding stereotypes in poetic imagery is that, while originally two images were compared, repetition over centuries established a direct association between the two images in which one word automatically implied the other. For example, if lips were originally compared to rubies, after decades of repetition of this image, a writer would just write "rubies" and the reader would understand "lips." If a beautiful face tended to be associated to the moon, the word "moon" ended up easily replacing the word "face" in poetry.[7] The modern Western reader, who remains unfamiliar to this literary tradition, thus faces major poems regarding the interpretation of Persian poetry.

With a few examples, the place of these images in Hafez's poetry may become clearer. Let's take the example of a Hafez ghazal filled with standard Persian imagery:

بلبلى خون جگر خورد و گلى حاصل كرد
باد غيرت به صادش خار پريشان دل كرد
طوطيى را به خيال شكرى دل خوش بود
ناگهش سيل فنا نقش امل باطل كرد

Gertrude Bell's translation of this part of this ghazal reads as follows:

The nightingale with drops of his heart's blood
Had nourished the red rose, then came a wind,
And catching at the boughs in envious mood,
a hundred thorns about his heart entwined.
Like to the parrot crunching sugar, good
Seemed the world to me who could not stay
The wind of Death that swept my hopes away.[8]

In this poem, we find what we could call a cliche shared by both Western and Persian poetry: the image of the nightingale and the rose. The reader is presupposed to know the story of the nightingale's love for the rose and its death when his heart got pierced by the rose's thorns. It is Hafez's variant of the story, for example presenting "a hundred thorns about his heart entwined," that creates the image of the deadly imprisonment of the lover by his beloved. The contrast with the image of the flowing wind intensifies the imagery of the imprisonment of the lover by the torment of love.

The subsequent image of the parrot poses much greater interpretive problems. It may be surprising for the Western reader, but the imagery of the parrot crunching sugar is quite prevalent in Persian poetry. To refer to the down (soft, short hair, as in the first growth of a beard), the word used in Persian is "sabz" (سبز), which in this case means "dark" but generally means "green." Parrots are green, so the down on the lip becomes a parrot. Lips are sweet as sugar, and they become "sugar." Because according to Persian stereotypes, the parrots were considered to be of a sweet speech, they were metaphorically called "sugar chewers." Thus, the expression "Like the parrot crunching sugar" could mean, for the well-read Persian reader, something in the lines of "the down on the beloved's lips [the parrot] tasting the sweetness of the sugar's lips [crunching sugar]."[9] But the expression remains open to more interpretations, which are all based upon the previous corpus of Persian classical poetry. This provides the Western reader with tremendous challenges in the work of poetic interpretation.

God, Wine and Love: Mysticism in Hafez's Poetry

16th Century Miniature for a Hafez Divan, Representing Imagery of Wine and Love
As a mystic poet, Hafez built upon yet another tradition of Sufi Mysticism, building upon Islamic gnostic knowledge or Erfan. In fact, the place of Sufism in Islamic society was so prevalent by the 14th century, that it was almost impossible to write ghazals that did not reverberate with mystical overtones during Hafez's lifetime. Thus, understanding Persian mystical poetry requires knowledge of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam that flourished since at least the 12th century.

Although mysticism had historically had a great importance in the spiritual life of the Middle East, the rise of Islam and Islamic orthodoxy forbade the cult of saints and images, and brought forward a whole set of rules for social and political life, embodied in Shari'ah Law, and under the control of the Islamic scholars of the 'ulamaa'. By the 12th century, while the Abbasid Caliphate was falling prey to the Seljuq turks and the major Islamic institutions of government were collapsing as levels of political chaos increased, Islamic mysticism saw a revival in the Muslim world at large, in the form of Sufism. A series of Masters, called Pirs in Persian, were developing new, internal ways of experiencing God and internalizing religion. Their goal was to experience Unity with God, or Wahdah, through the experience of a mystical and universal Love, or Eshgh, which had to be reached through meditation and special Recitations, the Dhekr, and the acquisition of Gnostic Knowledge, or Erfan. These Sufi Masters started gaining Disciples, or Murid, and the whole mystical experience was based upon the Pir-Murid relationship. At the death of the Pirs, their tombs became shrines and objects of pilgrimage and worship for Sufis, and by tracing the line from Murids to Pirs a series of Sufi schools took shape.[10] Hafez himself belonged to one of these Sufi schools, having taken Attar of Shiraz as his master.

