My Heart, My Life

August 14, 2022

The Gift, featuring poems by Sufi poet Hafiz, caters to a universal audience while lost in a greater love for his beloved, God.

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n the current month of Muharram, whether you adhere to the wisdom provided by Shi’ite Islam (or Shi’ism) - the second largest branch of Islam - or Sunni Islam (with more than 50 per cent of the country identifying as Sunni), what must be considered is how both depict individual and communal faith.

Some dedicate their lives and follow what is considered a spiritual path, irrespective of sectarian differences.

Among such Sufi names is Hafiz, the Persian poet referred to as ‘The Great Sufi Master’. His poems, published in a book called The Gift - with renderings by Daniel Ladinsky - is something a holy month is perfect to explore, regardless of whether the reader considers themselves religious, spiritual or may not relate to organized religion at all.

Reading Hafiz - whose mastery of love for the beloved (God) - just might comfort you enough that you may not need to go looking for further teachings that embody spiritual ideology. Solace is present in Hafiz’s work. It might make you curious to learn about your own religion if you’re disconnected for any reason.

“The Earth braces itself for the feet/Of a lover of God about to dance.” – The Earth Braces Itself from The Gift by Hafiz

In spiritualism, some prominent names emerged over time with Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, better known as Rumi, being the biggest name that captured the imagination of the Western world.

However, Hafiz is considered a master - because though he came 100 years after Rumi - like his predecessor, he, too, was popular enough that his audience wasn’t restricted to one sect or one country. His poems, translated in English by Daniel Ladinsky, seem to be an ode to the Almighty but the way they are penned is with intelligence, providing answers that you may or may not be able to comprehend upon first reading. There was a time when such poets and their work was considered national art and appealed to people across any demographic.

Hafiz is considered a giant, for The Gift is a work of divine mysticism. This is not a typical work where the poems feel like a maze. If anything, this love for the Beloved makes you want to turn page after page. Apart from the poems, there’s also a description of the life and times of Hafiz including how he grew up and why he didn’t lead an easy life.

“I speak/Because every cell in your body/is reaching out for God.” From The Gift by Hafiz

Hafiz is considered a giant, for The Gift is a work of divine mysticism. This is not a typical work where the poems feel like a maze. If anything, this love for the beloved makes you want to turn page after page.

Translated from Farsi to English, the 250 poems are not rigid but inviting.

Apart from the poems, there’s also a description of the life and times of Hafiz including how he grew up and why he didn’t lead an easy life.

Notes the book: “His early name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad and he changed his name to Hafiz for it meant ‘memorable’.” His ability to write divine poetry was a contributing factor. Born in Shiraz, Iran (known previously as Persia), he spent his whole life in the “cultured garden city.”

As translating author, Daniel Ladinsky noted: “His words are a music that comforts, empowers, enlightens.”

As a disciple of Sufism, he may have come to the world decades after other Sufi names, but did study their work, from Persia’s own Rumi to Shams, Kabir, Francis of Assisi, and Lao-Tzu’s world famous, The Art of War.

As you learn about Hafiz’s life, it is even more surprising how he learned to become a master Sufi poet since he never publicized his Sufi status. His poems, however, leave no room for rigid ideas. It is obvious that there is something special about his work and consequently him.

As you read, and return to these mystical poems, here is why you just might return again. As Indian Sufi teacher Inayat Khan pointed out, “The mission of Hafiz was to express to a fanatical religious world that the presence of God is not to be found only in heaven, but also here on earth.”

We couldn’t agree more and this may be one of the many important lessons imparted by Hafiz.

– Find the book at Liberty Books



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