Hafiz and The School of Love in Classical Persian Poetry

Conference - Abstracts/Biographies

30 March - 1 April 2007
University of Exeter, Exeter

This conference hopes to reveal, through the works of Hafiz, the historical, aesthetic, rhetorical, philosophical and theological bases of his love lyrics in the culture and civilization devoted to the School of Love in mediaeval Persia.

The 'Religion of Love' in Classical Persian Poetry, with Special Reference to the Divans of Sa'di and Hafiz

Dr. Husayn Ilahi-Ghomshei (University of Tehran)

My discourse shall open with a brief introduction into the School of Love in Persian poetry, proffering examples from poems of the greatest of Persian lyric poets from Rudaki to Jami. Then I will enter into the main body of my discourse to explain how Sa'di and Hafez are the greatest adherents and representatives of this divine school in classical Persian literature. The perennial wisdom underlying the poetry of Sa'di and Hafez will be discussed. I will try to clarify the question of how other poets have succeeded in interpreting this wisdom and conveying it in the language of love, and, in defining a universal religion properly as the 'Religion of Love'. In conclusion, I shall explain how this Religion of Love is true religion and how it is in full harmony with the basic ideas as well as ideals of all the other divine scriptures.


Husayn Ilahi-Ghomshei, former Director of the National Library of Iran (1981-2), studied Arabic Literature, Grammar, Logic, Theosophy, Jurisprudence, and Theology at Tehran Seminary School (1958-68), receiving his B.A. in Islamic Theology and Philosophy in 1961 and his Ph.D. in Islamic Theology and Philosophy in 1965 from Tehran University. His numerous publications include Majmu'ah-i Maqalat (Collected Essays) (1987), Guzida-yi Fihi ma Fihi (Selections from the The Discourses of Rumi, with introduction and commentary) (1988), Divan-i Hafiz (An Edition of Hafiz's Collected Poems with an introduction) (1989), Barisi-yi Tarjuma-yi Inglisi-yi mutun-i islami (A bi-lingual Primer for Persian Students of English Literary Translation, 1991), a Persian translation with Khusraw Shayasta of Philippa Stewart's Shakespeare and his Theatre (1992) and Guzida-yi Mantiq al-tayr of 'Attar (Selections from the Conference of the Birds) (1994) with an introduction and commentary. Due to his wide-ranging literary versatility in Islamic and European languages, phenomenal powers of memory and in-depth understanding of English, Persian and Arabic literature, and in particular, his breadth of learning in Islamic falsafa, irfan, tasawwuf and hikmat, Dr. Ghomshei is widely sought after as a lecturer on literature, Islamic philosophy, Persian poetry and mysticism in Iran, Central Asia, India, Australia, Europe and North America. He is also a master of the art of Islamic calligraphy, is versatile in several traditional styles and currently edits Chilipa, a Persian Quarterly Journal of Calligraphy and Traditional Arts, as well as Kimiya, an occasional journal of philosophy and mysticism.

 

The Erotic Spirit: Mystical vs. Romantic Love (Ishq-e haqiqi va majazi) in Persian Poetry from Nezami to Hafez

Ali Asghar Seyed-Ghorab (Leiden University, The Netherlands)

After over a millennium of New Persian poetry, Hafez stands out as the undoubted master of the ghazal genre. A striking feature of his poetry is that it allows for a mundane earthly reading as well as a mystical one. He may have been influenced in this respect by Nezami of Ganja, whose poetry is similarly ambiguous. Both poets are appropriated by both mystics and by those preferring non-spiritual readings. Their poems raise the perennial question of whether one interpretation excludes the other. This paper analyses Hafez's treatment of the concept of love to demonstrate that the oscillation between profane and spiritual readings is in fact a fundamental feature of classical Persian poetry, especially in ghazals. In reconstructing Hafez's theory of love, I will also address some of the poet's predecessors, especially Nezami. It will be shown how these poets allow profane sensuality to heighten the mystical import, while the mystical concepts strengthen the physical implications. Is this multilayered interpretation merely due to the insertion of some mystical concepts or are there other elements at work?


Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab was born in Tehran and has lived in the Netherlands since 1986. He studied English language and literature (M.A.) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, and Persian language and culture at Leiden University (M.A.). He completed his Ph.D. at Leiden University, with specializations in Persian literature and mysticism. He is currently a lecturer in Persian language, literature and culture at Leiden University. He has published several books and articles on various aspects of Iranian culture, including Layli and Majnun: Love, madness and mystic longing in Nizami's epic romance, Leiden: E.J. Brill. (2003); The Mirror of Meanings (Mir'at al-Ma'ani), translated with an introduction and glossary, Mazda Publisher, Costa Mesa, California (critical Persian text prepared by N. Pourjavady, 2002). "Majnun's Image as a Serpent" in The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi: Knowledge, love, and rhetoric, eds. J.W. Clinton & K. Talattof, New York: Palgrave, 2000, pp. 83-95; "The Art of Riddling in Classical Persian Poetry" in Edebiyat: Journal of Middle Eastern and Comparative Literature, 2001; "Insects in Classical Persian Literature: the Case of the Ant" in Persica: Annual of the Dutch-Iranian Society, Leuven: Peeters, No. 16, 2000, pp. 77-112.

 

The Idea of Love in Hafiz and Ahmad Ghazali

Dr. Nasrollah Pourjavady (University of Tehran)

The ideas of love expressed in Hafiz's Divan can be traced back to previous poets and writers, particularly those who dealt with the theoretical aspects of mystical love, such as Sana'i and Fakhr al-Din 'Iraqi. One of the most influential Sufi writers whose ideas are clearly reflected in Hafiz's poetry, as well in the poems of other Persian mystical poets such as 'Iraqi and Sa'di, was Ahmad Ghazali. I have already shown how some of the ideas of Ahmad Ghazali in the Sawanih, such as the idea of an arrow that kills the lover, appear manifest in later Persian love poetry including that of Hafiz. In this lecture, I will also examine many of the other ideas about love that appear Hafiz's poetry (particularly that relating to Essential Love) which can be traced back to the writings of Ahmad Ghazali.


Nasrollah Pourjavady was born in Tehran and received his early education there. He went to the United States in 1963 to study Western philosophy, and having obtained his BA in 1967, returned to Iran and earned his MA and PhD degrees from the University of Tehran. Subsequently he taught philosophy and mysticism at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, and then at the University of Tehran, where he still teaches as a full professor. He has also taught as a visiting professor at Colgate University (2002) and at the Gregorian University in Rome (2005). Over the last thirty years, Dr Pourjavady has written some 20 books as well as over a hundred essays and articles in the fields of Islamic mysticism, philosophy, and Persian literature. These include: a critical edition of Ahmad Ghazzali's Sawanih (1980) and its English translation (1986); Ru'yat-e mah dar asman (La vision de Dieu en theologie et mystique musulmane) (1996); Eshraq va erfan (2001) and Do mojadded (2002), which is a study of two key figures in the development of Islamic thought, Abu Hamid Ghazzali and Fakhruddin Razi. He was also the general editor of a monumental three-volume book on Iranian art and culture, The Splendour of Iran (2001). He has edited and introduced the works of several lesser known classical Iranian mystics and Persian poets, such as Abu'l-Hasan Busti, Abu Mansur Esfahani, Mobarakshah Marvirudi, Yar-Ali Tabrizi, and Awhad al-Din Razi. As the founding-director of Iran University Press, the largest academic publishing house in Iran, he supervised the publication of some 1,200 academic books and 11 periodicals in Persian, English, French, and German for 24 years, until the spring of 2004. He personally edited two of these journals, Nashr-e Danesh and Ma'aref. He is a member of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, which awarded him the Academy's Persian Literature Award in 2004. He received an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 2005, and will spend the year 2006 as a research scholar at the Free University of Berlin.

 

The Radiance of Epiphany: Beauty and Love in the Divan of Hafiz

Dr. Leili Anvar-Chenderoff (Sorbonne, Paris)

In Pre-eternity, the radiance of your beauty evoked the secret of Epiphany... Through a running commentary on ghazal 146 (in Sayeh's edition), this lecture will explore the way in which Hafiz constantly alludes to the "metaphysics of love" both as a spiritual and literary tradition. Chiselling the construction of the ghazal with extreme minutiae, making use of the whole range of Persian poetic imagery as well as the tradition of love treatises, time and again Hafiz refers to a time before time when he had witnessed the manifestation of beauty and experienced divine love. Reading the Divan, one gets indeed the impression that his poetry is an attempt at recreating the conditions of this primordial experience: beauty as reflected in his poems (both through images and the actual aesthetic form of the ghazal) is omnipresent so as to remind the soul of the first commotion of love, the memory of which has been lost upon its coming into the worldly realm. In the world of plurality and matter, it is only through the forms of beauty (whether natural, human or literary) that both poet and reader can find their way back to that other unitary Beauty that is beyond all form and description.


