Persian Language & Literature

Hafez Shirazi, Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad

A work of Mahmoud Farshchian
Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad Hafez Shirazi was born 1319 CE in Shiraz in South-Central Iran.

In his childhood he had memorized the Koran by listening to his father's recitations of it, therefore he gained the title of Hafez (a title given to those who had memorized the Koran by heart. It is claimed that Hafez had done this in fourteen different ways). He also had memorized many of the works of his hero, Saadi, as wells as Attar, Rumi and Nizami.

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

While still working at the bakery, Hafez 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, Hafez kept a forty day and night vigil at the tomb of Baba Kohi. After successfully attaining this, he met Attar (is not Attar Neishabouri) and became his disciple.

Hafez became a poet of the court of Abu Ishak. Gained much fame and influence in Shiraz. This was the phase of "Spiritual Romanticism" in his poetry.

Mobarez Mozaffar captured Shiraz, and among his various deeds, he ousted Hafez from his position of teacher of Koranic studies at the college. At this time he wrote his protest poems.

Shah Shja took his tyrant father as prisoner, and re-instated Hafez as a teacher at the college. He began his phase of subtle spirituality in his poetry.

Hafez was falling out of favor with Shah Shoja. He fled Shiraz for his safety, and went into self-imposed exile in Esfahan. His poems mainly talk of his longing for Shiraz, for Shakh-e Nabat, and for his spiritual Master, Attar. Some years later by invitation of Shah Shoja, he ended his exile and returned to Shiraz. He was re-instated to his post at the College.

Tomb of Hafez in Shiraz
Longing to be united with his Creator, at the age of 60 he began a forty day and night vigil by sitting in a circle that he had drawn himself. On the morn of the fortieth day of his vigil, which was also on the fortieth anniversary of meeting his Master Attar, he went to his Master, and upon drinking a cup of wine that Attar gave him, he attained Cosmic Consciousness or God-Realization. In this phase, up to the death, 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.

Hafez died at the age of 70 (1389 CE) in Shiraz. Hafez's body was buried in Musalla Gardens, along the banks of Roknabad river in Shiraz, which is now called Hafezieh.

He left some 500 Ghazals, 42 Rubaiyees, and a few Ghaseedeh's, composed over a period of 50 years. Hafez 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 did not compile his poetry. Mohammad Golandaam, who also wrote a preface to his compilation, completed it in 1410 CE, some 21-22 years after Hafez's death. Also another person who compiled Hafiz's poetry was one of his young disciples Sayyid Kasim-e Anvar, who collected 569 Ghazals attributed to Hafiz. He died in 1431 CE some 42-43 years after Hafiz's death.