Thus, mysticism constitutes a fundamental aspect of Hafez's poetry. Before Hafez, many major poets, such as Rumi, had developed a mystical poetic imagery, which Hafez built upon. In fact, mystical poetry proliferated as Sufi poets considered this form of literature to be the most adequate for the expression of the ineffable. Its fundamental parts of the images of wine, love, and unity with God and with the Master. Thus, alcoholic wine becomes the metaphorical representation of the wine of union with God, on which the mystic is "eternally drunk."[11] The cup-bearer, who serves the wine, becomes a bearer of witness to the beauty of Truth.[12] Mystical Poets strive to represent Unity, a desperate longing for the divine, which appears in human terms as a longing for the beloved, or the Master, and their beauty. This Unity is achieved through mystical Love, but again, the barriers between Mystical and Carnal love become very dim, and the image of drunkenness adds yet another layer of ambiguity to this imagery, that remains imbued with sensuality. Hafez's mastery of this mystical imagery derives from the simultaneous use of double-meanings and a direct simplicity that lies behind a facade of initially bizarre allusions.[13]

Sufism, Islam and Heresy: Hafez's Ambiguous Relationship the Muslim Establishment

Miniature from a Manuscript of a Divan by Hafez
One may wonder how with a poetry with such a strong sense of sensuality and drunkenness could seem acceptable for the conservative Muslim establishment of the 'ulamaa'. But it was in fact Hafez's love of ambiguity that shielded him from the attacks of the 'ulamaa' and allowed him to write poetry that bordered on heresy. The Persian literary tradition was building upon a Pagan Pre-Islamic past that still attracted the imagination and fascination of Persian poets since the time of Ferdowsi. This past led many Persian poets, including Hafez, to interrogate themselves upon the meaning of heresy.

One of the first poets to address the problem of orthodoxy in Persian literature was Attar. In one poem, he claimed:

Muslims, I am that ancient Zoroastrian who built the temple of idolatry;
Stepping on its roof, I gave my proclamation to the world.
I gave to you the call to pray for impious disbelief, oh Muslims,
Saying: "I have restored these ancient temples to their former luster."
If they should burn poor Attar in this fire of theirs,
Then be my witness, brave man, that it is I who gave my life as sacrifice.[14]

While this poem seemed idolatrous at first site, making mention of the Zoroastrian fate and calling Muslims impious, it was subsequently understood that this poem transmitted that true belief in a faith, whichever it is, is more important than a hypocritical following of religious acts with inner disbelief. Thus, instead of becoming a praise of paganism, this poem could be interpreted as an attack on Islamic heresy.[15] This paved the way for other writers, like Hafez, to explore the limits of mystical and religious imagery in the realms of the heretic.

Hafez himself brought up Zoroastrian imagery in his poems. For example:

He of pious works, where [is he]? and I, ruined, where?
See, what a distant way from where he is to where [I am]!
My heart is sick of the [Sufi] cloister and of the deceptive Khirqah;
Where is the Mazdean temple, and the unmixed wine, where?
What has a drink to do with piety and devotion?
Listening to sermons is where--the melody of a rebeck is where?[16]

Like Attar, Hafez goes on to contrast true mysticism, authentic longing for Unity with God, with the hypocrisy of the proper Mystic who remains attached to rules, and cannot understand the true meaning of his actions. Here the Mazdean (Zoroastrian) Temple becomes an unconventional way of coming to God, in contrast with the regulated, conventional Sufi way. Also, Zoroastrians, in contrast to Muslims, were allowed to produce and drink wine, so the Zoroastrian example allows for an examination of the relativism of religious regulations. Thus, Hafez is conducting a critique of what has become a Muslim common practice, and he achieves this with allusions that, like the one above, border on heresy.

But Hafez has even more means of balancing heresy and orthodoxy in order to make his poetry acceptable for the single-minded, orthodox interpreter. In order to justify the use of strongly sensual, drunken imagery, Hafez tended to end many of his poems with allusions to the Qur'an. For example, a poem could start as follows:

Hair disheveled, sweating, laughing-lipped and drunk;
Shirt torn, singing poems, a cup of wine in hand...
Midnight last night to my pillow he came and sat...
He said: Old love of mine, are you sound asleep?[17]

However, the poem could quickly turn towards a religious allegory, in this case, an allusion to the day, according to the Koran, man accepted moral responsibility from God. Thus, drunkenness remains a metaphor of spiritual transcendence, and love remains a spiritual union between Master and Disciple. Religious allegories could make the rest of the poem acceptable through ambiguities in meaning, and the Islamic interpreter could always understand this sensual imagery as a strictly religious allegory. In contrast, the more avid reader could find derision, irony and mockery of religious conservatism in this poem, as double-meanings leave this ghazal open to often contradicting interpretations.[18]