Leili Anvar-Chenderoff is a former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm). She received her PhD. in Persian Literature with a thesis entitled "From Paradox to Unity: A Study of the Divan-i Shams" (1998, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle). She is currently Lecturer at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales and Head of the Department of Iranian Studies. She is also attached as a researcher to the CNRS (UMR Monde Iranien et Indien) and member of the Scientific Board of the Institut d'Etude de l'Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman (EHESS). Her publications include: "Le genre hagiographique à travers le Tadhkirat al-awliya de Farid al-Din 'Attar " in Saints Orientaux (1995) ; Noms de Personnes en Islam, a translation of Schimmel's Islamic Names (1996) ; " Attar," "Rumi," "Vin" in Le dictionnaire critique de l'Esotérisme (1998), Rumi (2004) ; Orient : Mille ans de poésie et de peinture (2004), "Nouvelles persanes" in Les arts de l'Islam (2006)

 

The Transfiguration of Love: Participation and Perspective-Shifts in the Ghazals of Hafiz

Prof. James Morris (Boston College)

One of the most familiar, yet mysterious, characteristics of Hafiz's ghazals is their powerful revelatory ability to capture the momentary state of each reader's desire and love, and then to reveal the deeper grounds, the ultimate meaning and implications of that initial affective condition. In other words, these songs are not just an emotional mirror (like any effective poetry and music), but rather an actively transformational mirror whose unique efficacy is vividly illustrated in their longstanding divinational usage (fa'l), comparable to the similarly widespread role of both the I Ching and the Qur'an.

This essay is devoted to a close examination of certain specific literary structures-closely mirroring at each point the distinctively cinematic rhetorical structures of the Qur'an-whose subtle interplay helps to explain this uniquely transformational dimension of Hafiz's poems. The first key element is the characteristic indeterminacy (and constantly problematic shifting) of both the "speaker" and the implicit audiences or addressees of each line, which force serious readers to enter actively into the puzzle-play of tensions and dramatic conflicts constantly evoked by that indeterminacy, actively participating both intellectually and existentially. The second characteristic feature is the remarkably regular, progressive shifts in perspective and context: the spiraling ascension from the lover's ironic situation as a lonely individual "thing" lost in an alien determinist universe and endless serial time, to the concluding ecstatic Self-realization of the Spirit, the ever-renewed discovery of the uniquely human reality (and responsibility) as the hidden divine Treasure, hafiz al-ghayb. I conclude by suggesting some of the practical implications of these central unifying structures for the translation and study of Hafiz.


James Morris is Professor of Islamic Studies at Boston College, and has previously taught Islamic and comparative religious studies at Exeter, Princeton, Oberlin, the Sorbonne (EPHE), and the Institute of Ismaili Studies in Paris and London. His research and studies of living spiritual traditions have taken him to Iran, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. Professor Morris has published widely on many areas of religious thought and practice, including the Islamic humanities, Islamic philosophy, Sufism, the Qur'an, and Shiite thought. His most recent books include Orientations: Islamic Thought in a World Civilisation (2004); The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn 'Arabi's 'Meccan Illuminations' (2005); Knowing the Spirit (2006); and Openings: From the Qur'an to the Islamic Humanities (forthcoming).

 

Reflections of Hafiz in English and American Poetry of the Ninteenth Century

Dr. Parvin Loloi (Independent Scholar)

As an undercurrent in the growth of Romanticism, Persian poetry alongside other diverse literatures such as Chinese and Scandinavian became an important factor. Almost all the Romantic poets such as Lord Byron, Shelley, Thomas Moore and others studied the voluminous works of Sir William Jones.

Jones as well as his translations from Hafiz (in English, French and Latin), refers to Hafiz's poems repeatedly in order to illustrate his points in his essays on Persian language and literature. Above all Jones juxtaposes Hafiz with Anacreon and Horace, two of the classical love poets. It was, therefore, in this bacchanalian light that the Romantic poets came to love Hafiz's passionate language and exotic imagery. Hafiz was seen as purely an Anacreonic poet and is as such reflected in their own poetry. A striking example is provided by Byron's poem "The Bar Maid".

