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Iran Commemorates National Day of Hafez

Monday, October 12, 2015

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

Iranians commemorated the national day of Hafez Shirazi, a 14th-century Persian poet and mystic highly revered by not only Iranians, but also famous writers and scholars all across the world in Shiraz City.

The ceremony was attended by Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, other Iranian guests and officials as well as ambassadors and attaches of European and Asian countries.

Moreover Hamavayan Ensemble, led by Iranian master Hossein Alizadeh, performed music pieces at the poet’s tomb.

Several officials as well as Hafez researchers delivered speeches at the event.

Coincided with the world Post day and in the honor of the Persian mystic poet Hafez two golden and silver stamps of Hafez were also unveiled at a ceremony in Iran's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

The poet's pen name 'Hafez' means one who has memorized a book. He was given the title because he could recite the holy Qur'an completely by heart in 14 different ways, but he believed his own interpretation would naturally bring justice, freedom and cheerfulness into people's everyday life and reduce depression, chaos and unhappiness. He also had memorized many of the works of his hero, Saadi, as wells as Attar, Rumi and Nizami.

Very little credible information is known about Hafiz's life, particularly its early part. Immediately after his death, many stories, some of mythical proportions were woven around his life.

His full name is Shamseddin Mohammad and Hafiz or Hafez is his pen name. He was born between years 1310-1325 A.D. or 712-727 A.H. in Shiraz.

His father who was a coal merchant died, leaving him and his mother with much debt. Hafiz and his mother went to live with his uncle (also called Saadi). He left day school to work in a drapery shop and later in a bakery.

While still working at the bakery, Hafiz delivered bread to a wealthy quarter of town and saw Shakh-e Nabat, a young woman of incredible beauty. Many of his poems are addressed to Shakh-e Nabat.

In pursuit of reaching his beloved, Hafiz kept a forty-day and night vigil at the tomb of Baba Kuhi. After successfully attaining this, he met Attar and became his disciple. Early twenties to early thirties became a poet of the court of Abu Ishak and gained much fame and influence in Shiraz. This was the phase of 'Spiritual Romanticism' in his poetry. Hafiz married in his twenties, even though he continued his love for Shakh-e Nabat, as the manifest symbol of her Creator's beauty.

Up to the age of 69 when he died, he composed more than half of his ghazals, and continued to teach his small circle of disciples. His poetry at this time, talk with the authority of a Master who is united with God.

Some 500 ghazals, 42 Rubaiyees, and a few Ghaseedeh's, composed over a period of 50 years. Hafiz only composed when he was divinely inspired, and therefore he averaged only about 10 Ghazals per year. His focus was to write poetry worthy of the Beloved. 

Hafez died in late 1388 or early 1389 A.D. or 791 A.H. at the age of 69. He is buried in a Tomb in Musalla Gardens, along the banks of Ruknabad River in Shiraz, which is referred to as Hafezieh and is pantheon of world lovers, literates and scholars.

Renowned Iranian Hafez expert Baha’eddin Khorramshahi has said that Hafez is our memory. This is an important point that should be clarified.

It is obvious that many thinkers and intellectuals reflect the spirit of their culture. For example, Shakespeare illustrates an important part of British culture and through his works we can understand some aspects of the tradition in which he grew up. Other luminaries have reflected some elements of their cultures, but the position of Hafez and a few other Iranian luminaries in depicting the characteristics of our tradition is incomparable.

We can see the viewpoints of many poets and thinkers of Iranian culture in Hafez’s poems. In addition to their mystical, religious, cultural, and psychological aspects, the views of some philosophers like Farabi and Avicenna are also evident in his poems. Molana Rumi, Saadi, al-Ghazali, Ferdowsi, and Razi are some Iranian poets, scholars, and philosophers whose views are found in Hafez’s poems.

Some norms of Iranian practical wisdom are also reflected in his poems and statements. He shows us some important layers of the Iranian spirit. This is why Hafez is not just a poet. He is the essence of our culture. He reflects so many aspects of Iranian culture and tradition. So when it is said that Hafez is our memory, it means that he has embedded some important aspects of our identity in his poems.

He not only gathers the entire body of wisdom of his own culture but also represents the practical knowledge of his tradition. Although we cannot forget his incredible statements, Iranians’ adoration of his poetry can only be explained by the fact that he speaks in the spiritual language of their culture.

The following is a poem from the Divan of Hafez translated by Gertrude Bell:

The bird of gardens sang unto the rose,
New blown in the clear dawn: "Bow down thy head!
As fair as thou within this garden close,
Many have bloomed and died." She laughed and said
"That I am born to fade grieves not my heart
But never was it a true lover's part
To vex with bitter words his love's repose."

The tavern step shall be thy hostelry,
For Love's diviner breath comes but to those
That suppliant on the dusty threshold lie.
And thou, if thou would'st drink the wine that flows
From Life's bejewelled goblet, ruby red,
Upon thine eyelashes thine eyes shall thread
A thousand tears for this temerity.

Last night when Irem's magic garden slept,
Stirring the hyacinth's purple tresses curled,
The wind of morning through the alleys stept.
"Where is thy cup, the mirror of the world?
Ah, where is Love, thou Throne of Djem?" I cried.
The breezes knew not; but "Alas," they sighed,
"That happiness should sleep so long!" and wept.

Not on the lips of men Love's secret lies,
Remote and unrevealed his dwelling-place.
Oh Saki, come! the idle laughter dies
When thou the feast with heavenly wine dost grace.
Patience and wisdom, Hafiz, in a sea
Of thine own tears are drowned; thy misery
They could not still nor hide from curious eyes.

*What Others Say About Hafez:

Goethe: In his poetry Hafez has inscribed the undeniable truth indelibly ....!

Emerson: Hafez defies you to show him or put him in a condition inopportune or ignoble ... He fears nothing. He sees too far; he sees throughout; such is the only man I wish to see or be.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: You may remember the old Persian saying, ‘There is danger for him who takes the tiger cub, and danger also for whosoever snatches a delusion from a woman.’ There is as much sense in Hafez as in Horace, and as much knowledge of the world.

Edward Fitzgerald: The best musician of words.

Gertrude Bell: It is as if his mental eye, endowed with wonderful acuteness of vision, had penetrated into those provinces of thought which we of a later age were destined to inhabit.

J. Arberry: Hafez is as highly esteemed by his countrymen as Shakespeare by us, and deserves as serious consideration.

*Photo Credit: Fars News, Jamejamonline

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