HAFEZ: Joe Biden

“HAFEZ: Joe Biden”

The one thing that struck me most about the Joe Biden /Paul Ryan Vice Presidential debate on Thursday night (Oct.11, 2012) – was the response of the two men to the question of “faith” and abortion.

Ryan: Ryan is an observant Catholic. He spoke of his Catholic faith and its adherence to the concept of “life” beginning at conception, and confirmed that his policies will be reflecting that, and in effect, his goal would be to make abortion illegal in the US, or at least, de-facilitate its current status and over turn Roe v. Wade.

Biden: Joe Biden’s turn came and at first, he was also  an observant Catholic for whom, personally, “life” begins at conception. But here was where he broke off and explained a poignant difference: To Biden, imposing your faith on a multi-faith nation is where things could go horribly wrong – “But I refuse to impose it (my views) on equally devout Christians and Moslems and Jews – I refuse to impose that on others.” He is against abortion in his personal life, but refuses to make that public policy in a multi-faith society.


LOVE: My mind started drifting off to this concept of multi-faith societies, the concept of religious tolerance and freedom – whose very seeds where first planted in Iran via Cyrus the Great, some 2500 years ago. (We should all be deeply proud of that.)

Our poets, however, some 1500 years later, seemed to have taken this concept one step further. It wasn’t that we should all tolerate each other’s different views on religion, rather, we should take the effort to scratch deeper,  because once we do, we will discover that we are all saying and believing the same principles. The ultimate principle of faith to our mystics was that of “Love” and to be found in all religions when we inspected them more closely.  Jesus also spoke of God as “Love” – that all religions are speaking of “Love.”

Rumi: (Molavi) In the Massnavi – there is a story that outlines this concept beautifully, the story of the “Grapes”:

4 beggars – an Arab, a Turk, a Persian and a Greek/Roman are all fighting over what to buy and eat with the money a passerby has given them. Because they are all speaking different languages, they don’t understand that they are all saying the same thing –  “Grapes” – each in their own different tongue. “Let’s buy Grapes” – but lost in translation, they miss out on their unified message, and instead, start fighting among eachother and a big brawl breaks out.  A learned passerby eventually intervenes and stops the rowdy fighting, awakening the men to the reality that they are all in fact fighting over the same word: “Grapes.” The scholar who spoke all 4 of these languages, could see how ridiculous their fightig was. The story symbolizes mankind’s various nations fighting over their own idea of “God” or religion – while in reality, they are are all worshipping the same entity. And often, it takes a learned man to bring this to light, just like in this story. 


H A F E Z:

Hafez has a Beyt/Couplet that is a nod to Rumi/Molavi’s  concept of all mankind celebrating the same “Love”:

(Torki = Turkish and Tazi = Arabic)

یکیست  ترکی و تازی  درین  معامله  حافظ

حدیث عشق بیان کن بدان زبان که تو دانی

Yekist Torki o Tazi dar in mo’ameleh Hafez

Hadiss-eh Eshgh bayan kon bedan zaban keh to dani

Tongues and Languages (be it Turkish or Arabic) are all but one

When communicating the message of “Love,” difference between languages are none 


So, while earlier in our history, via Cyrus, like Joe Biden’s position, the priority was to allow each man to worship his own God and respect all religions without imposing a single religion on others – by the time we reach Rumi/Molavi and Hafez, the concept has evolved and become more abstract it seems. That not only should we respect all religions – but if we put in the effort to scratch a little deeper, we would find our wisdom transporting us to a place where can see that we are all in fact “one” when it comes to communicating our message of “Love.”

(The image of the bunch of grapes is a nod to Rumi/Molavi’s “Grape” story – and I was lucky enough to find a multi-colored bunch, like all the varieties of peoples and religions. It might be a doctored photo, but it just jumped at me as the perfect image with which to honor the story.)

Afsaneh Mirfendereski 


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