Close Reading of a Sample Hafez Poem

Having understood all these fundamental aspects of Hafez's poetry, we can provide a close reading of a Hafez ghazal that employs most of the imagery that, while hermetic at a first sight, is imbued with a richness in double-meanings that allows for an ever deeper interpretation of its words. The Persian version of the poem, accompanied by a recording of the poem by one of the article's authors, reads as follows:

سال‌ها دل طلب جام جم از ما می‌کرد
وان چه خود داشت ز بیگانه تمنا می‌کرد

گوهری کز صدف کون و مکان بیرون است
طلب از گمشدگان لب دریا می‌کرد

مشکل خویش بر پیر مغان بردم دوش
کو به تایید نظر حل معما می‌کرد

دیدمش خرم و خندان قدح باده به دست
و اندر آن آینه صد گونه تماشا می‌کرد

گفتم این جام جهان بین به تو کی داد حکیم
گفت آن روز که این گنبد مینا می‌کرد

بی دلی در همه احوال خدا با او بود
او نمی‌دیدش و از دور خدا را می‌کرد

این همه شعبده خویش که می‌کرد این جا
سامری پیش عصا و ید بیضا می‌کرد

گفت آن یار کز او گشت سر دار بلند
جرمش این بود که اسرار هویدا می‌کرد

فیض روح القدس ار باز مدد فرماید
دیگران هم بکنند آن چه مسیحا می‌کرد

گفتمش سلسله زلف بتان از پی چیست
گفت حافظ گله‌ای از دل شیدا می‌کرد

A very literal translation of the poem reads as follows:

Search for the cup of Jamshid from me, years my heart--made.
And for that it [the cup] possessed, from a stranger, entreaty--made.

A jewel--that is beyond the shell of existence and of time,--
From those lost on the shore of the sea, search it [my heart]--made.

Last night, I took my difficulty to the Pir of the Magians,
Who, by strengthening of sight, the solving of subtlety--made.

Him, happy, laughing, wine-goblet in hand, I saw:
And in the mirror, a hundred kinds of views he--made.

I said:--"When gave the All-wise this cup world-viewing to thee?
He said:--"On that day, when the azure dome [of heaven] He--made."

Our heart bereft,--with him, in all states, is God:
[But] he beheld Him not, and from afar [the cry]:--"For God's sake"--made.

All those sorceries that reason here made;
In the presence of the staff and of the white had of Musa [Moses], Samiri--made.

He said:--"That friend [Hallaj], by whom lofty became the head of the gibbet,
His crime was this: that clear, the mysteries of the sky, he--made."

If, again, the bounty of the Holy Spirit [Jibra'il] give aid,
Others also may make those [miracles], which the Masiha [Mesiah]--made.

I said to him:--"The chain-like tress of idols is for the sake of what?
He said:--"Of his own distraught [crazy] heart, Hafez complaints--made."[19]

A Famous Ancient Persian Cup, possibly representing the Cup of Jamshid
The couplets of the poem may initially appear so disparate that the poem may seem to have no unity of its own. However, as we have seen, Unity is a central point in Persian mystical poetry, and the reader must pay close attention to the poem in order to understand its implicit unity.

In this first verse of the poem, the reader faces an image brought from a possibly unfamiliar Persian mythology, the Cup of Jamshid (Persian: Jaam-e Jam). According to Persian mythology, the Cup of Jamshid was a cup through which the Kings of ancient Persia could see the whole universe. Here, it becomes a symbol of spiritual enlightenment, a spiritual tool through which the soul can reach full understanding of the universe. But soon, this mythological cup transforms into a cup of wine, at the hands of the Master. There remains however some continuity in the use of Persian mythology, as the word for Pir, which usually refers to the Sufi Master, here refers to the "Master of the Magians" (Pir-e Moghan), the Magi being the Zoroastrian priests of Ancient Persia. In good accordance with the usual Sufi imagery, the Master is drunk with the wine of the cup, which becomes a mirror through which he can see in all directions.

Thus, we can see three levels of imagery at this initial stage of the poem: First, in a real, human dimension, the poet is in a tavern talking to his master, who is drunk from drinking wine from a cup; Second, at a mythological level, he is talking to a Zoroastrian Magi who holds the ancient Cup of Jamshid of the Persian Kings; Thirdly, at a mystical level, the disciple is conversing with his Sufi Master, who is drunk in the ecstasy of mystical love, which gives him full understanding of all the Truths of the Universe. These three layers of interpretation give the poem an exceptional lyrical and philosophical depth.