By the middle of the nineteenth century there were many translations in German and English available to the European reader and an awareness of the deeper meanings in Hafiz's poetry was beginning to take shape. The publication of Goethe's West-östlicher Diwan with its Hafis Nameh;Buch Hafis in 1819 was very significant for a new generation of European writers. Goethe had profound influence on Victorian poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson and Richard Chenevix Trench. Tennyson's poem The Lover's Tale is a clear example of his deeper understanding of Hafiz's love imagery.

At about the same time, across the Atlantic, Goethe was also becoming very popular. The American transcendental movement found a convenient language in the poetry of Hafiz. Ralph Waldo Emerson's translations mainly from the German of Joseph von Hammer Purgstal's Der Diwan von Mohammed Schemsed-din Hafis (1812-13) had a fundamental effect on poets such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau and later on poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Herman Melville. Emerson employed Hafiz's imagery and philosophy in his own poetry. Poems such as "The Poet" and "Bacchus" illustrate his fascination with Hafiz.

The poets mentioned above took a deep interest in the poetry of Hafiz. The early Romantic poets saw him merely as a profane love poet, while later understanding of Hafiz's poetry pave the way for more spiritual reflections of his erotic imagery in their own poetry.


Parvin Loloi was educated at Melli University (Tehran) and at the University of Wales (Swansea), where she wrote her PhD thesis on the English translations of Hafiz and their influence on English poetry. She is a freelance scholar and writer. Her research interests include various aspects of translation studies, and the way in which Persian literature and culture have influenced (and are reflected in) English literature. She has regularly contributed papers to the conferences organised every year by the University of Salzburg, the results of which have been published in the series 'Studies in English and Comparative Literature'. Her publications include a critical and annotated edition (in two volumes) of two 17th century plays Sir John Denham, The Sophy (Vol. 1, 1998), Robert Baron, Mirza. A Tragedy (Vol. 2, 1998), Hafiz, Master of Persian Poetry; A critical Bibliography; English Translations since the Eighteenth Century (2004), 'Byron In Persian Costume' in The Swansea Review (1988), 'An Essay on The Thousand and One Nights' in Encyclopedia of the Novel (1990), 'A Dramatic Version from the Apocrypha: Kyng Daryus and the Book of Esdras', in Elizabethan Literature and Transformation: Studies in English and Comparative Literature (1999),'Tennyson, Fitzgerald and Cowell: A Private Relation with Public Consequences' in Private and Public Voices in Victorian Poetry: Studies in English and Comparative Literature (2000).

 

Some Distinctive Traits that Explain the Pre-eminence of Hafiz Over Other Grand Poets of His Century

Charles-Henri de Fouchecour (Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III)

Following his recently published translation of and commentary on the Divan of Hafiz, C.-H. de Fouchecour will try to clarify, through an examination of the works of poets contemporary to Hafiz, what possibly explains his brilliant posterity. The fields which will be tackled will be : Sufism (Hafiz and Imad Faqih Kirmani), social criticism (Hafiz and Ubayd Zakani), poetic technique and literary genres (Hafiz, Kamal Khujandi and Salman Saviji) and spirituality (concerning some of Hafiz's probable sources, adopted from Nizami). This lecture will allow Prof. Fouchecour to introduce his on-going current research in progress to his colleagues and so avail himself of their critical opinion and judgment.


Charles-Henri de Fouchecour served as Director of the Department of Iranology of l'Institut Français in Tehran from 1975-1979. From 1972 to 1985 he also held the Chair of Persian at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris. From 1985 to 1993 he was Professor of the Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), as well as Director of the Institut d'Etudes Iraniennes in that University. From 1993 to today he has been Professor Emeritus at the Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.

