Originally Published Online in 2008
INTRODUCTION: As noted in the different chapters of the e-Book of First Iranians, the Persian Poetry is known to have various categories or traditions. Those traditions are known to be as Panegyric (in Persian: Setayeshi or Madiheh), Epic (Hemaasi), Patriotic (Meehani), Mystic (Ramzi or Soophianeh), Romantic (Aasheghaneh), Ethical (Akhlaaghi), Human Rights and Social Justice (Hoghoogh-e Bashar va Edaalat-e Ejtemaaii), Didactic (Aamoozeshi or Pandi), Colloquial (Goftogooii), and Satirical (Tanzi or Hajvi).
Iranians have been always proud of different traditions of memorable poetry in their long-standing culture, and some Iranian poets have been considered as the master in a specific poetry tradition. Those masters, to name a few, are recognized as Ferdowsi in Epic, Mowlana and Hafez in Mystic, Hafez and Nezami in Romantic, Saadi and Saif-e Farghani (SEF) in Ethical, Rudaki and Khaghani in Patriotic, and SEF in Human Rights and Social Justice. In this article the life story and the works of SEF as the First Iranian Poet who Advocated Social Justice through his Poetry would be briefly studied and discussed.
HIS NAME: His full name was Mowlana Saifeddin Abuolmaahamed Mohammed Farghani. He was also known as Saifuddin Farghani and Saif-e Farqani. The Iranian poet Saif-e Farghani should be differentiated from a scholar who was known as Al-Farghani (died 860 AD). Al-Farghani whose first name was Abul-Abbas Ahmadibn Muhammad was completely another person who was one of the famous theologians and philosophers in the Muslim world.
HIS LIFE: SEF was born in Farghaneh of Samarghand (also spelled as Samarkand or Samarqand) in 1247 AD (669 Hijri). He firstly lived in Farghaneh and he then moved to the town of Aaghsra located near the city of Konya, aka Qunia (in Persian: Ghoonieh) in Turkey. He was contemporary to Mahmud Ghazan (1271- 1304). Mahmud Ghazan or Qazaan the Khan of the Tartars (original Mongol name: Ghazan Khan), was the seventh Khan of the Mongol empire s Ilkhanate (in Persian: Selseleh-e Ilkhanaan-e Moghol) ruled in a part of Iran from 1256 to 1335. It is documented that SEF followed the poetry tradition of Panegyric only once in his life and composed a poem praising Ghazan Khan for his conversion to Islam.
HIS POETRY: SEF was contemporary to Attar and Saadi, and his reputation lied in his excellent poems on the tradition of Human Rights and Social Justice. He was one of the masters who professionally used the Khorassani Style in his poetry. His anthology was firstly edited and published by late Iranian scholar Professor Zabihollah Safa in 1986. Later, the Selected Poems of Saif-e Farqani (in Persian: Gozideh-yeh Ashaare Saif-e Farqani) was published by Abulghassem Radfar in 1986.
SEF composed more than 12000 verses (in Persian: Bate) in various types or forms of Persian Poetry and mostly as ode (in Persian: ghazal), quatrain (in Persian: rubaii or chaharpaareh), and purposeful (in Persian: ghassideh or qasideh). The collection of his poems can be viewed online provided by various Websites.
Here is the Poem of Wanted composed by SEF and translated from Persian to English by this author:
You think of people as a sheep flock in this glorious land.
And you assume you are leading them as a shepherd.
But you are not the true Leader.
You are as a wolf; overcoming you we need a Panther.
Here is the Persian Version of above poem:
Raeyyat goosfandand in sagaan gorg/ Hameh dar goosfandaan ooftaadeh/ Palanggi chand mikhaahim yaarab/ Dareen deevaaneh gorgaan ooftaadeh.
The complete Persian text of the poem by SEF may be viewed online as the Infidels (in Persian: Kaafarhaa).
And here is the poem of This Too Shall Pass (in Persian: In Neez Bogzarad) by SEF written in the 13th century AD, during the Mongolian invasion that swept through much of present day Iran. The poem is translated from the Persian-to-English by Ali Zarrin:
This Too Shall Pass:
Not only will death pass through your world/ But your splendor too shall pass./ The owl of misfortune bringing ruin/ Will perch on your palace too./ The autumn wind of adversity/ Will wither your gardens and orchards./ The gasp of death choking both rich and poor/ Will rattle in your throat too./ Oh you who wield blades like javelins to oppress! The sharpness of your spears too shall dull/ Neither the great men of yore, nor their justice lasted./ Thus so, the injustice of your cruel acts will pass.
Our lions roared but are now extinct./ The barking of your dogs will surely cease./ Dust settles after horse and rider gallop by./ The dust of your jackasses too shall pass./ The wind of time that snuffs out all candles/ Will likewise extinguish your lanterns.
So many caravans have passed through this caravanserai/ Inevitably, your caravan too shall pass./ You boast of your good fortune and bright star/ The influence of your constellation too shall pass./ Your turn came to you by way of noble men.
The time of your dishonorable rule will pass./ Their time lasted but a couple of days.
A few more days and your time too shall pass.
With patience we shield ourselves from your arrows of tyranny/ Until the tautness of your bow shall fail./ Oh you, who leaves the sheep in the care of a wolf/ Your wolfish shepherd too shall pass./ The knight of annihilation who check mates the King/ Will also capture the pawns.
The complete Persian text of the poem of This Too Shall Pass may be viewed online HERE.
HIS END: At age 80, SEF died in a Monastery (in Persian: Khaaneghaah) in the town of Aaghsra in 1327 AD (749 Hijri).
Epilogues (Posted August 2012)
1. Farghaneh, the birth-place of SEF, is also spelled as Fergana. Currently, it is the capital city of Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southern edge of the Fergana Valley in southern Central Asia (View here)
2. In one of his poems, Mowlana Rumi refers to Farghaneh. The Persian version of that poem reads as follows, " Goftam ze kojaaii tou, labkhnd zado goftaa/ Neemim ze Torkestaan, Neemim ze Farghaneh" (View here)
3. A short biography of SEF and a selection of his poetry, in Persian Texts, may be viewed online here
4. As one reads SEF's poems on the "Infidels" and "This Too Shall Pass", it seems like he wrote those poems just yesterday!
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
The Images of Saif-e Farghaani : 1 & 2
Alizarin Website (2006): Online Qasideh by Saif-e Farqani.
Bhatkallys Website (2008): Online Article on a brief account of some Muslim scholars and thinkers.
Famous Adherents Webpage (2007): Online Article on Famous Muslims.
Radfar, A. (1986): Selected Poems of Saif-e Farqani (in Persian: Gozideh-yeh Ashaare Saif-e Farqani), ed., Amir Kabir Publications, Tehran, Iran (in Persian).
Saadat Noury (2008): Online Anthology of Chains and Poems to Remember.
Saadat Noury (2008): Various Articles on Persian Poetry and First Iranians.
Safa, Z. (1986): Poetry Anthology of Saif-e Farghani, (in Persian: Divan-e Ashaar-e Saif-e Farghani), ed., Tehran, Iran (in Persian).
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2008): Online Notes on Saif-e Farghani (in Persian), Mahmud Ghazan, and Konya (in English).
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