SHAIKH Saadi

For other uses, see Saadi.

Persian scholar

Medieval era

Name: Sa'adi of Shiraz
Birth: 1184 CE
Death: 1283/1291 CE
School/tradition:

Main interests: Poetry, Mysticism, Irfan, Metaphysics, logic, ethics
Notable ideas: Saadi's work has been translated by a number of major

Western poets

Sheikh Sa‘di (in Persian: سعدی, full name in English: Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif-ibn-Abdullah) (1184 – 1283/1291?) is one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is recognized not only for the quality of his writing, but also for the depth of his social thought.

Contents

1 Biography
2 His works
3 Notes
4 References
5 See also
6 External links

Biography

A native of Shiraz, Persia, Shiekh Saadi left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to study Arabic literature and Islamic sciences at Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad (1195-1226).

The unsettled conditions following the Mongol invasion of Persia led him to wander abroad through Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. He also refers in his work to travels in India and Central Asia. Saadi is very much like Marco Polo who traveled in the region from 1271 to 1294. There is a difference, however, between the two. While Marco Polo gravitated to the potentates and the good life, Saadi mingled with the ordinary survivors of the Mongol holocaust. He sat in remote teahouses late into the night and exchanged views with merchants, farmers, preachers, wayfarers, thieves, and Sufi mendicants. For twenty years or more, he continued the same schedule of preaching, advising, learning, honing his sermons, and polishing them into gems illuminating the wisdom and foibles of his people.

When he reappeared in his native Shiraz he was an elderly man. Shiraz, under Atabak Abubakr Sa'd ibn Zangy (1231-60) was enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Saadi was not only welcomed to the city but was respected highly by the ruler and enumerated among the greats of the province. In response, Saadi took his nom de plume from the name of the local prince, Sa'd ibn Zangi, and composed some of his most delightful panegyrics as an initial gesture of gratitude in praise of the ruling house and placed them at the beginning of his Bostan. He seems to have spent the rest of his life in Shiraz.


His works

Wisdom of SaadiHis best known works are Bostan ("The Orchard") in 1257 and Gulistan ("The Rose Garden") in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse (epic metre) and consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims (justice, liberality, modesty, contentment) as well as of reflections on the behaviour of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Golestan is mainly in prose and contains stories and personal anecdotes. The text is interspersed with a variety of short poems, containing aphorisms, advice, and humorous reflections. Saadi demonstrates a profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence. The fate of those who depend on the changeable moods of kings is contrasted with the freedom of the dervishes.

For Western students, Bostan and Golestan have a special attraction; but Saadi is also remembered as a great panegyricist and lyricist, the author of a number of masterly general odes portraying human experience, and also of particular odes such as the lament on the fall of Baghdad after the Mongol invasion in 1258. His lyrics are to be found in Ghazaliyat ("Lyrics") and his odes in Qasa'id ("Odes"). He is also known for a number of works in Arabic. The peculiar blend of human kindness and cynicism, humor, and resignation displayed in Saadi's works, together with a tendency to avoid the hard dilemma, make him, to many, the most typical and lovable writer in the world of Iranian culture.

Saadi distinguished between the spiritual and the practical or mundane aspects of life. In his Bostan, for example, spiritual Saadi uses the mundane world as a spring board to propel himself beyond the earthly realms. The images in Bostan are delicate in nature and soothing. In the Golestan, on the other hand, mundane Saadi lowers the spiritual to touch the heart of his fellow wayfarers. Here the images are graphic and, thanks to Saadi's dexterity, remain concrete in the reader's mind. Realistically, too, there is a ring of truth in the division. The Shaykh preaching in the Khanqah experiences a totally different world than the merchant passing through a town. The unique thing about Saadi is that he embodies both the Sufi Shaykh and the traveling merchant. They are, as he himself puts it, two almond kernels in the same shell.

Saadi's prose style, described as "simple but impossible to imitate" flows quite naturally and effortlessly. Its simplicity, however, is grounded in a semantic web consisting of synonymy, homophony, and oxymoron buttressed by internal rhythm and external rhyme.

Chief among these works is Goethe's West-Oestlicher Divan. Andre du Ryer was the first European to present Saadi to the West, by means of a partial French translation of Golistan in 1634. Adam Olearius followed soon with a complete translation of the Bustan and the Golistan into German in 1654.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was also an avid fan of Sa'di's writings, contributing to some translated editions himself. Emerson, who read Sa'di only in translation, compared his writing to the Bible in terms of its wisdom and the beauty of its narrative.[1]

One of his more famous quotes is, "Whatever is produced in haste goes easily to waste." Another famous poem focuses on the kindness of mankind.



The same poem is used to grace the entrance to the Hall of Nations of the UN building in New York with this call for breaking all barriers: [2][3]


بني آدم اعضاي يكديگرند، که در آفرينش ز يك گوهرند

چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار، دگر عضوها را نماند قرار

تو کزمحنت دیگران بی غمی، نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی



"Of one Essence is the human race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base;
'
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace."[4]

Notes

^ Milani, A. Lost Wisdom. 2004. Washington. ISBN 0934211906 p.39
^ Sa'di's biography at irib.com
^ From Golestan Saadi.
^ Translated by Iraj Bashiri

References

E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
Persian Language & Literature: Saadi Shirazi

See also

List of Persian poets and authors
Persian literature
Islamic scholars

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
SaadiGolestan Saadi, the complete work, in Persian (ParsTech). This work can be freely downloaded (File size, compiled in pdf format: 485 KB).
The Gulistan of Sa'di http://classics.mit.edu/Sadi/gulistan.html
Sa'di, Muslih al-Din, a biography by Professor Iraj Bashiri, University of Minnesota.
Sa'di and Shiraz
Sa'di's Tomb in Shiraz
Sa'di: A story about wealth vs. virtue - Translation from Washington State University
Scholarly article on Sa'di & his work, Encyclopaedia Iranica (Columbia University).
Saadi station in aaaHoo
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