His work in the field of classical Persian literature is vast. He was the Founder and Director of Abstracta Iranica, a bibliographical and critical review of Iranian Studies. He has published some forty-five articles in his speciality. These include 'Naz-o niyaz (Fierte et Desir), ou l'amour et l'Orient', Luqman, 5, 2 (1989), 82-86, and 'Voir le visage de l'Aime' selon Hafez'. Luqman, 16, 2 (2000), 7-16. His major books on Persian literature include : Moralia. Les Notions morales dans la litterature persane du 3e/9e au 7e/13e siecle (Paris-Teheran, ADPF, XIX-450 p. 1986, Ed. Recherches sur les Civilisations). Translated into Persian by 'Ali Amir-Mo'ezzi and 'Abd al-Mohammad Ruhbakhshan as: Akhlaqiyat. Mafahim-e akhlaqi dar adabiyat-e farsi az sade-ye sevvom ta sade-ye haftom-e hejri. (Teheran, 1377/1998, X-627 p. Markaz-e Nashr-e Daneshgahi; Anjoman-e Iranshenasi-e Faranse dar Iran). He has recently published an annotated translation of the entire collected poetical works of Hafiz: Hafez de Chiraz. Le Divan. Œuvre lyrique d'un spirituel en Perse au XIVe siecle, introduction, traduction du persan et commentaires par Charles-Henri de Fouchecour (Paris : Editions Verdier, 2006, 1280 p.)

 

Hafiz and Jalal al-Din Dawwani (d. 907/1501)

Prof. Carl Ernst (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

A perennial issue in the interpretation of the poetry of Hafiz is the question of whether his poems belong in the tradition of mystical Sufi poetry, or whether they should be classified as secular court poetry. While this question may never be finally resolved to the satisfaction of all, it remains the case that significant traditions of mystical and esoteric interpretation of Hafiz’s poetry began not long after his death. This paper investigates the multi-leveled commentary on several verses of Hafiz authored by the well-known philosopher of Shiraz, Jalal al-Din Davani (d. 1502), and it will clarify the hermeneutical principles employed by this commentator. This interpretive approach, which is comparable to the Sufi interpretation of the Arabic poetry of Ibn al-Farid, may be regarded as part of the reception history of the poetry of Hafiz.


Carl W. Ernst is a specialist in Islamic studies, with a focus on West and South Asia. His published research, based on the study of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, has been mainly devoted to the study of Islam and Sufism. His most recent book, Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (UNC Press, 2003), has received several international awards, including the 2004 Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement. His current projects include Muslim interpretations of Hinduism and the literary translation of the Qur'an. His publications include Sufi Martyrs of Love: Chishti Sufism in South Asia and Beyond (co-authored with Bruce Lawrence, 2002); Teachings of Sufism (1999); a translation of The Unveiling of Secrets: Diary of a Sufi Master by Ruzbihan Baqli (1997);Guide to Sufism (1997); Ruzbihan Baqli: Mystical Experience and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism (1996); Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center (1993); and Words of Ecstasy in Sufism (1985). He studied comparative religion at Stanford University (A.B. 1973) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1981), and has done research tours in India (1978-79, 1981), Pakistan (1986, 2000, 2005), and Turkey (1991), and has also visited Iran (1996, 1999) and Uzbekistan (2003). He has taught at Pomona College (1981-1992) and has been appointed as visiting lecturer in Paris (EHESS, 1991, 2003), the University of Seville (2001), and the University of Malaya (2005). On the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1992, he has been department chair (1995-2000) and Zachary Smith Professor (2000-2005). He is now William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor and Director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

 

The Development of the Culture of the Spiritual Rake (farhang-i rindi) in Persian Love Mysticism: A Study of Rashid al-Din Maybudi's Myths of Adam and Satan and Their Epiphany in Hafiz's Poetry

Daryoush Ashouri (Independent Scholar)

Modern studies of Hafiz generally perceive him as a unique poetic genius far ahead of his time, a romantic poet who was an enemy of all forms of canonical religious piety, opposed quite often as well to many of the formal trappings of institutionalized Sufism. According to this reading, he is considered as a courageous personality who was bold enough to express, in the disguise of the symbolism of the Sufi love poetry, blasphemous ideas not dissimilar to the modern atheistic attitudes. This romanticized notion of Hafiz - as the bold secular, free-thinking genius far ahead of his day and age - is largely endorsed by most members of the Iranian intelligentsia and Western literati today; it is in fact, the prevailing view of the poet both on the street and in the Academe.

However, a closer intertextual study of the Divan exposes Hafiz to be a far more complex and multi-layered figure - steeped in a sophisticated literary and mystical culture which can be traced back to Sufi texts written centuries earlier in Khurasan in northern Iran. An intertextual study of his Divan with literary Sufi texts of Khurasani origin reveals the existence of an undeniable inter-textual relationship between them. Particular themes and motifs emerge in both texts that read and justify, in a wonderfully inventive hermeneutical way, the Qur'anic narratives of the Myth of the Creation of Adam, and his subsequent Fall from Heaven to the Earth.