Using the rhetorical move we have previously examined, Hafez then goes to balance the dominant Pagan and Islamically unorthodox imagery in the poem by turning the conversation between the poet and the master into a theological one. The Master brings up a series of Koranic tales, such as the stories of Moses and Mohammad, as well as the more recent tale of Al-Hallaj, all while tying them to a Sufi tradition. Thus, while the poet asks the Master to reveal him the secrets of the Universe, the Master replies that exposing these secrets is, according to Koranic tradition, a crime, and that not all men can make miracles. All this is reflective Islamic orthodox theology, thus making the poem religiously acceptable for the religiously conservative reader.

As the poem indicates, the ignorant heart demands mystical understanding from the outside. However, in accordance with the Sufi mystical tradition, the heart possesses the power of understanding within itself. For the poet, however, the heart remains blind. While not revealing the Mysteries, the Master does reveal the path towards understanding, by making the poet realize that, because of being captured by his beloved--here represented as an idol, whose tresses bind Hafez like chains--he possesses a crazy heart. Thus, the heart can be freed only if Hafez frees himself from the adoration of a earthly beauty.

Thus, the poem retains strong degree of unity, despite the initial impression of discontinuity between the images. In fact, the three images of the Heart, the Cup and the Secrets are intertwined among the entirety of the poem, and create a Unity within the poem that parallels the meta-textual mystical Unity of the Dervish with God.[20]

Hafez's Legacy

Legacy in the Muslim/Persian World

Architectural Design of Hafez's Tomb
Hafez's influence on the poetry and literature of the Muslim world at large, and particularly on that of Greater Iran, was exceptionally long-lasting. Overall, many subsequent famous Muslim poets throughout history turned to Hafez’s ghazals as a source of inspiration for the creation of their own works. Hafez’s style of writing had a great religious and poetic influence on Moghul poetry and literature for three centuries. The Turks of the Ottoman empire were also inspired by Hafez’s ghazals. Up to this day, his Divan can be found in the homes of many Iranians who recite his poems and use them as proverbs. His Divan is even used as an oracle and a spiritual guide. It is ironic to note that Hafez was not as acclaimed when he was alive as when he was dead, and that he was consistently denounced by the religious clergy of his day.[21]

In addition, Hafez also had a tremendous influence in Islamic art in general. Before the influence of Hafez’s poetry, Persian miniature art was mainly realist/Chinese influenced paintings. In his ghazals, Hafez had expressed new ways of seeing the Creation and the inner realms of consciousness as symbols of God’s Beauty. He described this in ghazals that were at first spiritually "romantic, spiritually impressionistic, and then spiritually surrealistic."[22] This influence of his poetry caused Persian paintings to be romanticized, spiritualized and impressionistic. They possessed a great respect for nature which represented the beauty of the Creator, love of color, a subtlety, simplicity and clarity of vision, a naturalness and sympathy. Persian painting from this period was said to be viewed with the "eye of God."[23] The influence of Hafez’s works on Persian would last until the end of the 16th century before the arrival of European art. Hafez-influenced art also flourished in India in the 16th century as we now call ‘Moghul art’. Persian painting was integrated with Indian miniature art, producing a greater variety of subject matter.[24]

Hafez's Legacy in the Western World

The Monument to Goethe and Hafez, in the German City of Weimar
In the 19th Century, Hafez entered the Western literary world, being first translated into German and English. The first major English translation of Hafez was made by Sir William Jones, a "father" of Orientalism, which led to a wave of heavily Romanticized English translations of Hafez. Poets such as Byron are said to have been influenced by Hafez's lyricism. Edward Fitzgerald was introduced to Hafez in the mid-19th Century, and he called Hafez "the best Musician of Words" before going on to translate Khayyam. By 1905 there existed over twenty-two English translations of Hafez, and his ghazals had been incorporated into the Victorian literary tradition. It is even said that Queen Victoria consulted his Divan as an oracle.[25]

