About the Book:
It is result of a lifelong study of the author in the interpretation of Sufi poetry. Sufi poetry in popular parlance is all about wine and women about love and romance. The author presents six eminent sufi poets of the Pre-Timurid period including Firdawsi, Umar Khayyam and Sadi and six eminent poets of the Timurid period including Ibn-I-Yamin Hafiz and Jami in a different context bringing out the true meaning of the allegorical verses of these poets- without any bias.
The book offers an insight into the softness and subtlety of their poetry, combined with crystal-like clarity of their philosophical and ethical thinking.
About the Author:
He though basically a teacher of Persian and Urdu, has been closely associated with the field of are and literature. The family owned the well-known Alexandra theatre company in the early decades of this century. He has written and actedin many plays also for the Parsi Imperial theatre Company.
His lifelong passion has been to understand the Sufi poetry which ultimately led him to do his doctorate on the subject at the late age of 85 from the Bombay University. He traveled widely to Iran, Iraq and Egypt to discuss and understand Sufism and sufi Poetry and came in close contact of the well-known spiritualist Mahmud Bey of Egypt.
I am a lover of Persian poetry, not a scholar. The present study, Ethics in Persian Poetry, by Mr. Ghulam Abbas A. Dalal, is also a work of love. His vast erudition is delightful. The book contains much more than the title suggests. A historical survey of the growth and development of Persian language and poetry is preceded by a discussion on ethics, religion and morality. The light on Sufism and Sufistic orders is useful for a better and deeper understanding of Persian poetry. The period of about 500 years from Firdawsi to Jami is the most glorious period of Persian poetry which has enriched world literature. The greatest aspect of ethics is the mystic concept of love which embraces Man and God. One can reach God only through the heart of Man. In the words of Iqbal, "Ba Adami Na Raseedi, Khuda Chi Mi-jooi." And in the words of Hafiz: "He does not die whose heart becomes alive with love." All ethical principles and aspects flow out of this concept of love. And it has become still more pleasing with a touch of Iranian pagan- ism. My best wishes to the author and his work.
Persia, one of the oldest countries of the world, has be- hind it twenty-five centuries of existense. It is a long and fine history. The advent of Islam has transformed the manners of its people, the rules of their conduct, the principles of their legislation; and, above all, the introduction of Tasawwuf in Persian literature - both prose and poetry - has given Persia a topmost place in the literature of the world.
Owing to religious and cultural affinity, I was much interested in Persian literature from an early age, which, later on, became an obsession in my educational and teaching career. Moreover, the study of great poets like Firdawsi, 'Attar, Rumi and Hafiz, for my Post-graduation in Arts, inspired me to pursue my interest in Persian language and through it in Sufism.
In September 1983, on one of my periodical visits, Dr. N.S. Gorekar of the College, who was aware of my penchant for Persian literature, suggested to me to research on a very interesting topic, namely, Ethics in Persian Poetry. This subject appealed to me very much, and I, at once, decided to go ahead in search of "fresh fields and pastures anew". As luck would have it Rev. Fr. John Correa-Afonso, Director of the Heras Institute, who was then the Principal of the 'College, granted me immediate admission, for which I thank him very much. I was back to my Alma Mater after a gap of fifty years.
It is generally believed that Persian poetry contains nothing but wine, women and song and that Persian poets, especially Umar Khayyam and Khwaja Hafiz, were worldly men and seekers of pleasure. This is an erroneous belief.
My main idea on working on the theme suggested to me was to remove gross misunderstanding about Persian poets who were steeped in Sufism and whose verses are ethical coupled with Quranic texts.
As suggested by Prof. Gorekar, I have confined myself to the most eminent poets of the era of Timur, of whom Ibn- i-Yamin, Khwaju of Kirman, 'Ubayd-i-Zakani, Salman of Sawaj, Khwaja Hafiz Shirazi and Mulla Nurud-Din Jami are worth mentioning. Again Firdawsi Tusi, Umar Khayyam, Hakim Sanai, Shaikh Faridu'd-Din 'Attar, Maulana Jalalu'd-Din Rumi and Shaikh Sa'di of Shiraz are dealt with to show their influence on the Timurid poets.
In my capacity as a research student I have tried to present the Persian poets as they were and have made an honest effort to remove from the minds of the lovers of the Persian language and literature the wrong image in which they are represented by some western writers and scholars. I crave indulgence of Persian scholars in particular and others in general for errors and shortcomings which may have crept in this work which I hope will be rectified and presented in an elaborate fashion by the later scholars.
This piece of research is an outcome of my intensive and careful study of the material available in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu sources. To make this piece useful I availed myself of the books, journals, and encyclopaedias available in the Heras Institute of St. Xavier's College and also in Asiatic Society of Bombay, Anjuman-i-Islam Urdu Research Institute, Jama Musjid Library and my own collection of valuable books gathered through the years. I thank the librarians of these Institutes for the help rendered to me during the research period. Besides, I have to thank my friends Mr. Sultan Nathani and Mr. Mustansir Ghulam Husain for procuring for me from Pakistan and Iran some books not available in India.
I have had the good fortune to work under Dr. N.S. Gorekar, Assistant Director of the Heras Institute and Professor of Islamic Studies, Persian and Urdu, who has been my guide. I thank him for his guidance and his suggestion which have been greatly appreciated by me.
In the end I would like to thank my son, Husain, for computerising the entire thesis; Mr. T. Painter for calligraphing most of the Persian verses and my fellow research students who helped me in my project in word and deed.
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