One of the key Sufis whose inspiration underpins Hafiz's poetry is Rashid al-Din Maybudi (d. 1126), author of the Kashf al-asrar (Revelation of Mysteries). This essential text which is the first major Sufi exegesis in Persian - and by far the largest and most important Qur'an commentary in that language - must be considered as the inspiring source for a vast amount of Persian Sufi literature, both poetry and prose, from the twelfth century onwards. My study will reveal how Hafiz's reading of this text is reflected extensively, and explained with great enthusiasm in his Divan, with the same hermeneutical reading then being adopted and repeated in many other texts in later times.

Hafiz's reading of Maybudi, which even today seems revolutionary, actually existed as part of well-defined tradition and line of Sufism in Khurasan, which most probably had Abu Sa'id ibn Abi'l-Khayr (d. 1048) as its grand master and progenitor. This new reading radically transformed the relationship of God and Man, changing the relationship of the Lord and Servant, based in an Islamic context on absolute Divine authority and commandment, on one side, and absolute servile obedience and fear, on the other, to a romantic relationship between Lover (Man) and Beloved (God). Henceforth, theology becomes erotic, the spiritual imbued with the sensual. This human-divine romance relationship then becomes the central theme and tale related with fervour and passion throughout the burgeoning tradition of the 'religion of Love' (mazhab-i ishq) within the prolific Sufi literature of the Khurasani School.

My intertextual study of the Divan of Hafiz also reveals that the mystical doctrine known as rindi - often translated as 'inspired libertinism', a central element in the poetic teachings of Sa'di (d. circa 1292), and later expressed by Hafiz with undying obsession - is deeply rooted in the theological context of early Khurasani Sufism, from whence it draws its activist, moral and philosophical justification.


Daryoush Ashouri, born at Tehran 1938, has studied at the Faculty of Law, Political Sciences, and Economics of the University of Tehran. He has worked extensively as author, essayist, translator, encyclopedist, and lexicologist. His intellectual interests cover large interdisciplinary fields from political sciences to literature, philosophy, and linguistics. His main concern is with cultural and linguistic matters of his motherland as a Third World country encountering modernity. Part of his articles dealing intensively with those matters. He has contributed considerably to the development of the vocabulary of the Persian language in the domains of human sciences and philosophy. His contributions are compiled in one volume as Farhang-e olum-e ensani (A Dictionary for Human Sciences). He is author, compiler, and translator of about 25 books. One of his main works is his hermeneutical, intertextual study of the Divan of Hafiz, Irfan va rindi dar sha'r-i Hafiz (Tehran: Nashr-i Markaz 2000). He is translator of the works by Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, and others into Persian. He has been visiting lecturer at the universities of Tehran, Oxford, and Tokyo. He is married with three children, living in France.

 

Witnessing the Icon of Beauty (shahid-bazi): A Study of Hafiz's Metaphysics of Romance

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn (University of Exeter)

Despite the huge steps taken over the past century by scholarship in the field of Hafiz's poetry, the tradition of erotic spirituality of the School of Love (madhhab-i ishq) to which so many of the great classical poets-Sana'i, 'Attar, Rumi, 'Iraqi, Sa'di, Khwaju, and Hafiz among them-have belonged, has been completely overlooked by all authorities in the field of Persian literature. Taking into account recent studies of the erotic lexicon of the classical Persian poets by a number of scholars of Hafiz both East and West (Ritter, Schimmel, Fouchecour, de Bruijn, Raja'i-Bukhara'i, Khurramshahi, Este'lami, Purnamdarian, Pourjavady...), this lecture examines the art of shahid-bazi which animates Hafiz's erotic theology, tracing the usage and provenance of this term and its practice back to the writings of Ahmad Ghazali (d. 1126), Ayn al-Qudat Hamadhani (d. 1132) and Qutb al-Din Mansur Abbadi (d. 1152). Special emphasis will be placed on the most important mystical commentary on Hafiz's Divan-the massive four-volume Sharh-i irfani-yi Divan-i Hafiz by Abu'l-Hasan Abd al-Rahman Khatami Lahuri-recently published by Baha al-Din Khurrramshahi.

