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Hafez,a persian mystic and Poet


Khwajah Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi (also spelled Hafiz)was a Persian mystic and poet. He was born sometime between the years

1310-1337 in Shiraz , Persia (Iran), son of a certain Baha-ud-Din.

Hafez is the most popular of Persian poets. If a book of poetry is to be found in a Persian home, it is likely to be the Divan (collected poems) of Hafez.

Many of his lines have become proverbial sayings, and there are few who cannot recite some of his lyrics, partially or totally, by heart. His Divan is widely used in bibliomancy; stories abound about his inspired predictions, justified by his popular sobriquet.
lesan-al-gayb,the Tongue of the Unseen. And yet he is also a poet"s poet. No other Persian poet has been the subject of so much analysis, commentary, and interpretation. Nor has any poet influenced the course of post-fourteenth century Persian lyrics as much as he has. He falls short of the epic poet Ferdowsi (10th century) in terms of panoramic scope and socio-political significance, and Sa"di (13th century) in terms of versatility, verve, and vivacity, and Rumi in rhythmic musicality, but by common consent he represents the zenith of Persian lyric poetry. In no other Persian poet can be found such a combination of fertile imagination, polished diction, apt choice of words, and silken melodious expressions. These are all wedded to a broad humanity, philosophical musings, moral precepts, and reflections about the unfathomable nature of destiny, the transience of life, and the wisdom of making the most of the moment—all expressed with a lyrical exuberance that lifts his poetry above all other Persian lyrics.


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 knowledge of astronomy and the zodiac.


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 Is"hak, 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 capturedShiraz 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 divan); editions vary from 573 to 994 poems. In Iran, his collected works have come to be used asan 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 Divan".

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, metaphors & allusions that imply the reader must have a very good cultural base.

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 choosing with closed eyes a random verse on a random page.



The world to me has been a home;

Wherever knowledge could be sought,

Through differing climes I loved to roam,

And every shade of feeling caught

From minds, whose varied fruits supply

The food of my philosophy.

And still the treasures of my store

Have made my wanderings less severe;

From every spot some prize I bore,

From every harvest gleaned an ear,

but find no land can ever vie

With bright shiraz in purity;

And blest for ever be the spot

Which makes all other climes forgot!

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