All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
Poem by Hafiz, 14th Century, Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, the late Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), on Hafiz:
….In him (Hafiz) we can find all the strivings, all the sorrow, all the victories and joys, all the hopes and disappointments of each and every one of us. In him we find contact, direct and immediate, with the outer universe interpreted as an infinite reality of matter, as a mirror of an eternal spirit, or indeed (as Spinoza later said) an absolute existence of which matter and spirit alike are but two of infinite modes and facets. It is not for nothing that his “Divan” has become, throughout the East, the supreme fal nama (book of divination) of millions and millions far beyond the confines of Iran.
….In each verse, with the intense concentration of thought and wisdom so singularly his own, he has produced in amazing variety facets of truth and beauty, of meaning and wisdom. I have myself tried my hand at seeing in how many ways, and with how many totally different meanings, verses of his could be translated into either English or French. I think it is no figure of speech to say that far too many versions and explanations of each word could be given, and that each verse could be interpreted according to the intelligence that one wished to reach.
…..One of the greatest living Hindu statesmen, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, once told me that in all difficult moments of his life he turns to Hafiz. I think there is no one of Iranian race alive today who has not at some time or other – in difficulty, sorrow and misery, or in joy and triumph – turned to his national hero for comfort or further elation.
…..Hafiz taught the appreciation of beauty, love, gentleness and kindliness; the value of all human beings; the constant glory and splendour and joy of the universe in which we live; the wonder of communion with nature.
…..Surely now there is room for us to turn to the spirit of Hafiz’s teaching. For if ever there was a time when we needed the universality of Hafiz as a guiding light it is today when there are forces that threaten the roots of humanity. Class and race competition threaten to submerge the highest joy of life and living – namely, the search for, and conquest of, true beauty and goodness which, could we but know it, are ever within our grasp.
…..In that spirit I appeal to the intellectual classes in this country to come and join up with the Iran Society, to help forward similar associations, to study and understand Islamic, Hindu and Far Eastern philosophy, culture, literature and art. Thus the spiritual and emotional inheritance of Great Britain, Europe and America (North and South) should not be merely derived from Greece and Judaism, but from the world as a whole, for I am certain that Asiatic culture in its widest sense can bring as much to man’s common heritage as either Greece or Palestine.
Please read full lecture “Hafiz and the Place of Iranian Culture in the World” at http://www.amaana.org/sultweb/msmhafiz.htmecture . The lecture was delivered at the Iranian Society, London, UK, on November 9, 1936.