Literally, the term shahid means 'seer' and 'witness'; in the Sufi lexicon it signifies 'the Good' and 'the Beautiful' in an absolute sense, with the connotation that the shahid is one who bears 'witness' to God's artifice. The shahid is thus an 'icon of beauty' or 'divine demonstration' and shahid-bazi involves 'sporting with beauty's icon' or 'cavorting with mortal forms of beauty that are demonstrative of divinity'. It implies beholding the divine in the mirror of human beauty, the latter bearing 'witness' to the former, the beloved becoming the 'representative of supernatural beauty in the flesh (shahid)', with whom the lover cavorts (shahid-bazi). As Nasrollah Pourjavady has shown, this erotic art was an integral part of Hafiz's malamati doctrine, constituting a central element in the structure of his theory of love and the erotic spirituality of the inspired libertine's ethic (rindi). As I examine metaphysics of romance in the ghazals of Hafiz, I will demonstrate their fraternity with well-known Persian Sufi theoerotic and metaphysical doctrines in the Lama'at of 'Iraqi (d. 1289), the Gulshan-i raz of Shabistari (d. after 1340), the hagiography of Safi al-Din Ardabili (d. 1344), the ghazals of Kamal Khujandi (d. 1400), and the treatises of Shah Nimatullah Vali (d. 1431).


Leonard Lewisohn received his Ph.D. in Persian Literature in 1988 from the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. He is currently Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Classical Persian and Sufi Literature at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. From 1999 to 2005 he was Research Associate in Esoteric Traditions in Islam at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.

He specializes in the study and translation of works on Persian Sufism into English. His translations include Sufi Women (1990), Spiritual Poverty in Sufism (1984), and Sufi Symbolism I (Parts of the Beloved's Body: Wine, Music, Mystical Audition, and Convivial Gatherings) (1984), all by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. He has edited the 3-volume series on The Heritage of Sufism (999): I. Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi (700-1300), II. The Legacy of Mediaeval Persian Sufism (1150-1500), III. (with David Morgan) Late Classical Persianate Sufism (1501-1750). He also edited the Divan of Muhammad Shirin Maghribi in the original Persian (1993) His monograph Beyond Faith and Infidelity: the Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari was published in 1995. He is co-translator (with Robert Bly) of The Wine Made Before Adam: Selected Poems of Hafiz (forthcoming New York: HarperCollins 2007). Dr. Lewisohn has contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Encyclopædia Iranica, Iran Nameh, Iranian Studies, African Affairs, Islamic Culture, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and Temenos.

 

Semiotics of the Dawn in the Poetry of Hafiz

Prof. Franklin Lewis (University of Chicago)

Dawn is a symbolically charged time in many literary traditions, including, for example, the Arabic qaida and the mediaeval Provençal lyric. Approximately ninety, or nearly one-fifth of the ghazals of Hafez explicitly refer to dawn or early morning, which time must therefore constitute a significant semiotic horizon in his mythopoesis. This paper will attempt a lexical/semiotic inventory of dawn (sahar, sobh, bamdad, etc.) and the archetypal scenes, poetic situations and emotions attendant upon its evocation. Consideration will be given to dawn in relation to other poetic timeframes (night, seasons, festivals) and its role as a sacred, or in illo tempore time, in which suffering is resolved and meaning is revealed. By isolating the semantic horizons of dawn as a topos, it is hoped that the relationship between certain themes and topoi, and therefore the architectonics of his ghazals, may emerge in somewhat clearer relief.


Franklin Lewis is Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He currently works in Persian languages and literatures, mediaeval Islamic mysticism, Arabic literature, Sufism, and Iranian religion. He was previously Associate Professor of Persian and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Lewis completed his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1995 with a Dissertation on the 12th century mystical poet Sana'i and the formation of the ghazal genre in Persian literature, which won the Foundation of Iranian Studies best dissertation prize. His translations from modern Persian literature include In a Voice of Their Own: A Collection of Stories by Iranian Women written since the Revolution of 1979 (1996). In 2001, his book Rumi: Past and Present, East and West (2000) received the British-Kuwaiti award for the best work published in the UK in the field of Middle Eastern Studies. Lewis is also the founder and moderator of Adabiyat, an international electronic discussion forum for Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Urdu literature.

