Khawaja Shams al-Din Mohammad bin Baha’ al-Din Hafez Shirazi, popularly known by his pen name, Hafez, the renowned Iranian poet of international repute was born in the city of Shiraz in the year 1315 CE.
Not much information is available about Khawaja Hafez’s family and ancestors. Apparently, his father’s name was Baha’ al-Din and his mother was from the city of Kazerun. In his poems, which can be the only reliable source about his life, very little reference has been made to his personal and private life.
He had memorized the Holy Qur’an in accordance with fourteen narrations and that is why he had been given the title of Hafez meaning one who can recite the Holy Qur’an by heart. Hafez’s most important work is his Divan, which consists of about 500 ghazals, several odes, two Mathnavis, several irregular poems, and a number of quatrains that have been published more than four hundred times in various forms and methods in Persian and other world languages.
Hafez is considered to be the most prominent ghazal composing poet of the Persian language. It is a well-known fact that a Divan of Hafez can be found in every Iranian home. As per their old customs and traditions, Iranians recite Hafez’s Divan on national or religious holidays such as Nowruz or the night of Yalda. Perhaps the number of simple or gilded manuscripts in the libraries of Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and even Western countries is more than any other Persian book of poetry.
Some people refer to Hafez as “Lisan al-Ghayb (lit. the tongue of the unseen); i.e., one who speaks of the unseen. Hafez talks about the divine love that is the main subject of his mystical ghazals. Hafez did not leave Shiraz and did not go on a long journey, or if he went on a journey, it certainly would not have been a long one. Hafez’s interest and view of Shiraz are evident from his divan and his ghazals, which is consistent with the historical events of Hafez’s time. Before being a poet, Hafez was well acquainted with religious, philosophical, and mystical issues, and his vision was the ultimate reflection of his concern for the social affairs of his time.
Hafez’s Divan has been translated and published in many languages. Inspired by Hafez, Goethe, the most genius German writer, philosopher, and literary personality, composed a Book of poetry by the name of “West-Eastern Divan” and devoted the second chapter, entitled “Hafez Nameh” (Book of Hafez), to poems in praise of Hafez.
Hafez passed away in Shiraz in the year 1390 CE. On October 11, every year, a ceremony is organized in commemoration of Hafez at his tomb in the Hafeziyeh area of Shiraz in which many Iranian and foreign scholars participate. This day has been named as Hafez Commemoration Day.
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