In 1812-1813, Hafez was translated into German by Von Hammer-Purgstall. In 1814, Goethe encountered this translation of Hafez, and he expressed wishes to become Hafez's disciple. Goethe said: "O Hafiz, your word is as great as eternity for it has no begining and no end. Your word, as the canopy of Heaven, solely depends on itself. It is all signs, beauty and excellence."[26] Goethe himself composed a West-Eastern Divan, which became a poetical diary of his life from 1814 to 1818, all imbued with quotations and references to Hammer's translation of Hafez.[27] To this date, a monument of Goethe and Hafez remains in the German city of Weimar. Nietzche also encountered Hafez's poetry, and wrote: "O Hafiz, you have created a tavern of philosophy greater than any worldly palace. In it you provided a wine of grace and word beyond the capacity of the world to drink. The highest pinnacle of any mount is but a sign of your greatness and the unfathomable depth of any vortex is just a mark of your perfection, and the excellence of your word."[28] He praised Hafez's divine mockery and his spiritual legacy in works such as The Joyful Wisdom and The Will of Power.
Hafez also touched places such as Spain, with the ghazals of Federico Garcia Lorca, Russia, seeing imitations in poems by Pushkin and Yenesin, and also in the United States, when Ralph Waldo Emerson read Goethe's West-Eastern Divan. Emerson himself translated Hafez's ghazals from German into English free verse. Emerson wrote: "Hafiz defies you to show him or put him in a condition inopportune or ignoble. Take all you will, and leave him but a corner of Nature, a lane, a den, a cowshed ... he promises to win to that scorned spot the light of the moon and stars, the love of man, the smile of beauty, and the homage of art."[29] Also, UNESCO made year 1988 the "Year of Hafez," in order to shed some light on "the great importance of the works of Shams-ud-Din Mohammed Hafez Shirazi and his tremendous influence on other world literatures and cultures."[30]

Hafez in Modern Iran

Modern Painting of Hafez, by Mahmoud Farshchian
Up to this date, Hafez remains of the most revered poems in Iran. Besides the Qur'an, Hafez's Divan is present in most Iranian homes. An important part of modern Iranian painting and music has been dedicated to Hafez. For example, here is a Hafez poem sung by one of Iran's most important singers of the 20th century, Shajarian:

In Post-Revolutionary Iran, Hafez has actually become a symbol within the underground music scene. A modern Iranian underground rock band called O-Hum plays rock music exclusively to the lyrics of Hafez's and Rumi's poetry. Thus, the ambiguity of Hafez's poetry regarding religion and its mockery of religious orthodoxy keeps attracting the attention of younger generations of Iranians who plead for a liberalization of their society. Here is the song "The Way of Love" from O-Hum's album "Hafez in Love":

Further Reading

For Translations of Hafez:
Avery, Peter. The Collected Lyrics of Hafez of Shiraz (Cambridge, UK: Archetype, 2007).
The Hafez Poems of Gertrude Bell (Bethesda, Maryland: Ibex Publishers,2007)
Online: http://www.hafizonlove.com/divan/index.htm

On Persian Literature, History and Culture in General:
Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985)

About Sufism and Islamic Mysticism:
Chittick, Michael. Sufism: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2000)

About O-Hum:
Official O-Hum Site: www.o-hum.com
BBC Article on O-Hum: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4973690.stm

  1. Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam, Volume Two: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), p. 487.
  2. Biographical Information from: http://www.hafizonlove.com/bio/index.htm
  3. Biographical Information from: http://www.hafizonlove.com/bio/index.htm
  4. The Longman Anthology of World Literature, Volume B: The Medieval Era (Pearson Education, 2009)pp. 373-374.
  5. Information on Works from: http://www.hafizonlove.com/bio/index.htm
  6. Thackston, Wheeler M. A Millennium of Classical Persian Poetry (Bethesda, Maryland: Ibex Publishers, 2000), p. ix-xi.
  7. Thackston, p. ix-xi.
  8. The Hafez Poems of Gertrude Bell (Bethesda, Maryland: Ibex Publishers,2007), pp. 88-89.
  9. Thackston, p. ix-xi.
  10. Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam, Volume Two: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), pp. 209-219.
  11. Thackston, p. xi
  12. Thackston, p. xi
  13. Hodgson, pp. 487-490.
  14. Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985) pp. 162-163.
  15. Mottahedeh, pp. 162-163
  16. Hodgson, p. 488
  17. Mottahedeh, pp. 164-165
  18. Mottahedeh, pp. 164-165
  19. Boylan, Michael. Hafiz: Dance of Life (Washington, DC: Mage Publishers, 1988), pp. 35-37.
  20. Hillmann, Michael. Unity in the Ghazals of Hafez (Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1976), pp. 41-46
  21. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence.html#influence1
  22. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence.html#influence1
  23. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence.html#influence1
  24. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence.html#influence1
  25. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence2.html
  26. http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/articles/iranian_poetry_european_poets.php
  27. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence2.html
  28. http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/articles/iranian_poetry_european_poets.php
  29. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence2.html
  30. http://www.hafizofshiraz.com/hafizinfluence2.html
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