 

Tongue and Mirror of the Unseen World: The Vision of Hafiz in Timurid and Safavid Persian Painting

Prof. Michael Barry (Princeton University)

Although Hafiz is not one of the most frequently illustrated of the Persian poets (unlike Firdawsi or Nizami) in Persianate miniature painting, there nonetheless exists a very significant and fascinating streak in the 15th-, 16th- and 17th-century Persianate painting tradition centring on the notion of the archtypical poet as a divinely inspired seer beneath the clouds swirling open to allow him to receive the emanations of the Archangelic Intelligences that shine upon the poet's mirrorlike soul: whence the poet becomes the true Ayinah-yi ghayb or Lisan al-ghayb. Actual depictions of this exist in Safavid art, including Sultan-Muhammad's visionary portrayal of Hafiz himself, as well as some of the illustrations to Prince Ibrahim Mirza's copy of Jami's poems in the Freer, and several rather amazing pen-and-ink drawings of archtypical seer-poets by Reza-yi 'Abbasi.

This lavishly illustrated lecture will try to show how the visionary creative imagination of the Timurid and Safavid painters conceived of Hafiz both as an inspired poet and as a Sufi sage, while they strove to depict the bacchanalian, erotic, theosophical and mystical motifs which they found in his verse in the light of the transcendental yet earthy religion of love in mystical Islam.


Michael Barry has been Lecturer in Persian at Princeton's Near Eastern Studies Department since 2004. He is also Consultative Chairman of the Department of Islamic Art at the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He specializes in the mediaeval and modern Islamic cultures of Iran, India, Pakistan and most especially Afghanistan - where his work over more than three decades has ranged from anthropological research to defence of human rights and coordinating humanitarian assistance for the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, for Médecins du Monde, and for the United Nations. He has published extensively in both English and French, and holds six literary prizes from France and Iran.

Born in New York City in 1948 but raised in France and also partly in Afghanistan, Barry graduated from Princeton University in 1970 as a major in Near Eastern Studies, and later took higher degrees in anthropology and Islamic studies from Cambridge University in England (post-graduate diploma in anthropology), McGill University in Montreal (MA), and finally the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (PhD).

Barry however interrupted his academic career to serve as an international humanitarian worker in war-torn Afghanistan between 1979 and 2001. Travelling in dangerous conditions and often even in disguise across the Pakistani border at the head of international relief teams to deliver urgent supplies of food and medicine to deprived populations deep in the Afghan interior, he successively served as Afghan Affairs observer for the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (1979-1985); as coordinating officer for Médecins du Monde's clandestine field hospitals in the country under Soviet occupation (1985-1989); as consultant and humanitarian team leader in the field for the United Nations (1989-1991); as special envoy of Dr Bernard Kouchner to Kabul to deliver food and medicine to the starving Afghan capital during the post-Soviet civil war and under Taliban siege (1992-1995); and finally, after the change in the Afghan régime in November 2001, as adviser for education assistance programmes in Kabul to the French Government. He has testified on Soviet human rights violations in Afghanistan before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 1982, was received in private audience by Ronald Reagan in the White House to discuss the Soviet-Afghan war in January 1983, and was invited by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to help organize the International Hearings on Afghanistan held in Oslo in March 1983.

His book on A History of Modern Afghanistan for Cambridge University Press (2006) summarizes in English his research of many years in the country, findings hitherto mainly available in his French-language publications. His French-language monograph on the country, now entitled Le Royaume de l'insolence: l'Afghanistan, 1504-2001 (Flammarion, Paris), has run through three constantly renovated editions, the latest appearing in 2002; his French-language biography of Shah Ahmad Massoud (Audibert, Paris 2002) was awarded one of France's most distinguished literary prizes for non-fiction, the Prix Fémina, in 2002.

His French-language verse translation and extensive study of the symbolism of the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami's Haft Paykar or "Seven Icons", Le Pavillon des sept princesses (Paris 2000), was in turn awarded the Iranian Government's Prize of Book of the Year on Persian Civilization in 2002. The English version of his latest book, Figurative Art in Mediaeval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzad of Herat (1465-1535), (Paris, Flammarion, December 2004, but distributed in the United States as of May 2005 by Rizzoli International), is a lavishly illustrated volume that addresses - and for the first time suggests how to crack - the allegorical code of 15th- and 16th-century "Persian miniatures", notably in the light of mediaeval mystical Persian poetry.