Bābā Ṭāhir ʿUryān fl. 5th/11th c.


Little is known for certain about Bābā Ṭāhir other than that he was a poet and mystic from around Hamadan who wrote in a Persian dialect. Many of the verses attributed to him lack authenticity and there is no clear consensus on the time of his birth or death. Dates given for the period of the poet’s life range from the 4th/10th to the 7th/13th centuries. The only piece of historical evidence that refers to Bābā Ṭāhir is Rāḥat al-Ṣudūr (c. 601/1204, GMS, 98-99) from which it may gleaned, albeit based on hearsay, that the poet was at an advanced age in the years 447/1055 to 450/1058.

Bābā Ṭāhir is best known for his quatrains in which his simplicity remains sincerely focused on the expression of the mystical and spiritual. He often refers to himself as a wandering dervish, confessing his sins and preaching humility (“which Sufi routine had not yet stereotyped”), while pleasing the listener/reader with “the spontaneity of the images” and “the naiveté of his language”. A book of 368 Arabic maxims dealing with subjects such as knowledge, reason and the soul, and the musical performance are also attributed to Bābā Ṭāhir.


Dubaytī-hā     Couplets